Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson has weighed in on Beyoncé’s battle to limit what photographs we see of the pop queen. In a Facebook post over the weekend, Manson righteously blasted the sexism of the notion that a woman should look a certain way at all times. Perhaps more controversially, Manson also questioned Beyoncé for banning professional photographers from shows rather than brushing media pettiness off her shoulder.
Of media outlets that allegedly tried to post photos of Bey looking less than her best, Manson wrote, “I can’t even begin to describe how utterly reductive, offensive, and dangerous this kind of thinking is.” Of Bey’s photo ban, first reported by the Guardian, Manson added: “At seeing the aforementioned ‘unflattering’ press…….why she didn’t flick her famous mane and say ‘Blow Me’ is anybody’s guess.”
Manson continued: “Who knows what her motivations were but I am somewhat baffled to even begin to understand why this unstoppable force, this incredible performer, this fully empowered business woman and successful star has allowed herself to be flapped by what the media has deemed ‘unflattering’ images.”
To which we say, hear hear! But with one exception that makes the whole Bey-photo fracas all the more confusing: While surely there are sketchy media outlets out there that intentionally posted “unflattering” photos of Beyoncé, the first time we ever heard that word connected to the “Bow Down / I Been On” singer came from her own rep’s keyboard.
After Bey dominated this year’s Super Bowl halftime show, the folks over at Buzzfeed, equally awed, posted “The 33 Fiercest Moments” from the already fierce set. Note that Buzzfeed said “fiercest,” not “unflattering.” But the site later reported that it received an email from Beyoncé’s camp asking to swap out “unflattering photos.”
The whole back-and-forth was bizarre, because the photos simply showed one of the great pop performers of our era putting in work and succeeding brilliantly. We didn’t consider them “unflattering” until a publicist told us they were.
Whether the double standard here comes from media outlets or, as appears more likely, from those within Beyoncé’s employ, Manson is surely on the money in calling out the subtle sexual inequality at play in how we talk about images of an independent women being caught on camera behaving independently.
Coincidentally, SPIN recently posted a photo gallery from Garbage’s live show at New York City’s Terminal 5. The band, which lately teamed up with Screaming Females for a Record Store Day single and played on Late Show With David Letterman, was looking as fierce as always.
Read Manson’s full note below.
here is something about the way the media and Beyoncé are publicly duking things out currently that bothers me so much I can’t stop thinking about it.<
I speak to the recent spate of media outlets who have gone to great pains to print “unflattering” photographs of Beyoncé performing on stage.
As though it was a mortal sin that a woman should be caught “in public’ looking anything less than perfect.
I can’t even begin to describe how utterly reductive, offensive and dangerous this kind of thinking is.
But what has bothered me even more than the media’s relish in printing unflattering photographs of one of our era’s most accomplished entertainers and one of the great beauties of our age was Beyoncé’s reaction to the attempt to diminish her.
What did she do?
She banned photographers from the pit. The ultimate checkmate in her mind no doubt.
However in doing so it feels to me like some kind of an apology. As though she’s ashamed of photos that portray her as anything less than perfect. As though in not being perfect at all times she is failing us and herself.
At seeing the aforementioned “unflattering” press…….why she didn’t flick her famous mane and say “Blow Me” is anybody’s guess.
Who knows what her motivations were but I am somewhat baffled to even begin to understand why this unstoppable force, this incredible performer, this fully empowered business woman and successful star has allowed herself to be flapped by what the media has deemed “unflattering” images.
It is almost as though she is allowing herself to be tempered and controlled by petty bullying.
Because make no bones about it…..that is what this whole carry on is about. A cheap attempt to “shame” her.
When I have complained about stuff like this on facebook before I have met with a variety of accusations that I am somehow “victimizing” women by even bringing up the notion that women are subjected to different expectations and more exacting standards than their male counterparts.
But until women are accepted as they are and not as others believe they should be, I will continue to rail and rail against what I see as deliberate attempts to subjugate our sex.
What is so insidious about western culture of course is that the sexism that endures is rather subtle for the most part. Western women enjoy more freedoms now than ever before and we have it so good compared to some other women in the world.
And for that reason and so many others I am utterly grateful and relieved to be living in a relatively emancipated country.
We are not being forced to cover our faces and our bodies entirely at all times, we are not being sold at the age of 9 years old into a life of sexual slavery, we are not forced to the ground and mutilated at the whim of an elder without anesthesia in completely unsanitary conditions.
However we are still expected to drop our family name when we get married and take that of our male mate, we are still frowned upon if we leave our child at home to return to work after childbirth and yet we are sniggered at if we remain at home and don’t return to a “worthwhile” career which we are generally paid less for as our male counterparts….
I could go on and on. The list is endless.
My point? Oh yes my point!
My point is……we still have a ways to go gals and guys.
And if you’re all right jack….well good for you, happy for you and all but please…..take a moment to think about all the other millions of women around the globe who aren’t.
I stumbled upon this amazing passage by my girl crush and current obsession Cheryl Strayed and identified with it so strongly I’m passing it along to some of you who I know will find your own truth in it.
I pass it on to you here because there was a time when women were keen to call themselves a feminist. There was even a time when forward thinking men would be clamoring to name themselves one.
It feels to me now that an amazing heist has occurred under our very noses and we were oblivious to it.
The word feminism was been deliberately obfuscated so that it has lost all of it’s thrust,it’s positive meaning and it’s power.
This is what Cheryl Strayed had to say that rang my bell so loudly.
” It’s true that in all the most important things I am—feminism is at the center. It’s a description so clear and permanent it seems to me it’s inked on my ass whether it’s literally there or not. I’ve been a feminist since before I knew what a feminist was. It’s an indelible part of my identity and it informs everything I do.
It takes guts to be a feminist. It takes nerve to remind people that our world is colored by gender and gender bias, by inequality and ugliness and violence. It is a difficult business, emphasizing that these things matter, that they are not special interests or fleeting causes, that we are informed and affected by them whether we realize it or not, that we carry them with us not because we choose to but because we have to.
It takes guts, too, to care. To admit that you want the world to change, deeply and radically into one that values women and values feminism.”
(Ooh my girl crush is so articulate and clever.)
Thanks for taking the time to read this and hear me.
I appreciate it more than you will ever know.
With love love love
Shirley Ann Manson
(Artist and Feminist)