I was first alerted to Beyonce’s Saturday Night Live performance of “Single Ladies” by Amelie Gillette’s The Hater post.  Then I was amused by Michelle Collin’s Best Week Ever post about the gawky white dancer.  Being that I am not presently in the US and never watched SNL when I was, I am of course a bit behind the curve on this one.  Here is the official video, if you live in a cave, as I do:

Lyrics to “Single Ladies” include:

Cuz if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it
If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it
Don’t be mad once you see that he want it
If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it

My initial objections to this are varied.  First, I constantly rail against the idiotic notion that every woman just wants to marry and be committed.  I’ve spent years saying that I’m not even certain I want to get married and resenting the idea that a) this should be my major life goal, b) that we all just want to “trap” a man, and c) that a woman can’t be perfectly fulfilled without a man in the first place.  Secondly, I dislike the use of “it” – “it” being her sexuality?  Should he have put a NuvaRing on it, then?  Has she reduced her personhood to an “it”?  Confusing and dehumanizing.

Then there’s this:

Don’t treat me to these things of the world
I’m not that kind of girl
Your love is what I prefer, what I deserve
Is a man that makes me then takes me
And delivers me to a destiny, to infinity and beyond
Pull me into your arms
Say I’m the one you own
If you don’t, you’ll be alone
And like a ghost I’ll be gone

Okay, kudos (I guess) for saying that a guy spending money on you is not equal to love – given the prevalence of commodofetishism in pop and hip-hop, it’s a worthy point.  However, as a Child of Destiny, Beyonce should know that you make your own destiny and expecting some dude to save your life is complete baloney.  And “ownership” is distasteful on a few levels, coming from a black person and a woman. 

That said, I have a couple of other observations.  I have something of a soft spot for Beyonce, Irrational Celebrity Likehood as opposed to Irrational Celebrity Hatred.  She’d basically have to say she doesn’t believe 9/11 happened to turn me against her.  She has a killer body and appears to conduct herself like a true professional.  And most importantly, I cannot get this song out of my head.  Maybe it’s because I just broke up with a guy it turned out I really, really liked, but I’ve just downloaded “Single Ladies” to my iTunes and even tried a couple of insane-o hairtossing dance moves in the bathroom mirror.

Because in the end, isn’t the basic message about loving yourself?  Maybe her personhood (“it”) isn’t defined by the ring, or lack thereof.  She’s just saying, you had me, you lost me, and tough shit for you because I will continue to amaze myself.

I got gloss on my lips, a man on my hips
Hold me tighter than my Dereon jeans
Acting up, drink in my cup
I could care less what you think
I need no permission, did I mention
Dont pay him any attention
Cuz you had your turn
And now you gon learn
What it really feels like to miss me

In other news:  BREAK-UPS ARE HARD.  But some cheesey, life-affirming pop has been helping us get by for decades, and I’m not going to deny myself now.  And I’m coming around to thinking that “put a ring on it” doesn’t have to mean an engagement, but just a willingness to say, yes, I love you and I’m going to stand by you and treat you well, which is a message I can get behind.  So, please, tell me what you think, and if I should feel guilty that I will be walking to work tomorrow with “Single Ladies” on my iPod and a little surreptitious hairtossing.

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