What is “Beyonce feminism”? The question has been the subject of many a tweet, blog and chat down the pub.
But it’s also the basis of a sociology dissertation, written by a student from the University of Warwick.
For the past year, 20-year-old Molly Inglis has been analysing 10,000 words’ worth of Beyonce lyrics and now she’s submitted a 66-page essay to her tutors.
“She promotes very sex-positive messages,” Molly tells Newsbeat.
The most interesting thing Molly found out from her study, was how Beyonce views women and sex, and how the last few years have seen the singer embrace feminism in her own way.
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As a result, the student decided to focus on the artist’s last two albums for her thesis: Beyonce (2013) and Lemonade (2016).
“Beyonce is encouraging women to be sexual to take control of things in the bedroom and also to have sex for themselves, for their own pleasure,” she says.
Molly with a friend at the Warwick University Spring Ball
Fans have long associated Queen Bey with empowering women and girls: from her days in Destiny’s Child to her song Flawless, which quotes the writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
And while the song Formation, from Lemonade, was widely interpreted as a protest about the treatment of the black community at the hands of the police, and the Black Lives Matter movement, Molly says the singer was also speaking directly to women:
“I really liked the lyric; ‘Now ladies let’s get in formation’,” Molly says.
“I believe it had a double meaning to it.
“It’s asking women to coordinate together, but also to get information – to get this knowledge about what’s going on, and to protest against it.”
If she was actually to read it, that would just make my life
Many fans believe the song Hold Up from the same album was about Beyonce and her husband Jay Z.
The jury’s still out, according to Molly, who says she thinks “it could just be her narrating a character”.
But after analysing her last two albums, the student says Beyonce does sing a lot about the pros and cons of marriage.
Molly’s supervisor was a bit surprised at her dissertation topic, but the student says it just proves how relevant sociology is to everyday life.
And it’s no surprise that she rejects the criticism of the multi-Grammy award winner.
“The criticism Beyonce gets for embracing feminism comes because she’s a black artist,” says Molly.
“White artists who do the same thing don’t get criticised in the same way.
“I think her embracing feminism is a really good thing, because it moves feminism from academic texts to more accessible ways of understanding it.”
Molly says she’s tempted to get in touch and tell the singer that she was the subject of her dissertation.
“If she was actually to read it, that would just make my life.”
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