In this post several Freudian psychoanalytical theories will be applied to Beyoncé’s music video Partition, a song taken from her 2013 self-titles firth studio album.
Throughout the video, Beyoncé is fetishised. This is evident with shots heavily focused on Beyoncé’s breasts, buttocks and legs. “Fetishism, Freud first pointed out, involves displacing the sight of women’s imaginary castration onto a variety of reassuring but often surprising objects – shoes, corsets, rubber gloves, belts, knickers and so on – which serve as signs for the lost penis but have no direct connection with it”. (Mulvey 1975, 10). A short second shot of the video depicts Jay Z’s hand placed on Beyoncé’s buttock, this highlights that he has created for himself a fetish, to help him cope with his fear of castration anxiety. For him it’s his wife buttocks, that serves as the “lost penis”, Freud described. In the drama of male castration complex, Freud discovered, “women are no more than puppets; their significance lies first and foremost in their lack of a penis and their star turn is to symbolise the castration which men fear” (Mulvey 1975), if we were to take into account this research we see how the use of heavily sexualised females represented in mainstream media, acts as a way for men to create for themselves fetishes, in hope of them not having the fear of their masculinity taken away for them.
“It is man’s narcissistic fear of losing his own phallus, his most precious possession which causes shock at the sight of the female genitals and the subsequent fetishist attempt to disguise or divert attention from them” (Mulvey 1975). When Beyoncé sings the line “he likes to call be peaches when we get this nasty”, demonstrates, “the sadistic aspect of the male fetishism” (Mulvey 1975, 8), Jay Z in choosing a pet name for his wife, diverts attention away from himself, with solely focusing on his wife who he views as his property. Beyoncé choice of clothing; “the high heel on high-heeled shoes, represents classical fetish imagery, which is both phallic extension and means of discomfort and constriction” (Mulvey 1975), highlights the role of penis she must play in order to receive pain and punishment from her and her husband’s role-played fantasies.
Described by Mulvey, Jay plays the role of the male gaze, as he is seen enjoying the private striptease performed by Beyoncé. With the male gaze, Partition also offers the pleasure of scopophillia, a Freudian theory described as “pleasure in looking” (Mulvey 1975, 16). “Moreover, the extreme contrast between the darkness in the auditorium (which also isolates the spectators from one another) and the brilliance of the shifting patterns of light and shade on the screen helps to promote the illusion of voyeuristic separation”. (Mulvey 1975). The way in which this scene is shot and directed, connotes the dominion Jay Z has over his wife, much like Jay Z, the audience can see through his voyeuristic perspective as it allows them the pleasure of being able to watch Beyoncé dance, without themselves being judged and looked at by her who has no knowledge of their actions.
Mulvey, L. (1975) ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.’ Screen, 16(3) pp. 6-18
Partition. (2013) Dir Jake Nava. [Video] Paris: Crazy House