Why Lana Del Rey Is Under Fire for Her Recent Comments About Women in Music

Lana Del Rey is sparking conversations this morning after posting a lengthy message to her social accounts, pointing to female artists who’ve topped charts with songs with sexually provocative lyrics, and calling out the criticism that her own music “glamorizes abuse.”

“Question for the culture,” she began, “Now that Doja Cat, Ariana [Grande], Camila [Cabello], Cardi B, Kehlani, 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 by being in love even if the relationship is not perfect, or dancing for money – or whatever I want – without being crucified or saying I’m glamorizing abuse??????”

Her comments arrive a week after Doja Cat, Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé, and Megan Thee Stallion landed the top two positions on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making history as the first Black women solo artists to do so. All the other artists that Del Rey named have scored number one hits in recent years except Kehlani, according to her Billboard history.

Del Rey’s opening statement was her most contentious, as readers promptly noticed that the artists she named were mostly women of color. Some questioned whether it was necessary for the singer to even name names, and others defended these artists for embracing sexuality in their music—something women, especially women of color, are often chastised for doing.

The focus of Del Rey’s message, however, was the flak she’s received for seemingly romanticizing abuse in her past work, when in fact, her material is drawn from real experiences, she said.

“I’m fed up with female writers and alt singers saying that I glamorize abuse when 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 around the world,” Del Rey continued. She added that it’s “pathetic” the occasional lyrics that detail her “sometimes submissive or passive roles” in past relationships have “often made people say I’ve set women back hundreds of years.”

Lyrics in question may include her 2014 song “Ultraviolence,” which has the lines, “I can hear sirens, sirens / He hit me and it felt like a kiss” (which quotes a 1962 song by The Crystals), and, “I can hear violins, violins / Give me all of that ultraviolence.” A piece at TIME questioned whether the song glorified domestic violence; another at Mic said the singer “is a huge step backwards for women everywhere”; another from NPR said she “romanticizes destructive forces.”

Del Rey explained that she’s not against feminism (“I’m not not a feminist”)—although she’s previously said that she’s “not interested” in the topic—and added that there should be a place in the movement for people with experiences like hers: “The kind of woman who says no but men hear yes – the kind of women who are slated mercilessly for being 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.”

She added that she’s been “honest and optimistic” about her challenging past relationships, which may also be the case with many other people. Del Rey wrote that she feels her work has helped her “[pave] the way for other women” to be open about sadness and vulnerability in their music, even though she was “deemed literally hysterical as though it was literally the 1920s” for her first two records.

Del Rey ended her message with an announcement that she’s releasing two new poetry books, whose proceeds will benefit Native American foundations of her choice. Del Rey will also drop a new album on September 5, which follows her 2019 LP, Norman Fucking Rockwell, and 2017’s Lust for Life.

This post has been updated.

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