Was Beyoncé attractive, sexy even? To be sure. But more than anything, she was powerful. Few things are more threatening to a male audience than a beautiful, powerful woman who doesn’t need a man, or even a male gaze.
Perhaps folk didn’t consciously notice there wasn’t a single male performer on stage. But for those few minutes, there were no male voices and no male bodies in control, only women who refused to be owned. And it wasn’t women just dancing up there, though the cameras largely focused on that. The women onstage were creating, everything. They appropriated traditional male images and transformed them female ones — not women just imitating men. They were claiming roles and instruments traditionally held by men: the horns and saxophones, the pyrotechnic guitar solo.
They were fierce, but refused to be masculinized or objectified.