The controversy behind Lorde’s feminism—and why she’s right
By Natalie Serafini, Assistant Editor
A singer’s been taking verbal swings at several popular artists: Lorde, a brutally honest feminist, has been criticized for her criticism of such artists as Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, and Lana Del Rey—and Gomez ain’t happy about what Lorde’s been spouting.
With regards to Gomez’s song “Come & Get It,” Lorde said “I’m a feminist, and the theme of her song is, ‘When you’re ready come and get it from me.’ I’m sick of women being portrayed this way.”
Gomez responded, “That’s not feminism. [Lorde is] not supporting other women. That’s my honest opinion, that’s what I would say to her if I saw her.”
Gomez handled the situation very well, in the sense that most people will likely agree with her. The version of feminism that has been popularized for years—most notably in the age of the Spice Girls—is that of love and support for your fellow woman, girl power, sisters standing together, and the like. While it may be the popular and seemingly ideal form of feminism, it’s not my version of feminism, and I’d like to go ahead and assume that it’s not Lorde’s version of feminism either.
Feminism isn’t about blind, blanket support. Being a feminist doesn’t mean agreeing with everything that women do; it means supporting women in their ability to say and do as they wish, and backing their messages if you actually do agree with them. Gomez can sing, act, and speak however she wants, but I don’t have to agree with her statements and actions, and neither does Lorde. Gomez is no more deserving of blind support than any other woman, feminist, or human being is. It’s that simple.
On the topic of Gomez’s song, a lot of people seem to have misunderstood why Lorde was criticizing it. On the YouTube channel Pop Trigger, the consensus was that Gomez was exploring her sexuality with the object of her affections, and that Lorde, when she’s older, will be more willing and able to explore her sexuality. She’ll understand, where she’s too young to comprehend sexuality as a youngin’ of 17 years.
I can’t speak for Lorde, obviously, but the issue I’ve had with Gomez’s song is that it sets her up as a passive object, waiting around to be acted upon. In the lyric, “when you’re ready, come and get it,” she literally refers to herself as an it—unless “it” refers to sex, which is a distinct possibility. Even then, though, the notion that sex with her is an “open invitation” takes away the option for her to change her mind, or not be in the mood, or decide that she’s tired of waiting around. Call me crazy, but I think it’s important to be able to change your mind if you decide that you do or you don’t want to have sex.
This is different from the generic brand of sexual objectification in which women are sexual scenery, or their value is tethered to their sexual abilities: in this case, Gomez’s role as a thing is blatantly stated. She tells you she’ll be waiting around until you’re ready to sex her up (“All day, all night, I’ll be waiting, standing by”)—and will assumedly go back to waiting until you’re ready to come and get it again.
I have no problem with the exploration of sexuality. I have a problem with the notion that Gomez is singing about not living her life, or deciding that she’s no better than some dismissible object. That’s neither a positive message, nor one that I’m going to get behind.
I wholeheartedly feel that Gomez has every right to sing what she wants to sing, and believe what she wants to believe. I don’t support her song’s message, though, because her brand of feminism and empowerment reads a little too much like objectification to me. If Lorde’s criticism is based in some other logic, she still has every right to criticize Gomez’s message without it detracting from her status as a feminist.