Grimes’ Anti-Sexism Manifesto Is Required Reading (Even if You’re Not a Fan)
Claire Boucher calls out music world's casual chauvinism
After assembling one of 2012’s most discussed indie albums, the all-embracing and promisingly ambitious Visions, Grimes mastermind Claire Boucher almost quit social media. “Bye Internet,” the Internet-fueled Canadian electro-pop artist wrote earlier this year, in a Tumblr post that has since been deleted. Her near-departure, which involved deleting all of her earlier posts, came after Pitchfork reported on her Tumblr’s (deleted, of course) 2012 year-end list, which was appropriately filled with pop: Beyoncé, Psy, Mariah Carey.
She returned, of course, but the spectacle was at once confusing and revealing. Here, as Gawker’s Rich Juzwiak noted, was an artist who gained attention in part through her Tumblr, reacting negatively at attention she received for her Tumblr: “My Tumblr is not a news source,” she wrote in another since-deleted tweet. Now, in a possible sign that Grimes has rediscovered the power of her online persona, she has posted a powerful Tumblr manifesto against sexism in the music realm. (The post comes after a tweet denying rumors she’s making an “Enya-inspired album,” though she clarified that she does love Enya.)
“i dont want to be infantilized because i refused to be sexualized,” Grimes writes, to use her own (lack of) capitalization. It’s only an early volley in a series of on-target blasts against widely hated behavior that nevertheless is too rarely brought into the open and condemned. She goes on to slam the idea of people feeling free to touch her at shows and on the street, of men offering unsolicited assistance, of “creeps on message boards discussing whether or not they’d ‘fuck’ me,” and of people misinterpreting such views as man-hatred. It’s a stirring piece of rhetoric and raises points that people need to hear. You should read it; here’s that link again.
Of course, it’s not all perfect, but that doesn’t detract from the overall impact. She writes, “I’m sad that it’s uncool or offensive to talk about environmental or human rights issues,” and you wish that instead of bowing down to perceived outside pressure she’d open up and talk about environmental or human rights issues; but you understand her hesitance, too. She writes, “I don’t want to have to compromise my morals in order to make a living,” which is a beautifully idealistic statement, and yet at the same time, we suspect we could be accused of compromising our morals somehow today before we even finished breakfast; not even just work, or art, but life inherently involves compromises, unless you’re rich enough only to buy things that meet your moral standards (in which case, you should give that money to the poor, right?).
The only other quibble would be her understandable resistance to being called “cute,” a “waif,” and so on, even as a compliment. While journalists almost definitely shouldn’t apply those words to the people making music, the music itself can be cute, or have a cute aesthetic, and it feels almost like a retreat to see her back down from the possibility of cuteness as a positive. She told SPIN that the video for Visions’ “Oblivion” embodies “the Japanese archetype of a female protagonist who is very small and very cute and very physically powerful.” Again, her reticence makes sense: North American culture doesn’t exactly welcome this archetype right now. But it should.
To be clear, though, just the fact Grimes has us talking about this stuff is impressive, and we only quibble because what she has written is worthy of discussion. After this week’s previous, execrable conversation-started based on repetition and declarative statements (that one posing as a poem rather than a Tumblr post), we’re grateful. Also, in a separate post, Grimes added: “i wrote what i wrote below not to complain or make anyone sad, but because i feel like if its possible to not accept stuff i hate and live a comfortable life then i want to do it “