TIME women

I’d Like to Talk to You About Not Talking About Beyoncé’s Bangs

Beyonce is seen leaving Harry's Bar, Mayfair on October 17, 2014 in London, England.
Beyonce is seen leaving Harry's Bar, Mayfair on October 17, 2014 in London, England. Niki Nikolova—GC Images

Female celebrities and women in media are also picked apart with alarming regularity


This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter is an extremely famous pop singer known for quality vocals and sexy radio singles. She is married to Shaun Corey “Jay-Z” Carter, and they have a lovely daughter named Blue Ivy. Beyoncé has won 17 Grammys and is Time’s Most Influential Person, and oh, she went out a few days ago with a new hairstyle and nearly broke the Internet.

Reporters and commenters alike felt the need to say something about Beyoncé’s hairstyle, which appeared to be a wig with short, choppy bangs. Everyone with an Internet connection was invited to Weigh In: Love It or Leave It! And the general consensus was negative.

I know it’s rough to devote a page of writing to how much I don’t want to talk about something, but I got tired of shrugging it off when people asked and would like to go on record with my reasons why.

I’ve already written a call to not discuss her daughter’s hair, and this one goes out to Queen Bey herself. I feel sort of silly, like I’m shaking a proverbial angry fist at the sky; this type of non-event is the perfect conflagration of celebrity worship and pop culture phenomenon that really irks me, but becomes more common each day in our Join The Conversation culture.

These days, it seems as though no “conversation” is deemed too trifling, and though slow news days have been around as long as reporting the news has, social media can make a frenzy out of a single picture. And since you know I keep it real with you, dear readers, I will now acknowledge that here at xoJane we share about all sorts of things at all levels of relative importance. We cover many bases. But the endless reportage of Beyoncé and The Day She Banged is something else.

At best, it’s continued commodification of this woman as a product that exists either for our consumption or our scrutiny, and at worst it’s just plain mean. So many people were slinging insults and creating rude memes, and even the ones that weren’t directly cruel felt the need to “report” on Beyoncé’s Bangs: The Happening.

Real talk: I don’t think that’s the most flattering hairstyle I’ve seen Mrs. Knowles-Carter rock. And she’s also probably changed it already. And it also doesn’t matter at all what I, or anyone else looking at a picture of her on the internet thinks of Beyoncé’s hair. While this is not strictly a racial issue, the politicization of black women’s hair is a reality, with #TeamNatural in one corner and certain relaxed and visibly Anglicized styles in another and all sorts of questions and assumptions about our identity weighing heavily in the center of the ring.

Overall, female celebrities and women in media are also picked apart with alarming regularity. I won’t name names, but there are more than a handful of male celebrities who are allowed to roam freely looking every level of disheveled or trying out a new ‘do without inspiring Internet memes and hashtags. There are also other women in the industry who don’t get the kind of head-to-toe scrutiny that Beyoncé gets.

The other thing that has me miffed about the Incident On Beyoncé’s Forehead is that she was photographed on vacation with her family. Beyoncé’s job description is not “24-hour hair model.” She is a stellar entertainer and a pop star, and goddamnit she was off the clock. Celebrities do not exist solely for public consumption.

Had Beyoncé gotten on stage at the Superbowl half time show or opened her recent arena tour On The Run with this hairstyle, we might be having a different conversation. She may not be an accountant, but work is work and if your job is to entertain and something gets in the way of that, even just by pulling focus or being a distraction, that bears mentioning and possible critique.

Former Fox Sports lead sideline reporter Pam Oliver was the subject of intense criticism because her hair generally looked quite unkempt and literally got in the way, blowing all over in sometimes inclement weather conditions. She was called all manner of terribly insulting names on social media and compared to animals and such, and at the time, I made a few comments saying I wished she worked with different styles so that her hair wasn’t such a distraction. Some people on social media were upset with me, questioning how I could “attack” a fellow black woman, especially over her hair.

I would never call her ugly or any of those things, but she was at work when we saw her on television; I wasn’t commenting on candids or random paparazzi photos. Her job was as a television reporter, and her unflattering hair was stealing every shot she was in and undermining her expertise and decades of experience in her position. I wished that she could find the most flattering style for her face that also worked for her job, a basic standard that I could apply to almost anyone.

Being “camera-ready” is a job requirement for a television reporter, not a life requirement for Beyoncé’s trip to France. Still, she knows she’s heavily photographed whenever she’s in public. By all appearances, Beyoncé embraces or at least manages her role as an international celebrity, including awareness of paparazzi and that so many people care how she looks. All the time.

So I believe that if she went out on the town with her family during a vacation, she probably felt fine with the way she looked. That’s good enough for me.

By the way, Beyoncé is routinely attacked by certain news outlets and has been called a “whore” for things she does while on the clock; entertaining huge audiences and doing it well. She’s repeatedly been the subject of author and feminist scholar bell hooks’ scathing criticism of her “faux” feminism. She’s had to endure insults to her daughter’s looks on a national platform. If we must keep her name in our mouths and devote endless bandwidth to mentioning her, I think it’d be cool to recognize her achievements in her field, salute her owning her sexuality and being vocal about feminism, acknowledge her as her own woman who does not belong to us, who is also a wife and mother… pretty much anything but analyze that bang.

Some people told me, in the course of recommending that I locate some chill on this topic, that the issue is that Beyoncé usually looks so good that it’s a big news story that her bangs looked so… you know what? I’m not even going to finish that sentence. We’ve all got other things to talk about.

Pia Glenn is an actress and writer.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME society

The Most Talked-About Celebrity Bangs of All Time

London Celebrity Sightings - OCTOBER 15, 2014
Beyonce Knowles seen leaving a gallery with BANGS Alex Huckle—GC Images

In honor of Beyonce's "controversial" hair cut

Beyoncé got bangs, and people have feelings about it.

Is the super short, Bettie Page-inspired fringe the Bangpacolyspe? “Vintage but not cheesy”? A Blue Ivy art project? Proof that Queen Bey has bad hair days just like us? Absolutely none of our damn business? It’s all a matter of opinion… that will be shared again and again on Twitter.

For whatever reason, emotions run high when it comes to celebrity bangs.”If you’re going with a black eye or bangs, go with the black eye,” actress Kaley Cuoco said after getting skewered for embracing the fringe on a 2013 red carpet. And so, in the name of journalism, we have compiled a list of the most influential — and at times, “controversial” — celebrity bangs.

Bettie Page

Bettie Page Portrait
CIRCA 1952: Pin-up model Bettie Page poses for a portrait Michael Ochs Archives

Here’s the 1950’s pin-up said to have inspired Beyoncé. If you’ve had any impact on Beyoncé, you’re obviously one of the most influential beings on the planet.

Michelle Obama

Children Gather For Kid's Inaugural Concert
The First Lady Michelle Obama with BANGS (2013) Joe Raedle—Getty Images

“This is my midlife crisis,” FLOTUS told Rachel Ray, “jokingly,” in a 2013 interview. And oh, what a bold statement the bangs were. The Wall Street Journal noted: “These aren’t the kind of subtle, side-swept bangs that some women favor, including Duchess Kate. Rather, Mrs. Obama opted for full-on, forehead-covering fringe. It’s a bold move at a high profile time for the First Lady, just days before President Obama’s inauguration.” The Cut prematurely mourned the loss during Obama’s Bowie State commencement speech, but The Daily Beast was quick to assure concerned masses that “they’re still on her head… she just parted her hair differently.”

(The bangs have since retired.)

Kerry Washington

But, “were Michelle Obama’s bangs inspired by Kerry Washington?” The Daily Mail (and others) wondered. FLOTUS does binge-watch Scandal.

Hilary Clinton

Michelle isn’t the only woman in politics to make waves with her choice of bangs. Hillary Clinton’s January 2014 bangs were “oddly controversial,” Bustle noted, as other publications questioned what her “bangs mean for America.” Imagine if Clinton had sported bangs and her infamous scrunchie? Then the Union would have been put in a tailspin.

Zooey Deschanel

The Academy Of Television Arts & Sciences Performer Nominees' 64th Primetime Emmy Awards Reception - Arrivals
Actress Zooey Deschanel and her bangs Imeh Akpanudosen—Getty Images

The New Girl star and hipster icon isn’t just known for her bangs, as Buzzfeed points out, she is hardly recognizable without them.

Tyra Banks

The 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards - Pre-GRAMMY Gala And Salute To Industry Icons Honoring L.A. Reid - Red Carpet
TV personality Tyra Banks, her bangs, and NARAS President Neil Portnow Michael Kovac—WireImage

One word: Fierce.

Andrea Sachs

Yes, Anne Hathaway often sports bangs in real life. But this isn’t about Anne Hathaway. This is about her character Andrea Sachs in The Devil Wears Prada. Andrea was nothing without bangs. Nothing. And after she got them, she became everything, inspiring little girls everywhere to don the haircut that goes hand in hand with being a successful assistant to a high-powered, mercurial fashion editor.

Rooney Mara

84th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals
Actress Rooney Mara arrives at the 84th Annual Academy Awards Gregg DeGuire—FilmMagic

The look was created for Mara’s role as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Vogue dubbed this ultra chic individual’s adoption of blunt bangs, “The Rooney Mara effect.”

Audrey Hepburn

Holly At Tiffany's
Audrey Hepburn (1929 – 1993), as Holly Golightly Paramount Pictures—Getty Images

A classic.

Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber Attends 'My Worlds The Collection' Photocall in Madrid
Singer Justin Bieber Carlos Alvarez—Getty Images

A modern classic.

TIME Music

Iggy Azalea, Katy Perry, John Legend Lead 2014 American Music Awards Nominations

Austin City Limits Music Festival 2014 - Weekend 2
AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 11: Iggy Azalea performs during the 2014 Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park on October 11, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by C Flanigan/Getty Images) C Flanigan—Getty Images

The "Fancy" rapstress leads the pack with six nominations

The 2014 American Music Award nominations are out, and fans are going to have a hard time making their choices.

Iggy Azalea leads the nominations with six nods, including new artist and single of the year, as well as favorite female artist in both the pop/rock and rap/hip-hop categories, plus a nod for favorite rap/hip-hop album. (Rap true believers may struggle with this year’s rap/hip-hop nominees as the category consists exclusively of Azalea, Drake and Eminem.)

Katy Perry and John Legend each got five nominations, including artist and single of the year — for “Dark Horse” and “All of Me,” respectively — while Pharrell Williams and Lorde each earned four nods.

Aside from Azalea, new artist nominees include Aussie boy band 5 Seconds of Summer, “All About The Bass” singer Meghan Trainor, Sam “Stay With Me” Smith, and alt-rockers Bastille.

In the Artist of the Year category, Azalea has some serious competition from Beyoncé, Katy Perry and One Direction, whose army of so-called Directioners are sure to turn out in force to vote for the boy band. Since the AMAs are awarded only on fan votes, being able to get out the vote is key. (That’s one thing that One Direction fans have in common with the 1960s Chicago Democratic political machine.) One Direction does face some possible vote splitting for the tween vote, though — going up against Lorde, Katy Perry, Iggy Azalea and Beyoncé herself in the Artist of the Year category.

Here are the nominees:

• Iggy Azalea
• Beyoncé
• Luke Bryan
• Eminem
• Imagine Dragons
• John Legend
• Lorde
• One Direction
• Katy Perry
• Pharrell Williams

• 5 Seconds of Summer
• Iggy Azalea
• Bastille
• Sam Smith
• Meghan Trainor

• Iggy Azalea Featuring Charli XCX “Fancy”
• John Legend “All of Me”
• MAGIC! “Rude”
• Katy Perry Featuring Juicy J “Dark Horse”
• Pharrell Williams “Happy”

• John Legend
• Sam Smith
• Pharrell Williams

• Iggy Azalea
• Lorde
• Katy Perry

• Imagine Dragons
• One Direction
• OneRepublic

• Lorde “Pure Heroine”
• One Direction “Midnight Memories”
• Katy Perry “Prism”

• Jason Aldean
• Luke Bryan
• Blake Shelton

• Miranda Lambert
• Kacey Musgraves
• Carrie Underwood

• Eli Young Band
• Florida Georgia Line
• Lady Antebellum

• Garth Brooks “Blame It On My Roots: Five Decades of Influences”
• Eric Church “The Outsiders”
• Brantley Gilbert “Just As I Am”

• Iggy Azalea
• Drake
• Eminem

• Iggy Azalea “The New Classic”
• Drake “Nothing Was The Same”
• Eminem “The Marshall Mathers LP 2”

• Chris Brown
• John Legend
• Pharrell Williams

• Jhene Aiko
• Beyoncé
• Mary J. Blige

• Beyoncé “Beyoncé”
• John Legend “Love in the Future”
• Pharrell Williams “G I R L”

• Bastille
• Imagine Dragons
• Lorde

• Sara Bareilles
• OneRepublic
• Katy Perry

• Marc Anthony
• Enrique Iglesias
• Romeo Santos

• Casting Crowns
• Hillsong United
• Newsboys

• Avicii
• Calvin Harris
• Zedd

• Frozen
• The Fault In Our Stars
• Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix, Vol. 1

The 2014 American Music Awards will broadcast live on Sunday, Nov. 23 on ABC.

TIME feminism

It’s Not Just You. Feminism Does Seem To Be Getting Weirder.

Women support feminism
Getty Images

How can we move feminism forward?

It’s not just you. Feminism does seem to be getting weirder. On one hand, an increasingly diverse chorus of academic, pop culture, and male voices is claiming the F-word label. On the other, it can sometimes look like this diverse set of voices — each with its own set of demands and priorities — will doom the movement through internecine warfare over everything from abortion to hashtag activism. But many roads have diverged in feminism’s yellow wood throughout its history. Being at a crossroad doesn’t mean that feminists should be paralyzed by fear of making a bad choice or going in a “wrong” direction.

To Salamishah Tillet, a cultural critic and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, feminism itself is a crossroad, because it is an intersection — where structural oppressions embedded in gender, race, sexuality and all forms of difference collide. For women of color and others for whom intersectionality is a way of life, feminism has and should always be that crossroad. As we look to the future with all these new feminists joining the ranks, the key question is: how can we honor, learn from, and draw upon the experiences of all kinds of women in order to form coalitions and move feminism forward? Recently, we’ve started to hear some answers. Judith Shulevitz and Rebecca Traister, senior editors at The New Republic who wrote a recent cover story on the future of feminism, each offered two potential areas of common ground that could provide cornerstones for coalition-building: easing the exploitation of caregivers and mandating paid family and sick leave, respectively.

In a conversation at New America NYC, Tillet, Shulevitz, and Traister took on two of the most divisive questions confronting feminists today, questions that seem poised to threaten feminism’s foundations and its future: how to combat sexual violence against women and girls and how to situate or address celebrity feminism, embodied by Beyoncé and Sheryl Sandberg. These are two women who, according to moderator and Jezebel founder Anna Holmes, “make people’s heads explode when it comes to feminism.” While affirming that sexual violence is feminism’s sine qua non, Shulevitz raised eyebrows on the panel and in the audience by drawing distinctions between “campus rape” and “true atrocity” abroad. Even when her co-panelists objected, Shulevitz insisted that campus rape is “of a different order” than forms of sexual violence experienced by women outside the developed world. Traister countered by expressing her uneasiness with making such comparisons, which she said imply an unproductive difference between similar things instead of including both on a spectrum of systemic oppression. Tillet drew from her experience as a survivor of rape both on campus and abroad in Kenya to insist, “This moment [in which campus rape is generating media and policy attention] was so hard fought.” She gave special recognition to the foundation of global and national activism and organizing that has culminated in today’s younger women using Title IX as a new weapon to insist on safety and redress as a form of parity required under the law.

On the subject of celebrity feminism, Traister, who admittedly “hates talking about Sheryl Sandberg” and “doesn’t want to make her the face of feminism,” identified the most radical feature of Lean In as its insistence on an equal partnership that does not include stay-at-home parenting. Tillet, who in a few weeks will deliver the guest “Beyoncé lecture” to Michael Eric Dyson’s class on Jay-Z at Georgetown, offered a key insight on celebrity feminism: she suggested that because of their celebrity status, women like Sandberg and Beyoncé are forced to become “icons” at the stage when other women are still figuring out their own feminist identities (“The Feminism 101 moment,” interjected Traister). Wouldn’t it be a more interesting story, Tillet asked, if Sandberg revealed ways in which not calling herself a feminist affords women like her privilege in male-dominated worlds like tech? Picking up on celebrity feminism and the much-discussed question of who should get to speak for women, Shulevitz had one of the most-Tweeted lines of the night when she declared, “What I’m sick of is editorializing. What I’m looking for is pamphleteering. I want women to be writing manifestos.”

The final question from the audience echoed the panelists’ palpable frustration about where feminism is and whether it’s helping women in tangible ways. “I’m 63,” this audience member noted, “and I want to know what you’re going to do by the time you’re my age to get us there.” For Traister, potential for change lies in what she observes as the mass social shift in the “absolute remaking” of the family (the subject of her forthcoming book).

“Getting us there” also requires finding new sources of fuel to power feminism’s engines. Tillet, like one of her mentors, Gloria Steinem, draws energy from inter-generational collaboration with fellow feminists. The answer to so many of feminism’s trickiest questions, she indicated, lies in the ability to use those collaborations to create and circulate powerful narratives, and to renew them again and again and again.

Jane Greenway Carr is an ACLS Public Fellow and Contributing Editor at New America. She holds a PhD from NYU, where she has been a lecturer and done research at the intersections between U.S. literary and cultural history and social and political activism. This piece was originally published in New America’s digital magazine, The Weekly Wonk. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox each Thursday here, and follow @New America on Twitter.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Music

What the Super Bowl Halftime Show Means for Katy Perry

Katy Perry
Katy Perry. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP) John Shearer—John Shearer/Invision/AP

The "Dark Horse" pop star will perform on TV's biggest night. What does she stand to gain?

As has been widely reported, Katy Perry will be the halftime performer at the next Super Bowl, in Glendale, Ariz. in February 2015. This hardly comes as a shock: Perry had already been the object of widespread speculation after an August Wall Street Journal report that pinned her, Rihanna, and Coldplay as the three acts in contention for the gig and indicated all three had been asked to pay for the booking. The “Dark Horse” singer recently appeared on a college football broadcast and confirmed that she had been in talks with the NFL but refused to pay.

And yet for Perry, the Super Bowl is extremely valuable, and not merely for the huge exposure it will provide her. (This year’s Super Bowl was the most-watched television broadcast of all time, and provided halftime act Bruno Mars with a healthy sales bump.) With this booking, Perry obtains something she’s sought throughout her career — credibility.

Performers have, in recent years, gotten different things from performing in front of a hundred million viewers. In the 2000s, the halftime act was a male recording legend — a likely response to the controversy over Janet Jackson’s bared breast at the 2004 Super Bowl. Artists from Paul McCartney to Bruce Springsteen got to connect with young music fans who might otherwise have been unreachable.

In more recent years, the choices have gotten edgier, with younger or less venerated acts using the stage to cement their stardom; Madonna, never as critically acclaimed as her male contemporaries, made a case for herself as the era’s defining pop star with a bombastic show in 2012, while Beyoncé’s exhaustive, brilliantly executed 2013 show kicked off her current phase as an object of universal admiration. Bruno Mars, less famous than either but unique in his role as a self-conscious throwback act, got to burnish his reputation as a live performer.

Perry is certainly famous — for as widely-watched as the Super Bowl is, it’s hard to imagine a pop music fan tuning in who isn’t aware of at least one of her hits. And yet she’s one among a very crowded field, a set of young female pop stars including Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Miley Cyrus, all of whom strive to define themselves and none of whom is a uniting figure. She’s a solid hitmaker with no real persona or standout trait (notably, she’s the only halftime show performer since the Janet Jackson incident to never have won a Grammy). While Madonna, Beyoncé, and Bruno Mars were already alone in their fields when picked for the gig, Perry feels like she has something to prove.

But in February, she’ll be the only performer in her particular cohort to have played the Super Bowl. This is an opportunity for the singer behind some of the biggest pop songs in the world to become, if all goes well, one of the biggest pop stars in the world.

TIME celebrity

Watch Jay Z’s Hilariously Sassy Response to a Tourist Who Doesn’t Know Who He Is

Beyoncé, meanwhile, does not pay attention to any of this

Jay Z and Beyoncé are in Paris this week, which meant they had to stop by the Louvre to give Blue Ivy a private tour. As they were heading toward the entrance of the iconic art museum, a tourist, apparently unclear about the identity of these strange Americans, attempted to ask a member of their security team who Jay Z was. The rapper, walking by with his daughter in tow, heard him and offered the best response. He stared the unknown tourist down and quipped, “Who are you?

Looks like he’s much more forgiving when old ladies don’t know who he is.

TIME Music

Now You Can Relive Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj’s ‘Flawless’ Remix on YouTube

A clip from the HBO On the Run special hit YouTube

Beyoncé and Jay Z were technically the stars of their co-headlining On the Run Tour, which recently aired on HBO as a concert special. But anyone who tuned in to watch music’s reigning power couple go gorillas in Paris knows that the real show-stopping moment occurred when Beyoncé brought out Nicki Minaj to perform their “Flawless” remix. (“Where is Jay Z right now?” asked no one, ever.)

For those without access to HBO — or those unwilling to piece together the performance via Instagram — noted fan of surprises Beyoncé has released the professional-quality edit of the song on YouTube, which you can watch above.

TIME Music

Here’s How Beyoncé Made Her Surprise Album

2014 Global Citizen Festival In Central Park To End extreme Poverty By 2030 - Show
Beyonce performs onstage with Jay-Z at the 2014 Global Citizen Festival on September 27, 2014 in New York City. Kevin Mazur—Getty Images

It was done in a big house in the Hamptons, but there's much more to it than that

Beyoncé hates working in an office. Beyoncé will get up and start walking around if she gets bored in a meeting. Beyoncé wrote her whole surprise album at a big house in the Hamptons, with tons of collaborators, all at once, and you weren’t invited.

That’s from a new Harvard Business School case study on her self-titled 2013 hit surprise album, which broke all iTunes sales records when it was downloaded almost 830,000 times in just three days. Harvard professor Anita Elberse and her former student Stacie Smith interviewed employees at Beyoncé’s production company Parkwood (which is a joint venture with Columbia Records) to learn more about how the surprise album was made.

Apparently, Beyoncé is really savvy about business, but doesn’t have much patience when it comes to sitting through boring meetings. “She has got a really good sense of the business side, but she doesn’t like to live there always,” Lee Anne Callahan-Longo, the general manager of Parkwood, said in the study. “We often laugh about how an hour into a business meeting she will get up and will start walking around. I can see it then—that I’ve lost her, and that I have satiated the amount of business that she wants to discuss that day. I’ll usually say something like ‘Let’s stop. You are going to say yes, but you are not listening to me anymore.’ She knows herself, will laugh, and say ‘You are absolutely right, I am done.’ Because at the end of the day she is an artist, and her passion for art drives her.”

“Make no mistake—she really is the boss,” head of worldwide marketing Jim Sabey told Elberse and Smith.

“It is disheartening that there are still stories written where people assume that just because she is a woman, there is a person other than herself running the business,” Callahan-Longo said.

The album was written over the summer in 2012, in a big house Beyoncé rented in the Hamptons that sounds kind of like Camp Beyoncé. “We rented a house for a month. Everyone would have dinner together every night and break off into different rooms and work on music,” Callahan-Longo said. “She had five or six rooms going, each set up as a studio, and would go from room to room and say things like ‘I think that song needs that person’s input.’ Normally you would not see songs have two or more producers, but it was really collaborative.”

TIME feminism

Pitting Emma Watson and Beyoncé Against Each Other Is Anti-Feminist

HeForShe Campaign Launch
Emma Watson and Ban Ki-moon attend the launch of the HeForShe Campaign at the United Nations on September 20, 2014 in New York City. Steve Sands—WireImage/Getty Images

You know what's antifeminist? When we bend over backwards to deny a woman who identifies herself as a feminist the right to that self-identification


This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

On Saturday, Emma Watson gave a speech about feminism and gender equality. She said things that many of us have said a thousand times, online and offline, about the right to choose, healthcare, equal pay, and men’s duty in fighting for gender equality. The Internet went crazy with applause, praising her as a feminist hero. Although nothing Watson said was groundbreaking or especially unique, it’s great to see a young woman of her celebrity use her position of influence to make an intelligent statement about feminism. I love Emma Watson. She’s bright and positive and it’s great.

What isn’t great is the attitude I saw on social media following her speech, in which a comparison began to be drawn. “That’s feminism,” I’ve seen it tweeted over and over since Saturday. “Not a neon sign and spandex.” The digs at Beyoncé got louder and bolder. One of the tweets that started it all (by a Twitter user who has now made her account private, @sandyzzzen) read: “Well done Emma Watson. THAT is feminism (watch and learn Beyoncé).” And it wasn’t just random Internet users. Vanity Fair wrote an article praising Watson and comparing her feminist impact to Beyoncé’s, stating, “[Watson’s] widespread influence on young minds (still forming their opinions on gender roles and advocacy) is even stronger than other high-profile defenders of the F-word like Beyoncé.”

Needless to say, this piece prompted a lot of discussion on Twitter, and I tweeted this:

Now, obviously I was feeling a little sassy. The Internet’s overwhelmingly positive reactions to Watson’s feminism were exciting, but also troubling when I remembered the way Beyoncé’s feminism was dissected, critiqued, and doubted last year when she dropped her self-titled album that included a recording of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie speaking about feminism.

Hopefully you all remember the numerous times Beyoncé’s feminism has come under attack in the past? No? I’ll refresh your memory. When Beyoncé dropped Beyoncé last year, accompanied by a corresponding collection of music videos, the think pieces flew fast and thick. “Is Beyoncé a feminist?” “OK, but is Beyoncé actually a feminist?” The speculation was endless, despite the fact that Beyoncé was self-identifying, answering the question before it was even asked. But somehow many mainstream publications still thought that their opinion on Beyoncé’s feminism overrode her own identification.

When Emma Watson gave her speech on Saturday, I didn’t see a single tweet (other than from Men’s Rights Activists) criticizing her. No one dissected the roles she’s taken in Hollywood, the times she posed in sexy clothes, no one has questioned her relationship status.

Yet when I tweeted the above tweet, those kinds of dissections were exactly what filled my mentions—dissections voiced by white feminists. No angle was left uncovered. The responses ranged from “Maybe because Emma actually dresses like a lady!” to “Maybe because Emma has a college degree!” “Maybe because Emma didn’t dedicate an album to her husband and take his last name!” “Maybe because Emma doesn’t gyrate on stage!” “Maybe because Emma included men in her argument!” Don’t believe me? Look on Twitter. These tweets aren’t hard to find.

Guys…as a white feminist whose feminism is by no means perfect and has committed her share of missteps in the past, let me say this as gently as I can: This…has…to…stop.

Maybe because Emma dresses like a lady? What does a lady dress like, exactly? And who decided what a lady looks like? What bearing should one’s clothing have on one’s identification as a feminist? This is exactly the kind of misogynist policing we’ve fought tooth and claw against for decades, and to level this line of “reasoning” at Beyoncé is not only antifeminist, it is despicable.

Maybe because Emma has a college degree? You can’t be serious. Since when does education level have anything to do with whether or not a woman (or man) can identify as feminist? My mother didn’t finish college and she created a feminist in me by the time I was five. Does she not count? Beyoncé is incredibly successful and self-sufficient, and you would target her college education as an area of critique?

Emma didn’t dedicate an album to her husband or take his last name? Oh? So taking your husband’s last name means you’re not a feminist now, huh? Beyoncé is a wife and a mother, so now she’s not a feminist? OK. I’ll remember that. Don’t ever get married or I’ll picket your wedding.

Maybe because Emma doesn’t gyrate on stage? Hmm. I seem to recall a lot of white feminists defending Miley Cyrus for doing exactly that, proclaiming her a feminist and shielding her from slut-shaming. Last I checked, part of feminism is owning our sexuality and expressing it however we choose.

Maybe because Emma included men in her speech? Oh god. So including men in conversations about feminism is now a box that must be checked to consider oneself a feminist? That’s just silly.

There were other bits of drivel that dropped—and continue to drop—in my mentions on Twitter, but these are the attacks on Beyoncé’s feminism that I saw repeated most often. If you use any of the aforementioned lines of attack…you are being antifeminist.

When you criticize Beyoncé’s feminism based on the clothes she wears, her level of education, the dances she does; when you say she cannot be a feminist or is less of a feminist than a woman who wears clothes differently, has been educated differently, dances differently, you are erasing her nuance and you are erasing the part of her feminism that is interlocked with her humanity. Because in case you didn’t know, fellow white feminists, the white experience of womanhood is different than the black experience of womanhood. The expectations, perceptions, context, and history of black women are not the same as the expectations, perceptions, context, and history of you as a white woman. Intersectional feminism means that women of color experience womanhood at a place where race and gender intersect. It means that the way they experience life as a woman is influenced by their race, and vise versa.

With that in mind, think about why, then, a woman of color—particularly a black woman—might find Beyoncé’s brand of feminism more relatable than Emma Watson’s. @thetrudz, arguably one of the most prolific writers and scholars on race, gender, and misogynoir of our time, wrote a beautiful piece about why Beyoncé’s album Beyoncé resonated with her as a black woman, as it spoke to issues of sexuality, the pain of Eurocentric standards of beauty, and dance. What’s more, think about the core concepts of Watson’s speech: it focused on a binary system of oppression, oppression of woman by man. Women of color are oppressed on more than one level, so a speech that doesn’t address issues of violence and harm against women of color specifically does not speak to the whole experience of a woman of color. (Are you currently thinking something along the lines of “But why can’t we all just be women and not divide ourselves along racial lines?” If you are, let me direct you here.)

None of this is a competition. This not a Feminist Death Match between Emma Watson and Beyoncé, nor should it be. In fact, that was one of the other more common responses I saw to my tweet: “But why can’t we appreciate both Beyoncé and Emma Watson? I love them both!”

Congratulations! You can! And many of us do. I even saw a tweet that said “Beyoncé for president, and Emma Watson for VP.” Who’s the “better feminist” should never be a competition: We all have different interpretations and applications of feminism. As feminists, we celebrate others’ right to identify as whatever kind of feminist they choose. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie spoke beautifully to this (specifically as it relates to Beyoncé) in an interview at the Schomburg Center in Harlem, in which she said “Whoever says they’re feminist is bloody feminist.” Period.

According to Roxane Gay, we’re probably all “bad feminists,” and I agree. We are humans, and therefore we are creatures of context and nuance. We stumble, we contradict, we backslide, we mess up. None of that makes us antifeminist. But you know what is antifeminist? When we attack one woman’s feminism by means of credentialism and respectability politics, when we bend over backward to deny a woman who identifies herself as a feminist the right to that self-identification, in the process contradicting our own beliefs about the freedom women (all women, we claim) are entitled to when it comes to our bodies, our relationships, our clothes, our pursuits.

You don’t have to like Beyoncé’s feminism, but there are millions—literally—of women around the world who like it, love it, celebrate it, live it, and we damn sure don’t get to say that they’re wrong.

Olivia A. Cole is a poet, author, and activist.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME feminism

Here’s What 20 Famous Women Think About Feminism

From Emma Watson to Beyonce to Chrissy Teigen, here's where 20 celebrities stand on the feminist spectrum

Emma Watson gave a speech at the U.N. Women’s HeForShe event recentlyabout how important it is for men to be involved in gender equality. “The more I have talked about feminism the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating,” she said. “If there is one thing I know for certain, it’s that this has to stop.”

Check out the gallery to see what 19 other celebrities think about the state of modern feminism.

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