Why Is Everyone So Hung Up On “Becky With The Good Hair”?

Photo: Courtesy of Tidal.
At this point, we all know something about “Becky.” We may not know her real name (or how to spell it), but we know that in "Sorry," Beyoncé makes a reference to “Becky with the good hair,” a woman who, the singer suggests, slept with her husband. (Note: We are not accusing any living person, including Beyoncé's real-life husband, Jay Z, of adultery. For all we know, everything on Lemonade is pure fiction.) We think we know who “Becky” could be (and who has denied being her). Speculations have led the Beyhive to swarm the Instagram accounts of several women (and one woman’s 16-year-old daughter). The comments are brutal: “A whore and a whore in training.” “Feel the hate you cow.” "Homewrecking side hoe." Yes, the Beyhive has also attacked Jay Z on various Instagram accounts associated with the rapper (see the collection of lemons and bees on the Instagram account @s_c_official). "It's 100 problems now jay, 100 problems," one commenter wrote, while another called Jay Z a "pathetic excuse for a man." But the hatred directed toward the alleged cheating husband is nothing compared to what has been piled on these alleged “side chicks.” It doesn’t help that Jay’s social media presence is next to nil, but it’s a trend we’ve seen before. Think: Ben Affleck’s nanny, Angelina Jolie, and Tiger Wood’s many mistresses. Of course, the "other woman" is always present when people are dealing with the pain of infidelity. In one particularly poignant section of Lemonade, Beyoncé asks if her unfaithful husband would want her to “wear her skin over mine. Her hair over mine. Her hands as gloves… We can pose for a photograph, all three of us. and your perfect girl.”

"Blaming the other woman (and maybe even oneself) is a common knee-jerk reaction. But that doesn't make it right."

Blaming the other woman (and maybe even oneself) is a common knee-jerk reaction. But that doesn't make it right. And in this case, "Becky" isn’t the problem. Dating a married man isn’t the most ethical choice, but at the end of the day, the person who's in the relationship and broke that trust is at fault. When I started talking with female friends about Lemonade, the subject of their own brushes with infidelity came up again and again — but it was never about who they had cheated with. “It had nothing to do with who the other person was,” one told me. “And everything to do with my ex-boyfriend.” (Note: They are still broken up.) At this point, people tend to agree that “Becky” isn’t necessarily one particular woman, but rather a metaphor for an extramarital affair. She is an idea of a woman (maybe white, maybe basic, maybe a little sexual) whose locks underscore the racially tinged hierarchy of sleek vs. kinky hair (which, if you look deeper, implies that "Becky" isn't about one specific person, but rather the historical racism that has affected Black women). Attacking specific women who may or may not have any connection to Beyoncé's reference amounts to "pitting women against other women." Which is misguided misogyny. It doesn’t matter who "Becky" is — if she is anyone at all. "If people are repeat offenders [of cheating], it generally means that they’ve been lying about other things, too,” relationship coach Esther Perel told Refinery29. "In these cases, you’re not talking about being unfaithful, you’re talking about narcissism." The problem lies within the cheater — not the "other woman" (or man), and not the spurned lover. So let's stop wasting time unleashing wrath toward women we think might be the real "Becky." What really matters is what Beyoncé has managed to do: take lemons, turn them into lemonade, and figure out how to heal. Oh, and make an astonishingly good visual album in the process.

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