Kelly Clarkson: ‘Not a Feminist’

The singer-songwriter talks about Christmas, working with famous in-laws and why she's not a feminist

  • Share
  • Read Later

Don’t call the singer of “Miss Independent” a feminist. In an interview with TIME, Kelly Clarkson says she doesn’t consider herself one.

“I wouldn’t say [I’m a] feminist, that’s too strong. I think when people hear feminist it’s just like, ‘Get out of my way I don’t need anyone,’” she says. “I love that I’m being taken care of, and I have a man that’s an actual leader. I’m not a feminist in that sense … but I’ve worked really hard since I was 19, when I first auditioned for Idol.”

Then again, the former American Idol winner is not afraid of contradictions. After all, she was a Ron Paul supporter but voted for Obama twice. She’s a pop singer, but feels more at home with country-music folks because she thinks they’re nicer. She calls her music “ballsy.” And although she’s just 30 — and it’s only just November — she’s already releasing a Christmas album. “[This] is my favorite album,” she says, “which is hilarious, cause it’s Christmas songs, but it is.”

Clarkson, who recently married, also showed off the copy of Jane Austen’s ring that her now husband Brandon Blackstock had made for her and talked about working with her new stepmother-in-law Reba McEntire.

You’ve just released a Christmas album, Wrapped in Red. Isn’t that something artists do in the twilight of their careers?
Yeah, greatest-hits albums too. But a Christmas album is fun because you don’t get labeled anything. So there’s rock ’n’ roll on there, there’s R&B, there’s country, there’s pop stuff. I have a hard time being cheesy, but you can be cheesy with Christmas music, so I felt I could be vulnerable. It’s my favorite album.

That you’ve ever made?
That I’ve ever made. Which is hilarious, ’cause it’s Christmas songs.

In the 10 years since you broke out, female singers have dominated the charts, but they’ve also become more provocative. How have you resisted that?
There’ve always been women in the industry who have pushed the envelope — Cher, Madonna, Annie Lennox. I don’t think anything different is going on. People say, “Oh, you never go for the whole sex-appeal thing.” Well, I don’t ever not go for it, either. I just go for who I am. People in the industry have tried douche moves with me, but of course they’re going to, because they make money when girls do that.

Do you have any advice for Miley Cyrus?
I honestly don’t, because we’re nothing alike — I wasn’t a child star. I have no idea what her life was like or what she goes through.

Who do you go to for advice?
I’ve always been kind of the gypsy girl, even from when I was a kid. I was really bad at time management and knowing my limits, touringwise or workwise. Reba really helped me. It is funny, I do relate way more to country stars. Sometimes I’m at a pop event, and I love all the artists there, but — I don’t know if my personality’s just different; I’m superopen, and I’ll talk to anyone — but sometimes I feel everybody is too cool for school.

Are you saying people in country are nicer than people in pop?
I am absolutely 100% saying that … And I love pop music and the people in pop music.

Let me get this straight: Reba is your stepmother-in-law. And she’s married to your manager. And you sang with her on this album?
It doesn’t really weird me out that she’s my mother-in-law, ’cause we’ve been friends for years. Although I guess that’s weird. She has seen me at my worst, my best, my awkward moments; she knows I say everything that’s in my head. She’s really been helpful in my career. It is very incestuous, though.

You’re a stepmom. How are you preparing for that?
I’m part of a family that’s been divorced, married, divorced, married, so it’s fitting for me to have stepkids. Brandon [Blackstock] and I have already been living together, and we already do the soccer games and the homework and the equestrian events and the recitals. I love it so much, I want a baby. I’ve never wanted a baby in my life.

Do you consider yourself a feminist?
No, I wouldn’t say feminist — that’s too strong. I think when people hear feminist, it’s like, “Get out of my way, I don’t need anyone.” I love that I’m being taken care of, and I have a man that’s a leader. I’m not a feminist in that sense … but I’ve worked really hard since I was 19, when I first auditioned for Idol.

How do you normally vote?
I voted Republican at first. And then I voted for Barack the last two times. I feel like the parties have switched on what they set out to do. I’m probably more of a libertarian. I was for Ron Paul. I just love the guy that says it like it is and isn’t trying to skirt around things and make them look pretty so he can get voted for. I’ve never been the polished type.

31 comments
kayway85
kayway85

It's fairly evident that Ms.Clarkson does not understand what feminism is or what it has done for her. 


Also, she could use some media training. 


*sigh*

TerC
TerC

I think that Kelly meant 'thank you' to the feminists who campaigned to give her the right to own property, to vote, the right to be safe from violence, and the right to be considered a person under the law. Who was her history teacher??

midwestblossom
midwestblossom

Wish Kelly had spent a little time researching all that has gone into creating a more open and affirming society for women to succeed. It was not all bra burning, folks. There were lots and lots of hours that went into legislation, education and exposusre to Other; many of us stayed at home, raising families while others took different paths. We supported one another and encouraged each other. It's a better world for what we silently and loudly did. By the looks of some of these remarks, we still have a long way to go. Honor thyself by allowing  each and every person  to make the choice that is right for them.

ChristaBailey
ChristaBailey

Love Kelly Clarkson. She is amazing. She is so open and honest. Some people just don't appreciate how awesome that is. Just bought her Christmas album. It rocks!!!!

Jinx
Jinx

Wonderful to see Ms. Clarkson and fun interview. She's a feminist, if she's made it this far in her industry. To clarify, though, I understand her answer to the question. Why let others define you? If I stayed home part time and baked lots of cookies when my kids were wee, I don't give a rat's tail if Hillary $$$ Clinton types look down their noses at me for not leaning in.

bhanks
bhanks

Hey Time Magazine, how about you stop sensationalizing news about women?  K, thanks.

GabrieNantes
GabrieNantes

Kelly clarkson doesen't make any sense to me, nothing against her as a person or her music, but what she says is soo bizarre every time that I simply can't take her seriously.

PhillyCannabis
PhillyCannabis

Nothing worse than a Feminist. It's the extreme side of the female gender. Like radical muslims or radical conservatives. In another word - gross.

mrsgunnz
mrsgunnz

I'm guessing that if you sat down with Kelly and read the exact definition of feminist, that she would agree that she is one.  Any strong female should be.  I would imagine that she is coming more from the point of view that society puts on the term.  If you are coined a feminist, people (not all of, course) label you as this woman stomping around, independent, standing up for yourself and not needing anyone else to have a say in your life, etc.  I think that her point is that she is a strong woman that stands up for herself and can take care of herself but also is ok with being taken care of.  People should focus more on what she is actually saying and not the phrase "I'm not a feminist".  And although I went on about the topic a little, I agree with you Jason.

JasonRadford
JasonRadford

I hate how a simple Q&A was turned into a negative depiction of such an innocent star. The author pulled one bit and turned into the main focus of the headline, which is not what the interview was about. Not fair. 

Rob_S
Rob_S

To be honest, I don't think very many people DO know what a feminist is, and odds are, they disagree with each other over the definition. Robin Thicke, singer of the song "Blurred Lines" (which glamorizes the blurred line of sexual consent), has called himself a feminist-something that, regardless of which definition you subscribe to, he definitely isn't. Most, if not all, of the celebrities who claim to be feminists are either doing it to look progressive or to bolster their public image. In fact, I'm pretty sure most "feminists" aren't truly invested in the cause- it's kind of like calling yourself an environmentalist. 

All in all, I think it's pretty harsh titling the article "Kelly Clarkson: "Not a feminist" (is this really front page news?) and, although I can't stand her music, I respect her decision. I'd much rather have someone honestly comment on their ideals, however "non-progressive" they may be, then have them lie (like oh-so-many others) and say they're something they're definitely not. 

Either way, though, their fans eat it all up.

Nikki00
Nikki00

What an idiot. Doesn't even know what a feminist really is.

srsly
srsly

TBH she sounds a little vacant...

RemyNorth
RemyNorth

@TerC Who was your history teacher? Didn't they teach you that the women's rights movement predates the term "feminism?" 

RemyNorth
RemyNorth

@midwestblossom So a woman used her freedom of speech to say something you disagree with, but we have a "long way to go"...so that we can get to a place where women can only say things that feminists agree with?? Seems legit.

RemyNorth
RemyNorth

@Jinx If someone calls themselves a feminist, they're a feminist. If they'd rather not call themselves a feminist, they're not a feminist. Why is it so hard for feminists to get that? No means no, feminists.

RemyNorth
RemyNorth

@mrsgunnz Actually, the vast majority of women aren't feminists. Only about 25% of women identify as feminists. Feminist women are among the weakest, always claiming harassment or "mansplaining" any time a man is permitted to disagree with them, and then trying to femsplain about how "equality" means women have fewer responsibilities than men and are less capable of human flaws. 

JohnDavid
JohnDavid

@Nikki00 Shut up you self entitled bitch. "UHHH white western men are horrible." Why not try out the other men in the world you'll see were actually the nicest. Feminism=selfishness.

#libtardedamerica
#libtardedamerica

@SukeMadiq @PhillyCannabis  

...explain to me how feminism isn't extremist? anyone who claims to be a a "something-ist" is an extremist. now go remove our head from your sphincter cool guy

aarias35
aarias35

@#libtardedamerica @SukeMadiq @PhillyCannabis thats honestly the dumbest thing ive ever heard. feminists believe in equality. kelly cleary doesnt know the meaning of the word. feminism doesnt mean "i dont need no man" feminism means "if you dont need no man thats cool and if you do need a man thats cool too. no judgement for being anything." it means that theres no one correct way to be a woman. they are all correct.


ani difranco has some good quotes on feminism that express what the word really means.

" Either you are a feminist or you are a sexist/misogynist/misandrists. There is no box marked 'other.'"

 i cant find the other one but she basically said  that she used to see women with like six kids and thinks to herself "you have to liberate yourself girl" but now she realizes that she is no one to decide what lliberation looks like. 

which means if you want to wear hot pink and dress like elle woods and then get married to prince charming and have six of his kids thats fantastic but if you want to dress in baggy clothes and not put on make up and never have kids thats also fantastic. being a woman shouldnt be defined by your relationship to men, your desire or ability to have kids and definitely shouldnt be based on how you dress. you are a woman regardless and thats awesome. you can be who ever you want to be and you shouldnt be judged for it.


in the same way feminism supports a mans right to look, dress or behave however he likes and that shouldnt determine his masculinity either.


if you hate men in anyway you are not a feminist. feminists dont hate men. misandrists do. sexists do. check yourself, son.

RemyNorth
RemyNorth

@aarias35 @#libtardedamerica @SukeMadiq @PhillyCannabis Feminists ARE misandrists. They practically invented misandry. They definitely took it to a whole new level. PS: You don't get to decide that any feminist who holds beliefs you don't like isn't an "actual" feminist. That's just an attempt to deny feminism's responsibility for all the terrible stuff it does and the misandry it blatantly perpetuates. 

CharlesZogby
CharlesZogby

@aarias35 @#libtardedamerica @SukeMadiq @PhillyCannabis If you actually read the junk they write/shout, you would see why so many people are against it.  Then when people get mad at them, they retreat back to their publicity shot of "oh it's just about making people equal!".  BS.

RemyNorth
RemyNorth

@CoryGage @#libtardedamerica @SukeMadiq @PhillyCannabis Do you just believe every feminist talking point? The dictionary claims feminism is about equality because feminists would bully every dictionary publisher into submission if they labeled it as the dogmatic supremacist movement it truly is. No one is allowed to say, publish or wear anything feminists disagree with anymore without almost immediately having to apologize. You don't think that tampers with people's ability to criticize feminism or talk about it accurately?