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Ultra-violence & Feminism

Is Lana Del Rey’s lack of feminism a problem, really?

I feel Lana Del Rey suitably fits within the love or hate category of pop stars, but I won’t divulge my opinion just yet. With the release of her new album Ultraviolence, Del Rey has received a significant amount of criticism and praise alike. Most of this criticism, however, actually stems from something she said, rather than something she sang.

Asking a young female pop star the question “do you identify as a feminist?” really only leaves them with one suitable answer, especially if they’re looking to make a statement whilst increasing the right kind of popularity. But Lana Del Rey did not buy into this with her answer; “for me, feminism is just not an interesting concept” she replied. This statement is echoed through her lyrics from her newest album; “he hit me and it felt like a kiss” from the title track Ultraviolence and “got your gun, you like to party and have fun” from Cruel World. Lana Del Rey also does little to offer a powerful female figure within her lyrics, rather the women in her songs are usually victimised and weak. With the exception of two songs on her new album F****d My Way up to the Top and Money, Power and Glory in which she sings about doing anything to get what she wants. Still, not the best image of women to present to the world. So you can imagine the shit storm that followed the answer and subsequent album release on Twitter, Facebook and throughout music journalism.

If I personally had a voice as public as Del Rey’s I would probably be spouting all the stuff I believe in (mainly equality and some kind of peace) so part of me does not understand why Del Rey doesn’t use her stage for something other than singing. But at the same time, why do we need to look to pop stars, like Del Rey, to be activists for anything, including feminism. Especially when I’m not entirely sure I see myself as a feminist, its become much more of a title than an act. To be honest, I feel we should be humanists, rather than feminists. But anyway, back to Miss Rey.  What she shares within her songs is something raw and personal, and the result is emotional music that perhaps doesn’t fit into our own personal or collective ideologies. So I guess this raises a question, do we ask and expect too much from pop stars and singers today? Are we relying on them too much to make a difference, to tell us what to believe rather than figuring out what we believe ourselves?

I personally love Lana del Rey, I loved her new album, I love the romanticism and destruction that flows through her lyrics, her 1950’s vintage image and all the bad boyfriends and little red dresses. Not every female voice I hear has to be trying to change the world with it. All I know is I want them to do something meaningful, something straight from the soul, something that invokes emotion. Lana del Rey does this completely, with every lyric and every note. With or without the presence of feminism.



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