Beyonce's Response to Getting Butt Slapped Exemplifies Why We Need to React to Everyday Injustices
The video of Beyonce getting butt slapped while performing in her concert at Copenhagen has gone viral.
If you haven’t seen it, here it is, but it's a little difficult to discern, so here's what goes down: While singing “Irreplaceable,” Beyonce reaches her hand down for fans to touch, then turns around and gets slapped in the butt by a male fan in the audience.
Her reaction? She gracefully turns around and states: “I will have you escorted out right now, alright?”
Rumor has it that the fan was allowed to stay for the rest of the show. (What gives?) But it’s important to point out how pitch-perfect Beyonce's response is. She doesn’t ignore the sexism in fear of creating an awkward moment at her concert, nor does she kick him in the face with her shiny heel. Instead, in an almost instinctual fashion, she addresses him and tells him, in front of thousands of people, that what he did was wrong. She then continues to shine on stage.
It all seems so simple. But in everyday life, we often choose to not take those significant, small stances.
Besides slapping women’s butts, I’ve seen (and experienced) men unnecessarily put their hands all over women’s bodies. Don’t even get me started with the small of the back — (no, your hand does not need to be there for us to have a conversation or for me to move forward so you can pass, just say “excuse me.”) But no matter how much we rage about it or know it’s wrong, too often, in the moment, we let it pass. Sometimes it doesn’t seem worth breaking up a good time, making a situation awkward, possibly losing friends over, etc.
And this isn’t a situation solely experienced by women (although these specific cases should be viewed as a manifestation of patriarchy). What do you do when someone in your new group of friends says a racist joke? How do you respond to a stranger making a homophobic stereotype? What do you do when you yourself are the subject of an ignorant remark? Frequently, I find, we let these things slide.
Our silence is not exactly hypocritical. It’s a predicament that philosophers have studied and written thousands of pages on. Basically, our desire to be accepted socially often conflicts with our desires to do what we really want to do and say what we really want to say. If we want to be social with fellow human beings (and most if not all of us do), then sometimes we ignore our personal wishes in order to please others and their status quo thoughts and actions. Otherwise, we fear we’ll end up in a very lonely place.
But it's a false choice. We can be both social and true to ourselves. In fact, the more we really express who we are, the more others may feel comfortable expressing themselves, too. Then, more and more, people who want to live lives that challenge the norm will realize they are not alone. I can only imagine how many women, after seeing Beyonce's response, are gaining a new sense of empowerment and will be that much more likely to call out anyone who touches them without invitation or consent.
But the truth is, sometimes we do have to choose, and our choice might threaten a social relationship. Sexism, racism, classism, etc. — these issues aren’t small problems that are acceptable when couched in a joke … or unwanted grope. These are structures we need to be fighting all the time to eliminate suffering and break norms. If we don’t work toward this, we will never be able to be and express our true selves — and, here's the kicker, we’ll most likely feel a sense of loneliness anyway.