Becka Wall – @beckawall
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Beyonce released her latest album, “Lemonade,” last week. The album has been acknowledged as one of her best and most powerful yet, and critics and activists alike have applauded her delving into what it means to be a black woman in 2016.
The album has an overriding theme of infidelity, highlighted in the ensuing media mystery of “Becky with the Good Hair,” and even some rappers have accused Beyonce of racism against white women with the use of the name “Becky.”
But focusing on “Becky” takes away from the power of “Lemonade” as a whole.
Trying to sniff out who the “other woman” is and attack her is ignoring a major player in infidelity: Beyonce’s supposedly monogamous partner.
There is much debate over whether Jay-Z actually cheated on Beyonce, but let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that he did, and that’s what this album is about.
In the words of Jill Filipovic at Cosmopolitan:
No one likes a home-wrecker, and there’s nothing admirable or even morally neutral about sleeping with someone you know is in a monogamous relationship. But it wasn’t Becky, whoever she is, who broke her vow to Beyoncé.
Men are, in fact, just as capable as women of making decisions about sex. And when they make bad decisions — decisions that hurt people or that violate the boundaries of their relationship — they are just as responsible.
It it takes two to tango when an extramarital affair is involved—and only one of them was married to Beyonce. Singling out “Becky,” whoever she may be, as the primary person to blame further perpetuates the idea that men are animals who can’t control their desires.
The focus on “Becky” also shifts the conversation away from the importance this album plays for women of color.
Ijeoma Oluo sums it up beautifully:
Lemonade is about the love that black women have – the love that threatens to kill us, makes us crazy and makes us stronger than we should ever have to be.
We are the women left behind. We are the women who have cared for other women’s children while ours were taken away. We are the women who work two jobs when companies won’t hire our men. We are the women caring for grandchildren as our sons are taken by the prison industrial complex. We are the women who march in the streets and are never marched for. We are the women expected to never air our grievances in public. We are the women expected to stay loyal to our men by staying silent through abuse and infidelity. We are the women who clean the blood of our men and boys from the streets. We are the women who gather their belongings from the police station.
“Lemonade” is an album made by a black woman for black women. The music video features the mothers of young black men who were fatally shot by the police. It prominently features black female artists, not just as back up dancers, but as complete, strong characters. The lyrics, if you listen closely, are about the barriers black women face.
Focusing on “Becky with the good hair” does a disservice to “Lemonade” and Beyonce’s message. Next time you watch the music video, listen again to the lyrics and watch closely. There’s much more at play than who might be the other woman.