Ameriie: ‘You Don’t Get To Choose To Be A Role Model If You’re A Popstar’

The singer gets heavy on feminism in the music industry


by Jess Commons |
Published on

She's best known for her HUGE 2005 hit 1 Thingwhich most probably was the soundtrack to your high school years. Now, the Korean-American singer Ameriie is back with very excellent new single What I Want, which samples The Sugarhill Gang. We caught up with the singer to chat about how the music industry treats women.

Hello Ameriie! As someone that's been in the industry for over 10 years do you think we put too much focus on youth in today's world?

It seems like everyone’s getting younger. Back in the day people used to be like, ‘Oh 30? Those are like grown ups.’ But I still meet people in their 30s and I feel like they’re older than me. I will be eternally 24 or 25. Somewhere along the line we all started wearing like the same clothes, the same make-up, doing our hair the same way, listening to the same music. There’s been a shift. Everyone’s realised you don’t have to act your age.

Where do you stand on making the right impression on your fans?

I do subscribe to the belief that you don’t get to choose to be a role model. Basically a role model is anyone who’s in the public eye, whatever level that is. Now, whether you care about or put any thought into your actions because of that is another thing.

Do you think pop stars have a particular duty to their young female fans?

As far as feminism goes, as women we’ve always been relegated to living this certain standard like that ‘Madonna/whore’ complex. You can’t be sexual, we have to be chaste. On the other hand, we’ve never really been in control of our sexuality in the past. Now we can be – which is a good thing. I don’t believe in the double standard, I don’t believe in using the word ho or whore, even in high school it really bothered me when someone would use that as an insult.

Yeah it’s kind of a weird insult…

It bothers me even more when I see other women calling each other ‘ho’ or ‘slut’, that we do that to each other, it’s already so hard for women. I do believe that we have to be in control of our sexuality but I also think we need to have balance. It's a thing now that people feel that if a woman is naked, she’s in control and actually, a lot of men, especially men in power, they really like it when you’re naked and you don’t have your own opinion. That goes down so much easier for men in power than a woman who has an opinion whether she’s clothed or not. Josephine Baker and Madonna pushed so many levels back in the day by saying, ‘I’m a sexual being and I’m a business woman’. But I think some of the shock value has worn off and I don’t know if we’re really pushing any barriers by pushing sex any more.

So it’s a balance right?

It’s very much a balance.We shouldn’t be expected to hide our sexuality because so much of our power as women lies in our sexualities. I can’t say what the definition of feminism is but we’ve come to a place where we can have a choice As long as it’s coming from ourselves and we’re in control of our own bodies and what we want to show.

Do you think there’s different standard for different pop stars?

Yeah, it really bothers me when some people say, ‘Oh well she’s sexual but it’s OK because she’s married.’ If she were single she could do the same thing! Married women can be sexy too. But it’s somehow like you’re given a pass because you’re married. This is really just for your husband so it’s OK.

Yeah, like Beyoncé, right?

Beyoncé is a sexual human being! It doesn’t have to be ‘Oh but it’s different because in the context of a marriage it’s OK to be sexual because it's for him.’ A woman should be able to be like Samantha on* Sex And The City*! I feel like Rihanna’s very in charge of her own sexuality, she knows herself and I think that’s what resonates with people. You feel that she is comfortable with it. Taylor Swift is comfortable in being very covered, which I can respect as well. So I think it’s just being true to yourself.

Is there a lot of women-on-women fighting in music?

I don’t notice a lot of infighting because I personally haven’t seen it myself but I do feel like you don’t see as much of a sticking together thing in the music industry. I think because women have been oppressed we have lived our existence defining ourselves by the way men see us. So when you have a group of people like that there becomes like this inner fight against one and other, because it’s this feeling of there can only be one. Music is like art, not a competition. Van Gogh wasn’t like, ‘This painting is going to SLAY!’ With women it’s still tough that’s why we do need to stick together because it’s hard enough!

  • Ameriie's new single What I Want is out on 10 August on Feenix Rising Ent*

Follow Jess on Twitter @jess_commons

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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