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The Instagram post dividing the internet: Why everyone is talking about Lana Del Rey.

This week, Lana Del Rey pressed publish on an Instagram post that immediately got the internet’s attention. The good, the bad and the outraged.

“Question for the culture,” the US singer songwriter asked her 16.4 million followers.

“Now that Doja Cat, Ariana [Grande], Camila [Cabello], Cardi B, Kehlani and Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé have had number ones with songs about being sexy, wearing no clothes, fucking, cheating etc. – can I please go back to singing about being embodied, feeling beautiful, being in love even if the relationship is not perfect, or dancing for money — or whatever I want — without being crucified or saying that I’m glamorising abuse?”

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The award-winning Summertime Sadness singer, real name Elizabeth Woolridge Grant, added she’s “fed up with female writers and alt singers” saying her previous works and song lyrics “glamorise abuse”.

“In reality, I’m just a glamorous person singing about the realities of what we are all now seeing are very prevalent emotionally abusive relationships all over the world.

“I feel it really paved the way for other women to stop ‘putting on a happy face’ and to just be able to say whatever the hell they wanted to in their music – unlike my experience.”

Hard-to-read font aside, the timing of the 34-year-old’s post felt somewhat random. Was there a successful female artists group chat discussion we missed out on? Is there context we’re not aware of? Maybe, but things became clearer when clicking over to the post’s second slide.

“I’m sure there will be tinges of what I’ve been pondering in my new album that comes out September 5th,” she said, also taking the opportunity to announce the upcoming release of two poetry books.

 

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In the entertainment industry, it’s not uncommon to launch a new project by offering up the news cycle something juicy to sink its fangs into.

But like another white woman who made headlines recently, NYT food writer Alison Roman for her New Consumer interview, Del Rey brought people of colour (PoC) into her narrative, which is based on feeling wronged by the industry.

Del Rey has indeed faced criticism for “singing her truth” in her lyrics and music videos. In particular, she’s long been accused of romanticising gendered violence through her portrayals of abusive relationships.

“Styled as a pouting pin-up from a mythical American underworld, she wrote her first four albums from the perspective of women who dream of nothing more than popping beers for bad guys playing video games,” Helen Brown wrote of Del Rey’s unique persona for the Independent.

“She romanticised domestic “ultraviolence”, had herself choked in videos and recycled The Crystals’ 1962 line, “He hit me and it felt like a kiss”.”

It’s a point Del Rey addressed in her post, discussing how her “minor lyrical exploration detailing my sometimes submissive or passive roles in my relationships has often made people say I’ve set women back hundreds of years.”

“Let’s be clear: I’m not not a feminist — but there has to be a place in feminism for women who look and act like me — the kind of woman who says no but men hear yes — the kind of women who are slated mercilessly for being their authentic, delicate selves, the kind of women who get their own stories and voices taken away from them, by stronger women or by men who hate women.”

LISTEN: We discuss this story on Mamamia’s pop culture podcast The Spill. Get it in your ears below, post continues after audio.

But perhaps the bigger question from this conversation comes from those who are wondering why Del Rey felt it necessary to diminish the accomplishments of PoC artists (most of the women named are black or lantinx) to make her point, without also acknowledging her own privilege and the plights the women mentioned have been through themselves.

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As BuzzFeed News reporter Michael Blackmon put it, those women “have endured a lot of the same struggles as Del Rey — and often to a greater extent because of their race. There’s an entire history of women singers and songwriters making music — the kind Del Rey seems to believe she invented — who are completely erased by her statement.”

Amanda Seales, actress and author of ‘Black Girl Bestseller’ Small Doses, also summed it up when she posted this comment:

“I get your point, and I consider it valid there was just an effective way to make it that didn’t center you as someone who has been silenced after paving the way for the women you listed to speak freely about their experiences, which is simply not true.”

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Aside from a cryptic Instagram comment left on Del Rey’s post by Doja Cat, none of the other women mentioned have publicly responded. Del Rey has since defended her statements, saying she merely referenced the likes of Cardi B, Camila Cabello and Nicki Minaj because they’re her favourite singers.

“If you want to try and make a bone to pick out of that like you always do be my guest, it doesn’t change the fact that I haven’t had the same opportunity to express what I wanted to express without being completely decimated,” she wrote in a comment.

“If you want to say that that has something to do with race, that’s your opinion but that’s not what I was saying. And my last and final note on everything – when I said people who look like me – I meant the people who don’t look strong or necessarily smart, or like they’re in control etc. it’s about advocating for a more delicate personality, not for white woman.”

Really, women artists like Beyonce, Cardi B and Del Rey want the same thing, among others: the freedom to create content that’s relevant to their experiences, without being held to the double standards their male counterparts aren’t.

But by standing on other women to get there, Del Rey’s story is no longer about her valid points surrounding misogyny in the entertainment industry, and none of us are any closer to achieving our common goal.

What we do know is Del Rey’s new album is dropping soon. Her 2019 album ‘Norman F*cking Rockwell!’ has also re-entered the iTunes albums chart. Perhaps it all comes down to the age-old adage, that all publicity is good publicity.

Feature image: Getty.

What do you make of Lana Del Ray’s Instagram post? Tell us your take in the comments below!

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