Magazine article The Spectator

Beyoncé's Family Values

Magazine article The Spectator

Beyoncé's Family Values

Article excerpt

Meet popular culture's most powerful advocate for marriage

Credit: Fraser Nelson

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WhenTime pictured an underwear-clad pop star on its cover, hailing her as one of the world's most influential people, it looked like a crass sales ploy. But in Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, they had more of a point than they seemed to realise.Time had asked Sheryl Sandberg, the head of Facebook, to praise the singer for joining various do-gooding campaigns -- but this is the least of her achievements. Beyoncé's real potency lies in her status as a poster girl for a new conservative counter-revolution taking place among the young.

It may seem, from a distance, that she is just another striptease chanteuse singing about her bottom and using its contours to sell her music. 'This woman knows about young girls getting pregnant in the African-American community, now it's about 70 per cent out of wedlock,' growled Fox News host Bill O'Reilly this week. 'The "empowering" stuff is just so much garbage' This may have been true of other singers, who built their careers on equating feminism with promiscuity. But it is emphatically not true of Beyoncé, who can claim to be the strongest pro-marriage voice outside a church or a mosque.

She is, without doubt, an advocate of female empowerment -- but she defines marriage as the fulfilment of that empowerment. The critics who complained about her raunchy dance routine with the rapper Jay-Z at the Grammy awards missed a rather important point: the two are married. She is evangelistic about marriage's virtues. When playing at Glastonbury in 2011, she asked girls with naked ring fingers to protest to their boyfriends on the spot. 'Ladies,' she instructed, 'put your hand in his face.'

Her outlook is informed by a Christianity that is not confined to Sunday worship but permeates her life. She is from a Methodist family; the name of her old band, Destiny's Child, is taken from the book of Isaiah. In a recent fly-on-the-wall documentary, she is seen referring to Jesus more often than most British clergymen. 'Look at this beautiful nature, that God created, that I'm about to jump into right now,' she says, before a swim. 'With my friend, that I love: my husband. Yes! Thanks be to Jesus.' When she became pregnant, at an inconvenient time in her career, she told a video diary that she can only guess 'what God is trying to prepare me for'. …

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