Lorde started her career as an impossibly cool teen, and she’s just getting better with age. In an new interview with Billboard, the pop star, born Ella Yelich-O’Connor, talked about everything from her Grammy nomination (her album Melodrama is up for Album of the Year), her idyllic private life in her native New Zealand, and her current obsession with baking. She also talked about the historic #MeToo movement. Lorde is encouraged that men have to rethink their ideas of consent, and it's something she talked about before — in fact, it seemed like she had a hunch that the floodgates were about to open.
Interviewer Brooke Mazurek brought up Lorde’s prescient tweet from January 2017, in which she boldly wrote, “these old men have a storm coming, the likes of which they cannot comprehend.” She does have quite the way with words. As The Huffington Post noted, when TIME named "The Silence Breakers" as Person of the Year on December 6, Lorde revisited that tweet. She replied to it, saying, “this came true I guess.”
Talking to Billboard, she said, “What is really interesting and important about this moment is every man I know is having to check himself — having to be aware of his misogynistic biases, having to re-examine his understanding of consent.” She went on, “I think that is so overdue and vital.”
It’s an apt observation. Not only are the “old men” she condemned before dealing with a reckoning, but more nuanced (and often exhausting and frustrating) conversations about consent are emerging. The website Babe recently published the allegations of a woman going under the pseudonym Grace, who accused Aziz Ansari of sexual misconduct during a date. (In response, Ansari released a statement to The Hollywood Reporter in which he stated that their sexual activity "by all indications was completely consensual.") Her story has been divisive, because what she alleges wasn't "technically illegal." But Grace claims she felt violated and her feelings rang painfully true with so many women, and her story started many important conversations
The movement is not just about the downfall of high-profile men in extreme positions of power like Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, and Louis C.K., but about a broader conversation about consent and institutionalized misogyny, as Lorde points out. "I think every woman is like, 'Oh my God, it's happening,'" she said, noting the importance of victims coming forward. "It's the kind of thing that only comes about when people are brave enough to share and really bring these dudes down."
Lorde also pointed to the necessity that the #MeToo movement be intersectional and focus on underprivileged voices. "A really important thing, that Gabrielle Union addressed eloquently, is that we can’t forget that white voices are given their moment much more willingly than voices of color," she said. "It’s so important to realize that people of color weren’t afforded this luxury of having everybody listen always."
She's referring to Union's interview with The New York Times in December, a day after the TIME "Silence Breakers" issue came out. In the interview, she said, "I think the floodgates have been opened for white women. I don't think it's a coincidence whose pain is being taken seriously." Union has long been an outspoken survivor and advocate for sexual assault victims.
Lorde has demonstrated her intersectional perspective before. In an interview with 60 Minutes in June 2017, Lorde was asked what feminism means to her, and she then, too, shifted the focus from herself. "It’s totally not about me. It’s about all women, who might not have the opportunities that I have, or the privileges that I have,” she said. "Trying to fight for better conditions and better treatment of all women, whether that be trans women, or women of color, or women in professions that don’t typically don’t typically a lot of respect." She's wise beyond her 21 years, to say the least.
So, is she hopeful for the future now? She told Billboard, "It feels like one of those things where there’s this chasm that opens and it’s never going to close. You don’t get to un-have this moment." And hers is a voice for this moment and for the future.