Over the past few days, the internet has been all abuzz over Beyonce’s stunning new visual album. And do I have to explain why? It’s amazing because… Beyonce. But for those of us feminist nerds out there, one of the most exciting parts of all this is that we’re witnessing Beyonce’s feminist evolution.
Beyonce has always sung about being a strong, independent woman, but until recently she shied away from the label of “feminist.” The first time she spoke directly about feminism was in 2010, when she said she was a feminist “in a way.” But then she went on to talk about valuing female friendship. While that’s important, it didn’t really reveal her thoughts on gender inequality. Then, earlier this year, Beyonce called herself a “modern-day feminist” and added, “I do believe in equality and that we have a way to go and it’s something that’s pushed aside and something that we have been conditioned to accept.”
Now, it seems that Beyonce has fully embraced the label. In the track “Flawless,” previously released as “Bow Down,” she samples Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Here’s the full sample:
“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would 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 see each other as competitors not for jobs or accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are. Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, economic equality of the sexes.”
That’s a pretty awesome start, and I’m excited to see Beyonce joining the ranks of celebs who aren’t afraid to use the f word. There’s still some debate going on over whether Beyonce really is a feminist, but there are undoubtedly many reasons to embrace her for this declaration.
But enough about Beyonce (for now). Who is that awesome speaker she sampled?
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a writer from Nigeria. She has released several highly acclaimed novels, including this year’s Americanah, which was named one of the 10 best books of 2013 by the New York Times. Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, was shortlisted for the prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction, an award given for the best book written in English by a female author. Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, won that prize in 2007. Hello, reading list.
Adichie studied at the University of Nigeria for one year before moving to the U.S. for college. She studied at Drexel University and eventually graduated summa cum laude from Eastern Connecticut State University. She holds a master’s degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University and an MA in African studies from Yale. Adichie now divides her time between Nigeria and the U.S.
The sample Beyonce used is from a TED talk Adichie gave earlier this year, and it’s called “We Should All Be Feminists.” You should definitely watch it.