Beyoncé’s performance of her song, “Flawless”, at the Video Music Awards ceremony was the culmination of her efforts to celebrate and endorse the Millennial generation’s concept of feminism. Quoting the Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Beyoncé proclaimed, “We should all be feminists,” defining a feminist as a “person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.” MTV proclaimed her performance to be “Fearless, Feminist, Flawless, Family Time”, a combination only a Millennial could deliver.
The acclaim that Beyoncé received from Boomer women, who had begun to question the Millennial generation’s commitment to the cause ever since that generation deserted their Boomer heroine, Hillary Clinton, in favor of Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential primaries, was particularly noteworthy. Boomer women were on the frontlines of the fight for women’s equality in the last half of the 20th century, once the spark was lit by GI generation heroines, Betty Friedan and Bella Abzug, and Silent generation advocate, Gloria Steinem. Boomers brought their generation’s commitment to using ideals at the driving force for change to the cause, only to see all of the fiery confrontation they favored snuffed out by Millennials’ desire to avoid confrontation and look for win-win outcomes. Having struggled to maintain their political primacy in the fight between “choice and life” among Gen Xer’s, many Boomer feminists had come to believe that the rise of Millennial voters asking why “we can’t all just get along,” might signal the end of a movement that was defined by its insistence on upsetting the status quo.
They shouldn’t have worried. Millennials are devoted to equality and tolerance, values inherent in the credo of the feminist movement. Beyonce’s performance captured this Millennial formulation perfectly. In true Millennial fashion, it opened up the opportunity for everyone—women and men, young and old—to embrace the cause of equality between the sexes.