In a world which constantly pits women against each other and expects us to want to bring our fellow females down, we don’t see many magazine pieces extolling the joys of supportive female friendships.
That’s why it was awesome to read Beyoncé’s latest ‘tell-all’ interview - with the Mail on Sunday’s YOU magazine, no less - one which has since been picked up by several other news sources who have gleefully picked up on the fact that an global superstar seems to have admitted that she’s a feminist.
Interviewing Beyoncé, Jane Gordon mentioned to her that she thinks she’s a great role model for young women because of some of the ‘strong’, ‘independent’ messages in her lyrics (hey, let’s not get into a debate about that right now). The singer/actress/internationally-acknowledged queen of fierce replied:
“I think I am a feminist in a way. It’s not something I consciously decided I was going to be; perhaps it’s because I grew up in a singing group with other women, and that was so helpful to me.
“It kept me out of so much trouble and out of bad relationships. My friendships with my girls are just so much a part of me that there are things I am never going to do that would upset that bond. I never want to betray that friendship because I love being a woman and I love being a friend to other women.”
She went on to say:
“I think we learn a lot from our female friends – female friendship is very, very important. It’s good to support each other and I do try to put that message in my music.”
The old ‘feminist’ question is a popular one when it comes to celebrity interviews. The answer isn’t always an encouraging one, whether this means a resounding ‘definitely not!’ or a tentative ‘yes’ which is quickly played down by a snappy assistant (oh hi there, Kate Winslet).
So it’s always nice when someone as famous as Beyoncé actually elaborates on their answer in such a positive way – a way which may not be impressively intellectual or reference a shedload of influential books or thinkers, but a way that we can all relate to and that is so important.
It might seem ridiculously simple, but the power of female friendship and supporting each other through life’s trials is enormous. It’s not a message we hear too often these days, when every other magazine feature is about bagging the perfect man or getting rid of ‘toxic friends’ and the tabloids are reporting the latest ‘feuds’ between female celebrities several times a week as proof that we’re inherently nasty.
But in a world where so many people – or newspapers, or books, or films – want to bring us down and belittle us or paint us as ‘catty’ and ‘bitchy’, the very fact that we can be a good friend to other women – and that this is a positive and life-enriching thing – is really vital to making the world a better place for women.
Through friendship we’re able to share experiences, help each other and teach each other. As a teenager I had a few bad experiences with high school female friendship dramas and I’m sure the majority of us can relate to that. But as an adult – and particularly in the years since I’ve identified as a feminist – I’ve come to realise just how important sisterhood is. Being a good friend has become something that’s important to me.
I’m not naïve, I don’t think it’s necessary and even desirable that we all agree with each other and get one with everyone all the time. That wouldn’t be realistic.
There’s been a couple of occasions recently when I’ve been sat in a room of women all supporting each other and building each other up and thought “this is the greatest feeling – look at how much we can achieve when we are united and look how much we have to offer each other”.
In talking about the power of supporting other women through friendship - and the happiness this can bring - Beyoncé has sent out an important message which we all need reminding of sometimes. It might be slightly cheesy, but admit it, you just felt some love for ‘your girls’ (or women, if you prefer).
This piece originally featured on BitchBuzz.