Women in Music: Ariana Grande

Photo courtesy of NME 

Ariana Grande wouldn’t appear to many as a polarizing figure. She seems to be like many other female pop artists: bright, happy and joyful. Her music is a unique style of 90s pop a la Whitney and Mariah mixed with modern femininity. Yet, in her short lifetime of 25 years, she has experienced more hardships than we could ever imagine.

Despite that, she has managed to emerge as a mature, experienced trauma survivor who continues to live her life to the fullest despite the many horrible situations she’s experienced.

Grande has faced several instances of sexism and sexual harassment in her lifetime. In late 2016, she was approached by a male fan who made sexual comments about her to her now ex-boyfriend Mac Miller.

Ariana tweeted, “I am not a piece of meat that a man gets to utilize for his pleasure. I’m an adult human being… I felt like speaking out about this one experience tonight because I know very well that most women know the sensation for being spoken about in an uncomfortable way publicly…”

After tweeting this, she then shot back at users who claimed the man’s comment was a result of the way in which she presented herself in her music videos, specifically mentioning her clothing choices and behavior. “expressing sexuality in art is not an invitation for disrespect !!! just like wearing a short skirt is not asking for assault,” she tweeted.

Recently, she was groped by the bishop officiating the late Aretha Franklin’s funeral. Despite video evidence confirming both the act in question and Grande’s clear disapproval, focus turned instead to her clothing choice. Many criticized her for wearing a skirt to the funeral and chose to ignore the fact that the bishop touched Grande’s breast without her consent.

Grande has faced other tough situations. On May 22, 2017, her concert was hit by a terrorist attack that killed 22 people and injured 59 more. Following that, she ended her relationship with the late Mac Miller, calling their relationship “toxic.” After their breakup and an incident in which Miller crashed his car into a light pole, a fan tweeted to blame Grande for leaving him and causing the mental break.

Grande responded, “How absurd that you minimize female self-respect and self-worth by saying someone should stay in a toxic relationship because he wrote an album about them… I am not a babysitter or a mother and no woman should feel that they need to be.”

Following Miller’s recent passing, Grande received intense blaming from fans who said that Miller’s death was her fault.

Despite the many tribulations she’s been through, Grande has remained a strong feminist voice in an industry wracked with sexism and sexual harassment/assault issues.

Her newest album, sweetener, once again uplifts woman through both sexual and social empowerment (“God is a woman” and “successful” respectively) and even addresses issues of mental health (“get well soon”). Throughout her career, Grande has advocated on behalf of women, the LGBTQ+ community and the Black community. Even in the face of contempt, hatred and violence, Grande stands up for underprivileged communities and advocates for respect and kindness toward all people. Few other artists can claim such accolades.

By: Trever McKenzie | Online Editor