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Lana Del Rey Doesn’t Need To Put Down Other Women To Get Her Point Across

Twitter is already starting the #LanaDelReyIsOverParty

It’s been 18 hours now since Lana Del Rey announced her two new books of poetry, and a new album in her latest IG post. Her fans are probably screaming and jumping for joy right about now, and look fair enough.

But that wasn’t the only thing people took away from the post.

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You Haven’t Paved The Way, Lana

So on one hand, I understand where she’s coming from. Female artists often face more critical backlash from men, women, and the wider media than male artists do for doing the same things. Usually this centres around being sexy or portraying sex, either in music videos or in lyrics. And it may be very true that Del Rey has copped a lot of shit because of her choice to be more submissive or passive in her relationships which, as she says, “has often made people say I’ve set women back hundreds of years”.

But to say that her work over the past ten years has “paved the way for other women to ‘stop putting on a happy face’ and to just be able to say whatever the hell they wanted to in their music” is complete bullshit. Is she forgetting about the efforts of decades of women who came before her?

I understand that she doesn’t want to be told that she’s “glorifying abuse”, and that she’s just speaking about her personal experiences, as all artists do. But “being sexy, wearing no clothes, fucking, cheating … being embodied, feeling beautiful by being in love even if the relationship is not perfect, or dancing for money” and not putting on a happy face are not concepts invented by her.

It took me 30 seconds to find a long list of songs by women about abuse, being sexy, cheating, etc. that came long before Del Rey burst onto the scene ten years ago. The likes of Ella Fitzgerald (1946), Tracy Chapman (1988), and Florence & The Machine (2009), for example, all wrote about abuse, love, and toxic relationships. Janet Jackson and Betty Davis, and Madonna’s Erotica (1992) explored sex and the boundaries of pleasure and pain. I could go on with a list of women, like Janet Jackson, Betty Davis, Lauryn Hill, and Lil’ Kim who all came before Del Rey.

She is not the first, and will certainly not be the last, to explore topics like these.

Putting Other Women Down Isn’t Cool

I was really put off by the first paragraph of her post, tbh. Why was it necessary to name a bunch of women – mostly women of colour who have recently topped Billboard’s Hot 100’s chart – in order to get her point across? It reads as though she’s trying to bring these women down in order to boost herself up. She has since come out this morning and said that she named these women because they’re her favourites, and she “could’ve literally said anyone, but I picked my favourite fucking people”.

The artists she named (Doja Cat, Ariana, Camila, Cardi B, Kehlani, Niki Minaj, Beyoncé) often portray themselves in sexy, provocative ways, and challenge gendered ideas about femininity and how it should look. Women are sexual beings, but this is something that “culture”, as Del Rey calls it, can’t accept. Lana Del Rey, however, is not the first woman to be criticised for representations of sex and femininity. These women, as well as Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Miley Cyrus, for example, have all been criticised for their sexy persona’s, especially after starting out in the industry so young.

Del Rey then went on to say that it’s society that’s making her post about race, and that “not everything is about whatever you want it to be … there are certain women that culture doesn’t want to have a voice it may not have to do with race I don’t know what it has to do with”, before calling the negative views “Karen comments”.

I Get It… Kinda

To some extent, I get what she’s saying. She’s using her favourite artists to demonstrate that she has been called out and heavily criticised in the past for doing the same things as them. But why was it even necessary to name them in the post? Why not say “now that these concepts have been explored by other artists more, can I go back to writing what I know without being crucified?”.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Lana Del Rey’s music. I think her voice is amazing and unique, and there’s no doubting that she’s very talented. In high school I would have Video Games, Gods & Monsters, and Brooklyn Baby playing on repeat. But I’m sorry, I can’t get past her claims that she has paved the way for artists to write about certain topics, and the fact that she put down multiple other women – mostly women of colour – in order to get her point across.


Image Source: Facebook (Lana Del Rey)

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