Consider the occurrence of one’s feelings as the opposite of how coloring books work: you’re first given an intensity of color, which you then try and fit into a shape, a form.
“Is Beyoncé a feminist? Is she a womanist? I don’t know. To me she is a cyborg. “Cyborg writing,” Donna Haraway tells us, “is about the power to survive, not on the basis of original innocence, but on the basis of seizing the tools to mark the world that marked them as other.” What I appreciate about Beyoncé is that I understand and recognize the tools seized. This is not to say that these aspects in Beyoncé align neatly — they are indeed confusing — but they demand a right that is so often denied black women: the right to be a human, a character with many identities, many aspects, attitudes, vulnerabilities, joys, heartbreaks and realities. This is why, in many ways, the best and the most important videos on Beyonce’s new album aren’t the ones where she shows her perfected flesh while blithely singing that pretty hurts; they are instead the series of behind-the-scenes videos called the “Self-Titled” features where she shows us how she constructs her music, her package, her production. This is where she explains how she breastfed her daughter while in the studio, expresses her deep respect and devotion to her mother and sister and talks about her unbridled desire for her husband as a young wife. Twenty years ago, Donna Haraway wrote in her “Cyborg Manifesto” that she would rather be a cyborg than a goddess. She also wrote that “women of colour might be understood as a cyborg identity, a potent subjectivity synthesized from fusions of outsider identities.” If Beyoncé, who wears her engagement ring over a robotic glove in her “Single Ladies” video, doesn’t embody this sort of fusion, I don’t know who does. Women like her, Tina Turner and Josephine Baker show us the necessity of constantly remastering how you are seen by others, how you are understood, and, in the choreography of that dance of dominance and submission, they show us that the performance of a lifetime is one that you must do in the world, in practice and not just in theory, with all eyes on you.”