Commentary: Why Beyoncé Affirms That Yes, We Can Do It

The singer's Rosie the Riveter pic goes viral and sparks conversation on what feminism means today.

Posted: 07/24/2014 02:00 PM EDT
Filed Under Feminism, B* Real, Beyoncé

Beyonce

America was first introduced to the iconic Rosie the Riveter poster during World War II, which helped boost morale as women took jobs in factories while men were fighting as soldiers in the war, and then again in the 1980s when it was rediscovered and unofficially dubbed as the symbol of female empowerment.

Fast forward a couple decades later and Beyoncé is bringing Rosie back in a big way. During a recent visit to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans with hubby Jay Z and their daughter Blue Ivy, she channeled the famous image of Rosie, dressed in a denim work suit, flowing locks tied back and bicep curled, and snapped a picture in front of the familiar backdrop exclaiming, “We can do it!”  

Bey posted the pic Tuesday to her Instagram page, and according to People magazine, it garnered 300,000 likes within 30 minutes. The shot currently has more than 1.17 million and counting. But along with the love from fans also came criticism.

"Sorry, Beyoncé, Rosie the Riveter Is No Feminist Icon," reads a headline from The Guardian.

The article continues:

"[Rosie] … was designed by a man, J. Howard Miller, who took inspiration from tired, oil-covered workers but washed them down and dolled them up to produce his Rosie. Miller never intended his creation to be a symbol of female empowerment – she was used to encourage women to take up jobs in factories as part of their patriotic duty to the war effort. When we dress up as her, we're dressing up as an airbrushed fib."

But Beyoncé doesn’t seem like the type to play dress up for anyone, and just as the campaign poster was re-branded as a symbol of female empowerment in the ‘80s, Beyoncé is redefining what feminism means in 2014. The Grammy-winning artist’s motto is this: As a woman, you can have it all. You can be a wife, you can be a mom, you can have a career and you can be sexy, all while still being a feminist.

She supports a number of movements dedicated to uplifting women, including “Ban Bossy,” which encourages women to take charge in their pursuits (she punctuated the campaign’s video by saying, “I’m not bossy, I’m the boss.”). Another is Chime for a Change, which focuses on three key areas in women’s issues: education, health and justice. She’s even gone so far for the cause as to call gender equality “a myth” in a written plea featured in Maria Shriver's annual report on the status of women in America.

And when it comes to her music, she’s said, “I try to write songs and sing songs that we as women need to hear. I know sometimes it's hard to realize how amazing we are. I'm very happy to be able to do that [for] women around the world.”

“Survivor,” “Single Ladies,” “Run the World (Girls),” “Pretty Hurts” and “Flawless” are just a few of her titles that have strong feminist messages. Even more risqué singles like “Partition,” with its sultry French lyrics, delivers the message that feminists like sex, too, and shouldn’t be ashamed.

As a woman who wears many hats — juggling a marriage and mommyhood is no easy feat — but she proves it’s possible. There’s popular quote floating around social media that reads, "You have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyoncé." Millennials have grown up adoring this woman because she is not just a performer, she has message. Her life is truly a testament that we can do it.

So what do you think? Is Beyoncé redefining what female empowerment means in 2014? Tell us in our poll or drop a comment below!

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

BET.com always gives you the latest fashion and beauty trends, tips and news. We are committed to bringing you the best of Black lifestyle and celebrity culture. 

Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

(Photo: Beyonce via Instagram)

From Our Partners

Is Beyoncé redefining what female empowerment means in 2014?