Monica Lewinsky wants Beyoncé to change lyric in ‘Partition’ after music star edits new song
(NEXSTAR) — A day after announcing she’d remove a controversial lyric from a song on her new album “RENAISSANCE,” music superstar Beyoncé is facing a new high-profile request for an edit on one of her older songs.
Beyoncé said Monday she’d replace the word “spaz” from “Heated.” It’s a slang word often used to refer to mean going “wild” with spastic movements but it’s become increasingly seen as an ableist slur that’s offensive to those who are disabled and/or experience spasms. Singer and rapper Lizzo was also recently criticized for her use of the word on her song “Grrrls,” prompting a replacement of the lyric.
In the wake of the “Heated” re-edit, former White House intern and current anti-bullying activist Monica Lewinsky is now asking Beyoncé to remove a sexual reference to Lewinsky in her 2013 song “Partition.”
“Uhmm, while we’re at it… #Partition,” Lewinsky tweeted Tuesday.
“Partition,” released as the third official single from Beyoncé’s eponymous fifth album, contains a reference to Lewinsky’s sexual relationship with then-President Bill Clinton. During the time of their affair, between 1995 and 1997, Lewinsky was a 24 year-old White House intern. The political scandal grabbed global headlines for months and led to an impeachment for Clinton and a public spotlight for Lewinsky.
Some countered Lewinsky’s tweet, saying her Twitter bio includes the phrase “rap song muse,” in addition to the fact that Beyoncé is far from the first artist to refer to Lewinsky in song.
“Actually, it’s how I’ve learned to deal with painful or humiliating things… I find the humor. Eg. my TED Talk,” Lewinsky replied. Back in 2015, Lewinsky gave a widely celebrated TED Talk called “The Price of Shame,” in which she detailed the vitriol and public humiliation she faced after the Clinton scandal.
“I was Patient Zero of losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously,” Lewinsky said in the talk.
Lewinsky has advocated against cyberbullying, citing the negative attention and impact on her personal life over the years. In a 2014 Vanity Fair editorial, Lewinsky explained she’d frequently been rejected for employment because of baggage associated with her name.
Lewinsky, 49, says she hasn’t reached out to Beyoncé’s representatives officially.
Meanwhile, contention over using the now-removed word continues. While some in the Black community have pushed back against critics, saying its usage is tied to African-American Vernacular English, or AAVE — though others in the Black community have also pushed back against this argument, too.
On Tuesday, writer Victoria Gagliardo-Silver explained in a Yahoo! News editorial that as a Black disabled woman she’s unsure how she feels, saying, “I find myself torn. No one deserves to feel as if they’re facing ableism, but in my opinion the word clearly wasn’t used in an ableist context in ‘Grrrls’ or ‘HEATED.’”
But Australian disability advocate Hannah Diveney, who is white, argues Beyoncé’s usage illustrates a continued disregard for the disabled community. Diveney argues Beyoncé’s mega-star status also makes this instance particular offensive.
“… the teams of people involved in making this album somehow missed all the noise the disabled community made only six weeks ago when Lizzo did the same thing,” writes Diveney for the Australian disability support outlet Hireup. “I’m so tired. Disabled people deserve better. I don’t want to have this conversation again.”