What you enjoy in bed is not the same as what you enjoy in day to day life. There is nothing 'anti- feminist' about wanting to be dominated and absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to experiment. Here's to sex in defence of Beyonce's feminism!
The F Word. Thrown around so much these days that’s it’s almost lost its original meaning and mentioning it at a dinner party can be seen as pretty tasteless. F**k, ‘feminism’ comes with so much stigma lately that sometimes it’s almost easier to not say it in public than to explain that it literally means believing in equality. Thankfully, feminism has gained itself a champion in recent years: Beyoncé, Queen B, Sasha Fierce - call her what you will, it’s impossible to ignore her standing in a glittering costume with the words ‘feminist’ flashing behind her.
However, Beyoncé’s stance as a feminist has not come without its backlash. I recall a conversation with a flatmate in my first year at university. As I rambled on about her position as a powerful role model for women, the girl I was with pointed out a view which surprised me. “But the lyrics in her song ‘Partition’ say ‘I just want to be the kind of girl you like’, and she’s singing about giving someone a blow job. How can she be a feminist if she’s publicly showing that she just wants to be sexually submissive to men like that?’”. And here begins our problem that needs to be clarified.
A person’s sexual ego is a separate side to them from their public personality. As a tiny, occasionally shy and often serious person, people are surprised when I get a few shots in me and the details of my sex life come out in a game of ‘never have I ever’. This is because the confidence people gain from being naked with a partner, and the things that give them physical pleasure, are not necessarily dictated by the personality they show in platonic relationships or in a group setting. In bed, I am confident, enjoy experimenting with kinky ideas, and would never say no to someone dominating me.
To me, being thrown down and told what to do is sexy as hell. However, I am also a feminist. I believe that I should be respected for the work I do and that my opinions should be as heard as anyone else’s, regardless of gender. Wanting to be dominated in bed doesn’t mean that I want to be dominated in a conversation. Equally, wanting to sexually please my partner and match their sexual fantasies doesn’t mean that I want to adhere to every man’s idea of the perfect woman outside of the bedroom.
There is a common misconception that in saying ‘I just want to be the kind of girl you like’, Beyonce is setting us back one hundred years in terms of gender equality. However, the ego she is portraying here does not affect her feminism. These lines are a sexual expression of someone who, very naturally, is physically turned on by the idea of physically turning someone on. It is very possible to be giving someone a blow job in the back of a limousine (or insert vehicle of choice - sadly we can’t all match Beyonce’s lifestyle) whilst still advocating equality. Being on your knees giving a blow job doesn’t mean that you accept the gendered power structures handed down to you. It means, very simply, that you have a sexual nature which in that moment wants to physically please the other person.
By viewing sexual and public personalities as complimenting but separate sides of a person, it is possible to accept that a feminist can experience sexual exploration with acts perhaps misread as gendered constructs. As long as the aim of the activity is consensual and mutual pleasure, and with the acceptance that the desire to please someone isn’t going to be one-sided, there is no reason that your sexual decisions need reflect your demands in a professional, academic, or just friendly environment. So yes, Beyonce, behind closed doors I too just want to by the kind of person my partner likes. And I’m also a feminist.