At least among the people we know (most of whom are admittedly indifferent to football), the halftime show at the Super Bowl generated a whole lot more excitement than the game itself. In the last few years Beyoncé has become an icon of the proportions that few pop stars these days achieve, and in no small part this is due to her willingness to use her gender as a creative tool. The argument over whether Beyoncé is a bona fide feminist or just a pop star cashing in on “girl power” has raged for years, but whatever side of the debate you land on, her message of empowerment, commitment to her craft, and control over her image and performance are impossible to undermine. In celebration of her latest feat — that flawless halftime performance in which she was backed by an all-female band — we’ve rounded up Beyoncé’s most feminist moments to date, and welcome the criticism and discussion that she always seem to elicit.
Beyoncé’s Super Bowl halftime show
The most recent and relevant example of Beyoncé’s feminism was her performance at the all-American spectacle of Sunday’s Super Bowl. In the past few years, and in particular since the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction incident, the halftime show has all but eclipsed the sporting event in terms of both marketing efforts and media attention. This year, it was all that most non-sports-fans were discussing in advance of the event. Though Madonna performed last year, a contemporary pop superstar performing as a solo act seemed more significant. And with its massive budget and Beyoncé’s overpowering stage presence, the show delivered. Along with her solo songs, the reunion of her original group, Destiny’s Child, highlighted the progress she’s made as an artist. The foregrounding of female musicians was incredible as a symbol of resistance against an industry where male musicians at all levels are still the norm. Surrounded by a paean to male achievement, it was impossible to see the performance and not feel Beyoncé had somehow won the whole thing.