In Defense of Becky with the Good Hair: Why the Trope of the Homewrecker is Sexist
by Megan Huynh
On April 23, 2016, my life was shaken to the core. I, like, hundreds of other Americans, had huddled in front of my TV, ready to partake in the glory of Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade. Song after song, I felt an entire spectrum of emotions, as Queen Bey wove the story of a woman dealing with infidelity and revenge, after discovering her partner’s infidelity, which many came to believe was actually about Beyoncé and her husband of 12 years, Jay Z. The song that caused the most outrage was “Sorry,” in which she croons stabbing lyrics, such as “Looking at my watch he should’ve been home/Today I regret the night I put that ring on.” One line in particular sparked the strongest reaction, when Beyoncé casually dismisses her lover, telling him that “he better call Becky with the good hair.”
Upon hearing this line, fans around the world became indignant, searching for the true “Becky with the good hair.” One by one, as the Beyhive attacked, Rita Ora, Rachel Roy, and even mistakenly, Rachael Ray were subject to death threats and a wave of dreaded lemon emojis on their Instagram pictures. Roy even had to make her Instagram private to stop the deluge of menacing remarks she was receiving by the thousands following the release of Lemonade. However, while all the drama ensued during the hunt for Becky with the good hair, rarely anyone paid attention to the person who started the conflict in the first place: Jay Z.
This common theme of punishing the woman who “stole the man”, labeling her as a homewrecker and ostracizing her for ruining a relationship that is not her own, is ultimately damaging to society. When we as members of society shame a woman for being a homewrecker, we continue to perpetuate the patriarchal notion that women have the sole responsibility of destroying another relationship, luring the man away with her evil feminine wiles. However, we fail to recognize that the act of homewrecking actually requires two players, recalling the idiom “It takes two to tango.” As hard as the woman may try to steal a man away from someone else, it is essentially up to the man to decide whether to accept or reject her advances, which is what we fail to recognize when we are quick to judge a woman for being a homewrecker. Although, yes, it is ignoble to be in an extramarital affair entirely, just rebuking the women while letting the men continue on unpunished reflects the sexist norms that are still rampant in society.
Not only does this account for another example of the double standards that women face every day, but it also contributes to the slut shaming that is still prevalent as well. Society continues to feel the need to debase the value of women if they are too sexual, in any way. Similarly, in the case of the homewrecker, many feel the need to shame her for being too sexually attractive or not being able to control her sexual desires, thus stealing a man in the process. Even other women, who are still subject slut shaming and double standards in their lives, contribute in this debasing of homewreckers -- an example of female on female crime that should be avoided.
Ultimately, the trope of the homewrecker is one that should no longer exist. It is not singularly the blame of the woman for ruining a relationship and the stigma surrounding this should not just be focused around women. When you are about to shame a homewrecker, just remember this saying that she could not have wrecked that home if the man had not opened the door. So on behalf of all my fellow members of the Beyhive, I’d like to apologize to Rachel Roy, Rita Ora, and any other women who were threatened and shamed during the hunt for Becky with the good hair.