Annie Lennox On Feminism, Fame & Positive Female Role Models

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Christmas day 2014 marks a very important day for legendary British pop star Annie Lennox – she will be turning 60! Wow! Talk about a successful career to last the decades, Annie has been through quite a musical journey in the public eye for the past four decades, and she doesn’t show signs of slowing down anytime soon.

In an interview with Yahoo Music, the Eurythmics lead singer spoke about the downside of being known as a “celebrity”, what’s wrong with today’s young female pop stars, and feminism.

Last year, she wrote a scathing post on her Facebook page about the state of female pop stars today, saying she detests the over-sexualization. While she didn’t mention names, many were pretty sure she was talking about the likes of Miley Cyrus and Rihanna. If there is anyone who has the right to comment on whether a fad like overtly displaying sexuality is the way forward, it’s Annie. Like we just mentioned, she has been in the biz for 4 decades, and her longevity certainly wasn’t all down to nudity.

“I’ve been here a long time. I’m not a moral prude. I’m not narrow-minded. I think sexuality is great and we can express it; there’s nothing wrong in that per se. But when you’re a young artist and you have a young following and you are going into sexualized territory with these 7-year-old children [watching], I don’t think it’s appropriate. I think it’s age-inappropriate,” she tells Yahoo.

“I’m sort of empathizing with the challenge of parents of young girls today and the role model that’s set for them, when they have to see this normalizing of overt sexuality. That just troubles me.”

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The main problem, she says, is the notion of “celebrity” which has become the driving force and motivation behind a lot of popstars we see today. Thank you reality TV for fueling that one!

“We all know what celebrity culture is, and for me I’ve always seen myself as a musician first and foremost. There’s a boundary around that. I don’t want to be a “celebrity,” per se. I find the label really demeaning and really diminishing.”

She says female artists have to play “the game” where it becomes about exposing yourself constantly, and giving up your power to “the system”. Fame is fleeting, and it is not the right thing to pursue.

“I find that quite disturbing as a human phenomena… It’s here today, gone tomorrow. You can be famous like that and everybody in the world knows you for two seconds, and what happens after that? You crash, I can guarantee. You crash and burn, and where’s the sustainability in it? Where’s your real value as a human being?”

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Her secret to a long-lasting and meaningful career is to work hard and be different. Annie isn’t exactly your run-of-the-mill music stars and certainly didn’t think blending in would be the way for audiences to know who she was. While she is specifically talking about a music career in her interview, it is a theme that applies to all walks of life: working hard and being unique to get ahead.

Along with her thoughts on the current culture of female celebrities are her views on how feminism is perceived today.

“I am a feminist and I’m quite happy to take that label and run with it… What it means for me, because I’ve traveled and I’ve seen a lot of the globe and I’ve gone to developing countries, is I see women that don’t even have the absolute basic rights — fundamental human rights that we have taken for granted,” she says.

“In the Western world, women have the vote. We have the possibility to be lawyers and doctors and to have careers that we never would have dreamed of in our grandmothers’ time. And our grandmothers and women before us sacrificed so much to help the future generations. And what’s happened is the word ‘feminism’ got trashed, it got completely devalued.”

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“Now I think the time has come where we can really reconfigure it, and feminism must go to places where women don’t even have the fundamental human rights — sexual rights, reproductive rights, health rights, educational rights, all of these issues. It’s so important that we wake up to what the real issues of feminism are. It’s not about whether you shave your legs or wear high heels. That’s just smoke and mirrors, irrelevant.”

And as for that controversial remark she made about Beyonce being “feminist lite”, it wasn’t meant to be an insult, and she had the chance to clear air in an interview with Entertainment Tonight. The main point was that she didn’t like that Beyonce still portrayed a lot of sexualization in her performances, something Annie is adamant shouldn’t be the only thing that gets women noticed. In contrast, she mentioned Eve Ensler, creator of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ and ‘One Billion Rising’ movement as “feminist heavy, because she has a strong focus on supporting women and women’s rights.

One thing we kinda had an issue with was when Annie mentioned to Kevin Frazier that in her early days in the Eurythmics, standing shoulder to shoulder with fellow musician Dave Stewart wearing a “man’s suit” made her feel powerful and creating an image of gender equality. Sure, it was a bygone era and feminism and the representation of women were battling different things, but we just want to point out that you shouldn’t have to take on manly attributes to be seen as strong or equal. Embrace your feminine qualities.

Regardless of any of the controversies surrounding Annie’s comments, we are grateful she is speaking out about feminism and clearing up misnomers. There is far too much focus on the label, the myths and the many anti-feminist sites which are springing up and taking root on the internet. Sure, everyone has a right to express their own opinion and no one should be forced to identify as a feminist, but these blogs and sites should at least do feminists the courtesy of balancing out their negative raves with all the positive things that women and men are doing today in the name of feminism.

Not to mention that there are plenty of countries around the world who desperately need the efforts of feminism, so let’s all start making it less about “us vs. them” and make it more about what we can do for those who are less fortunate than us.

Annie’s new album (yes, like we mentioned before, she ain’t exactly moving into retirement just yet) is called ‘Nostalgia’. Check out both video interviews below to hear her expand on the above topics, and get a glimpse into the life of a woman who has unashamedly lived boldly, daringly and with conviction in everything she does.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: "In Order To Evolve, Feminism Must Be Inclusive Of Everyone" Says Annie Lennox

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