Ariana Grande is taking no prisoners. The singer, who is on the cover of this week's Billboard magazine ahead of her Dangerous Woman album release, spoke eloquently and passionately about feminism and double standards within the entertainment industry, taking issue with the idea that a successful female star in the industry becomes forever linked to (and often, overshadowed by) a man whom she once dated. When discussing the aftermath of her breakup with rapper Big Sean, she echoed a message that she previously tweeted about at length: Grande is not here for women being defined by their exes, and it's time people listen.
"I’ll never be able to swallow the fact that people feel the need to attach a successful woman to a man when they say her name," she told the magazine, seemingly touching on Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber's relationship, as Billboard points out, though she does not mention either party by name.
"I saw a headline — draw your own conclusions [on the subjects] because it'll be so much drama that I don't want — they called someone another someone’s ex, and that pissed me off. This person has had so many great records in the last year, and she hasn’t been dating him forever," she argued. "Call her by her name!"
"I hate that. Like, I’m fuming. Sorry. You opened up — I need to take a sip of water and breathe," Grande said, not holding anything back. "Don’t get me started on this sh*t."
It's a topic that has come up with an alarming frequency in Gomez's own press tour for Revival: The "Same Old Love" singer has repeatedly stated that she is done talking about Bieber in interviews and noted that now should be her time to shine — she's worked for her career, she's owned her independence, and she is not, and should not, be constantly referred to as "Justin Bieber's ex-girlfriend."
From a media perspective, and as an entertainment writer myself, it's something to be mindful of. I'll be the first to admit that I have most likely labeled Gomez as "Bieber's ex" in the past, looking for another adjective to describe her other than "Selena," "Sel," "Gomez," "singer," "actress," etc. But that's not good enough, and people should realize what the connotations are when describing someone as someone else's possession — particularly women, when oppression and being at the mercy of a patriarchal society is so deeply rooted in our gender history.
Like Grande said in her original message on the subject (a lengthy post about being referred to as "Big Sean's ex"): "I am tired of living in a world where women are mostly referred to as a mans past, present, or future PROPERTY/POSSESSION. I... do not. belong. to anyone. but myself. and neither do you."
And this is not a case of "referring to someone by the bigger celebrity they are somehow linked to," either. In the case of Bieber and Gomez, yes, Bieber's celebrity is hard to be outdone. But Gomez — who is the most followed person on Instagram in the entire world, let that just sink in for a moment — could hardly be described as a "slouch." Even if Revival didn't debut at number one and spawn numerous multi-platinum singles (which it did, don't get me wrong), Gomez is still her own person with her own career. And to be constantly defined by a relationship that doesn't even exist anymore is a tired story. It's tired, it's old, it's overdone, and no one is here for it anymore.
At the end of the day, it's inspirational as hell to see Grande using her Billboard interview as a platform to stick up for her fellow female pop stars, empower other women, and show the world that this kind of sexism — accidental or not, inadvertent or not, subtle or not — is not OK. And I love that she will just keep calling it out until it's addressed, fixed, and done with. For good.
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