I told you yesterday about this thing that happens, where men decide what’s cool, what’s smart, what’s better, and at the top of the list is them and the things they like, and at the bottom is young women, and the things young women want to talk about. And at the bottom is Stevie Nicks.
They brush her off the way women are always brushed off. Too emotional. Too dramatic. Talks too much about love, and about things that aren’t real. She doesn’t play an instrument, doesn’t really make music — fuck a woman’s voice, a woman’s voice isn’t important. She’s too full of herself. Too concerned about whether she’s pretty, too willing to call herself a star. Too convinced that the men in her life love her. And her fans. They’re obsessed. They’re delusional. They’re crazy. They’re girls.
Stevie Nicks was the first woman I ever heard say she had chosen not to have children because she cared more about her career. The first I ever heard talk about it honestly — depending on the day, she might tell you she made that choice gladly, or she might tell you she still wonders what if. The first that ever warned me men might not like it if there are things more important to me than they are. The first that ever said that that was fine: sometimes, you have to leave them behind.
When you grow up as a girl, the world tells you the things that you are supposed to be: emotional, loving, beautiful, wanted. And then when you are those things, the world tells you they are inferior: illogical, weak, vain, empty. The world teaches you that the way you exist in it is disgusting — you watch boys cringe backward in your dorm room when you talk about your period, blue water pretending to be blood in a maxi pad commercial. It is little things, and it is constant. In a food court in a mall, after you go to the gynecologist for the first time, you and your friend talk about how much it hurts, and over her shoulder you watch two boys your age turn to look at you and wrinkle their noses: the reality of your life is impolite to talk about. The world says that you don’t have a right to the space you occupy, any place with men in it is not yours, you and your body exist only as far as what men want to do with it. At fifteen, you find fifteen-year-old boys you have never met somehow believe you should bend your body to their will. At almost thirty, you find fifteen-year-old boys you have never met still somehow believe you should bend your body to their will. They are children. They are children.
Stevie Nicks surrounds herself with girls. Wherever she goes, she brings girls. “I can’t imagine you in a bathing suit,” someone says in an interview for Rolling Stone, when Stevie says she likes to play in the pool in her backyard. “Yeah, well, you never will,” Stevie says. “And there is never — ever — a man in the backyard. If there is, he is banished to the front of the house.” Men don’t get to look at Stevie Nicks unless Stevie Nicks wants men to look at Stevie Nicks.
In her songs, sometimes, love is actually a competition — a race that she wants to win. She is a queen, she is a witch, she is a dragon, she is in control. Even when she’s talking about how she has to change, she proclaims her power, her ability, her worth. Time cast its spell on you, but you won’t forget me. I know I could have loved you, but you would not let me. I need you because you let me breathe, well you’ve taken me away. But never take me lightly, for I could never stay. I’m not a child anymore, I’m tall enough to reach for the stars. But if I was a child, then a child was enough. She’s the vine, but she’s also the flower. She knows it.
She talks about how hard it is to get old. How hard it is to not be valued the way you were valued when you were young. How much it sucks when a photographer tells you to take your shirt off. She talks about cramps, and hot flashes, and how shitty it is. She isn’t polite. She’s competitive. She’s bossy. She claimed all the things the men around her claimed — she spent as much money as they spent, had as much sex as they had, was as reckless as they were, stood at the front of the same stage — and never questioned that that was her right. I didn’t know until recently that she ever even thought about the fact that they might treat her like she was less. She didn’t show it.
But what I love, what I love, is she does it without ever giving in to the men that dismiss her. She’s emotional. She’s dramatic. She raises her voice as much as she can. She thinks she’s pretty, she thinks she’s a star, and when her fans crowd up to the edge of the stage, crazy, she welcomes them, with open arms. She revels in it. She revels in it. She’s too much of a girl for you? She revels in it.
I love Stevie Nicks. I love that the world tells us women are there for men, but despite all the boyfriends and the jokes about how she’s so easy and the sex-symbol status, she isn’t there for men at all. She’s there for us.