Thursday 26 April 2018

Singer Anna Calvi hits out at pressure put on women

Anna Calvi. Photo: Ian West/PA Wire
Anna Calvi. Photo: Ian West/PA Wire

Harriet Line

Singer Anna Calvi has hit out at pressure put on women to be "beyond perfection" after being asked highly gendered questions when she became famous.

The star, 34, twice-nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, has expressed fears that society is regressing in gender roles, in an interview with the Independent on Sunday's The New Review.

She told the magazine that when she entered into the public eye: "I felt I was being reminded constantly about my gender in a way you never usually are. 'What's it like as a woman playing guitar?' 'As a woman, how do you...?' 'What is it like to play such a phallic instrument?'

"At first it surprised me, then it made me angry, and now it's like my eyes are opened to seeing the world in a slightly different way. You're so brought up in the patriarchal way we live, you don't notice it, yet it's everywhere. It's everywhere."

She said: "It's beyond perfection, the way a woman is supposed to look. And shapeless - like an 11-year-old boy. You look in the mirror and see that you have hips and you imagine they shouldn't be there.

"I do shave my legs and my armpits but really, what are you being told, that you have to shave off parts of yourself? You're not allowed to just be in the world.

"You're always being told that your natural state is a bit disgusting."

The singer revealed that as a child she wanted to be boy, but her parents - both psychotherapists - did not take her to see a therapist.

As she grew up, the feeling settled and while she doesn't feel as though she was born the wrong gender, she said there is "definitely something about me".

Anna hopes to "transcend gender" because she believes the roles that men and women are assigned to are "incredible limiting".

"Being a woman, expressing masculinity is an interesting thing to do. When on stage, I feel powerful. I feel like a woman and a man."

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