Beyonce is well-known for creating bold and symbolic music videos for many of her songs. Each time, fans are left in awe at the singer’s ability to weave her own social commentary into her creative masterpieces. A recent example is her “Formation” video, which featured images of black pride and anti-police brutality. Beyonce recieved a lot of praise for using her platform to spread an important message, but others thought the video was too politicized. An earlier example of Beyonce expressing her opinion through art involves a song from her third studio album, “I Am… Sasha Fierce.”
The music video for Beyonce’s 2008 single “If I Were A Boy” deals with the themes of gender roles, masculinity, and misogyny. The story in the video revolves around the relationship of a man and a woman and conveys its messages through role reversal. Like the song itself, the video switches the traditional roles of men and women in order to highlight the differences in lifestyles and show the disparity of privilege between the two genders. The female character exhibits behavior associated with hegemonic masculinity, such as hyper-sexuality, independence, and emotional unavailability. Infidelity, self-interest, and neglect are all examples of factors that can negatively impact a romantic partnership and this effect is portrayed by the gradual deterioration of the marriage between the man and the woman.
In contrast to the female character’s behavior in the video, the man’s behavior resembles that of a woman, particularly a doting wife. His actions are very characteristic of traditional feminine gender roles, such as cooking meals for the household, being faithful, and being the more emotional person in the relationship. The man is also very passive towards his wife’s behavior, which is another quality that is expected of women due to the power imbalance in a heterosexual relationship.
The woman also expresses qualities of masculine gender roles throughout the video. The woman is clearly the breadwinner of the household and takes her job very seriously. As a result of her dedication to her work, she sacrifices quality time with her husband in order to give more attention to her career. This is based on the social expectation of men to be the sole providers for their families. Towards the end of the video, when the roles have switched once again, the man makes a misogynist remark to his wife after she confronts him about his recent behavior, accusing her of being jealous and dismissing her feelings about his personal life, which shows the emotional disconnect and the lack of respect that the man has for his wife.
A final example of gender roles than observed in this music video is the types of jobs that are done by both characters, which are both examples of careers that are considered “men’s work” and “women’s work.” The female character is a police officer, which is a usually a male-dominated field of work and requires a very authoritative demeanor. On the other hand, the male character is a secretary, a role that is usually reserved for women and considered a low-ranking, menial job as opposed to jobs that are dominated by men.