I ain’t sorry: What Beyoncé taught me about being an unapologetic WOC

From childhood, girls are taught to be nice and polite. We’re constantly praised for being a “good girl” – a term I started hating when I realised how much it’s still used, not just by our parents but by men too. Like most young girls I was raised to be polite, but the influence of indian culture on my upbringing meant that this standard of politeness or ‘respect’ shown to elders was a constant expectation. I can’t speak for women of other cultures on this topic, but I feel that the way that South Asian women are expected to be respectful and dutiful daughters often leads to more subservient behaviours in all aspects of life: relationships, family, work places etc. A consequence of this overly-polite behaviour is the common use of the word SORRY. I catch myself saying sorry and it’s fine (when it’s not) or that’s alright (when I don’t need to) so often that it made me wonder where this behaviour came from. It’s linked to lots of causes, but I’ve concluded that it’s largely a result of my Asian upbringing mixed with an adoption of the polite British attitude. Nevertheless, when I think about the way that my male and female friends speak there’s a clear difference; men aren’t as apologetic.

Beyoncé’s album LEMONADE is a masterpiece for so many reasons, including its representation of strong Black women and her solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. I could analyse her songs and the visuals for hours but for now I’d just like to focus on the track SORRY. Not only is this song an absolute banger, it’s my new female empowerment anthem. The sentiment of the song was something I could relate to but had never fully accepted – being unapologetic for having feelings that don’t match someone else’s.

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Let’s ignore the cheating rumours for a minute and look at the song from a standard break up point of view. During break ups we’re conditioned to feel bad about leaving someone. But if this person has hurt you, or if you really are happier without them, why should you be sorry? Just because they’re feeling down or guilty, it’s not your responsibility to make them feel better. In the same way that men are less apologetic in their use of language, they tend to be less cautious when it comes to breaking up. Whereas women are led to feel as though they have to say sorry for leaving or moving on. (I’m sorry, this isn’t working out. I can’t do this anymore, I’m sorry. It’s not you, it’s me.) Although we think we’re trying to spare his feelings, what we’re actually doing is continuing to massage the male ego. I personally do this way too often, but I’m starting to notice its negative effect on the way I relate to others. By apologising when we don’t actually feel sorry, we negate our feelings as being unimportant and secondary to his. We need to stop being so concerned about being nice and just be real.

“I ain’t sorry. I ain’t thinking about you.”

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This song embraces the moment after a break up when she realises how much happier she is without him in her life. She’s celebrating the end of her relationship with a crew of powerful women, including the legendary Serena Williams. It’s a refreshing change from all the same old emotional heartbreak songs featuring women wallowing in self-pity. SORRY feels like a throwback to INDEPENDENT WOMEN through  its representation of powerful single women.

“I left a note in the hallway. By the time you read it I’ll be far away. But I ain’t fucking with nobody.”

Beyoncé reminds us not to be apologetic for moving on and most importantly, never let anyone interrupt your grind.

BOY BYE.

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rp: 06/05/2016

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