Janelle Monae on Her Belief That Respecting Women Begins With ‘Respecting the Vagina’

It’s no secret that Janelle Monae holds advocacy for women’s rights near and dear to her heart. Not only is she a singer, songwriter, producer, and award-winning actress, but Monae also spends her time in the political sphere, attending marches, engaging in protests, honoring her agency and those around her. She speaks her mind without apology, embraces feminism, and advocates for social change in the process.

It is only fitting that Janelle Monae covers the latest issue of Marie Claire as one of the five 2017 Fresh Faces the publication selected to honor this year.

What might be surprising, however, is some of what Monae had to say in the magazine. Specifically, her demand that people in the world – mostly men – must “start respecting the vagina.”



THANK YOU @marieclairemag 4 having me a part of the #FreshFaces issue! HONORED. #FemtheFuture #FutureisFemale

A post shared by Janelle Monáe (@janellemonae) on

The “Electric Lady” specified that women should consider boycotting sex in favor of having themselves respected individually and politically:

“People have to start respecting the vagina. Until every man is fighting for our rights, we should consider stopping having sex. I love men. But evil men? I will not tolerate that. You don’t deserve to be in my presence. If you’re going to own this world and this is how you’re going to rule this world, I am not going to contribute anymore until you change it. We have to realize our power and our magic. Because I am all about black-girl magic, even though I’m standing with all women. But this year? This year, I am so carefree black girl.”

The concept is not a new one and in fact became a topic of popular debate after the 2015 Spike Lee joint Chiraq centered on the concept of a proposed sex strike among women of Chicago ending the gun violence there. Additionally, sex strikes, or Lysistratic non-action, dates all the way back to ancient Greece. It is rather polarizing in nature despite the fact that it can be argued that such action – or inaction – has contributed to political and social change in the past. Some people feel that to equate a woman to what she can provide physically goes against feminism and the stereotypes women try to fend against.

Power and magic can be found there but are not necessarily rooted there.

The Hidden Figures actress went on to further emphasize her strength and her ability to control her body thanks to the belief system she subscribes to as an independent thinker:

“It is important to redefine what sexy is. To redefine style… It is important for women to be [in control], especially when gender norms and conformity are pushed upon us. Women automatically are told that this is how you should look. This is how you should get a man. This is how you should get a woman. You need to fit into all these boxes to be accepted. I don’t subscribe to that way of thinking. I don’t think we all have to take the same coordinates to reach the same destination. I believe in embracing what makes you unique even if it makes others uncomfortable. I have learned there is power in saying no. I have agency. I get to decide.”

Since circulation of her quotes, Monae has responded via Twitter in effort to clear up some of the statements she made in the interview that might have been perceived as her equating sex to a bargaining tool:

Read the full story in the May issue of Marie Claire. On newsstands April 18.

Photo Credit: PR PHOTOS

Sheriden Chanel is a twenty-something writer, Beyoncé enthusiast, and lover of all things visual art. Keep up with her and her musings on social via @indiebyline.