Dear Lana, I want you to write about the personal In your music and poems
You are a great songwriter And singer I want you to advocate For yourself
I think you have a point:
My impulse Was first To lift up Amy Winehouse Celebrate Her authenticity, Her voice, Her songwriting craft
With you, My impulse Was first To hate you Hate your work Hate how it centers Your role in romantic relationship to men Hate your boys-will-be-boys expectations Your love of codependency
The very same stuff Amy sang so passionately about
In that way – your statement held truth for me:
I had double standards in framing You as a performer lifting that stuff up as desirable And, Amy as being real, singing from her pain
I wish you valued others’ voices In responding to your work And recent public statement
If you pose a question to ‘the culture’ Why deny the ‘culture’s’ voice in response?
The culture spoke clearly: Your statement is controversial, But you denied them: No it isn’t, and if you think so I’m gonna call you a name (trump supporter / hyper liberal…)
I believe you: You weren’t trying to make a point about race You weren’t trying to drag down the black women you mentioned You love them
I also believe the culture: You have white blinds spots They showed up here
Your piece can read like You’ve had it harder in the music industry Than black women That you don’t recognize your white privilege in music
You used ‘the culture’ in your title – a phrase – I believe – popularized by Black culture And then denied those who viewed statement as racial
Is the piece what it seems: a first draft Off the cuff no feedback-gone public statement?
A good, intersectionality-woke friend Could have read it, kindly given some feedback, Hey – this has some white blind spots and it could read like this… And you could have adjusted to make your intended points clear:
that you want feminism to include women who don’t read as “strong” that you want to explore codependency and abuse in your work that you are angry at the female writers and singers who have criticized you and want them to stop
Lana, third wave feminism certainly has and has had a place for you Women can read “feminine” “delicate” “fragile” “sexy” and be a feminist / and lifted up by feminists
As a third waver – you gotta remember:
A lot of women and men worked really hard to advocate for a world where women don’t have to be “feminine”, “delicate”, “sexy” “fragile” – traditional frames for what a woman is supposed to be – frames that have operated as structures that keep women down — frames which often left out WOC in a vision of what a “woman” is
In art I believe That going inward And boldly being honest And not censoring oneself for being right or wrong Or a good feminist or not Is essential To the creation of good work Do it! Write for yourself Account how you feel in that relationship to men
I’d also like to challenge you to also write about something different Surely there are lots of other topics you could deeply and honestly engage in? Maybe you did this in your coming works… I’d like to challenge all of the music industry / music artists To spend more time exploring / lifting themes outside of romantic relationships We have so many songs about leaving a bad one, loving a good one, loving a bad one or being a bad partner… What else we got?
And for your point on critics: Your critics have been both men and women Feminists can identify as any gender But you clarified, that your anger towards critics/feminism Is exclusively for “females”
This makes me sad
Critics – especially feminists critics in music and literature Are extremely valuable
bell hooks taught me The patriarchy has no gender My friends who write criticism professionally Are the ones who have taught me the most About my white blind spots – Who have helped me name Challenges I’ve faced in music As parts of patriarchy
I would be stoked If Ann Powers took the time to listen And thoughtfully engage and respond to my work
I am also super afraid of criticism And often read it as a judgement of my character And respond defensively
I relate to you on that
I believe you’ve experienced An unfair ton of oppressive / hateful / trolling bs As a woman And i think you and the women you mentioned Have gotten way more of that stuff Than y’all’s male peers
I imagine it can be confusing To separate the hateful, violent, judgmental attacks From the thoughtful, discursive views from feminist criticism
I get jumbled on this too
Can’t there be a space for You to be fully embodied and honest in your art And the public and *female critics to have a valid experience of it? Even if their view is something you don’t want them to have? Isn’t there a difference between criticism and oppression?
Isn’t art kinda like the tree that fell in the woods? Only half-baked if not experienced by others?
Remember when you were unknown and wanted so badly for folks to listen to your music?
Fell the tree of your choice – just like you want Maybe some will like the sound, others won’t, others will like the wood and be mad you cut the tree Not letting them have their response denies what released art and music is: Shared Experienced Outside of the Artist Reflecting bigger stuff than the Artist may have intended
If you want to control the experience of your words Then keep them in your diary
Image credit: Lana del rey instagram @lanadelrey
For more on the writer, and to hear her music, visit Celeste Krishna’s website.