Bow Down to Beyoncé, feminist icon

My latest for Indy Voices on why people should stop either praising Beyoncé for being a feminist icon or shouting at her for letting the side down:

Admire Beyoncé for her music, not her feminist credentials

Beyoncé’s apparent reluctance to label herself should come as no surprise. Aside from a slightly tepid admission in 2010 – “I think I am a feminist in a way” – there are few recorded instances of her associating herself with the movement. Yet it seems to me that people have been determined to shoehorn Beyoncé into the role of feminist icon for several years. It strikes me as an odd thing to do, given that she rarely uses the word about herself.

Read the whole thing here.

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Japanese pop star sleeps with boyfriend, shaves head

I wrote a piece for Indy Voices on the AKB48 singer who shaved her head as self-inflicted punishment for sleeping with another pop star. Turns out doing a Japanese degree does sometimes come in useful!

Shocked at the Japanese pop star who shaved her head for having a boyfriend and betraying band rules? Look around you

Minami Minegishi’s band AKB48 embody the disturbing schoolgirl fantasy: naïve and submissive, yet unattainable – and the hypocrisy isn’t unique to Japanese culture

When a video emerged last week of a Japanese popstar’s heart-wrenching apology for betraying the rules of her band, the British reaction was predictably dramatic.

It was difficult to fathom why a 20-year-old would go to the lengths of shaving her head in order to communicate the depth of her shame for having spent the night with a boyfriend. The offence was barely newsworthy. Although a traditional form of repentance in Japan, the self-inflicted punishment hardly seemed to fit the crime.

Yet Minami Minegishi’s response is perhaps less shocking in the context of idol culture in Japan. Minegishi, who was photographed leaving boyband dancer Alan Shirahama’s apartment, is part of the phenomenally successful girl band AKB48. Tickets to the band’s nightly shows are so sought-after they are allocated through a lottery. The band is divided into three teams, allowing them to perform in different locations, or even different countries, at any one time, and they are a powerful export. In 2011, AKB48 opened a café in Singapore: a replica of their own venue in Akihabara, the electronics district of Tokyo after which they are named…

 

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