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Essay: Beyonce's Real Lemonade
Beyonce's Marriage is Not the Lemon
By Melanie Bikowski
We live in a generation of times where pop music doesn’t say too much. So it comes to no surprise that when Beyonce’s sixth album Lemonade was released onto HBO, the media and fans shrink the think piece into an alleged confession piece about the infidelity of Jay-Z. Only focused on certain lines like “Are you cheating on me?” and “He better call Becky with the Good Hair,” the media instigated the fans to blow up Instagrams of Rachel Roy and even Rachael Ray!
So, a week later and the album, which is ‘a conceptual project based on every woman’s journey of self-knowledge and healing.’ is still on my mind. With powerful visuals of Black Women holding hands, baptizing themselves in the river, and attired from ancient to futuristic clothing, this album is much more than a dark album lined with personal confession about infidelity and marital problems. This album is filled with feminine magic. Like in her self-titled visual album released in 2013, where she used the voice over from Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie to announce her true intention for her art: Feminism.
“We teach girls to shrink themselves. To make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambitions but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful otherwise you will threaten the Man. Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of Joy and love and mutual support, but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage. And we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to be each other’s competitors. Not for jobs or for accomplishments, which can be a good thing, but for the attention of men. We teach girls they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are. Feminist: The Person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.”
Lemonade is filled with an emotional roller coaster of a woman dealing with jealousy and competition for searching for the Man’s attention. She smashes the cars on the streets and screams about the mysterious “Becky”, who if looked through the lens of a think piece, could be any woman. Jealousy is a hard emotion to face and for generations, like in the words of Chimimanda, “we teach girls” to be jealous. In her self titled album, we can see that Beyonce has been struggling with these emotions because she even addresses with the song “Jealous”. We can see her standing in a dining room alone, waiting on someone to come home and eat dinner with her while she is singing deeply “cause I’m Jealous.” Her expectations of her man coming home for dinner is only a deep expectation of what a woman should be like in her marriage.
The expectations of the woman to be there for her man only creates separatism in a marriage. It creates space between the man and woman and doesn’t make them celebrate the marriage for joy, love, and mutual support. During the song, “Love Drought”, Beyonce sings “all the loving I’ve been giving goes unnoticed.” but in the visual, she is laying in a Football field, which can only be a reference to Jay-Z’s American Sports Management Team, Roc Nation Sports that takes up a lot of his time.
So the narrative continues with ‘Redemption,’ where we see that love has been the sugar in her life. It has enlightened her to the bigger message and Beyonce is leading women through the river in a mystical ritual of unity. Because “nothing real can be threatened, true love breathes salvation back into me.” as if the black women, who have suffered generations of this perspective can stand up together and heal with the knowledge that Beyonce has learned in her own personal quest to heal through the perception of jealousy.
But she ends the album with “Formation,” which continues to show that she is going to continue to raise girl’s to be competitors. To do their best, but not for man’s attention, but for themselves. So, “ladies, now let’s get in formation, I slay. Prove to me you got some coordination, cause I slay. Slay trick, or you get eliminated.”
So, I am ashamed of the media for trying to shrink this woman’s piece of art into a piece of art that isn’t saying too much. It’s roaring loudly with instructions for mothers, wives, and daughters to work hard and try their best. Their marriage isn’t the lemon. The expectations, perspectives, rules, and restraints on being a woman are the lemons and for generations, we have forgotten to try and be the equals.
And Beyonce is leading us by example by applying her own instruction manual to the competition. The last lines of formation are, “You know you that bitch when you cause for all this conversation. Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper.” Lemonade can be streamed on Jay-Z’s Music Streaming site Tidal (www.tidal.com), which is graciously taking all this talk straight to the bank.
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