Kelly Clarkson: Unexpected feminist of the week.

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Apparently Clarkson has spoken out about her experiences with sexist music executives and their blatant disapproval of her writing her own music because she’s a young woman:

“Everybody doesn’t like me writing all the time, no matter how many No. 1′s you write. It’s clearly like yelling at a brick wall….It’s because I’m a woman — because I’m a young woman. I literally heard someone say it [during a conference call]. They didn’t know I was on the phone. Like, really? We’re living in what century? I hung up. I was like, I can’t even address that. ‘Cause that was the most ignorant thing I’ve ever heard.”

In the meantime, she just won a Song of the Year award for, yes, a song she wrote herself. Take that.

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30 Comments

  1. jane
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    And: bonus points for citing Jagged Little Pill as one of her favorite albums. (From the same EW interview.) Go Kelly!

  2. Kimmy
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    I’ve liked her ever since I heard her response the suggestion (from the record people, I think) that she should lose weight. She basically told them they could forget it, that she loved herself the way she was. And now this! Woo-hoo!

  3. carolina girl
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure that she’s an unexpected feminist. Seems to me that she’s spoken out before on sexism, hasn’t she? Or, maybe I’m confusing her with someone else. Anyway, she’s one of my guilty pleasures. I think she’s great and quite talented. Plus, you know, Mike Watt plays on her most recent album, right (or was that the one before)?

  4. Posted May 21, 2007 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    I do like Kelly, the only good thing to come from American Idol.

  5. Posted May 21, 2007 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I’m not sure about assuming her feminism to be unexpected– unless you mean it’s an unexpected treat to hear it at the forefront of her self-description of her work, or to realize that she might have something to do with the feminism in her music! :)

  6. Posted May 21, 2007 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    I’ll triple the not-so unexpected comments. As soon as she started to fight back against the ‘fat’ comments, I slapped the feminist label on her. I don’t own one of her CDs, I guess I should as she a guilty pleasure of mine, but from what I’ve heard, seems pretty feminist to me. As much as pop music can be anyways.
    It might be a surprise when compared to how some portray themselves in the music industry (Yes, Nelly Furtado, I’m talking about you! Again!).
    Let’s stop assuming that pop stars aren’t feminists. Let’s just give them time to show us one way or the other.

  7. onesong
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    give em hell, kelly! i loved loved loved her response to the direction/suggestion she should lose weight–i wish i could dig up the actual quote but it was along the lines of “screw you, i’ll lose weight on tour because i’m busy not because i want to fit anyone’s idea of what i should look like.” not to mention, “since u been gone,” and “gone” lyrics were some of the most refreshing pop songs out there (and also had the added bonus of being serious anthems for me while i was going through a very nasty breakup). i love her more every time she opens her mouth, and i’m officially buying tickets to her show this summer. i’ll support a young woman like this any day.

  8. Posted May 21, 2007 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Well, I, for one, certainly wouldn’t have expected it. But good for her.

  9. aspendarlin
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    i really do kinda like her. :) And I’ve seen a lot of articles and comments she’s made against the weight-related pressure in the music/television/performance industry. More power to her — I wish all girls didn’t feel the need to comply with anorexic standards.

  10. Vanessa
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    When I say “unexpected,” I mean as a crazy big pop star who has come out of such a show as American Idol. And I haven’t followed her other apparently awesome deeds she has done since becoming famous, but it gives me all the more reason to praise her for this. Good shit.

  11. SarahS
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Am I the only one who is not really comfortable with assigning the label of feminist to the woman whose first post-Idol hit was “Miss Independent” where she sang about how a woman was only strong, capable, smart, and independent until she found a man to cure her of that rascally independence?
    I mean, I’m glad that she is coming out and saying this stuff, and admittedly her second album is a LOT more positive about independence then the first (I liked Since U Been Gone) and has some great strident breakup songs. And according to Wikipedia, she actually got out of her reccord contract after the first album because she felt like she was forced to be a pop princess, so that makes me wonder if she really *believed* in the message of ‘Miss Independent’ or if she just had to do it because she had a contract.
    Still, Kelly Clarkson as a feminist? Really?

  12. Andrea
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Go Kelly!
    This reminds me of a CNN article from last week entitled “Female singers had better be sexy”, or something like that. The article interviewed two female record execs who basically said, “*Of course* a flat-chested and/or bigger-than-size-6 woman isn’t going to get a recoring contract; no one wants to look at *that*. It sucks, and I oh-so-wish we could move past that, but the market wants what it wants. There’s nothing that I can do about it, little and powerless as I am.”
    Okay… so I paraphrase and hijack the thread. But that made me angry.

  13. oenophile
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t Miss Valenti say in her book that you are a feminist if….
    Well, Kelly Clarkson is proving that right now: you’re a feminist if you’re ticked off that you aren’t taken seriously as a woman. Yes, you can be sweet, mild-mannered, and bubbly, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t a feminist.
    Good on her.

  14. JoanKelly
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    SarahS – I’ve heard that song many times and it’s never sounded to me like what you said, that the woman in the song is independent and strong until love cures her of that. The lyrics are about someone who was afraid of being vulnerable (which is a genuine thing that happens to men and women when it comes to love and sex) and then she finally took the risk of falling for someone. Corny pop song? Absofuckinglutely. But not anti-feminist. Just because some people would brainwash women at large to think love and romance are the most important things in life doesn’t mean that any/all discussions of love and romance, and the very human fears/shortcomings/joys of same, are oppressive.

  15. Genny
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Good for her, I think she’s a great singer and her songs are really enjoyable. And I’m glad this post hasn’t been found by some of the celeb-blog trolls yet, since in their opinion Ms.Clarkson is roughly the size of an elephant, only less attractive. It’s really disturbing the things people say about her weight, my roommate and I were discussing it the other day. I think she’s beautiful and I’m glad she’s got this kind of confidence in herself.

  16. SarahS
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Joan Kelly -
    I would be open to that interpretation of the song if there was *any* indication that she still retained her independence after she meet the guy. However there was nothing like that. Her independence is presented as a problem to be overcomb by the right guy.
    Honestly, I felt like the whole song was trading in stereotypes of feminists not being able to get a date, since her ambition, competence, and independence are just a mask for her being to scared of being emotionally vulnerable to date. I felt like it was saying “underneath every supposed independent woman is really just a naive frightened child”. I really found the whole thing offensive.
    I believe in love, hell I am in love, but that song seemed to me to be trading in a media-driven idea of loveas dependence (for women), love as better then ambition, and love as something that transforms you (because god knows you weren’t good enough to begin with). Thats not a real love based on respect and dignity, thats a love designed to play on women’s fears of ‘being independent = never marrying = dying at home with 200 cats”.

  17. Posted May 21, 2007 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Am I the only one who is not really comfortable with assigning the label of feminist to the woman whose first post-Idol hit was “Miss Independent” where she sang about how a woman was only strong, capable, smart, and independent until she found a man to cure her of that rascally independence?
    One of the reasons I dislike American idol is that after you win, you’re pretty much owned by Simon Cowell. I don’t know anything about Kelly Clarkson (I loathe pop, although my guilty pleasure is Pink), but she may not have had a choice in the matter.

  18. aspendarlin
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    I think Moxie is onto something. While Miss Independent gives me the same qualms, I also think she has been heavily controlled by the record contract you have to sign just to audition… Of course, there is no way to know how much was her decision and how much is scripted by the plethora of movie execs, publicists, etc? Who knows. But I like her image and her persona now significantly more than when that song came out. Maybe she is getting away from the limits of her contract? Or maybe she’s pushing the limits of what most people expect from pop stars now that she is well-known and respected enough to actually be listened to? I’m going to give her some credit, even if I am wrong?

  19. KTRComix
    Posted May 22, 2007 at 12:24 am | Permalink

    How does being a victim of sexism make Kelly Clarkson a “feminist”? By that definition, wouldn’t every American woman bea feminist?

  20. Posted May 22, 2007 at 1:30 am | Permalink

    Whichever music executive told Kelly Clarkson to lose weight is a moron. I worked in the same store with her before she went on American Idol, though I didn’t know her very well. She’s still cute as a button.
    As for lyrics. Do people really pay attention to lyrics in pop songs?

  21. Fenriswolf
    Posted May 22, 2007 at 4:11 am | Permalink

    “How does being a victim of sexism make Kelly Clarkson a “feminist”?”
    Being willing to speak out about said sexism despite extreme social pressure not to makes her a feminist
    “As for lyrics. Do people really pay attention to lyrics in pop songs?”
    I compulsively listen to lyrics, all the time. Without thinking. Sometimes I’ve heard the same awful pop song 200 times (we listen to a terrible station at work) and on the 201st time I’ll realise that some line totally contradicts another and get annoyed very time I hear it after that LOL

  22. C-Bird
    Posted May 22, 2007 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Actually, not sure if it’s relevant, but Miss Independent was written not by Kelly Clarkson, but by Christina Agulera.
    And really sometimes you have to throw some mass approved drivel out there to get an audience for more pertinent stuff. No harm, no foul, Kelly.

  23. werechick
    Posted May 22, 2007 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Honestly, the idea that gender was the only reason, or even the biggest reason seems silly. If anything, the logical conclusion that Simon Cowell was unwilling to allow others to pry money out of his cold capitalist hands with an original idea. The music has to be souless, or it’s not very commercially viable.
    The misogyny of the one person she overheard probably just added to it. Icing on the cake.
    (This said, I still hate Kelly Clarkson’s music, though as a person, she seems ok)

  24. jane
    Posted May 22, 2007 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    She’s a feminist because she’s not playing by the rules of the hierarchy. To wit, the rules:
    1) If you’re a female, you must be skinny and sober.
    2) If you fail to conform to (1), you must go on a diet or enter rehab, or both. See: Britney Spears
    3) It’s okay for you to be sexy, as long as we can package you as jail bait and market you accordingly. (Again, see: Britney Spears)
    4) If you’re white and you sing power ballads, you must dress conservatively and you can’t dabble in hip hop. (See: Mariah Carey while she was at Sony.)
    5) If you’re a woman of color, you have to conform to the European beauty ideal. See: JLo and Beyonce.
    And the reason Kelly is a feminist is because she’s not having it. Her record sales might suffer, but at least girlfriend didn’t sell her soul. Amen.

  25. onesong
    Posted May 22, 2007 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    also, how many years ago was miss independent? even if she did mean to say that independence was something for a man to overcome–even if she believed it in her heart and mind when she sang it–does that forever exclude her from feminism? is she not allowed to progress in her thoughts and words? give the woman credit, if only for that. also, i would tend to agree that she was brand-spankin-new in the recording industry, and was probably willing to sing whatever it was they through at her out of excitement and lack of experience. obviously, that has changed!

  26. jeff
    Posted May 23, 2007 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    I was under the impression that the reason she was discouraged from writing her own songs is that she’s a carefully manufactured pop star who achieved artificial success through a reality show. It would be relevant to ask if Clay Aiken writes his own songs (I have no idea if that’s the case or not).
    If there’s a double standard, that’s bogus, but I bet this is more about how she got where she is. I see musicians frequently, male and female, local and national, who are musicians and not products, and as such have complete freedom in what they write.

  27. vagabnd
    Posted May 23, 2007 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Out of all the American idols, shes the only one i liked-the rest all suck.

  28. oenophile
    Posted May 23, 2007 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Jeff,
    Kind of like how bloggers aren’t taken seriously?

  29. Kimmy
    Posted May 23, 2007 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Jeff, it seems to me that if she’s winning awards for songs that she wrote herself, she’s just as much a musician as any guy who worked his way up doing open-mike nights in New York, or wherever it is singers get discovered these days. It doesn’t matter where you come from. It matters what you do and where you go once you get there.

  30. Mina
    Posted May 23, 2007 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    “Jeff, it seems to me that if she’s winning awards for songs that she wrote herself, she’s just as much a musician as any guy who worked his way up doing open-mike nights in New York, or wherever it is singers get discovered these days. It doesn’t matter where you come from. It matters what you do and where you go once you get there.”
    I totally agree. :) When I choose which music to listen to, I don’t care about how “authentic” the musician is – I care about how the tunes actually *sound*.

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