The politics of pleasure as a public performance, delivered in the middle of the night, by a complete boss. Beyoncé’s presentation of the erotic is evidence of her lived experience of a sexual trust and intimate safety that is the true fantasy. The freedom to be filthy, to be submissive, to be in control, to be contemplative, to leave or to stay.
Romantic and sexual relationships are as complicated as there are possible configurations: of gender, of gender and sexual expression, of sexual identity, of levels of commitment. But being in a monogamous, heterosexual marriage doesn’t make sex and romance and love straightforward.
We have focused on the pleasure of seeing Beyoncé’s entire ass on a table. But she also sings about distrust and insecurity. She sings about power dynamics that skew towards men, even when you’re rich, beautiful and can relax into a back bend. In long term relationships there are the ecstatic moments of synchronicity and trust, and those moments when you consider packing your partners’ luggage and leaving it on the other side of a closed door. There are moments of betrayal and seething and deep sighs into complete comfort and bliss.
Beyoncé’s other long time relationship is with the public. The mindless adoration, the baseless evisceration, the love, the hate, speculation, the projection, the pedestal. They are the rent she pays for her place in the constellation. That Beyoncé chose to set on fire that lease, that contractual agreement about what is respectable or feminist or pop enough, is radical. That it has become the year’s biggest success was never a sure thing. What we do know is that she is a grown, changed woman, and it is deeply satisfying to witness. Dirty 30′s indeed.