Annie Lennox is doing press these days to promote her new album, Nostalgia, which is almost entirely jazz standards and the like (think Cole Porter and Gershwin). Usually I think the whole idea of pop singers putting out jazz-standard albums is a pretty blatant money-grab/relevancy-clutch, but in Annie’s case… I’d really like to hear her do Gershwin and Cole Porter. I imagine it’s enchanting because Annie is a goddess/icon/queen.
The last time I covered her, she had mentioned – almost in passing – that she didn’t really care for Beyonce’s style of feminism. Annie branded Beyonce “feminist lite.” It didn’t really seem like shade-throwing, more like an intellectual assessment of what it means to be a feminist historically and where Beyonce falls short. Well, Annie has a new interview with The Daily Beast and they asked her about the Beyonce stuff again. Once again, Annie didn’t back down and she didn’t get personal. She’s enjoying this conversation!
Lennox said she thought she was being asked in general terms. And yes, she considers Beyoncé a bit less than women like Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues. “There is a spectrum in feminism, it’s very broad. It’s very contentious and it’s really complicated.”
“What has happened is I’ll have said something in a sentence, fairly innocuous, and of course the editors look for those little things to tease, they go though it with a fine tooth comb and pull that one thing and make a strapline on top of it,” she says. “They’re all about making it into some sort a battle… I’m thrilled to see the word ‘feminist’ behind Beyoncé, are you kidding me? I think it’s fantastic.”
That said, Lennox does have issues with the way the way the word “feminism” has been thrown around. “There’s a mixed message,” she says. “If you twerk, if you stick out your whatever, if you do that, you’re empowered. That’s where we’re at right now: twerking is synonymous with feminism. I do not agree. It‘s not empowerment from my perspective. It’s demeaning. There’s nothing wrong with sexuality. Sexuality is a fantastic thing, but in performance when people have a very young audience, it’s totally inappropriate.”
Annie reminded me of that Tori Amos interview I covered a few months ago. Tori was asked about Miley Cyrus and twerking and all of that, and Tori managed to both defend Miley and talk substantively about what sexual empowerment should really look like. That’s what Annie is saying too – owning your sexuality is great. Every woman should be able to define their sexuality however they want. But not every public display of sexuality can be equated to a feminist act.
There are other great parts of this Lennox interview too – Lennox managed to side-step a tricky question about her feelings on Israel and Palestine. She also mentioned the outpouring of hatred she got for backing the “Better Together” campaign against Scottish Independence. Just before the referendum vote last month, Annie told a reporter that she’d “like to see the Scots put their hatred of the English aside and grow up just a little bit. We should be way beyond that now. It’s actually slightly embarrassing.” Apparently, Annie got so much hate mail she almost quit social media.
Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet.