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It’s no secret that Lana Del Rey has long been criticised for the art she puts out. During her first few years as a popular artist, she came under fire for song lyrics which promoted her getting into “abusive, exploitative relationships with older men”, “sexualising her body”, or “glamorising abuse.”
For those that listen to Del Rey, these topics are not far-fetched; She often chooses to explore the complexity of her relationships through her music, setting love, lust, and pain as central themes. Her last album, Norman Fucking Rockwell!, was a sensational mix of all three, giving the world what many fans called “the perfect breakup album.”
It also saw Del Rey step-back from her original image: We no longer heard her in struggling relationships with old men, but we truly saw her at her purest as she managed to glide from hopelessly in love to painfully heartbroken through 14 songs.
However, even if Del Rey managed to shift her aesthetic for one album, it does not mean that she is ready to completely strip herself of the original image she presented us with.
Taking to Instagram to empty out the frustrations she had managed to build over the years, Del Rey posted a letter where she declared to the world “can I please go back to singing about being embodied, feeling beautiful by being in love even if the relationship is not perfect, or dancing for money – or whatever I want – without being crucified or saying that I’m glamorizing abuse???”
Del Rey cited other examples of female artists she perceived to have done the same, such as Doja Cat, Ariana Grande and Beyoncé to name a few. By putting out this statement, Del Rey raises an essential question on how heavily women are criticised in the music industry for producing art revolving around their bodies and sex lives.
A clear argument is there, yet her method of discussion is questionable. Many fans expressed their dismay that Del Rey had chosen to “drag” other female artists, especially when she chose to mention women of colour in the post. This comes in spite of the fact that she had only chosen to use these women as examples of sexism, but in doing so, brought further scrutiny on to her method of discussion.
She puts forth an essential theme on sexism in the music industry, but the problem lies in her argument. What became evidently clear is that Del Rey doesn’t seem to recognize her own privilege, as fans rushed to the comments section to remind her of it.
Del Rey asked that “there has to be a place in feminism for women who look and act like me – the kind of woman who says no but men hear yes – the kind of women who are slated mercilessly for being their authentic, delicate selves.”
In choosing to cite these women as examples, Del Rey has negated the fact that these women have faced their fair share of criticism, which have often been on the basis of race and colour. Del Rey remains a privileged white woman, who in American society, is often delegated the benefits ethnic minorities are not afforded.
She never really had to drag any other female artists for criticism to come her way. By choosing to neglect the racial and political disparities existing between her and these artists, she has automatically devalued the message behind her post.
The world has entered a phase of intersectional feminism, away from the shambles of second-wave or ‘white” feminism” which Del Rey was described to represent. The world has become ever more politically correct in 2020, and by putting out such a statement, she refuses to address the issue between a bigger and more important political framework.
Del Rey, as is the case with all other female artists, does have a point in negating existing sexist stereotypes which have undeniably hindered her journey as an artist. However, she has to do so with a clear understanding of racial disparities which women of colour experience, or she risks the need for a privilege-check.
Lana Del Rey’s upcoming seventh studio album, Chemtrails Over the Country Club is set to be released on September 5, 2020.
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