As established, “Are you a feminist?” is a dicey question no celebrity really wants to answer: It’s a no-win situation, as stars get criticized either way. (Remember what happened when Emma Watson said she was a feminist? And when Kaley Cuoco said she wasn’t?) For pop star Ariana Grande, however, publishing a long, feminist Twitter post was a very wise career move.
Apparently frustrated that people are too interested in her break-up with rapper Big Sean and rumored dalliance with One Direction’s Niall Horan, Grande posted a long message on Sunday that blasted people for only caring about her relationships.
“I am tired of living in a world where women are mostly referred to as a man’s past, present or future PROPERTY/POSSESSION,” she wrote, sparked by this British tabloid story where she’s quoted as saying she’s neither Big Sean’s ex nor Niall Horan’s girl. “I…do not. belong. to anyone. but myself. and neither do you.”
Grande, 21, went on to name-check feminist author Gloria Steinem and pointed out the well-known double standard. “If a woman has a lot of sex…she’s a ‘slut.’ If a man has sex…HE’S. A. STUD. A BOSSSSSS. a KING.” She continued: “I know y’all already know this but the double standard and misogyny are still ever present…I want the people reading this to know they are MORE THAN enough on their own.”
The pop star wrote she comes from “a long bloodline of female activists,” notably her aunt Judy Grande, the late Pulitzer Prize finalist who served as president of the National Press Club in 1990. “I think she would have been proud of me for speaking up about something that has been bothering me personally for so long,” Grande wrote.
And that, essentially, is why this is a great move for Grande’s public image: The “speaking up” part will make waves, and more importantly, earn her respect for having the courage to say anything at all. Celebrities avoid hot-button topics as much as they can these days, so it’s unusual for anyone to take a stand. Grande has already made lots of headlines for her Twitter post, given that it’s a simple, rare act of having an opinion.
It makes sense: Celebrities are frequently taken down on social media for the audacity of having thoughts about a myriad of topics. Who wants to go through that, no matter what the issue? Even A-listers are only human. But when stars come equipped with a whole list of subjects they will not talk about, they risk alienating themselves (and becoming quite boring.) The best thing a celebrity can do is endear themselves to fans is to get personal. And if they come off as robots without a personality or original thought, that’s a very quick way to slide into irrelevance.
As it happens, Grande herself is known to have some very strict rules for what journalists can ask — a list of banned interview questions made the rounds last year, from her ex-boyfriends to her canceled show “Sam & Cat.” Around the same time, there was a glut of stories about examples of Grande’s “diva” behavior all over the Internet.
Now, months later, Grande is fixing her image as she takes control of the narrative: She’s addressing a formerly-banned topic head on, and tying it to a very timely issue of feminism among celebrities. Grande knows that the tabloids will never stop writing about her relationships: But you can bet that they’ll go back and quote her Twitter post for quite awhile, which automatically gives her some power over the story. That alone shows she’s savvy enough to be aware of the inner-workings of the Hollywood media machine.
Not only that, but in her post, she slyly included a plug to her “Honeymoon Diaries,” her behind-the-scenes YouTube series as she travels the globe on her world tour. That’s some top-notch celebrity PR work. Another very high-profile star who can appreciate that? The same one that tweeted her approval of Grande’s tweet, resulting in another round of headlines.
@ArianaGrande I'm so proud of you, always. But especially today. "She will need her sisterhood."
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) June 7, 2015
Well-played, Ariana Grande.