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Black Americans Are Collectively Assumed To Be Socially and Politically Liberal

The Black Feminism of Beyonce and Megan Thee Stallion helped me move beyond my socially conservative upbringing

Beyonce’s “Cowboy Carter”

“Black Feminism For Beyonce, Megan, and Me” by Jennifer Stewart

When Beyoncé released her self-titled album in 2013, I realized I might be a feminist. “Flawless,” was a self-affirming, feminist anthem complete with a recording of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie reading from her seminal work We Should All Be Feminists. I was so enamored that I almost ran a red light while listening to it on my way to work in downtown Houston. Hearing themes of empowerment, agency, and autonomy from a black woman shifted something inside me at the tender age of 29.
当碧昂斯 (Beyoncé) 于 2013 年发行同名专辑时,我意识到自己可能是一名女权主义者。 《完美无瑕》是一首自我肯定的女权主义赞歌,收录了 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 朗读她的开创性著作《我们都应该成为女权主义者》的录音。我太着迷了,以至于在休斯顿市中心上班的路上听着它差点闯红灯。在 29 岁的时候,从一位黑人女性那里听到赋权、能动性和自主性的主题改变了我内心的某些东西。

A few years later, Megan Thee Stallion’s “Big Ol’ Freak” audibly rocked my world, causing me to re-examine my experience of sexual pleasure.
几年后,Megan Thee Stallion 的“Big Ol’ Freak”震撼了我的世界,让我重新审视自己的性快感体验。

I’ve remained buckled in for the ride as Megan broadens her lyrical exploration, rapping about pleasure, grief, mental health, body image, and more.

It is not hyperbole to say that these two Houstonians have shaped me into the woman I insist on being, as I believe they have for many black women raised in socially conservative society.

Like Beyoncé and Megan, I was born and raised in Houston. I was not born into black feminism, though my upbringing wasn’t too far off.

I was directed to speak up at all times, to make my physical presence known, and, much to my chagrin, to “go outside and cut the grass.” Almost everything about the way my mom was reared, and then the way she reared me, was towards becoming the strongest, most independent, best version of myself.

White people and men were never named as forces to be feared or motivated by. There was no wink wink at foregoing fun activities like swimming or running in order to preserve my hair style or avoid making my brown skin darker under the sun. If there was any mention of things to do and not to do for the sake of being more attractive to men, I didn’t hear it at home.

Yet, neither I, nor Beyoncé, nor Megan Thee Stallion, were shielded from the gendered expectations of the society we were raised in.

Black Americans are collectively assumed to be socially and politically liberal.

Black Americans are collectively assumed to be socially and politically liberal.

The 2016 election season was the beginning of America reckoning with this faulty assumption when a surprising 12 percent of black voters voted for a law and order candidate who made a judicial beeline to overturn Roe v. Wade.
2016 年选举季是美国开始思考这一错误假设的开始,当时令人惊讶的是,12% 的黑人选民投票给了一位法律与秩序候选人,这位候选人直接通过司法推翻了罗伊诉韦德案。

In 2024, this candidate said black voters can relate to his 19 criminal indictments because they too have been discriminated against. Some polls project 20 percent of black voters will vote for this candidate.
2024 年,这位候选人表示,黑人选民可以理解他的 19 项刑事起诉,因为他们也受到了歧视。一些民意调查预计 20% 的黑人选民将投票给这位候选人。

A black American might vote democratic straight down the ballot, but this same voter may also also agree with the Southern Baptist Convention, that churches are not to be led by women, nor inclusive of queer people. They may also be against reproductive rights. The Pew Research Center reports that almost one in three black survey respondents believes abortion is illegal in all or most cases.

In an unfortunate blend of patriarchy, respectability, and religion birthed during Reconstruction—when black people were determined to get a well-deserved (to say the least) slice of the American dream— social conservatism deeply embedded itself within black culture.

My older sister is a great example. She is a Gen Xer who exclusively votes democrat while using styrofoam plates, believing that sex is for husbands and wives, and referring to unruly women as “females.”  
我的姐姐就是一个很好的例子。她是一位只投票给民主党的 X 一代,同时使用泡沫塑料板,相信性是丈夫和妻子的事,并将不守规矩的女性称为“女性”。

Socially conservative black democrats are proud and protective of their blackness, fighting against racist ills like income inequality, voter suppression, and police brutality.

These socially conservative black democrats also abhor what they see as moral deviance that holds black people back from achieving the black American dream, most saliently demonstrated in their own discrimination against queer and sexually free people.

Late one uneventful Friday night, I pressed pause on my millionth RENAISSANCE listen while my socially conservative sister offered an abundance of opinions about Beyoncé, Megan Thee Stallion, and feminism.

“Megan Thee Stallion is very very very raw,” she said. “But she’s also very young.” She was trying to be as generous as possible, as if youth must contribute to the way Megan—an adult woman with agency—presents herself sexually.
“Megan Thee Stallion 非常非常原始,”她说。 “但她也很年轻。”她试图尽可能地慷慨,仿佛年轻人必须为梅根——一个有代理权的成年女性——在性方面展现自己的方式做出贡献。

My sister dove into a story about a recent house party with her college friends. Though we are ten years apart, I know the virginal status of each of these women, because it’s how my sister has categorized them over the years. Who “sleeps around” and who doesn’t.

Who “waited on God” and who didn’t. A mix of sexual statuses were present at this party. 

Megan’s “Captain Hook” video was projected on the big screen, as a background vibe. Initially, my sister’s friends were hype about the video since it opens with Megan sitting at the head of a table in a recording studio, in charge and calling the shots.

My sister has her own home, a master’s degree, and a decades-long career in IT that she’s proud to have earned on her own. I love my sister and admire her many accomplishments. Watching Megan count her stacks of bills, my sister positioned herself as the voice of reason.
我姐姐拥有自己的家、硕士学位以及长达数十年的 IT 职业生涯,她为自己的努力而感到自豪。我爱我的妹妹并钦佩她的许多成就。看着梅根数着成堆的钞票,我姐姐把自己定位为理性的声音。

“I know women are trying to say ‘we don’t need you [men],’ and all this stuff,” she said.

“But the truth is that we do need men, yes we do.” For black women like my sister, perhaps independence is less about defying gendered expectations and more about the pursuit of a black American dream, which is rooted in respectability and white supremacist patriarchal standards.


Even in girlhood, black conservatism is already on the lookout for any sign of sexual impurity.

Wikipedia’s Black Conservatism page only mentions the words “woman” and “women” once. And yet, so much of black conservatism concerns itself with black women and how they ought to be. Margo Jefferson lists the ways Negro girls ought to be in Negroland, her stunning look into black classism.

In addition to straight hair and narrow noses, Jefferson writes that respectable girls should avoid having “Obtrusive behinds that refuse to slip quietly into sheath dresses, subside and stay put.” Even in girlhood, black conservatism is already on the lookout for any sign of sexual impurity, and seems to lay the blame on women’s bodies, rather than men and their behaviors.


It’s hard to untangle my sister’s anger about sexuality and her distrust of feminism. For her and most socially conservative women, everything is rooted in sexual sin.

When she thinks of feminism, she arrives here: “The message sent to men is that all women need from men is sex.” She continued talking about a flurry of tangential issues such as abortion rights (“I just can’t get with it”) and gay rights (“the homosexuals”).

This person has voted for democrats all of her life, and yet she is a socially conservative woman. 

Socially conservative women have had much to say throughout Beyoncé’s career. The video for “Déja Vu” is celebrated now, but when it was released in 2006, some black women found it problematic.
在碧昂斯的职业生涯中,社会保守女性有很多话要说。 《Déja Vu》的视频现在广受赞誉,但当它在 2006 年发布时,一些黑人女性发现它有问题。

Some fans were so put off by the video—which features Beyoncé running around barefoot in what might be a coastal corn field because she’s so obsessed with Jay Z—that they signed a petition to reshoot the video. I was a senior in college. As though it were yesterday, I remember black women’s second-hand embarrassment. But like the fans who signed the petition, it wasn’t just the dizzying performance that gave them pause.
一些粉丝对这段视频非常反感——视频中碧昂丝赤脚在沿海玉米地里奔跑,因为她非常迷恋 Jay Z——以至于他们签署了一份请愿书,要求重新拍摄这段视频。我当时是大学四年级学生。仿佛就在昨天,我还记得黑人女性的二手尴尬。但就像签署请愿书的球迷一样,让他们犹豫的不仅仅是令人眼花缭乱的表演。

It wasn’t even the worshiping-like, crazed devotion she displayed for Jay Z. “I do not like that video,” I remember a church member saying. “Beyoncé has lost her mind, gyrating all over the place!” Their disgust is rooted in the fact that Beyonceé is wild in the video. She isn’t meek and mild, as the bible calls a good woman to be. Her scenes with Jay Z also suggest an excitement about performing oral sex, which is certainly not what good conservative Black women do.
这甚至不是她对 Jay Z 表现出的崇拜般的、疯狂的奉献。“我不喜欢那个视频,”我记得一位教会成员说。 “碧昂斯失去了理智,到处旋转!”他们的厌恶源于碧昂丝在视频中的狂野。她并不像圣经所说的好女人那样温柔。她与 Jay Z 的场景也表明了对口交的兴奋,这当然不是优秀的保守黑人女性所做的事情。

For most of my adolescence, I scratched my head trying to figure out exactly why—according to the Bible and late night Christian teenage talk shows—we couldn’t have sex outside of marriage. This “will I/won’t I” was at the front of my internal morality line. An obsession, even.

A constant measuring of girls perceived as rule followers (Tia and Tamera) and girls perceived as rule benders (Moesha).
对被视为规则追随者(Tia 和 Tamera)的女孩和被视为规则破坏者(Moesha)的女孩进行持续测量。

I always knew I was a blend of both, but there was no space for a non-binary stance as a girl who came of age in the 90s in a socially conservative environment. Now, I see the pop culture black girl offerings of the 90s through a different lens.
我一直都知道自己是两者的混合体,但作为一个在 90 年代成长于社会保守环境中的女孩,没有非二元立场的空间。现在,我通过不同的视角看待 90 年代的流行文化黑人女孩的作品。

From Tia and Tamera, to Moesha, Zaria, Laura Winslow, Lisa Turtle and beyond, pop culture finally created black girl characters who could think about having sex without the burden of religiosity or trauma.

In hindsight, this seems quietly radical, a necessary step towards a sex positive society. For most of us, sex still stalled at “will I or won’t  I,” rarely going so far as to ask about the larger experience—what sex might actually feel like.

I decided to have sex the summer before graduating college.

After a string of unrequited love rejections and one attempt to be born again (again) at a Lubbock County church, I decided to have sex the summer before graduating college.

From the first time I learned about sex, it seemed like a thing that men took from well-behaved women, or that fast, untrustworthy women allowed to be done to them.

That doctrine crossed racial, class, and political party lines for my entire life, and I’d grown weary of the premarital sex boogeyman.

During my inaugural romp, I laid there rolling my eyes. This was so forbidden?!

Brian, my coworker at the Gap who drove a really cool old Volvo and sang The Killers songs with me on late night drives for beer outside the Lubbock city limits, was going to town, yet all I could think about were the magazines I was going to read at Barnes & Noble later that day.
布赖恩(Brian)是我在 Gap 的同事,他开着一辆非常酷的旧沃尔沃,在深夜开车去拉伯克市范围外喝啤酒时和我一起唱杀手乐队的歌曲,他要去镇上,但我满脑子想的都是我要去的杂志那天晚些时候去巴诺书店读书。

And this felt so deeply correct. By having sex that actually did nothing for me, I felt like I was doing it right.

And for Brian and the partners that followed, all raised on a sexual education curriculum of porn, late night HBO, and dirty chat rooms on Napster, boys jabbing my genitals like a jackhammer probably thought they were doing it right too.
对于布莱恩和随后的伙伴们来说,他们都是在色情片、深夜 HBO 和 Napster 肮脏聊天室的性教育课程中长大的,男孩们像用手提钻一样戳我的生殖器可能认为他们也做得对。

One partner used to get upset when my body wasn’t ready to receive him. I was dry as the desert we were having sex in.

He didn’t ask“what can I do to get you in the mood?” but rather “why can’t I [the man] make this work?” All of it, even in troubleshooting, was in service to him.

If I happened to gain any real sense of pleasure, if any realness resided in my award-winning fake orgasm vocals, it was just a nice add-on. 

All of this changed when Megan Thee Stallion entered my life after my divorce. My socially conservative world avoided talking about sexual pleasure. It seemed that God prioritized two things: male pleasure and childbirth.
当梅根·塞·斯塔林 (Megan Thee Stallion) 离婚后进入我的生活时,所有这一切都发生了变化。我的社会保守世界避免谈论性快感。上帝似乎优先考虑两件事:男性的快乐和生育。

The woman’s pleasure was never a consideration, and women responded with humor by positioning sex as a sort of relationship tax.

From white housewives to black girls from around the way, sex became a way to get what we wanted out of men, whether it be jewelry or a designer bag, or a new kitchen appliance. Sexual pleasure was demoted to a happy, infrequent, surprise. 

But not for Megan Thee Stallion. Her entire catalog turns dysfunctional beliefs about women and sex on their heads. From “Big Ol’ Freak” to “Cash $hit” to “WAP” to the aptly named “Eat It,” Megan centers the universe around her pleasure.
但梅根·西·斯塔林则不然。她的整个目录彻底改变了人们对女性和性的错误观念。从“Big Ol’ Freak”到“Cash $hit”到“WAP”,再到名副其实的“Eat It”,梅根的整个世界都围绕着她的快乐。

In “Girls in the Hood,” Megan raps, “You’ll never catch me calling these niggas Daddy/I ain’t lyin bout my nut just to make a nigga happy.” She is uninterested in placating a man’s ego. She is uninterested in giving a man ownership over her sexual experience.
在《Girls in the Hood》中,梅根说唱道,“你永远不会发现我称这些黑鬼为爸爸/我不是为了让黑鬼开心而撒谎。”她对安抚男人的自尊不感兴趣。她不想让男人拥有她的性经历。

Orgasm-less sex isn’t an option for her. A black woman from Houston who also has broad shoulders and thick thighs and brown skin prioritized her pleasure and it continues to re-mold me with every listen. 

I was toiling over my own suspicion that he thought my black womanness was beautiful but also a burden.

I’d just come out of a situationship that left me feeling red hot with inferiority when I heard “Not Nice” from Traumazine for the first time. I was toiling over my own suspicion that he thought my black womanness was beautiful but also a burden when the lyrics I guess my skin not light enough, my dialect not white enough/Or maybe I’m just not shaped the way that make these niggas givе a fuck shot a bolt of lightning straight through my growing sense of shame, as if to say, “Girl, stand up.” Within seconds, these lyrics reflect the most comprehensive take on what it means to be a black feminist. We stand firm in our blackness and womanness, knowing that doubt and impenetrable confidence are nextdoor neighbors.
当我第一次听到 Traumazine 的“Not Nice”时,我刚刚摆脱了一种让我感到自卑和热血沸腾的境遇。我为自己的怀疑而苦苦挣扎,他认为我的黑人女性很美丽,但也是一种负担,当歌词我猜我的皮肤不够浅,我的方言不够白/或者也许我只是没有塑造出这些黑鬼的方式一道闪电直击我日益增长的羞耻感,仿佛在说:“女孩,站起来。”几秒钟之内,这些歌词就反映了对黑人女权主义者的最全面的理解。我们坚定地坚持自己的黑人和女性身份,知道怀疑和坚不可摧的自信是我们的邻居。

Pitchfork was taken by the same lyrics, stating that these lyrics are “…shining a light on the rampant misogynoir she endured these past couple of years.
Pitchfork 也被同样的歌词所吸引,并表示这些歌词“……揭示了她过去几年所忍受的猖獗的厌女症。

Meg’s known for her celebrating her body in visuals and lyrics, but in this context, it becomes a call-out to those who enjoy her sexualized image but refuse to acknowledge her personhood.

She continues this thread through multiple mentions of embracing her natural hair and Blackness: ‘I’m Black, Biggie-Biggie Black … my Afro my Powerpuff.’

In a 2020 Pitchfork article examining Megan Thee Stallion’s feminist stance within the entertainment industry, writer Rawiya Kameir considers Angela Davis’s view on the role of black feminist entertainers.
在 Pitchfork 2020 年发表的一篇文章中,作者审视了 Megan Thee Stallion 在娱乐行业中的女权主义立场,作家 Rawiya Kameir 考虑了 Angela Davis 对黑人女权主义艺人角色的看法。

“Per Davis, these blues performers modeled a new archetype of Black woman: sexy, independent, cleverly seeking avenues to interrupt male dominance.” That was true of Gertrude “Ma” Rainey’s time, and it remains true today.

Both Megan Thee Stallion and Beyoncé are disruptors in a world that runs on misogyny and misogynoir. 

Though capital F feminism evaded me in my formative years, I’d thought about gender equality since I was a young girl.

Nothing made me silently seeth quite like sitting at the dinner table watching the food go cold because no one could eat until “the man of the house” (my dad) fixed his food first. Gratefully, my mom seldom uttered the words “man of the house,” but it was absolutely implied.

I also thought about gender inequality in the home while I was stuck doing chores late on a Saturday night like a southern Cinderella while my felonious brother was out on the town doing God knows what. I’d thought about the power imbalance for most of my life.

It’s actually more accurate to admit that Beyoncé’s entire catalog was chipping away at that, the final chip discarded with her self-titled album.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Beyoncé’s album was the catalyst for my marriage’s eventual demise, but it certainly provided a great soundtrack as it crumbled. I couldn’t stop hearing Chimamanda’s voice in my head, “‘You should aim to be successful/ But not too successful/ Otherwise you will threaten the man.’” Each of her words were little mirrors and rearview mirrors, forcing me to see my true reflection in the past and present.

The tech industry was not kind to me, so most nights after work, I didn’t feel like sitting down to a big dinner.

Encumbered by his own inability to keep a steady job (despite graduating second in our civil engineering class), my ex-husband started obsessing about gender roles in our two person household within months of our courtroom wedding.

“It wouldn’t hurt you to do a load of dishes,” he’d say after I got home from a day full of condescending interactions in my male-dominated industry. “It wouldn’t hurt either of us if we get to the dishes tomorrow,” I’d say with my wobbly tip toes up to feminism.
“洗一大堆盘子不会对你造成伤害,”当我在男性主导的行业中度过了充满居高临下的互动的一天回到家后,他会说。 “如果我们明天去洗碗,对我们俩都不会造成伤害。”我会用我颤抖的脚尖向女权主义说道。

The tech industry was not kind to me, so most nights after work, I didn’t feel like sitting down to a big dinner. I was just too exhausted to commit to a whole plate of food. “We’re supposed to eat a meal together,” he’d say. I knew this was code for “where’s my food.” 
科技行业对我并不友好,所以大多数晚上下班后,我都不想坐下来吃一顿丰盛的晚餐。我太累了,无法吃掉一整盘食物。 “我们应该一起吃顿饭,”他会说。我知道这是“我的食物在哪里”的代码。

My shoulders shrugged at his burgeoning discontent. He had plenty to say—about women, millennials (we’re born just hours apart, so this was particularly hilarious to me), and millennial women— and how we’re all turning into raging feminists.

I didn’t care about what I was called, and for a long time, I thought I wouldn’t have to. I thought our Bonnie and Clyde-type relationship shielded us from such conventional ways of being. “You’re just such a feminist now,” he said one day. “Feminist?
我不在乎别人叫我什么,而且很长一段时间,我认为我不必这么做。我认为我们邦妮和克莱德式的关系使我们免受这种传统生活方式的影响。 “你现在就是一位女权主义者,”有一天他说道。 “女权主义者?

Dude, I just want us to balance the housework. It’s not that deep,” I responded, reclining into our sofa with a magazine, unbothered by whatever dishes were in the sink.

I was in college when Destiny’s Child released “Cater 2 U,” a polarizing bop about submitting to [deserving, allegedly] men.
当 Destiny's Child 发行《Cater 2 U》时,我还在上大学,这是一首关于屈服于[据称值得的]男人的两极分化的波普音乐。

Surveying my growing list of failed attempts at love, I consumed the song like a kid forced to eat brussel sprouts and shifted my focus to readying myself for the right boy to come along. I worked out religiously, read a tolerable amount of Cosmo, and kept my afro moisturized.

But I drew the line at Food Network. My last roommate cooked Food Network casseroles before class so that her boyfriend—a boy who probably wasn’t enrolled in school and most certainly was not contributing to our rent—would have something to eat while she was gone.

I was so disgusted with this unearned and quite literal catering that I blogged about it.

I’d think of them years later when I was married and could not understand why my ex-husband could see us as professional equals (we were both civil engineers), but expected me to make casseroles, clean the house, and care for him.

I theoretically rejected these warped versions of domestic servitude disguised as partnership, and I actively rejected it while married. My ex-husband’s patriarchal expectations collided with my feminist realizations.

My worldview body rolled from “Cater 2 U” to “Flawless” and there was no turning back.
我的世界观从“Cater 2 U”转向“完美”,没有回头路。

Beyoncé’s self-titled album is almost 10 years old, and in that time, I have not turned back. The only things I abstain from are condescending men and bad sex, all while maintaining my relationship with God. I thank God for my spiritual, emotional, and bodily freedom.

I also thank Him for orgasms that require none of my UCB improv training.
我也感谢他让我不需要 UCB 即兴训练就能达到高潮。

I’m assuming the “Captain Hook” video was on mute because I doubt my sister supports the my-pleasure-first principles that Megan raps, “I love niggas with conversation/That find the clit with no navigation/Mandatory that I get the head/But no guarantees on the penetration.” Though I’m willing to bet that she—unlike music critics and Beyoncé’s own fans— probably appreciates Beyoncé’s “Jolene” cover on COWBOY CARTER.
我假设“胡克船长”视频处于静音状态,因为我怀疑我姐姐是否支持梅根说唱的“我的快乐第一”原则,“我喜欢通过对话找到阴蒂/强制我得到头/但不能保证渗透。”不过我敢打赌,她——与音乐评论家和碧昂斯自己的粉丝不同——可能会欣赏碧昂斯在《COWBOY CARTER》中翻唱的“Jolene”。

Defending men against lascivious women is something she can get behind. 

I wouldn’t trade the freedom I feel in myself for the world, but I also would not sell it as easy.

I wouldn’t trade the freedom I feel in myself for the world, but I also would not sell it as easy. Putting my freedom and autonomy first in a world that remains solidly bent towards patriarchy means I have had to consider the possibility of living life without another partner.

This possibility was only compounded as I watched men—most of them black, in my social media feeds—slander and mock Megan Thee Stallion for being shot by Tory Lanez.

If the Lanez situation was the foundation of the high profile misogynoir Megan indured, Nicki Minaj’s transphobic diss track (and her rabid fans attempting to desecrate Megan’s mother’s grave) is the rickety house built upon it.

As black women, the fight for our own humanity feels most cruel when we’re fighting to be seen within our own community.

Before I have time to dwell in the sadness of that, “CHURCH GIRL,” a joyous track from Beyoncé’s RENAISSANCE, comes to mind.
在我有时间沉浸在悲伤中之前,我的脑海中浮现出碧昂丝《RENAISSANCE》中一首欢乐的歌曲“CHURCH GIRL”。

Not only is it a celebration of blackness, but  “CHURCH GIRL” embodies the lifelong quest to define black feminism for ourselves in the most sincere, sometimes beautiful, sometimes messy kind of way, despite the pressures of a culture that is sometimes wrapped up in social conservatism.

As Beyoncé says, “I’m warning everybody, soon as I get in this party/I’m gon’ let go of this body, I’m gonna love on me/Nobody can judge me but me, I was born free.” Two Texas hotties helped me grow into an awareness of my own freedom.
正如碧昂斯所说,“我警告大家,一旦我参加这个派对/我就会放弃这个身体,我就会爱我/除了我之外没有人可以评判我,我生来自由。 ”两个德克萨斯州的辣妹帮助我逐渐意识到自己的自由。

With every subsequent album and single release, Beyoncé and Megan Thee Stallion provide an influential soundtrack to my life as a free, feminist black Texas woman.

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