Why Beyonce’s “Bow Down” Shouldn’t Rattle Cages
Chelsea DeMello, Staff Writer
March 31, 2013
Filed under Commentary
With the recent release of her new single, “Bow Down,” Beyonce has been causing quite a stir.
On March 17, Beyonce Knowles used her online blog to showcase the new song. While the controversy is concerning the actual lyrics, the new track differs on another level as well.
At first, the song appears to be fast paced. Yet a little after a minute, it changes. Beyonce’s voice is transformed and the track becomes slow and distorted.
As far as the lyrics, Beyonce declares for listeners to “bow down” in an explicit context. This declaration has caused a divide between fans and critics for many reasons.
During his show, Rush Limbaugh stated that the song is basically insight into married life and how women should bow down to their husbands. He said, “She now understands it’s worth it to bow down and is passing on this advice.”
Unfortunately, this is a complete misinterpretation of the song and its meaning. The second stanza of the song clearly says, “I took some time to live my life, but don’t think I’m just his little wife. Don’t get it twisted.” What she is doing is actually the opposite of bowing down within constraints of marriage. In fact, she is requesting those that hated against her to bow down instead.
Mr. Limbaugh also infers a problem with Beyonce choosing to call herself Mrs. Carter. As opposed to keeping her maiden name, it implies she is stripping herself from the category of being a strong, independent woman. This misconception is just wrong and exhausting. Marriage does not mean a woman can no longer be autonomous.
Another problem with the lyrics is the level of explicit insult. Some listeners are having issues with being asked to bow down and with being referred to as a female dog. It does not seem normal coming from such a mainstream artist.
She sang at the Super Bowl and at the President’s Inauguration. However, although this song does stretch the boundaries for such a conventional artist, it is really not that big of a surprise.
The controversy just seems to be so large because she has been in the highest spotlight lately, but Beyonce’s past choices have always been borderline provocative. Her songs, dance moves, and clothing choices have never been rated for children or pre-teens as a type of role model.
She was pushed into that standard, and to be held there when it’s convenient is a bit unfair. Plus, though music videos and artists do have some power, it’s unrealistic to pretend that they are the most important contributors to an adolescents influence.
Moreover, take the song, “Naughty Girl,” which was released in 2004. It references having a wild and nasty night with a lover. In the video, Jay-Z was featured, although he and Beyonce didn’t marry until 2008. Premarital, kinky sex isn’t exactly role model behavior either.
Or in 2009, the song “Diva” was released. The lyrics state, “A Diva is a female version of a Hustla’,” and although in the video Beyonce defines a diva as being a pop star, hustlers usually do not have that type of positive association. Thus meaning the song could still have a questionable interpretation.
Yet, these songs were created prior to the Super Bowl and the 2013 inauguration. The stiletto dancing, pants-less outfit empire was built long before this year. Though the song “Bow Down” might rattle cages for some fans, in retrospect it is just a different version of how artists simply have the ability to express themselves.
Plus, there are so many artists on the radio that refer to girls in the same derogatory sense. Outside of music, the English language has evolved with the word “bitch” as tolerable, even enjoyable.
So why is it okay to jam to a song or laugh at an internet joke when a man uses the insulting tone, but the moment a highly recognized female artists uses that reference, it’s suddenly the most horrific dialogue ever reverberated?
Beyonce is simply asking those who accept the term to bow down and that should be no more offensive than any other crude lyric. The controversy is just another example of a double standard, and I believe she is recognizing that.