Meredith Graves, the singer of Perfect Pussy gave a long spoken word piece last weekend at the Pitchfork associated Basilica Soundscape festival. The New Yorker called the piece, “an even, powerful discussion of the different ways in which male and female musicians are judged on the authenticity scale.” The New York Times described it as “rigorous cultural criticism”. The Senior Editor of Pitchfork even said Graves should run for president…
All of this raving lead me to believe that the singer was actually calling out sexism as The Huffington Post headlined, but judging Graves’ piece in its entirety she does the opposite…kind of. Graves may have called out sexism, but she didn’t disagree with it.
Graves cites pop stars including Lana Del Rey, Beyonce, Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus saying “that their fakeness — or, as we should be calling it, ‘reinvention,’ — is necessary for women to succeed in the music industry.” Is it necessary? Just because the culture we live in demands it, does not make it necessary. It’s actually sad and what, I think, Graves should have been pissed at the most.
Instead, she seems okay with the notion of these female pop stars sexualizing themselves for the sake of male satisfaction:
“And of the women I listed above, look at what they’ve done that gets them called fake: taking on more seductive names and more assertive personas, getting breast and butt lifts and lip fillers and wearing makeup, wearing more elaborate, sexy, sometimes borderline-fetish costumes — everything that men claim they want out of women! But no, that’s not good enough — those qualities have to be both present and completely natural in order for spectators to be satisfied.”
If an artist’s persona is just smoke and mirrors, wouldn’t they expect backlash if anyone found out, male or female? Graves defends Lana Del Rey as an example of this industry “double standard of authenticity and gender” by noting backlash the moody singer received when the public found out she had reinvented herself:
“…she immediately became the victim of targeted attacks and constant negative commentary about her authenticity as a performer.”
Lana Del Rey may have received backlash from the public for “spicing” things up, but she still continues to sell records to this day and honestly has a successful brand that most musicians would want.
The same would go for Andrew W.K., whose questionable authenticity is the spine of Graves’ entire essay. Unknowingly, she shows how he receives just as much criticism from the public:
“I have read a dozen websites dedicated to exposing Andrew W.K. as an innocent pawn of the Masons or the Illuminati, calling him the kidnapped victim of a decade-long government mind control plot. There are semi-scholarly articles debating whether the man, the persona or the music is the real “art” of the Andrew W.K. “concept piece.” Fans gather on forums to compare pictures from shows in different countries, trying to determine if it’s the same “Andrew” on stage every night.”
It would make sense that this man whom Graves says “…was really talented and probably a genius,” seemed “mellow and almost morose” when she saw him at the airport. A judgement, by the way, that she made by just gawking at him from afar.
It seems that Graves had “confused the hell out of” herself and contradicted her argument of sexism. Her night of “research” proved that Andrew W.K. does in fact receive a lot of criticism for his “persona” and she even defends him again towards the end of her essay with a line she says she usually loathes, “feminism is for men, too.” If that is the case for Graves, why doesn’t she criticize the industry for expecting all artists to match their public personas?
Graves’ own experiences with sexism in the industry are even questionable as she fails to clarify whether the only two valid examples she gave happened to her:
“…door guys stopping female musicians carrying gear to make sure they’re actually in the band and not just somebody’s girlfriend…”
“Big rock magazines that interview male musicians about gear and female musicians about sexual harassment…”
Graves seems more concerned with men criticizing her for not really being the punk-rocker she pretends to be on stage. Ultimately, Graves just wants to have her cake and eat it too.
She is the only woman in a band called Perfect Pussy, yet she expects males not to see her as what the context implies…she is the perfect pussy.
Grace Bol in Barneys New York Fall 2014
The lab tech/doctor named Ollie was kind enough to email me the pictures they took of my eyeballs.
it dont even feel like september it dont even feel like any month we just floatin thru time