There was an article in the Independent the other day about my after-school clubs project. I’m pretty happy with it, only I wanted to go over the point made about ‘sexual images.’ To clarify, I didn’t say that sexual images upset girls. That was written around a quote when I was asked a question about the sexual nature of some other popstars and over sexualisation of young people. I did say what I said in the quote that “It’s about encouraging the girls to write in a secure environment without feeling judged about the way you look”. But I didn’t name names of other popstars, I don’t tend to do that as I think it’s trashy. The whole sexualisation of young people thing is a weird debate that can get complicated. This is where I stand on it. Everyone should be able to express themselves sexually how they want to (obviously as long as you are not hurting others! and obviously if you’re like an 8 year old and into pole dancing I don’t think that’s cool, oh and I think selling thongs for 8 year olds is totally fucked also). What makes me bummed out is that a lot of girls especially at a young age feel like the only thing they have to offer is their sexuality and their looks. This is what sucks about the situation. If you are aware of your options, you feel strong and good about it and you are doing what you want then it doesn’t matter how you dress or how sexual you are or aren’t. If you don’t feel good and you’re selling something so that you can get respect or power for doing that sexual stuff then it gets depressing because I hate to think of anyone not having self worth and not valuing themselves and not having options. That’s what the problem is for me, people not having options, or not feeling confident, being used sexually or not having a say in what they want sexually, feeling like they have to do something to get respect and (not doing it for themselves and their own pleasure (hello!)). And I think you get a lot of that pressure at school. A lot of girls give guys blow jobs from a young age but how many guys are caught going down on girls in the school cupboard? None at mine, probably none at yours. See there’s a distinct difference between sexuality between girls and boys at school. It’s like a power thing. (I mean it carries on after school but you can kinda create your own world a bit more when you leave school) I remember guys talking about sex openly and boasting about getting head and girls being trashed because of the way her vagina or boobs looked, that she was dirty and trashy and did “weird stuff”. If a guy went down on a girl that was seen as kinda gross, for both the guy to have done it and the girl who “allowed” it.

It’s a massive problem that not enough girls feel good about themselves as people and about their bodies and that they’re doing sexual favours for guys who don’t show them respect. Girls aren’t taught to value themselves as much as guys.  I mean that’s like a whole “the structures of society have been built that way for so long” kind of issue. Why would you value yourself as an individual with a mind as well as a body if the world doesn’t really send out those messages and hasn’t done for hundreds of years. Maybe that’s why a lot of the girls I’ve spoken to at schools feel so worried about becoming musicians, they feel like they will be solely judged on the way they look and their bodies, and A LOT of people DO judge women on that alone which is rubbish. But not everyone will, and we need to change that the fact that some people do, the only way you can make change is with action!

I remember being asked by a journalist about ‘Mansion Song’, about how it was offensive and wasn’t I insensitive to my younger fans for releasing it on my second record. I responded by saying that actually it is a very positive message directed at young girls and aspiring groupies. I remember bumping into groupies over one summer at festivals and it drove me crazy, it drove me crazy the way they were viewed by everyone, the way that I viewed them! the way they did something by someone else’s rules, they were disrespected and laughed at and kicked off buses in towns far away from home and banned from coming into gigs again when whichever rockstar they were fucking got bored of it. It made me really upset to see that, especially as I know that lifestyle, I know what it’s like touring and even though it’s the best thing in the world, being on the road is really tough at times! it’s definitely not glamorous and when you’re far away from home sometimes you feel shit, even when you’re with people that you trust and that have respect for you. I can’t imagine being in that position but being completely powerless, without respect, or friendship or purpose. I want those girls to start their own fucking bands and travel round in their own vans and  party in grotty venues on their own terms and not be able to be kicked out or used or laughed at like that. It’s just bollox really. And although there is bad language in ‘mansion song’ there is explicit reference to sex and drugs, there is NOTHING, absolutely nothing as offensive as “don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me’ in there. nothing. I understand if people want to censor kids from explicit stuff but maybe there are messages kids are being exposed to that are far more damaging than words they will one day learn if not from a song from tv or a friend.
It’s really fucking important for women to express themselves sexually without being judged, do it on your own terms for your own pleasure when you want to, not if you’re uncomfortable or put under pressure or feel like you have to to fit in. And how I think this relates to music is that it doesn’t fucking matter!! being a musician shouldn’t have to relate to how much skin you show or how much you talk about sex in your music. You have the right to do both but you’re not restricted to that. And that’s the best thing about music in relation to all topics/politics and ideas really, you’re totally liberated. Honestly I never feel as free as I do when I’m on stage playing live and that’s whether I’m feeling sexual, political, happy or like I want to die, making jokes, making very serious points that I care about, feeling introverted or totally free and external. It’s an amazing thing that no-one should feel like they can’t do just because of the way they look. That’s my point really.