Beyonce “Grown Woman” Lyrics Breakdown: How Does She Do It?

Beyonce Grown Woman Lyrics Meaning

Posted by on 05/23/2013 at 1:58 PM Lyrics

The Popdust Files: beyonce, Grown Woman

After what seems like months of waiting, we’ve finally heard Beyonce’s “Grown Woman,” and we have to say, we’re pleased. The rumored lead single from B’s upcoming fifth album turned out to be a thumping Afropunk jam that repeated the central tenets of Bey’s previous 2013 output: 1) Beyonce is awesome 2) No, seriously, she’s really awesome and 3) If you refuse to recognize how awesome she is, Beyonce can and will kick your ass, possibly while rapping in a James Franco voice.

In any other pop star this might come off as slightly abrasive, but Beyonce’s largely been able to stay on the right side of thin line celebrating confidence from cockiness; her self-aggrandizement has always read more triumphant than arrogant. How does B do it? We decided to break down the lyrics of “Grown Woman” to see.

I remember being young and talking back
I knew what I needed
I was spending all my nights and days laid back, daydreaming
Look at me, I’m a big girl now, said I’m gonna do something

After “I Been On,” this is the second time Beyonce’s referenced her childhood in as many songs. Intentional or not, it’s a savvy rhetorical strategy. Beyonce’s dreamed of running the world since she was a little girl; are you really going to hold it against her now that she’s achieved her childhood dreams?

Told the world I would paint this town
Now bitches I run this

Beyonce doesn’t give a shit what the bloggers say. If she wants to curse, she’ll curse. After all, Britney’s been dropping “bitch” for years without anyone impugning her credentials. Part of being a grown woman is shrugging off foolish criticism.

‘Cause I put it down like that, put down like that
And I’m making all these racks, all these racks
And I’m moving ’round like that, ’round like that
When I do it I don’t look back, don’t look back

What does being a grown woman mean? For Beyonce, it’s being able to perform at the highest level, make millions of dollars and keep moving forward without being lost in regret. She expands upon this theme in the chorus:

I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want
I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want
I can be bad if I want
I can do wrong if I want
I can live fast if I want
I can go slow all night long
I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want

A small digression: Broadly speaking, you can trace a great deal of today’s feminist infighting to disagreements between two philosophical camps: “choice” feminists and “solidarity” feminists. Choice feminism, in the words of Linda Hirschman, argues that, “a woman could work, stay home, have 10 children or one, marry or stay single … It all [counts] as ‘feminist’ as long as she chose it.” By contrast, solidarity feminists argue that some things that look like free choices are actually not free at all, but instead reinforce the patriarchy in numerous insidious ways. At times, each side can look ridiculous to the other—choice feminists are clueless naifs who think women are empowered by everything a woman does, solidarity feminists are humorless scolds who spend their time critiquing other women for even the smallest choices.

Here, Beyonce is firmly aligning herself with the choice feminists. As she says over and over in “Grown Woman,” she can do whatever she wants. She can be as good or as bad as she wants to be—all of her decisions are feminist decisions, as long as she’s the one making them. And, while we’re not impugning Beyonce’s motives, it’s worth noting that choice feminism generally “plays” better with the American buying public; that’s part of the reason B’s been able to be one of the few pop stars to call herself a feminist and escape the rabid backlash that usually accompanies that label.

They love the way I walk
‘Cause I walk with a vengeance
And they listen to me when I talk ’cause I ain’t pretending
It took a while, now I understand just where I’m goin’
Now I’m growing into who I am
‘Bout time I show it

A fake-out: People love to watch Beyonce, but not because of the way her body is, but because of her inner fierceness. In people who aren’t popstars, we call fierceness “drive” and “ambition.” How is Beyonce able to (mostly) escape the negative stereotypes that plague other hard-driven women? Through branding. Just like her husband, she’s made success into part of the Beyonce Experience; being the best is just what Beyonce does. But she’s quick to remind you that she wasn’t born at the top; she got there through years of effort, and is still working just as hard. You can’t resent her for being the queen of pop—the branding makes sure we know she belongs on the throne, the hard work reminds us that she deserves to be there. And B’s royal status means we’re more forgiving of any arrogance we see; boasts we might resent from a president we appreciate from a queen.

I’m a grown woman, so I know how to ride it
I’m a grown woman, and I’m so erotic
I’m a grown woman, put down I’m so excited
I’m a grown woman, look at my body
Ain’t no fun, if a girl can’t have none
You really wanna know how I got it like that
Cause I got a cute face and my booty so fat
Go girl, she got that bum, that bum
That girl, will get whatever she wants
That girl, she got that tight, that tight
Them boys, will do whatever what she likes

In the song’s closing segment, Beyonce goes further than she ever has before in articulating a Unified Theory of Beyonce Feminism. Bey argues that her sex appeal is not the tool of the patriarchy that the haters say, but rather a source of feminine power. Yes, she’s still being judged on her body, but she enjoys that—and, more importantly, the money she earns by playing into male fantasies lets her live out her own. It’s been a long time since anybody said “no” to Beyonce. And that’s the secret of her success: By challenging the dominant establishment while still leaving its imagery intact, Beyonce’s been able to get to the top without ruffling too many feathers. We’re all a little bit invested in Beyonce’s success.

The full lyrics are below. You can listen to the song at the bottom of the post!

I remember being young and talking back
I knew what I needed
I was spending all my nights and days laid back, daydreaming
Look at me, I’m a big girl now, said I’m gonna do something
Told the world I would paint this town
Now bitches I run this

‘Cause I put it down like that, put down like that
And I’m making all these racks, all these racks
And I’m moving ’round like that, ’round like that
When I do it I don’t look back, don’t look back

I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want
I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want
I can be bad if I want
I can do wrong if I want
I can live fast if I want
I can go slow all night long
I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want

They love the way I walk
‘Cause I walk with a vengeance
And they listen to me when I talk ’cause I ain’t pretending
It took a while, now I understand just where I’m goin’
Now I’m growing into who I am
‘Bout time I show it

‘Cause I put it down like that, put down like that
And I’m making all these racks, all these racks
And I’m moving ’round like that, ’round like that
When I do it I don’t look back, don’t look back

I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want
I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want
I can be bad if I want
I can do wrong if I want
I can live fast if I want
I can go slow all night long
I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want

I’m a grown woman, so I know how to ride it
I’m a grown woman, and I’m so erotic
I’m a grown woman, put down I’m so excited
I’m a grown woman, look at my body
Ain’t no fun, if a girl can’t have none
You really wanna know how I got it like that
Cause I got a cute face and my booty so fat
Go girl, she got that bum, that bum
That girl, will get whatever she wants
That girl, she got that tight, that tight
Them boys, will do whatever what she likes

I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want
I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want
I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want
I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want
I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want
I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want
I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want
I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want

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