Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Beyonce: Gender equality is a myth

By Breeanna Hare, CNN
January 14, 2014 -- Updated 1723 GMT (0123 HKT)
Beyoncé performs on stage during "The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour" at Staples Center on December 3, in Los Angeles. Her new music video "Partition" is stirring controversy. Here is a look back at her life and career: Beyoncé performs on stage during "The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour" at Staples Center on December 3, in Los Angeles. Her new music video "Partition" is stirring controversy. Here is a look back at her life and career:
HIDE CAPTION
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Beyonce through the years
Photos: Beyonce through the years
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Beyonce addresses gender inequality in an essay on Maria Shriver's website
  • The singer points out the gap in average income between men and women
  • The topic is something she also touches on frequently in her music
  • Beyonce: We need to stop buying into the myth about gender equality

Editor's note: Leading Women connects you to extraordinary women of our time -- remarkable professionals who have made it to the top in all areas of business, the arts, sport, culture, science and more.

(CNN) -- When Beyonce tells people to "bow down," they listen.

Now the star is hoping to bring the same show-stopping power to the issue of gender inequality with an essay on Maria Shriver's website, The Shriver Report.

In "The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Pushes Back from the Brink," the 32-year-old pop star -- writing under her full name, Beyonce Knowles-Carter -- proclaims that "gender equality is a myth!"

The "average working woman earns only 77 percent of what the average working man makes. But unless women and men both say this is unacceptable, things will not change."

Beyonce calls out men... and women

Humanity, she continues, "requires both men and women, and we are equally important and need one another. ... We have to teach our boys the rules of equality and respect, so that as they grow up, gender equality becomes a natural way of life. And we have to teach our girls that they can reach as high as humanly possible."

Beyonce: The poster child for success
Beyonce: Becoming a businesswoman
Beyonce: The poster child for success

Her words are likely familiar to those who know her music, which references the trials of womanhood and female empowerment going all the way back to her work with Destiny's Child.

That's not to imply that Beyonce's pop music message doesn't have its conflicts. In the 1999 Destiny's Child song, "Bills, Bills, Bills," the lyrics scold a lover who's gone from footing the bill to asking for money. "Silly me, why haven't I found another," the song continues. "Can you pay my bills? ... If you did then maybe we could chill."

On the other hand, there are Destiny's Child anthems like "Independent Women," Parts I and II, with lyrics such as "I buy my own diamonds and I buy my own rings. ... Try to control me, boy you get dismissed," which became a nightclub rallying cry.

Given her prominence and success, her statements on womanhood and feminism are often a source of public debate.

Last April, Beyonce told British Vogue that she hesitated to call herself a feminist. (Katy Perry similarly ducked the designation while accepting 2012's Billboard Woman of the Year award, during which she said she's "not a feminist," but does "believe in the strength of women.")

The word feminist "can be very extreme," she told Vogue. "But I guess I am a modern-day feminist. I do believe in equality. Why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? Why do you have to label yourself anything? I'm just a woman and I love being a woman."

A woman, for the record, who celebrates the power of women -- that much is clear from her two most recent albums alone. On her 2011 disc "4" there was the self-assured "Who Run the World (Girls)?," in which she praises the power of women: "My persuasion/can build a nation .... (We're) smart enough to make these millions/strong enough to bear the children/then get back to business."

And her chart-topping surprise 2013 release, the self-titled "Beyonce," has been endlessly debated as a symbol of her feminist perspective -- or lack thereof.

In the song "***Flawless" from that album Beyonce samples words from celebrated writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's April 2013 TED Talk "We Should All Be Feminists."

"Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage," Adichie says in the sample. "Marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support, but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage, and we don't teach boys the same?"

In her piece for The Shriver Report, Beyonce echoes Adichie's perspective, saying "these old attitudes are drilled into us from the very beginning. ... Men have to demand that their wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters earn more -- commensurate with their qualifications and not their gender. Equality will be achieved when men and women are granted equal pay and equal respect."

The singer's contribution is one of many pieces that fill Shriver's report, which explores the rates of financial insecurity among American women, examines its impact, and offers solutions for change.

Along with Beyonce, Shriver's report pulled in actress Eva Longoria, who wrote a piece entitled "Empowering Latinas," and basketball star LeBron James, who penned an appreciation of the nation's working mothers.

The report, which is in partnership with the Center for American Progress, can be downloaded for free here.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
April 1, 2014 -- Updated 1619 GMT (0019 HKT)
In 2007, Arianna Huffington collapsed at her desk. Suffering from a broken cheekbone, the editor-in-chief decided to change her workaholic ways.
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1216 GMT (2016 HKT)
Their job is capturing the most horrifying images on Earth -- keeping their eyes open, where others must look away. Meet Kate Brooks and Gerda Taro, the war photographers of today and yesterday.
March 25, 2014 -- Updated 1819 GMT (0219 HKT)
Gloria Steinem speaks onstage during Equality Now presents 'Make Equality Reality' at Montage Hotel on November 4, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
As Gloria Steinem turns 80, Kathleen McCartney highlights the remarkable life of the feminist so far.
March 8, 2014 -- Updated 1632 GMT (0032 HKT)
CNN hosted a Tweetchat on gender equality with special guests including Nobel Peace prize laureate Tawakkol Karman. Here's what you missed.
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 1059 GMT (1859 HKT)
From shaving her head for climate change to opting for a sustainable business model, Vivienne Westwood is simply unstoppable.
April 2, 2014 -- Updated 1502 GMT (2302 HKT)
In what would be a dream come true for her alter ego, Carrie Bradshaw -- Sarah Jessica Parker has turned her love of fashion into a new shoe range with Manolo Blahnik.
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 1439 GMT (2239 HKT)
The Facebook COO's latest headline-making action is a new "Ban Bossy" campaign, which aims at getting rid of the word "bossy."
March 18, 2014 -- Updated 1417 GMT (2217 HKT)
Meet Gail Kelly, the woman who started as a bank teller -- and now runs the banks.
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 0546 GMT (1346 HKT)
What kind of politician is slashed in the face with a knife, and upon waking up in hospital the first thing they ask about is the election campaign?
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 1650 GMT (0050 HKT)
Former U.S. State Deparment Anne-Marie Slaughter says Brad Pitt is 'posterchild for engaged fatherhood'.
February 25, 2014 -- Updated 1525 GMT (2325 HKT)
Cast your eye across a line-up of world leaders and it might look a little something like this: Man in dark suit, man in dark suit, man in dark suit, Angela Merkel in fire engine red two-piece.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
Meet Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, the chairperson of French commodities giant Louis Dreyfus Holdings, with a net worth estimated at an eye-watering $6 billion.
February 17, 2014 -- Updated 1138 GMT (1938 HKT)
YouTube has a new boss and she has a "healthy disregard for the impossible" -- according to Google CEO Larry Page. Here are five things you didn't know about her.
ADVERTISEMENT