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Monday, December 6, 2021

Modern Bey Feminism: A Song of One’s Own

mug_strumwasser“I was spending all my nights and days laid back day dreaming/Look at me — I’m a big girl now, said I’m gon’ do something/Told the world I would paint this town/Now betcha I run news.”

True to the lyrics from her song “Grown Woman,” Beyoncé has had great success.

Her musical ability is clear — just watch that video of her rehearsing in her dressing room filmed by Jay-Z. Seriously, go watch it, it’s great.

But Beyoncé’s success is more than just her talent. Her accomplishments as a businesswoman in the creative world has given women a strong female to look up to and emulate in the work place.

However, this success is not always obtainable for women in our society.

A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, a prominent feminist writer, explores the idea that women can only be successful if they have a room of their own — that is, they can only be successful if they have a certain level of money and time to begin with.

Beyoncé did start her career in music without family connections to the music world — her father was a businessman and her mother was a hairdresser. But they did have the money to move so Beyoncé could follow her career, and her father was able to resign from his job to manage Beyoncé’s music career.

Would Beyoncé continue to be successful without all of the resources that she had then, and has now? Probably not.

Which leaves one to wonder how many talented musicians (and painters and writers and artists) are out there who don’t have the time or money to be successful.

And as a graduating senior (hopefully) heading toward a career as a writer, it’s scary to watch the Beyoncés of the world succeed, while other women seem to be unsuccessful.

This is both a modern-day phenomenon and a societal problem that has carried over from Virginia Woolf’s time. Although her book was published more than 80 years ago, the ideas in it are still present, as it’s easy to see that women are at a disadvantage in the workplace.

According to the Pew Research Center, 33.3 percent of mothers in the United States are stay-at-home moms, while only 3.5 percent of fathers are stay-at-home dads. The idea that moms are staying at home to take care of their kids means they don’t have the time or space — mentally or physically — to explore their creative careers.

And according to the White House’s website, the women who do work make 77 cents to every dollar that men make, on average.

So if some girls really are running the world, I’d say it’s because they are lucky enough to have the time and money to do so, not necessarily because they are the most talented.

So what do we do with that?

We should continue to talk about the issues women face in the workplace, and work to alleviate the pressures working mothers feel — this is a class issue as well as a gender issue. If the media spent half the amount of time talking about equal pay and equality in the workplace that it does talking about the Solange vs. Jay-Z fight, I think serious changes could be made.

As always, I try not to get discouraged by successful women like Beyoncé. Rather, I see them as inspirations for myself and others to break through the challenges women face.

So if you need me, I’ll just be listening to “Grown Woman” and optimistically sending out my resume.

If you have any Beyoncé-themed job openings in mind, HANNAH STRUMWASSER can be reached at hstrumwasser@gmail.com.

 

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