When I’m on a date its inevitable that Beyonce will somehow sneak her way into the conversation. Whether it’s the date I made watch Lemonade (his response: Damn Jay-Z) or the time I thought the bartender called me Beyonce (he actually just said the word ambiance…I don’t know anymore) but this time it was: Why Beyonce WOULDN’T be catcalled but I WOULD. His words not mine.
Now Hold Up.
At first this seems like a valid statement. Hypothetically if Beyonce was walking down the street she probably wouldn’t be catcalled and I probably would. Fact. But its not because she’s so untouchable and I’m the girl you sit next to on the train because I have nice teacher face.
No. Beyonce’s beauty has nothing to do with catcalling.
Now maybe I should fill in some gaps.
First of all tinder happened and then we all decided it was a good thing so we tried it because we’re insane. What made us think posting pictures and 200 words or less would attract a steady-level mate? I mean, I can’t think of a time I went on tinder and was like, “I am in such a great place, let me find ways to slowly prove why humanity is falling into a slow downward spiral. Swipety-Swipe-Swipe-OMG WHAT JUST HAPPENED.” I’ve only joined tinder when I was bitter, sad, disappointed, peer pressured, bored or a little drunk. Each date had its promises only to find out he has a weird lizard fetish or he’s a doctor but he’s super into degrading women or he wants to take you to a mall and paint you while others watch, he’s a cool-theatre-guy-whose in a quasi-relationship with his ex and he wants to get back at her by going on dates with pretty girls and then snapping about it later (all true stories). No tinder is just a thing I hope finds its way to a meteor sized extinction before any of my children find their way to planet earth.
*Tinder rant completed*
So when said date and I are finishing an otherwise lovely conversation, I mention this time a guy in a giant beatup pick up truck pulled up and started honking at me. I had my back turned to the street as I was opening the door to my building. I was heading up to my apartment before my brother was going to pick me up. Suddenly I hear this loud honking and I turn around smiling thinking its my brother playing a practical joke, only to find out its some drunk guy who starts rolling down his window and whistling at me (and I’m not even going to answer the hateration by explaining what I was or wasn’t wearing. I’ll let your imagination soar).
I was shocked to find some gross guy and not my brother parked outside my apartment. Not only that but I turned around smiling making me feel even more angry. Not only did he get the gratification of cat calling but he thought I liked it. He proceeded to speed off into the distance, hopefully being pulled over and sent straight to whatever island these guys deserve to live on. Celibate for the rest of their lives.
After my cat-calling story, we eventually came to the disparite comparison of Beyonce and myself. I have to be honest: it hurt. I watched as my ego slowly deflated like an old birthday balloon falling to the ground.
Not that I walk around feeling like Beyonce (don’t ask my friends for verification on this) or that I believe I am her equivalent but that is not the point of Beyonce. She unleashes a confidence storm that I have felt at every concert, in every bead of her sweat, blood and tears. She is not the type of woman, actress, singer, performer, artist, mother, friend who is in the business of making women feel bad about themselves. She just owns her beauty and asks other women to do the same. Maybe you don’t agree with the way she does it, the sexual nature of it all, but its very powerful. So powerful that it makes men believe there are levels. A woman who is a regular person is not immune to catcalling where as other women, the likes of Sofia Vergara, Beyonce, Rihanna and Heidi Klum are immune.
I thought about this on my walk home after the date. I decided to walk the three miles home from said date because I love walking. It is meditative for me and makes the world right again. In walking home I discovered the answer to the question of cat calling and the root of my upsetedness.
I was upset for feeling like through the course of one date someone had the power to take away my confidence that I have worked so hard for. That someone could delete the beauty I possess into scales and measures. I was upset that there is a comparative reason why other women are subjected to name calling, harassment and safety compromised simply based on beauty standards that aren’t real or inherit in anyone’s decision to degrade women. The real reason Beyonce wouldn’t be catcalled and I would be catcalled is simply put: power and class.
Men perceive her as capable of issuing serious repercussions if they were to “mess” with her. I mean seriously, anytime Beyonce is in the public eye she is either there with protection, walking down a red-carpet, onstage in front of millions, or running from a building to her tinted window-ed-partitioned-car. She’s wealthy. She owns her own businesses (plural). She is a legend. Her class gives her that elevation and protection from the street level harassment. Beyonce’s torturers are much more frequent but protected by the screen and of a different world. A world I am not apart of as a middle class citizen of the every day world.
However, I can imagine what it would be like to live in a Beyonce world and I can remember the men who made me feel that way. It’s the same feeling I get when I have my freakkum dress on. When I meet a date, with someone I met in real life, and we are headed out to his (fill in the blank) party. We walk into a room and I can feel my heels snap the floor, my hair is behaving correctly, my dress is just the right everything and I feel Beyonce powerful. He touches my waist, reassuring me that he is with me. We drift away and back to one another throughout the night but the feeling never leaves me. The feeling that he feels to be lucky to be with me and his recognition of my light (and one can only hope it is a very mutual recognition).
The difference between the men and the boys is this kind of recognition. The recognition of the power every woman possesses. Whether she is calling the shots, feeding the children, creating space for her aging mother-in-law, making that paper, the men around her recognize this as powerful and therefore untouchable. The boys see her beauty as exchangeable, tangible and bought. They’ve put a price on something that has no exchange rate. To these boys I only have a few Beyonce choice words:
Now pass me my drink…
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