‘***Flawless’ Still, 2013 (Huffington Post)
On Dec. 13, 2013, Beyoncé’s self-titled studio album unexpectedly dropped, leading to rave critical reviews (and setting an iTunes record in the process). It quickly became apparent that Beyoncé was launching new sexual and feminist identities (particularly in “***Flawless”), and the world eagerly embraced her and feminism.
We have the anecdotal and cultural evidence. But do Google searches show this?
Leading up to its first anniversary, we look at how interest in feminism has changed over the past year, and how Beyoncé might have impacted that. All trends are for the United States.
First, some long-run patterns:
Google Trends: ‘Feminism’ and ‘Feminist,’ 2004-Present
The above shows search term “feminism” (blue line) and “feminist” (red line) tracking from January 2004 to present. Throughout the decade, both terms parallel each other in terms of popularity, and hit the same peaks and lows: Each term’s most popular month occurred in April 2004, and the least popular month was August 2010.
It’s interesting to see how each term started out strong and then dipped down, and is now climbing back up.
Let’s look at how each term performed within the last 12 months (“Feminism” is the blue line, and “feminist” is the red line):
Google Trends: ‘Feminism’ and ‘Feminist,’ Last 12 Months (Dec. 2013-Dec. 2014)
Searches for each term grew the week from Dec. 22-28, 2013. There are some spikes, the first of which occurs the week of Aug. 24-30, 2014. Beyoncé performed a medley of songs from her self-titled album at the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs), which aired on Aug. 25. More notably, she performed “***Flawless” in front of a giant lit marquee claiming her as a “FEMINIST.”
The last baby spike in traffic for the terms occurred during Nov. 16-22, 2014, which was the week before Beyoncé released the Platinum Edition.
But how many people were searching for “feminism” and “feminist” in conjunction with Beyoncé? Let’s take a look:
Google Trends: ‘Beyoncé Feminism’ and ‘Beyoncé Feminist,’ Last 12 Months (Dec. 2013-Dec. 2014)
This trend shows searches for “beyoncé feminism” (blue line) and “beyoncé feminist” (red line) over the past 12 months. She released her album on Dec. 13, which accounts for the notable spike occurred the week of Dec. 15-21, 2013. After that, both terms go relatively quiet during spring 2014 (and completely dormant during summer 2014), before “beyoncé feminist” makes an astronomical comeback the week of her VMAs performance.
Clearly, Beyoncé and her self-titled blockbuster album had an effect on basic terms “feminism” and “feminist.” We’ll have to see if this is a one-time thing, or will endure over time.