Opinion: Mike Huckabee’s misguided ‘war on Beyonce’

Beyonce performs during the “On the Run Tour” at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
(Robin Harper / Invision for Parkwood Entertainment)

Does Mike Huckabee know how to deliver a backhanded compliment or what? In his book, “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy,” the former Arkansas governor and Fox News talk show host compliments Beyonce and then knocks her down with sexist nonsense. Media outlets are calling it the “war on Beyonce.”

The offending bit, via People:

“‘Beyonce is incredibly talented -- gifted, in fact,’ Huckabee writes in the book, which hits stores Jan. 20. ‘She has an exceptional set of pipes and can actually sing. She is a terrific dancer -- without the explicit moves best left for the privacy of her bedroom. Jay Z is a very shrewd businessman, but I wonder: Does it occur to him that he is arguably crossing the line from husband to pimp by exploiting his wife as a sex object?’”

Then, in a subsequent interview with People, Huckabee complimented the Obamas’ parenting skills, but then chided them for letting their daughters listen to Beyonce. From the article:


“The Obamas ‘are excellent and exemplary parents in many ways,’ Huckabee says. ‘That’s the whole point. I don’t understand how on one hand they can be such doting parents and so careful about the intake of everything -- how much broccoli they eat and where they go to school and making sure they’re kind of sheltered and shielded from so many things -- and yet they don’t see anything that might not be suitable for either a preteen or a teen in some of the lyrical content and choreography of Beyonce, who has sort of a regular key to the door’ of the White House.”

First of all, Beyonce is not Jay Z’s puppet trophy wife who happens to be a good singer. She is Beyonce, the ambitious feminist pop star and businesswoman in command of her universe. Yes, she sometimes collaborates with her husband, but there is no doubt that when it comes to her career, she’s the boss. As Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah wrote for NPR last year: “She is the sort of woman who in between a 132-date world tour found time to record an entire album in absolute secret, film 17 music videos, and organize it all through her own fledgling company, Parkwood Entertainment, instead of her established record label, Columbia Records.”

Second, Jay Z is not exploiting Beyonce as a sex object. She’s as in control of her body as she is of her business ventures, and there’s an argument to be made for a woman who chooses to celebrate her sexuality, or even self-objectify.  

Third, Beyonce has specifically said it’s important for her to make her own money. “I truly believe that women should be financially independent from their men,” she told GQ in 2013. “And let’s face it, money gives men the power to run the show. It gives men the power to define value. They define what’s sexy. And men define what’s feminine. It’s ridiculous.”


So no, Jay Z is not Beyonce’s pimp.

As for the Obama girls -- both teens, by the way -- consuming Beyonce: More power to them. I may not agree with every decision Beyonce makes (see: “What is feminist Beyonce doing on the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ trailer?”) but I can think of worse role models than an influential female icon who encourages women to stand up for themselves and value their worth.

Twitter: @alexletellier

Get our weekly Opinion newsletter