Black men and women have always been targets of victimization and inferiority, but women have endured far greater hardships. They had to deal with the male supremacy of black men, which drew harsh condemnation from educated women of upper social levels and from all women in general. Because Lemonade is so different from all of Beyoncé’s previous albums, it has garnered interest all across the world. She expresses conflicted emotions on the album about being a black woman and about being a woman in general. She registers Beyonce’s rage over the past atrocities that have been meted women, especially women of color. The song features black women of all sizes, shapes, and ages in a video that attempts to bring out the women’s determination to overcome the glass ceiling. Despite her unrivaled fame and power, the song brings out Beyonce as a woman who is yet to outlive black men dominance, white supremacy, and racial prejudice. In the lemonade, Beyonce portrays the message that money and power are not sufficient ingredients for women’s emancipation from a chauvinist society but rather a collective rebellion from women whose liberation solely relies on their strength of mind and character.
The ranges of women who appear in the lemonade video are modern, seemingly rich and liberal but manifest various forms of oppression meted against them buy a male dominated society. This is a true reminiscence of the fact that money and power do not solve all these issues faced by black women (Taylor 2017). Bell Hooks wrote a critique about the album, which spark controversy among black women who had different opinion on the matter. Bell Hooks is a notable critique whose writings have become famous and highly influential in the media and social classes. Hooks state that Lemonade celebrates rage and anger by displaying violence as the answer in the ‘Hold up’ video, where Beyoncé breaks car windows and shop windows due to betrayal (Hooks 2016). I tend to agree with Hooks position in the view despite the gender prejudices against black women, violent outbursts cannot be the way to get their voice heard. Violence as she clearly state cannot create a positive change or enhance domination in women and men. In the video Beyoncé is not showing dominance to anyone but she is angry because of the betrayal and hurt ache from a broken relationship. Lemonade therefore comes out as vengeful video in which Beyonce and her cast are reacting to raw emotions and expressing herself as any enraged human being would (Reid 2016). Bowen (2016) corroborates the view that the lemonade video was more famous because it related to the audience more because anger is a natural feeling for both men and women.
Even though Hooks’ claim that Beyoncé glamorizes violence is a bit farfetched, the kind of following Beyoncé has her reactions can influence women across the racial divide to adopt violent ways of registering their displeasure. Many artists use their talents to express their opinions in the political and social world because it is the only way; they can create an impact through their followers. It is very common for fans to idolize their role models to an extent imitating what they see them doing. In this regard, speaking and acting violently in videos is not advisable as this might send a different message to viewers. Bowen (2016) looks at Beyoncé’s video as victimization of black women in a positive way and disagrees with Hooks idea of refusing to be a victim as black women but rather challenging them to rise up and fight for their space in the face of male dominance and racial prejudice (Jenkins).
This is the biggest fight that women should engage in so they could be liberating themselves from exploitation and victimization. Additionally, Hook states that Lemonade displayed images of black women unclothed do not advocate for self-respect and respect from the society (Hooks 2016). This is true in the sense that people always undervalue women for wearing clothes that are showing too much skin as it shows lack of dignity and self-worth. However, the society today is more liberal and open-minded, as clothing has become an expression. It is upon every individual to choose whatever they want to wear and how. Hence, this claim by Hook is contradicting with how a modern woman views her body and way of dressing. In addition, Hook claims this displays them as a commodity in the video just as they were during slavery and this brings down a woman’s self-esteem. On the contrary, women today have the freedom to make choices without relying on religion, rules, or men and that is a positive achievement for women.
It is through small defiant steps towards freedom that women are going to create a difference but as Hook has indicated Lemonade should show women how to solve issues they face in everyday life rather than learning how to survive it (Hooks 2016). This can be achieved by creating a real difference in women lives and thinking. Women’s emancipation must begin with the emancipation of thought and strength of character. Most people experience oppression due to lack of knowledge or low self-esteem and this can only end if real solutions are found and implemented. However, Beyoncé cannot have the solutions to women issues just as Hook with her experience in feminism has never provided. Hence, holding Beyoncé’s album Lemonade with high expectations is mistaken, as she is also a victim or rather fighting the same battles every black woman is fighting that is racism and dominance.
Woman’s freedom is achievable by celebrating every voice that is trying to address these issues. Lemonade is a great album that has gained fame due to its natural presentation of an ordinary black woman’s life. It is captivating in the sense it tries to portray how black women struggle to enjoy the small things in life due to judgment by society especially black men who are their harshest critics. Beyoncé expresses her emotions in this album aggressively but that is judged harshly too yet anger is a natural feeling towards betrayal by a person you love. This is part of the solution as creating awareness on the hurt and struggles black women undergo is a step to the right direction.
Jenkins, Tatiyana. “A Recipe for Black Girl Magic: A Critical Study of the Mise-en-Scene in Beyoncé’s Visual Album Lemonade as a Radical Representation of Black Women.” (2017).
Taylor, Laura-Ashley. “Beyonce Feminism: Feminist Messages’ Impact on African American Female Identity.” (2017).
Hooks, Bell. “Moving Beyond Pain” Bell Hooks Institute, 2016.
Bowen, Sesali. “Auntie bell, I love you, but you gotta chill,” Feministing,2016.
Reid, Joy-Ann. “Lemonade is a powerful black feminist aesthetic in its own right,” 2016.