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Beyoncé Is Commanding Everyone To Bow Down... To Her

Cortney Riles |
March 18, 2013 | 5:02 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter


Yesterday, Beyoncé Knowles aka Queen B aka Mrs. Carter released a new single, which might have fans and foes raising their eyebrows and well, exiting out of their listening mediums.

“Bow Down/I Been On,” Beyoncé’s most explicit song to date, not only questions her humility but the insinuated fear surrounding her new dual role as wife and mother—wife to hip-hop's biggest mogul (Jay-Z) and mother to the most prized celebrity baby (Blue Ivy) that is.

“I know when you were little girls you dreamt of being in my world. Don’t forget it don’t forget it. Respect that, bow down b-tches,” goes the first line of the song. And just in case you were wondering, there are an entire three and a half minutes of self-righteous, foul-languaged nonsense to follow.

Produced by Hit-Boy, the highly respected producer of Jay-Z and Kanye’s “N----s in Paris,” “Bow Down” is the polar opposite of “Who Run The World (Girls),” a song that quickly became the 21st century "girl power" anthem—or any of Beyoncé’s songs for that matter.

“I took some time to live my life, but don’t think I’m just his little wife,” Beyoncé sings. “Don’t get it twisted, this is my sh-t, bow down b-tches.” 

Here’s the thing: Beyoncé Knowles is one of the, if not the, most highly regarded female entertainers in the world today. Yes, the world. Everyone knows who she is and a great majority have been bowing down (saying “yes”) when she was asking if we were “ready for this jelly” in “Bootylicious” back in her Destiny Child’s days.

Beyoncé’s career has thrived since day 1. In fact, as she’s ventured out on her own she’s developed more of a presence, more of a fan base. Therefore a song that stoops to Rihanna’s "Cockiness" level and co-signs the millions of tracks degrading women isn’t necessary. 

Should Beyonce fans be bowing down to this track? (via Instagram)
Should Beyonce fans be bowing down to this track? (via Instagram)

Here is a list of reasons (in 2013 alone) why she's above that: 


- Supposively lip-synced the National Anthem at President Obama’s inugaration only to crush all the heat she received with a mind-blowing performance of the patriotic tune at a press conference.

-  Set the bar for the next 10 years of Superbowl performances, earning the Twitter hashtag “#Beyoncebowl,” not to mention being speculated to have knocked out the stadium power due to the radiance of her show.

- Directed and executive produced an autobiographical documentary, "Life Is But A Dream," that pulled 1.8 million viewers during its first airing on HBO.

- Sold out “The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour” stop in DC in under a minute.

It’s not just B’s “Beyhive” of fans that recognize her talent and power. And it's not as simple as just trying to re-establish and re-affirm your prescene as a primere female entertainer. 

Even a devout Beyonce fan like recent Wheaton College graduate, Melissa Johnson, who double majored in Women's Studies and Sociology can't get down with the new single. For several reasons as she recently expresssed in a Facebook status: 

"Is [email protected] the new Nigga? As a fan of Beyonce's work I have to say that I am disappointed by her new track "Bow Down." However let me make it clear it has a sick beat and I feel the concept. I mean she reminds us yet again, she truly is the queen..Queen B that is. And no disrespect to her or the Beyhive Nation, however, I just can't help but cringe at the repeated use of the word [email protected] I mean overnight the word seems to be like Lucky Charms, magically delicious and fabulous with further consumption of the song. I find it excessive, unnecessary, and surprisingly offensive, particularly the lack of attempt to even creatively bleep out or cover the word with music or some cool electronic sound. 

Now this got me thinking..Why would Beyonce choose to use the word repeatedly throughout the song? Especially since she has served us up and preached songs filled with messages of female empowerment? Why would she choose not to bleep out or cover the word? And why am I offended when the word is used so often not only in other pop/rap/hip hop songs, particularly by many male and some female rap artists but has found commonplace as slang in mainstream society either as a derogatory term or a term of endearment (used by gay males or by one woman to another).

I'm sorry but I can never get desensitized to the word, just as I can never get desensitized to the word Nigga. Some may argue that it's Art and it's supposed to be controversial or the N-word is much different. But both stem from origins of derogatory meaning and deep-rooted negative implications for those for which they applied to or were inflicted upon. Although it is true that the use of the N-word was intended to dehumanize and disenfranchise not only an entire group/race of people but generations after, in which the use of the word would forever harken back a blood and rape engraved history of genocide, enslavement, jim crow/segregation and white patriarchal dominance, nevertheless, the last time I checked individuals essentially calling each other female dogs is dehumanizing. I mean both words objectify individuals to property and inferior beings

So why is [email protected] unlike the N-word where it is still unclear who all can use it and who cannot, when is it's use is appropriate if at all, and if the shift in meaning holds true due to the change in spelling? To me they seem the same if not very similar. Then why in this instance is it acceptable? Who has the right to use it? And when and how is it ok? Are women taking back their power and giving new meaning to the word by using it and allowing others to use it too? Is Beyonce co-signing on the idea of taking back the power by using the word and claiming it for her own empowerment and expression? Furthermore is she confirming that by her use, other women should use it too? And in a similar sense.. but to what degree and extent? 

All of it seems very confusing to me and just sends mixed messages particularly to women and especially to our very young women and girls, whom many (like it or not Beyhive Nation) look up to and idolize Beyonce...I mean that's why you're her Beyhive Nation, right? And to top it off, Baddie Bey's use of the word seems to diverge and be very dichotomous from her husband's (Jay-Z's) stance on now limiting or eliminating his use of the B-word since the birth of their daughter (Blue-Ivy). I would think as a mother, Beyonce, wouldn't want anyone to call her daughter a [email protected] curiously why is she calling other people's daughters [email protected]? I mean am I just too sensitive or are we as a society not sensitive enough? To my ladies who will be twerking to this in their rooms, the club, dance studios, her live concerts, or random flash mobs..just remember she's not just talking to her haters, she's talking to all of us..Bow Down [email protected]!"

That said, B we respect and understand that your "strong enough to bear the children, then get back to business," but can't get down with this business. Please chill and prep for the tour—which you probably should have given another name if you're not “just his little wife.”

Reach Staff Reporter Cortney Riles here.

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