Saturday, June 14, 2014

Lana Del Rey and Feminism


Lana Del Rey's new album 'Ultraviolence' is out in stores now, but my copy is still on its way. Instead of hearing about the surf guitar in the album, most of the interviews and publicity surrounding the new album is directed at controversial quotes. The rest of the media and blogosphere seem to be working very hard at pulling these quotes out of context; one in particular being that 'Feminism is not an interesting concept' taken from  the Fader interview which took place earlier this month. 

When I was in High school I prided myself on being a feminist. I was one of the few students in grade eleven English class who knew what the word meant. Kat Stratford as portrayed by Julia Stiles in 'Ten Things I Hate About You' was an idol for me. I read 'The Bell Jar' and 'Jane Eyre'. I argued frequently that women hardly ever won reality shows on TV because a lot of girls used to watch the shows and they used to vote for the "hottest" contestant rather than the one with the most talent. 

These days I am not sure I could say I was as dedicated to the idea of feminism as I used to be. I would still call myself a feminist, but I don't really give much more thought to it than that. While Lana is one of my favourite musicians she is not the reason that I have begun to feel a little disheartened over the whole thing. It could be that I have grown up a bit since high school and started to learn more about the world that we live in now, but mostly I think the reason for my change of opinion was of a more political nature. 

To me feminism is a belief that men and women should be treated as equals. Some "feminists" believe that this means women should try to be modest and graceful instead of allowing themselves to portray the sexualized image of what "men" want us to be. Other "feminists" believe that a woman can do anything a man can do. She can work in the police force. She can be as promiscuous as she wants. She can drink beer. She can be the boss. To me feminism is a mixture of the two, but feminism is also a personal thing and we all have our own feminist ideals. 

Some of Lana Del Rey's worst critics brand themselves as "Feminists". In her interview with The Guardian she said "People ask me this all the time, I think they think there's an element of sexism going on, but I feel that it's more personal. I don't see where the female part comes into it. I just can't catch that feminist angle." I have to admit, that I agree with that, because to me Lana Del Rey's music and film clips are created to tell a tragic and beautiful story. Something that seems to have been misconstrued as her idea of how females should be in society. If you have read many of her interviews you will know that many of the songs she has written stem from personal experiences rather than personal ideals.

The reason that I say these people are labeling themselves as "feminists" is because I do not believe that criticizing other women for being too submissive or provocative is a "feminist" action. I believe in administering criticism to things that are not appropriate or distasteful by most standards. I believe in criticizing something based on my own personal taste and the quality. I believe in criticizing something because it is not genuine.  Criticizing someone because they don't meet feminist standards is a form of sexism. It's attacking a woman for not being meeting standards of what a woman "should" be. 


I understand that feminists are the reason women have come so far in society. Women can vote. Women can propose. Women can be actors or politicians or doctors or teachers. I just think that the whole idea of feminism has been warped a little in these past few years. I am tired of hearing women claim hardship or misogyny when the struggles they have been through are equal to that of a man in the same position and when the "Misogyny" related to criticism regarding the quality of their work. I understand some women have suffered horribly for being women and that some women are targeted on a daily basis, but this shouldn't be the excuse for every woman who chooses to use it.

A woman should get a job because she is most suited to the position, not because of her gender. A woman is equal with a man, not more important than a man .  If there are not enough women in a field of work we should be encouraging women to join the industry rather than criticizing the industry for the shortage. A woman should be able to live life without spending every moment questioning whether or not she is doing the "feminist" thing. A woman is entitled to show her weakness if she wants to. She is entitled to be dependent on someone if it's in her nature. 

I am not entirely innocent of criticizing people. Do you remember my 'What is Sexy?' Post where I dissed Miley Cyrus's outfit? . I criticized it because I thought that even though it was revealing it wasn't "sexy" and I quote: 'Miley's outfit above may reveal a lot of skin and have some very suggestive black patches, the shapes created aren't necessarily attractive.' I was questioning the idea of 'What was sexy?' Did my own feminist ideals come into the post? yes, but the grounds on which I criticized Miley were that it was inappropriate for the event and distasteful. 

I must say that as a fan of Lana Del Rey and of Music in general I find it really disconcerting that reviewers are willing to put down an artist because the messages in their music or the things they say in interviews do not meet their "feminist" standards. If you are going to complain, complain that you don't like the swearing because it limits the exposure the songs will get. Complain about the "ooh baby" lyric if you think it's too reminiscent of  early 2000's pop. Maybe I am a little biased, but I can't blame Lana Del Rey for saying some of the things she has said.

Can you?


I hope you enjoyed my post. I hope I didn't offend anyone. I suppose I will get attacked for this...

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