Are Katy Perry's "Power" Lyrics About Donald Trump? Her References Could Be Political
On the surface of things, the sixth track on Witness is a traditional female-empowerment song in which the singer appears to address an ex.But Katy Perry's "Power" could also be about Donald Trump, in my opinion. On a first listen, this might seem absurd. It's got all the tropes of a confessional love song (demands for more respect, it's addressed to the second person) and besides, there's no explicit references to politics in the song. But think about the way the 32-year-old singer described a new era of "purposeful pop." Presumably this implies she's operating under the slogan common to '70s feminism (though penned in 1969), "the personal is the political" and even songs that seem to be about her private life may also work on a second level: that of her public life as a citizen.
Besides which, what about that title? In her first self-consciously "woke" album, it seems unlikely that the "Firework" star would give a song a name making reference to power without having politics in mind. But let's get stuck in. Just like the rest of us prior to knowledge of the President-Elect, she was "fine before I met you." Much of the first verse feels like it's directed at a lover, rather than a political figure. She states she doesn't want to blame him for everything, but accuses him of taking "control of a vulnerable soul."
But then, in the final lines of the verse, she broadens her focus so it's about masculinity vs. femininity. While she talks about her love for her mother, she resolves "to break the cycle" so that she can "sit first at the dinner table." As Genius commentator maxcas has clarified "This line is referring to the stereotype of women cooking for their families and often being the last to sit down to eat." This isn't a post-heartbreak song, it's a female empowerment banger.
Trump has undermined women in a whole host of ways since taking office. As Elle has already outlined, even beyond the changes to Planned Parenthood that his budget proposal would mean, it would still affect women, since it:
"...would deeply cut programs for the poor, including SNAP benefits (food stamps), which according to a 2013 Pew study are twice as likely to be used by women than men. A Northwestern Institute for Policy Research brief also showed that food stamps lead to better health and economic outcomes for women."
As Bustle has previously commented, Trump's $1 million cut to funding for AIDS treatment would also disproportionately affect women in developing countries:
"And that's because HIV and AIDS occur at a higher rate in women than men, especially in East and Southern Africa. According to a 2016 UNAIDS report, young women experience an outsized threat of contracting HIV."
It's hard to imagine a song penned about female empowerment and strength in this context without it at least implicitly addressing Trump. So with this in mind, read the chorus:
You can't clip my wings, can't wilt my flowers
Stole my time, but I'll make up the hours
'Cause I'm a goddess and you know it
Some respect, you better show it
I'm done with you siphoning my power
Women are being forced to organize, to rally, and to research their options, such as what their most affordable contraception options will be following the leak of the Affordable Care Act to Vox revealing that, if the draft passed, "many American women who currently receive no-cost contraception" may have to "pay out of pocket for their medication."
Similarly, the "siphoning my power" applies just as neatly to Trump (if not more so) than an ex-beau of Perry's. The budget proposal made "the biggest cut in percentage terms" to the Women's Bureau, "a small office dedicated to working women." This suggests an attack on women being a force and a power in the workplace. The New York Times also stresses that "The budget calls for cutting Medicaid, where women receive 69 percent of total spending, by more than $800 billion over 10 years."
In the second verse, the "Teenage Dream" singer implies how she's evolved when she sings "Hell hath no fury like a woman reborn/ And now I'm burning like a blue flame once more." She's made no secret that she hasn't always been political, and it was only when she was compelled support Hillary Clinton in her campaign against Trump that we first saw the beginning of the star's evolution as an activist. In an Instagram post on December 1, 2016, she stated that she had only found her voice "in the past year" and argued:
"Hillary helped me see that we're all in this together, no matter where we come from...Hillary lit a fire inside of me that burns brighter and brighter every day, and that fire will NEVER be put out."
As such, presumably we can read the "blue flame" reference as one to her political passions rather than private passions — her fighting the forces of right-wing politics.
There are other tracks on the record which are more obviously political: "Chained To The Rhythm," for example, or "Bigger Than Me." But if you're looking for a song that, in spirit, seems to directly address Trump as well as inspiring listeners to resist him, make it this one.