It’s been twenty-one days since Lemonade was released abruptly to the world, showcasing a vengeful side of Beyoncé we never knew existed. Sure, she’d shown some controlled, even playful ire with “Irreplaceable” and “Jealous,” but never to the point of such undisguised fury as displayed so candidly in the visuals of the film, or longform music video, if you prefer.
Though, yes, in the end she (somewhat foolishly) forgives her beloved for cheating on her, the buildup to doing so is an often frightening one, filled with stark landscapes, leering, angered women that comprise Beyoncé’s posse and then, of course, Beyoncé herself brandishing a baseball bat for a different kind of sport: car smashing. Every song up to “Daddy Lessons” is a study in all-out contempt for the betraying male nature. And then there are the in-between narrations that lend us an insight into Beyoncé’s stream of consciousness as her suspicions grow into confirmations. The more she tries to suppress what she knows within her heart by saying she “tried to be softer, prettier. Less awake” in order to attempt luring him back to her without scaring him away by getting angry (the emotion men least like to deal with in women), the more grandiose the blow-up is later on.
For you see, a woman has patience in spades, but, after a time, if that patience isn’t rewarded with what she has been waiting for, it transforms into a need for all-out retribution. “Shrugging it off” is not the way, as it tends to be with men. This is precisely why Beyoncé seems to get no greater satisfaction than the destruction she wreaks throughout the streets, concluding with driving a monster truck over all the other vehicles in her path. The rage persists as she offers to wear her lover’s mistress’ “teeth as confetti,” “her scalp as a cap,” “her sternum [Beyoncé’s] bedazzled cane.” This is the part where men’s need for infidelity and disappointment further tears at a woman’s very core: because it always ends up with her hating the women she views as competition as well.
Still, this doesn’t stop Beyoncé from uniting with the bevy of female dancers in an ominously lit parking garage for the “Don’t Hurt Yourself” segment of Lemonade. Armed with cornrows, a fur coat, activewear that is presumably Ivy Park and an Ankh symbol necklace to indicate that she is life, Beyoncé’s rage jumps through the screen as she asserts, “I am the dragon breathing fire.”
From there, Beyoncé goes full-tilt female empowerment with “Sorry,” riding a party bus with a slew of tribally decked out women as they collectively raise their middle fingers to the lyric, “Wave it in his face, tell him, ‘Boy, bye.'” This song is easily the most horrifying to men, making them acquainted with the very real notion that when women come together, there’s nothing they can’t do, and no one they can’t take down.
But perhaps even more alarming to the male psyche is “Six Inch,” a track that shows Beyoncé at her most independent in Lemonade, riding through the streets in a limo before reminding men that woman “Tills the blood in and out of uterus,” and can therefore till it in and out of plenty of other places too. As Beyoncé stacks money everywhere she goes through use of her body, she declares that she is “every fear, every nightmare anyone has ever had.” Because there is nothing more disturbing to a man than a female who can take care of herself financially. It puts far too much pressure on the abilities of his genitalia.
To round out the rampage before transitioning into forgiveness is “Daddy Lessons,” a country-tinged song that finds many parallels in the disappointments fathers teach us from the outset that lead us to accept the same disappointments later on in life from our romantic partners. “Daddy made a soldier out of me” and “Daddy made me dance” are just some of the uncomfortable allusions Beyoncé makes to the ways in which our patriarchs condition us to be prepared for the “lemons” that are men.
And while Bey grants absolution in the end, there’s no denying that as Lemonade has been playing in every bar, club, store and sex shop ad nauseum since its April 23rd release, a fear has been brewing subliminally within the hearts and scrota of men. They know now, thanks to meticulous elucidation, what woman is capable of when wronged.