Women's News from the Web

Don’t shake off the Taylor Swift-Beyoncé controversy as just a performance | Arwa Mahdawi

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 05/04/2019 - 03:00

Swift’s Billboard Music awards set was reminiscent of Beyonce’s 2018 Coachella show – highlighting the history of black women’s achievements being ignored

Sign up for the Week in Patriarchy, a newsletter​ on feminism and sexism sent every Saturday.

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Feminist lawyers of South Asia rally to aid of #MeToo survivors

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 05/04/2019 - 03:00
Facing down intimidation, women all over this traditional region are speaking out about sexual harassment and violence

Ali Zafar is famed across South Asia for his pop music, romantic comedies and even the occasional toothpaste advert. But last weekend he gave a particularly emotional performance on Pakistani television, tears welling in his eyes as he spoke of the effect sexual harassment allegations has had on his life. For the past year, the actor and musician has been embroiled in the country’s most high-profile #MeToo case: his initial accuser was the actress and singer Meesha Shafi.

Last April she issued a statement claiming that Zafar had sexually harassed her “on more than one occasion”. He responded by “categorically denying” the allegations and promising to sue.

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We don't need fraternities. Swarthmore was right to shut their's down | Jill Filipovic

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 05/04/2019 - 00:00

Fraternities are pernicious forces for too many of the young men who join them, and for even more of the young women who walk through their doors

Here’s a line you don’t read very often: after evidence of truly egregious misogyny and bigotry was leaked to the public, two fraternities have decided to voluntarily disband.

The news comes out of Swarthmore, a liberal arts college in Pennsylvania. Internal documents from the Phi Psi fraternity, which were penned between 2010 and 2016, detailed a so-called “rape attic” at the fraternity, and included explicit and degrading details of sexual interactions with women. In response, several Swarthmore students staged a sit-in at Phi Psi, demanding that the university revoke their lease.

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Estonia minister calls first female president 'emotionally heated woman'

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 05/02/2019 - 15:31

Kersti Kaljulaid criticised by far-right minister for leaving swearing-in ceremony of minister accused of domestic violence

Estonia’s new interior minister has called the country’s first female president, Kersti Kaljulaid, an “emotionally heated woman” for walking out during the swearing-in of a cabinet minister accused of domestic violence.

Mart Helme made the sexist remark at a news conference where he also accused domestic news outlets of applying a double standard in covering abuse allegations against a former minister from his far-right party.

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Women taking pill may be less likely to suffer ACL injury, study finds

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 05/02/2019 - 13:01

Hormonal contraceptives potentially reduce risk of tear to anterior cruciate ligament

Women on the combined pill appear to be less likely to tear a key ligament in their knee, research suggests.

Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee are common, particularly in people taking part in sport, where such injuries sometimes end careers.

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The ERA – Rising from the Dead

Women's eNews - Thu, 05/02/2019 - 10:37

The House Judiciary Committee held the first Congressional hearing on the amendment in more than three decades on April 30. Supporters of the ERA argued that its resurrection was desperately needed. Opponents wanted it to stay buried. The conservative National Review opined, The Equal Rights Amendment Is Deader than Marley’s Ghost.

But this epitaph is premature. Two states—Nevada and Illinois—have recently ratified the amendment, bringing the total to 37, just one short of the 38 needed for ratification. The key passage at the heart of the ERA is:  “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” The ERA, if ratified, would provide a strong legal defense against a rollback of the significant advances in women’s rights that have been achieved since the mid–20th century.

MARCH 22: A woman hold up a sign as members of Congress and representatives of women’s groups hold a rally to mark the 40th anniversary of congressional passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) outside the U.S. Capitol March 22, 2012 in Washington, DC. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced a new version of the Equal Rights Amendment last year and called for it to be passed again. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Without the ERA, women regularly have to fight long, expensive, and difficult legal battles in an effort to prove that their rights are equal to those of the other sex.

But is the ERA necessary?

In a 2010 interview with California Lawyer magazine, the late justice Antonin Scalia said, “Women’s equality is not explicitly protected in the constitution or in the 14th Amendment.”  In his words, “Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t.” Some critics argue that we don’t need the ERA because women have done ‘just fine’ without it. This argument completely ignores a troubling reality. Every time women make great gains, a sustained period of backlash sets in and a retreat follows on women’s rights.  

After women were granted the right to vote in 1920, the drive for more gains slowed down. It would take another 45 years for women to win the right to simply use contraception to plan their families. The women’s movement of the 1970s was followed by an extended period of “Post feminism,” and young women avoided the term as if it were a swear word. In 1998, a Time magazine cover asked, Is Feminism Dead? and suggested the answer was ‘yes’.

In 1991, women were enraged over the sexist treatment of law professor Anita Hill when she testified against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in his Senate confirmation hearing. Hill, who said that Thomas sexually harassed her, was grilled about prurient issues. Senators insisted that she name the pornographic movie Thomas allegedly recommended to her, “Long Dong Silver.”

Women responded by running for political office in greater numbers in the next year than in the past, and winning. Never before had four women been sent to the Senate in a single congressional election. The year 1992 was even dubbed “The Year of the Woman,” but mass political activism around sexual harassment mostly faded, until the #MeToo movement surfaced in 2017.

The ERA could successfully diminish the power of backlash that builds after every major step forward, because when rights are embedded in the Constitution, they are hard to deny. Recall that in the 1970s, Phyllis Schlafly, the ardent, strident and out-spoken enemy of the ERA, issued dire predictions about the aftermath of its passage. “She warned of a dystopian post-E.R.A. future of women forced to enlist in the military, gay marriage, unisex toilets everywhere and homemakers driven into the workplace by husbands free to abandon them,” noted the New York Times. Scare stories abounded, and the amendment fell short of the number of states needed for ratification.   

Although the amendment failed, the New York Times reported that, “Much of what she [Schlafly] recoiled from has come to pass: abortions are intact, albeit under siege in some jurisdictions. Same-sex marriage as a right has the Supreme Court’s blessing. Unisex bathrooms are a broadly accepted fact of life, notwithstanding struggles over transgender rights. And women today not only fill the ranks of the military but are also eligible for combat duty.”

But many of these changes resulted from legislation and, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg reminds us, “legislation can be repealed, it can be altered.” Or it can simply ignored. In April, the U.S. Justice Department decided not to defend a federal law banning female genital mutilation. This is a barbaric procedure, unfortunately common in many areas of the world. The section of a women’s genitalia that is key to sexual pleasure is simply cut out of her body. Women’s rights activists have called for the reversal of the decision. (Women’s eNews alerted readers to this story on April 26.)

What difference would the ERA make if it were to be made law today? According to the New York Times, it would “guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex. It would also require states to intervene in cases of gender violence, such as domestic violence and sexual harassment; it would guard against pregnancy and motherhood discrimination; and it would federally guarantee equal pay.” During the 1970s and ’80s, Ruth Bader Ginsburg helped to persuade the Supreme Court to extend the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to prohibit unequal treatment on the basis of sex — similar to what the ERA would have done. But supporters said that clause didn’t go far enough, particularly when it comes to violence against women, sexual harassment and equal pay.”

Looking at the history of the gender pay gap shows us why the ERA is needed. This stubborn  gap persists despite the fact that the Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy. He praised it as a “significant step forward,” but acknowledged that “much remains to be done to achieve full equality of economic opportunity” for women. His words were eerily prescient.

Since then, some gains were made. In 1963, “women who worked full-time, year-round made 59 cents on average for every dollar earned by men.” In the past six decades, women’s earnings have increased, but according to the National Women’s Law Center, the wage gap remains stubborn, with very little change over the past 12 years.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) finds that “if change continues at the same slow pace as it has done for the past fifty years, it will take 41 years—or until 2059—for women to finally reach pay parity.” For women of color, the rate of change is even slower. The gender wage gap persists in spite of passage of The Equal Pay Act. Gender discrimination, unequal opportunities for advancement, and lack of federal paid parental leave and childcare assistance all contribute to the unequal status quo.

And the fight goes on. Since the 1970s, five states – Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, Tennessee, and South Dakota – have attempted to withdraw their approval of the Equal Rights Amendment. There is heated debate over whether states actually have the right to rescind a ratification. Ultimately, the Supreme Court may have to answer this question. And this debate is likely to intensify as we approach the magic number: 38.

Why is it important now?

In 2017, Nevada ratified the amendment, led by democratic State Senator Pat Spearman,  “It was then that other states said, ‘Wait a minute, you mean we can still do that?” noted the New York Times. In 2018, Illinois did as well. Then, in February of 2019, Virginia came close to being the 38th and final state needed to ratify the amendment — until the State House killed its progress. “The drumbeat for the ERA is louder than ever before. Women are marching, protesting, running for office – and getting elected – in record numbers. The #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have shined a light on the discrimination that persists in this country. And it is up to us to harness the energy of these movements to break through the final barrier to finally ratify the ERA,” says Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). “Our rights cannot be subject to the political whims of legislators, judges, or occupants of the White House who do not see women as equal citizens. We will not quit until women are in the Constitution, where we belong. Women are not waiting any longer. We demand full equality now. We demand that it be spelled out in the Constitution. And you know how you spell it? E-R-A.”

Virginia’s Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, has led the new movement to defeat the ERA. The Washington Post reports, “Virginia was poised to become the 38th state to ratify it, filling in that three-quarters majority of states required for it to become official. In Richmond, the GOP-led Senate passed the ERA bill [in February 2019]. And celebrities, lawmakers and activists were touting its revival on Capitol Hill in Washington. “But then a tiny subcommittee in Richmond — the House Privileges and Elections subcommittee — voted along party lines to block the amendment from reaching the House floor after heavy lobbying from Cobb.” The Post goes on to note that, “(Cobb) has powerful place in the world of business is her family’s oyster company, where she has worked mostof her adult life. Good thing there’s no sexual harassment or gender discrimination there, right?” Cobb bases most of her objections on abortion, “convincing folks that somehow, if women were to finally be included in the Constitution, it would mean all kinds of public money would be funding abortion.” However, the ERA has nothing to do with abortion.

 “Today, we are witnessing a massive cultural shift for women around the globe. As the highest-ranking female elected official in New York – the birthplace of the women’s rights movement – we must lead by example and pass the Equal Rights Amendment now,” says NYS Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “From the workplace to our health care system, women are being held back by outdated institutional social and economic barriers. Because of our current climate, enacting an ERA on both the state and federal level is more important now than ever. Let’s take action and support women around our nation to achieve full constitutional equality. Our generation must take the torch passed on to us by our foremothers and enact a new ERA for the next generation.”

As the battle rages on, Justice Ginsburg, aka The Notorious RBG, has also made one of the best arguments for ratification: “I would like my granddaughters, when they pick up the Constitution, to see that notion—that women and men are persons of equal stature—I’d like them to see that is a basic principle of our society.”

The California jail where women say guards and medics preyed on them

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 05/01/2019 - 21:00

Former inmates at a Los Angeles county prison allege a range of sexual abuses by employees – from overt assault to subtle misconduct – made easy by the toxic power dynamics

In 2011, Michele Infante was incarcerated for close to six months at the Century regional detention facility in Lynwood, California, a small city adjacent to Compton and Watts. The facility is Los Angeles county’s only jail designated for women and sprawls across an industrial zone in the shadow of the Imperial Highway.

Infante, now 58, says she was sexually assaulted and sexually abused by two different employees at Lynwood, as the jail is known locally.

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Why being pregnant while black can seriously damage your health | Miriam Zoila Pérez

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 05/01/2019 - 20:00

In the US, women of color face more risks in pregnancy and childbirth than white women, and the reason for the disparity has become clear: racism

When Jessica Roach’s second daughter was born premature, at just 34 weeks and five days, Roach found herself living a statistic that she knew intimately. What began as dizzy spells, nausea and food aversion became a condition that called for bed rest; her cervix, it turned out, was dilating too early. An African American woman living in Columbus, Ohio, Roach experienced a pregnancy rife with health challenges, despite having a job as a nurse at Ohio State University and access to medical care just floors from where she worked.

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Cambridge University criticised for hosting anti-feminist group

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 05/01/2019 - 19:00

Justice for Men and Boys event goes against institution’s values, say staff and students

The University of Cambridge has been criticised for hosting a self-proclaimed anti-feminist group that staff claim have harassed female academics and make people feel unsafe on campus.

A letter, written by more than 300 of the university staff, students and alumni, calls for an event featuring the political party Justice for Men and Boys (J4MB) to be cancelled.

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Twitter and Facebook told they must do more to protect female MPs

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 05/01/2019 - 11:43

Parliamentary committee grills company representatives over violent and misogynistic abuse

Twitter and Facebook have been accused by a parliamentary committee of failing to do enough to protect female MPs and other public figures from violent or misogynistic abuse.

Representatives of the two social media giants appeared before the joint human rights committee on Wednesday, where one member – Joanna Cherry, an SNP MP – showed examples of the type of abuse that female MPs faced.

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Tarana Burke and Tracey Spicer win Sydney Peace prize for #MeToo work

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 04/30/2019 - 08:00

Award honours the movement that has changed the way society understands and talks about sexual violence

Tracey Spicer, the joint winner of the 2019 Sydney Peace prize, is calling for an incoming federal government to overhaul Australian defamation laws to ensure sexual harassment survivors are not condemned to silence.

Tarana Burke, the US-based founder of the #MeToo movement, has been awarded the annual prize alongside Spicer, who helped spearhead award-winning investigations into sexual harassment in media workplaces in Australia.

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NHS maternity services in special measures at two Welsh hospitals

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 04/30/2019 - 07:02

Move follows uncovering of failings that may have put lives of women and babies at risk

Maternity services at two NHS hospitals in south Wales have been put into special measures after a report found a series of failings that may have put the lives of women and babies at risk.

An investigation into maternity units at Cwm Taf University health board raised “significant concerns” around staffing, processes and culture that it said compromised care.

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WLTM other lonely mothers – could a friendship app transform the lives of single parents?

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 04/30/2019 - 00:00

Single parents say they face a particular kind of isolation – especially when the world of parenting apps is dominated by ‘nuclear families’. One single mother has set out to change that

I became pregnant at 21. It wasn’t planned. I was weeks away from my dissertation deadline, in the final months of a fashion journalism degree at the London College of Fashion. I was going through the fallout of a painful breakup (we are great friends now), and I searched for healing in all types of ways, including the brief fling that led to my pregnancy.

I want to say my decision to have my daughter was firm from the beginning, but that would be a lie. It took me a few days to realise that being a mother was something I wanted, and just because it wasn’t how I imagined – meet “perfect” man, marry said man, procreate on a predetermined schedule – it didn’t mean it wouldn’t still be fine.

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Hobbyhorsing: what girls everywhere can learn from the Finnish craze

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 04/29/2019 - 20:00

Riding an imaginary horse is a galloping success with young girls in the Scandinavian country – and the trend is taking off elsewhere

Perhaps one of the more surprising articles to be widely circulated this month has been a New York Times feature on the girls of Finland and their fondness for hobbyhorsing.

Hobbyhorsing is not a metaphor, nor indeed the repurposing of some veterinarian-standard tranquiliser by the nightclubbing youth of today. It is, in fact, the act and art of riding a rudimentary toy horse – a toy that is, to put it bluntly, a stuffed fabric horse’s head attached to a stick.

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Why does female armpit hair provoke such outrage and disgust?

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 04/29/2019 - 07:34

Hairy armpits are in fashion – but a Nike ad featuring a model with a small amount of visible hair attracted thousands of critical comments

Julia Roberts: America’s sweetheart, Hollywood royalty – and an early pioneer of armpit-hair acceptance. Her look at the 1999 premiere of Notting Hill, beaming in a red sequined Vivienne Tam dress, arm raised to reveal a dark tuft, was immediately celebrated as a subversive feminist bird-flip against female beauty standards. Except it wasn’t: 20 years later, she confessed that the look hadn’t been a statement at all, rather that she had forgotten to shave and miscalculated the sleeve length of the dress.

Armpit hair remains a bizarre sticking point for anti-feminists. A few days ago, Nike uploaded a picture on Instagram showing the model and musician Annahstasia Enuke with a small amount of underarm hair visible; in response, thousands of commenters expressed outrage and disgust. Just a day later, the deodorant brand Nuud responded to a backlash against its own online advert that had featured underarm hair. The cynic in me has no doubt that the engagement all the hate-clicks and outrage drum up on social media is the main driver for brands’ recent love affair with body hair (two years ago Adidas featured a model with hairy legs to much ire and press reaction). But it is also an important reminder of just how upset people become when women are not scraping and cutting off bits of themselves in order to be pleasing to the public’s eye. The amount of vitriol, anger and hate that can be garnered by something that does not affect anyone apart from the individual woman is incredible – even more so when you compare it with the non-reaction to men doing the exact same thing.

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I feel grief and relief that I’ve never had children. Other women must share this | Katherine Baldwin

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 04/28/2019 - 23:00

We have a choice about motherhood but it’s not always clear-cut, and ambivalence can be a painful place

In the last month, there’s been a run of fertility-related news stories, from the pregnancy figures that confirmed the trend towards later motherhood, to the suggestion that IVF clinics are exploiting older women, to the huge emotional and financial cost of failed IVF. But among them, I don’t hear about experiences that chime with my own, or with those of some of the women I coach – the women who are or were ambivalent about having children.

Ambivalence, from the Latin, means to be pulled strongly in two directions. This aptly describes my relationship to motherhood. I spent my 20s and early 30s avoiding having a baby at all costs as I built my career as a foreign correspondent. Back in London and approaching 40, a combination of factors sparked baby angst. There was my ticking biological clock, burnout in my job and my father’s death, which exposed my aloneness and made me question why I’d prioritised work over family.

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Fourth-wave feminism can learn a thing or two from the 1980s play Top Girls | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 04/28/2019 - 21:00

The play reminds us that any feminism worth its salt needs to transcend questions of individual identity

There has been a trend in fourth-wave feminism for exploring the stories of women overlooked by history; but almost 40 years before Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, Top Girls did it, for grownups. Caryl Churchill’s 1982 play, now revived at the National Theatre by Lyndsey Turner, is perhaps best known for its opening scene – a Saturday night dinner party featuring Pope Joan, Lady Nijō, Dull Gret, Isabella Bird, Patient Griselda and a Thatcherite recruitment manager called Marlene. It’s a genius opener, a dreamlike sequence in which the women share their tales of suffering and patriarchy, poignantly but also hilariously, as they proceed to get more and more wasted on Frascati. It’s very, very funny. It sticks the knife in while you’re laughing, off-guard, and then twists it.

Related: Top Girls review – Churchill's study of bourgeois feminism gets an epic makeover

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Beyonce’s Homecoming: A Lesson In Black Excellence and Vulnerability

Women's eNews - Sun, 04/28/2019 - 07:32

Beyoncé is as close to perfection as one can ever hope to become. She is the face of #iwokeuplikethis. But her new video, Homecoming, released on Netflix reveals a different side of this fierce, feminist icon. Between clips of her 2018 Coachella headline performance, the audience is given a glimpse beyond the effortlessly perfect front we are used to seeing. In this two-hour documentary, Beyoncé reveals another superpower: Vulnerability and authenticity.

We see a woman struggling to get back in shape after a difficult and dangerous pregnancy. A woman who is tired, sweaty, and frustrated as she learns her dance routine and directs a crew of 100+ individuals.

Her voice narrates the video of her first rehearsal post-birthing twins: “There were days I thought I’d never be the same. I’d never be the same physically, my strength and endurance would never be the same.”

She reveals the internal struggles she faced, as well: “A lot of the choreography is about feeling so it’s not as technical. It’s your own personality that brings it to life and that’s hard when you don’t feel like yourself… it took me a while to feel confident enough.” Her vulnerability is refreshing and restorative to women, especially Black women who so often feel the need to project a strong, stoic front to the world.

Black women live at the intersection of racism and sexism. These systems of oppressions work constantly to demean, depress and disenfranchise those it intends to harm. Yet magically, and miraculously, Black women continue to rise like the mythological phoenix, but that doesn’t negate the harm of the fire that burns them. The ashes do not simply disappear once they are in flight. Black women are human, and like all humans, they need space to mess up, grow, fail, succeed, fail again, and genuinely come into their own power.

But Black women are consistently given the least number of resources and receive the most judgement about their decisions.

Many religious institutions admonish them for their bodies and sexuality. White conservatives label them as moochers and welfare queens. Most media paints them into caricatures: Angry, aggressive adversaries and asexual maternal figures with no lives of their own; or overly-sexual beings that only exist for the beck and call of men.

With no nuance provided and minimal honest investigation of their true lives, we are left with few authentic representations of Black woman and the effort it takes to be excellent, which makes watching this documentary even sweeter. In a call-and-response portion of Beyoncé’s performance, she incorporates audio of one of Malcolm X’s speeches amidst her lyrics:

Malcolm X: “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman.”

Beyoncé: “I am the dragon breathing fire.”

Malcolm X: “The most unprotected person in America is the black woman.”

Beyoncé: “Beautiful man, I’m the lion.”

Malcolm X: “The most neglected person in America is the black woman.”

By using her own language to counter Malcolm X’s sobering truths, she both acknowledges the oppressive forces they are up against while providing an empowering denouncement of those who deny their power, beauty, and humanity.  However, such responses also contribute to a societal expectation that Black women are able to do anything, but there is no gladness in being the mule of the world. This expectation is hurtful and deadly.  While there is pride in overcoming such immense strugglea and oppression, many fail to recognize the price being paid. “What people don’t see is the sacrifice,” Beyoncé notes.

The Black community has started to connect the dots where Black women are expected always appear strong, thus creating additional stressors that can lead to development of serious mental and physical health issues. Due to stress-related accelerated biological aging, Black women between the ages 49-55 are 7.5 biological years “older” than white women on average, with perceived stress and poverty accounting for 27 percent of this difference. Further, the pain women of color experience in medical situations is often perceived as lower than the pain of white women due to erroneous racial biases that women of color have higher pain tolerance. Having their pain taken less seriously has proven to be lethal in many cases.

Beyoncé, herself, experienced serious complications during her pregnancy, including high blood pressure, toxemia, pre-eclampsia, and an emergency C-section. “I was in survival mode and did not grasp it all until months later,” she notes. Still, she pushed herself to get back to work as soon as possible, driven to use her platform to help “lift up” her people and “put on stage a proud moment for us”.

As the first female African American woman to headline Coachella, she had a vision for a performance that evoked images from HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities): “I wanted a Black orchestra. I wanted the steppers. I needed the vocalists… the amount of swag is just limitless.” Her Homecoming video also includes audio from numerous famous African American scholars dispersed throughout. “I wanted every person who has ever been dismissed because of the way they look feeling like they were on that stage killing it,” she notes.

This centering of “The Other” is a highly strategic move that not only gives the mostly white Coachella audience a Black history lesson they would never forget, but also provides a grand display of authenticity in an industry sometimes filled with thoughtless stage productions. It was a move that only Beyoncé could have pulled off. Her earth-shattering theme came right from her very own Black southern background.

Beyoncé worked hard to provide this experience. Possibly too hard. She admits during her film, “I pushed myself further than I knew I could and I will never push myself that far again.” The power of this comment was not lost on us. Beyoncé is acknowledging how even she, a woman with an extensive staff helping her to maintain a front of effortless perfection and providing many of the resources needed to reach her goals, is prone to breakdowns. It is eye-opening when a person you idolize as ‘having-it-all’ suddenly reveals that she does not. It illustrates the hollowness of this flawless front we are desperately trying to build for ourselves. We see reality more clearly.

In this moment of the film, Beyoncé is recognizing that we need more than superwomen to help move us forward into bigger and better opportunities. We need authentic, sincere women who are willing to be honest about the struggles they faced to get where they are so the other women following them realize they are allowed to struggle, too, and that struggling doesn’t make us any less worthy.

Homecoming ends with audio of Dr. Maya Angelou. The brilliant writer is asked what advice she would give the next generation and the first thing she says is: “Tell the truth. To yourself first, and to the children.”

We as an audience are left to consider that, when you practice radical self-honesty, the pain of the truth gives way to the wonderment of growth. And when that level of vulnerability is displayed, honored, and respected in front of our children, we can raise generations of young people who understand that growth and improvement is always better than inflexible ideals of perfection.

Only when we show up as who we are, flaws and all, no matter how accomplished we become, do we give permission to others to recognize the greatness in themselves.

About the Authors:

Afftene Taylor is a full time web developer and aspiring actress and writer. She currently lends her creative talents to the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company’s daily audio podcast drama, Mercury: A Broadcast of Hope. You can follow her on Instagram at @madebyafftene.

Caralena Peterson is a high school teacher, writer and visual artist. She is at work on the forthcoming book The Effortless Perfection Myth. You can follow her on Instagram at @caralenapeterson or @badasscreative_

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