Quoted: Beyonce’s Observations on Women and Liberty


During our November 9th, 2009 show at Port Ghalib in Egypt, something happened that inspired some of my writing for my album 4 (arriving in a few weeks). I was in the middle of performing “Irreplaceable,” and as the audience started singing “to the left, to the left” there was a woman sitting on top of a man’s shoulders in her full, traditional burka. Only her eyes and hands were visible.

She was waving her hands to the left, to the left, and singing every word – which I could see because the veil around her mouth was moving. Although the venue was at capacity, I could see her clearly in the audience. I was shocked she was even there, that she’d even been allowed to go to a concert, because after it gets dark, you don’t see any women in burkas on the street. So her presence alone was so moving. Witnessing the power, beauty, and strength of women – especially those living in places where their liberty is limited – is what moved me the most. I felt she had her beliefs, and they were important to her, but music also had a place in her life and she made a choice to be there.

—Beyonce, “Eat, Play Love,” published in Essence, July 2011

  • sils

    That’s very neat.  It’s not surprising that the woman would catch Beyonce’s eye but her perception of  this woman certainly is.

     You often don’t see ‘ muslim women in full traditional burka’  and the words ‘power, beauty and strength’ in the same sentence.  Good for Beyonce,   moving past the 
    the pervasive and  persistent  islamophobic conditioning and seeing the full humanity and complexity of this woman.

  • Anonymous

    For women who wear niqab (face covered) or hijab (scarf covering hair), the veil or face covering is not meant to keep them from public life.  It’s actually meant to be liberating–allowing them to fully participate in life, without going against what they believe their religion requires for modesty. (Niqab is worn by a very small minority of women.)  I’m not surprised she was there–but happy that Beyonce noticed.  The thing is, she probably felt more liberated in her niqab than she thought Beyonce was in her outfit.  It can be just as oppressive to feel that one has to show a lot of skin (or be sexy) to fit in as it is to feel one cannot show any.

    • Grace

      “It can be just as oppressive to feel that one has to show a lot of skin (or be sexy) to fit in as it is to feel one cannot show any.”

      The sad reality for women in much of Western culture. So true, monotheist. *nods*

  • Staggerlee

    Beyonce is apolitical and so is that fashionable statement  She’s a physically beautiful and talented woman but her lack of strong political convictions is why there are those willing to put up money to keep her multi million dollar career going.