Sure, the “I guess” makes her sound a little apprehensive, but why would a superstar like Beyoncé want to risk polarizing her fanbase by aligning herself with a movement that in its fourth iteration still leaves such a bad taste in people’s mouths? Bey even asks the mag: “Why do you have to label yourself anything? I’m just a woman and I love being a woman.”
But by daring to say the word-that-must-not-be-said, Beyoncé has done something other female pop stars — namely Katy Perry, who last year poo-pooed the idea of being a card-carrying feminist — are too afraid to do: use the F-word.
Of course, Beyoncé is not like the feminists of the late ’60s and ’70s. She’s not going to burn her bra or write the follow-up to Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique anytime soon. She can, however, ask “Who runs the world?” and get any female in a two-block radius to respond with a resounding “Girls!” even if they 100 percent believe it or not.
The thing is, Beyoncé’s road to feminism isn’t all that different from Gloria Steinem’s.
Steinem started out as a young reporter from Ohio who donned a bunny costume to expose the harsh conditions of a Playboy Club in 1963. She didn’t truly find feminism until her 30s, which led her to found Ms. Magazine and became one of the most significant faces of Second-Wave Feminism. There were certainly feminists more radical than Steinem, but her visibility and accessibility benefited her message in that it allowed it to be heard widely.
Likewise, Beyoncé’s brand of modern-day feminism is something the average independent woman can get behind. It focuses on basic ideas like equality, mental and financial autonomy. Whereas past incarnations of feminism have been perceived to be synonymous with man-hating, Beyonce is a happily married woman with a baby, all while holding down a (more than) full-time job.