Beyonce Backlash: Ableism Has No Place In Music
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Beyonce Backlash: Ableism Has No Place In Music

Maddy Burgess August 4, 2022

Beyonce has edited two songs on her new album Renaissance, following social media backlash.

Only having been out a week and critically acclaimed, the album has already made some changes. Even Beyonce herself isn’t immune from criticism, especially when it comes to ableism. 

Photo by Mason Poole/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images

The song ‘Heated’ was the first to face backlash after Beyonce used a word deemed to be an ableist slur. As of Wednesday, the lyrics have been changed from “sp***in’ on that ass” to “blastin’ on that ass.” The controversy was so instant that it only took a matter of days for the change to be made.

Lizzo made the same mistake

Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

This comes after Lizzo made the same mistake just a few weeks before this, also changing the word and posting an apology on social media.

While it might not have been done maliciously, the term ‘sp*z’ is often used in a derogatory manner towards disabled people, especially those with cerebral palsy. 

“Ableism has no place in music”

In an opinion piece by the Guardian, Hannah Diviney, whose tweet went viral for calling out Lizzo, explained why ableism has no place in music. 

After praising Beyonce’s musical talent, she wrote: “But that doesn’t excuse her use of ableist language – language that gets used and ignored all too often. Language you can be sure I will never ignore, no matter who it comes from or what the circumstances are. It doesn’t excuse the fact that the teams of people involved in making this album somehow missed all the noise the disabled community made only six weeks ago when Lizzo did the same thing.”

Scope had their say

Disability equality charity, Scope, also had their say on the issue over on Twitter.

The tweet reads “Here we are again. Not long after ableist language from Lizzo, Beyonce’s new album features an ableist slur not once, but twice. Disabled people’s experiences are not fodder for song lyrics. This must stop.”

“Words matter. They reinforce the negative attitudes disabled people face every day,” the thread continued.

“When language like this is used by cultural trendsetters, is it any wonder that 3 out of 4 disabled people say they have experienced negative attitudes and behaviour?”

The statistics are heartbreaking. The disabled community is actively making us aware that this word is ableist, so why do artists continue to use it?

Hopefully the backlash has changed the narrative and artists will really think about the lyrics they’re putting out there and who it’s going to affect.

Given their influence on society and their huge fan bases, it’s the least they can do.

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Madison Burgess is a final year journalism student at the University of Sheffield. As well as writing for Freshered, she is the Editor-in-Chief of Liberty Belle Magazine, a student-run publication. She is currently freelancing and has written for publications such as the Sheffield Star, Reader's Digest and Pick Me Up! Magazine. She is working towards her NCTJ qualification and her favourite topics to write about are lifestyle, entertainment and fashion.