Solange and Beyonce: Women and Competition

Solange and Beyonce: Women and Competition

When Solange Knowles released her album, ‘A Seat at The Table,’ her first since ‘SOL-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams’ in 2008, it seemed that comparisons to elder sister Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’ were inevitable. Both albums heavily feature politically charged themes, expressing ideas concerning black culture and social history: indeed, Solange appeared to anticipate these comparisons, expressing to online magazine ‘The FADER:’ "it shouldn't be surprising that two people who grew up in the same household with the same parents who are very, very aware—just like everyone else is—of all of the inequalities and the pain and suffering of our people right now, would create art that reflects that.”

However, these continuous comparisons between the sisters, Solange’s inability to define herself outside the bounds of ‘Beyonce’s Lesser-Known Sister,’ the critical assessment of Solange’s 21 track epic as a mere ‘companion piece’ to Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade,’ expresses a much darker problem within modern culture, namely our desire to pit women against each other. Whilst men primarily view each other as allies, women are conditioned by contemporary society to consider each other as competitors. Not for jobs and economic superiority, a rivalry that would be beneficial, but rather for the attention of men. As Noam Shpancer writes in Psychology Today, ‘as women come to consider being prized by men their ultimate source of strength, worth, achievement and identity, they are compelled to battle other women for the prize.’

This internalisation of the patriarchy is evident in the frustrating articles written about the Knowles sisters. Often their musical accolades are forgotten, their artistry disregarded in favour of physical comparisons: in Buzzfeeds hard-hitting journalistic piece ‘15 things Solange does better than Beyonce,’ they praised Solange’s ability to ‘Rock a Shaved Head’ and ‘epic f**king pantsuits.’ Beyonce and Solange’s efforts to produce albums that express and promote female empowerment are seemingly quashed by our media’s desire to churn out anti-feminist drivel.

Our need to compare and contrast women can equally be seen in the tabloid’s treatment of Jennifer Aniston. Despite the fact Aniston has been divorced from Brad Pitt some 10 years now, remarrying Justin Theroux 2015, in the wake of the recent ‘Brangelina’ split, headlines surfaced suggesting that ‘poor Jen’ had finally got her long-awaited revenge. Satirical newspaper  ‘The Daily Mash’ even went so far as to run the mock headline, ‘Jennifer Aniston hospitalised after dangerously prolonged laughing fit.’ This is yet another exhibition of the casual sexism that features in our day-to-day as we are encouraged to over-look the amount of work Aniston has produced in the past 10 years, the comedic masterpiece that was Horrible Bosses (ha), and instead dwell upon the supposed bitter rivalry between herself and Jolie. Jolie was formerly married to both Johnny Lee Miller and Billy Bob Thornton, why are we not bombarded by memes conveying their secret glee at Jolie’s misfortune? Is it not possible to consider Anniston without contrasting her with Jolie: the ‘girl next door’ and the ‘regal beauty’?

Isn't it time women abandoned our compulsion to compete, compare and undercut each other? We shouldn’t have to degrade our ‘rival’ females for the sake of self promotion. Indeed, Beyonce aptly summarises in her hit single 'Run the World,'  'Girls, we run this motha (yeah!)'