Gwen Stefani on cultural appropriation: ‘All these rules are just dividing us more & more’

BRITAIN LONDON PRINCE PHILIP RETIREMENT

Gwen Stefani covers the latest issue of Paper Magazine. She’s promoting her new music – she’s already released a few singles, and as Paper interviewed her, she was finishing up the full album. On the cover, she’s giving me Madonna vibes for all the wrong reasons – at some point, Madonna just began looking like a cartoon version of herself, and Gwen is sort of getting there. She doesn’t really talk about that though, she talks about her music vibes, Blake Shelton and her past cultural appropriation. You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

The benefit of a decades-long career: “It’s really a blessing to be able to have such a long career, where there really is nothing to prove anymore. It’s a different energy. You know, it’s really just about doing it to do it, as opposed to trying to make a statement or make a mark. You make a new record because that’s what is exciting for you. But people really just want to hear the records after a while that were the backdrop to their lives, a ‘Don’t Speak’ or a ‘Just a Girl’ or a ‘Hollaback Girl,’ or whatever it was for them. So, you know, it’s hard — you can only be new when you’re new, and that’s just the truth, and I know that.”

Finishing the new album: “I’m at the end. The idea of going for a session and not being with my kids or the idea of taking time away from Blake doesn’t fuel my fire like it did two months ago. I need to decide, wrap it up, put out the project.”

How the music industry has changed: “You can just drop singles and you don’t have to put a record out. But if you want to put a record out, you can work on it slowly.”

When she’s asked if she’s a Republican now: “I can see how people would be curious, but I think it’s pretty obvious who I am. I’ve been around forever. I started my band because we were really influenced by ska, which was a movement that happened in the late ’70s, and it was really all about people coming together. The first song I ever wrote was a song called ‘Different People,’ which was on the Obama playlist, you know, a song about everyone being different and being the same and loving each other. The very first song I wrote.”

On her general lack of feminist cred: “I don’t even know if I knew what feminist at that time was. I was very sheltered growing up with my family. I wasn’t political. I wasn’t angry.” Even now: “I don’t need to go on Instagram and say ‘girl power.’ I just need to live and be a good person and leave a trail of greatness behind me. Stop talking about it and stop trying to bully everybody about it. Just do it. And that’s how I feel like I’ve lived my life.”

Traveling to Japan for the first time in 1996: “It was a pretty big deal for me. I just was inspired. It’s a world away. And at that time it was even further, because you couldn’t see it on the internet. I don’t think a younger generation can even imagine what it’s like to not have access to the world.” From then on, Japan became one of Stefani’s biggest career motivations, especially when it came to her solo albums. In the meantime, she decided she’d bring Japan to Los Angeles. “I never got to have dancers with No Doubt. I never got to change costumes. I never got to do all of those fun girl things that I always love to do. So I had this idea that I would have a posse of girls — because I never got to hang with girls — and they would be Japanese, Harajuku girls, because those are the girls that I love. Those are my homies. That’s where I would be if I had my dream come true, I could go live there and I could go hang out in Harajuku.”

She disagrees with the argument that the Harajuku Girls were a “minstrel show”: “If we didn’t buy and sell and trade our cultures in, we wouldn’t have so much beauty, you know? We learn from each other, we share from each other, we grow from each other. And all these rules are just dividing us more and more.” Hello Kitty merch was harder to come by when she was a kid, but in other ways, life felt easier. “I think that we grew up in a time where we didn’t have so many rules. We didn’t have to follow a narrative that was being edited for us through social media, we just had so much more freedom.”

[From Paper]

The issues of Gwen’s cultural appropriation and the problematic Harajuku Girls have been litigated and re-litigated for years. I think she’s made some really dumb unforced errors about some things – using Native American headdresses as “costumes” and that whole stupid, racist video – but some of the time, I do think it’s not really a black-and-white issue. Like, as a half-Indian woman, I was never really offended when she did Indian-styling or wore bindis. Indian styling is cool and those clothes are for everyone. But her insistence that the Harajuku Girls were not in any way problematic? Yikes. They absolutely were. She paid Japanese women to stand around wordlessly like her props for years. It was awful. And while she’s not a Republican, she definitely talks like a Republican on some issues!

2004 BILLBOARD MUSIC AWARDS

2004 BILLBOARD MUSIC AWARDS LA

Cover & IG courtesy of Paper. Other photos credit: Avalon.red

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117 Responses to “Gwen Stefani on cultural appropriation: ‘All these rules are just dividing us more & more’”

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  1. Maria says:

    She’s definitely a Republican.

    • Regina Falangie says:

      She’s a republican and a disappointment. She used people as props!!! No Doubt was the soundtrack of my youth!!! I loved Gwen back in the day. Now, to say she’s disappointing barely scratches the surface.

    • lolalola3 says:

      Yep. Agreed. Brainwashed.

    • Skittlebrau says:

      Yup. If she wanted to say “nope, I’m def not a republican” she would have.

    • MissMarirose says:

      Absolutely. She’s from Orange County and no part of her word salad answer denied being a Republican.

    • Truthiness says:

      She hosted fundraisers for Obama from her home, with Michelle, in 2012. And she knows you can google that. But she wasnt in a relationship with a country star at the time, and her popularity is iffy at best right now. She may not want to alienate a single fan and create enormous issues with her future husband’s fan base. She and Blake ran into former speaker Paul Ryan at a restaurant and only Blake consented to a picture with him, not Gwen. I bet her allegiance is to career survival right now.

      • Maria says:

        So she’s a Republican. Lol.

      • Jayna says:

        While in a relationship with that country star, after a year or more in that relationship, she was invited to the White House to perform at the very last state dinner several weeks before the 2016 election. Frank Ocean was there and others. She attended, had dinner, mingled, performed, and invited that very country star, Blake Shelton, to go with her. He hates suits. Yet, he dressed up and went with her and even performed a song with her for the Obamas. So he obviously isn’t trying to change her belief system and was proud to be there to support her. And don’t think for a moment that a spiteful part of his base didn’t post crap to him. They did.

        But Gwen’s fan base still consists 95 percent of her fans, not some Blake cross-over fans. She loves the attention of performing with him on songs and the popularity of those songs. But she has said the songs are hits because they are his songs and she was lucky enough to be featured on the duets. She’s not a country singer and will never have a country music career. Is she thirsty at times for any success? Yep, she certainly is. Do I miss the Gwen that didn’t have a plumped trout pout and living in fringe and jean hotpants for performances or mini ice-skating fringe outfits on The Voice? Yep. But do I wish her happiness in love? Yes. After Gavin’s betrayal, she deserves to have a man who adores her and supports her. He definitely seems to.

  2. Cat C says:

    She didn’t really answer the question though

    • Wiglet Watcher says:

      She didn’t answer it directly. But the Obama drop sounds like she wants to deflect from being a republican.

      Who she’s shown us to be feels very conservative. Her partner is very conservative. And to not answer only means she wants both dems and reps to buy her music.

      • purple prankster says:

        It’s almost like she said “Obama voted for me!!”

      • Mrs.Krabapple says:

        She’s adopting her boyfriend’s country persona — and that means she has to stick to their dog whistles, conservatism, white supremacy, jesus, guns, flags, and pick-up trucks.

      • cassandra says:

        I know she’s always been a devout Catholic and was raised in a strict household. , so I don’t know how much she’s really adopting the country persona. I think this is just who she it.

    • Robyn says:

      Dodging the question speaks even louder.

    • pottymouth pup says:

      Her non-answer was actually a pretty clear answer that she really is a Republican and I’m willing to bet she votes for folks who are peddling the big lie

      • Truthiness says:

        Republicans don’t hold Obama fundraisers at their own home, with Michelle.

      • pottymouth pup says:

        sadly, and surprisingly, there are a lot of people who voted for and actively supported Obama who’ve become Trumpublicans. The fact that she was coy about answering says a lot.If she were not a Republican, knowing what saying you’re a Republican implies these days, she would have been clear or at least distanced herself from the extreme RW BS

      • Truthiness says:

        Eh. You can google her support for something Joe Scarborough said and right wing twitter yelled and threatened she was going to lose every new fan she had access to with her new-at-the-time romance of Shelton. I think it stuck with her and face it, she is not that popular these days, she can’t afford to lose any fans. Remember the years when Michael Jordan refused to comment, saying “Republicans buy shoes too?” It’s dollar$.

        I’m not saying her non-answer is great or even decent. I’d rather get with a sheep than a Republican but I think she’s one of those women who made compromises to be seen as desirable/not alone and to keep making money by putting out music.Sad.

  3. NotSoSocialButterfly says:

    Holy shit. How tone-deaf.

  4. ThatgirlThere says:

    The fact that she’s doubled down on her culture vulturing is disgusting. What a disappointment she is.

  5. Caroline says:

    She seems to be confusing “rules” with basic respect for other cultures and staying in your own lane.

    • RandomPerson says:

      And since at the time there wasn’t social media to call her out on her act/behavior, she thinks it was all great and fine. No big deal since the offended parties had no voice.

      • ME says:

        Exactly ! Also, yeah it was “freedom” for her to wear a bindi and people think it’s cool. I, on the other hand, as an Indian girl was tormented at school and asked on a daily basis “Hey where’s your P*ki dot??”. She’s a moron. It was eazy breazy for her because she’s a White girl…does she not understand that ???

    • BothSidesNow says:

      Yup! You lay down with dogs, so don’t expect not to get fleas.

      She is certainly a leaning right wing woman. I couldn’t imagine anyone with a sense of self, others, government and legislation, could possibly be in a relationship with a person of a different political position. How could a marriage possibly survive with a foundation of differing politics, religion, finances and child rearing, if applicable, grow and stand the test of time if one or all of those aren’t in line?

  6. SexyK says:

    Gwen is a Republican. Look who she is dating.

  7. Lindy says:

    So…. She is definitely a closet Republican, then. Ugh. I’m a young gen-Xer who loved her music and talent back in the day. Now I’m just annoyed that she’s adopting this bullsh!t talking point from the right wing.

    • Moneypenny says:

      Same here. Gwen was the coolest in 1996 and now…yikes.

    • lucy2 says:

      For sure. Otherwise the only answer to that question is “No.”
      She did seem so cool back in the day, either she’s changed a lot or isn’t who we all thought she was.

      • purple prankster says:

        I recommend Anne Helen Petersen’s article on her. It seems like people wanted to see her a certain way and didn’t pay attention when she was explaining herself and her motivations.

  8. Nicole says:

    I’m going to say that she’s moderate Republican. Homegirl is a Catholic girl from behind the Orange curtain. Orange County is traditionally conservative and she grew up there in the 80′s. I’m going to speculate that she’s probably one of the more laid back family members in her family and considers herself liberal, but I suspect that she’s either Independent with conservative leanings or moderate Republican.

    • Christina says:

      I came here to say exactly what you said. She comes from and Italian family in the OC. Homegirl grew up VERY conservatively, so being with a conservative country star did not shock me. Hell, it MADE SENSE, lol.

      Her take on culture, particularly Harajuku, is from that white privilege. I have been a fan for a long time, but this just makes me sad.

  9. Emily says:

    Urgh. I want to like her so badly but she needs to just say “my bad. I effed up. I’ve done some reading and I now get why that wasn’t right.”

    • Susan says:

      Completely agree! I don’t understand a lot of people’s inability to own their mistakes and just say hey, I’m sorry, that was NOT RIGHT. I didn’t realize at the time but now I do and I’m sorry. I don’t feel like she’d take a ton of heat about it because we are all somewhat complicit (is that the word I’m looking for?) in that we…accepted it, took it in and didn’t rail against it. But again, there are lots of things we didn’t see through a 2021 lens. I am always skeptical of the people who can’t own their mistakes and apologize.

  10. Hannah Young says:

    Wow – I had no idea that she’s this…dumb. And no, she did not start “my band” and no, ska was way before the 70s. Oh, right. She means the white people ska.

    • whatWHAT? says:

      Ska was like, the 50s, in the Caribbean and then in the 60s, in the UK. so she doesn’t know the history of the music she “loves”?

      didn’t her brother start the band and she took over as singer when he passed away?

      • lunchcoma says:

        Eric Stefani is alive! He left the band for a career in animation.

      • Snuffles says:

        I think you are confusing No Doubt with the B52s. The lead singer of the B52s brother founded the band and died of AIDS complications.

      • whatWHAT? says:

        oh, whoops. I don’t know why I thought her bro had died.

        and nope, def not confusing them with the B-52s, I really though it was No Doubt. I didn’t even know that about the B-52s! huh, so I learned two things today.

        three, if you count finding out that Stefani is a republican. Boo.

    • Jaded says:

      Bingo. Ever since the Harajuku days I’ve lost respect for her. She actually comes across as a whiny, self-obsessed child-woman in this interview…“I never got to have dancers with No Doubt. I never got to change costumes…poor me, waah!” WTF?

    • Moneypenny says:

      Exactly. This Jamaican is going to laugh at “ska is from the 70s”–I guess the ska my Jamaican family listened to in the 50s and 60s didn’t actually exist, right?

      • goofpuff says:

        Well according to white supremacy folks playbook, nothing existed until a white person did it. I’m serious. Its absolutely ridiculous to see this play out everywhere in music, science, art, just ugh.

      • Moneypenny says:

        @goofpuff ugh, you are so right.

  11. WTF says:

    Yuck. Peak privilege, tone deaf, bs. Buy, sell, and trade our cultures??!?! Who talks like that? Who wants to do that? Privilege is being able to talk about complicated, nuanced issues with flippant platitudes. You can’t try on a culture like an outfit and then take it off. If you had any actual connection to the culture you were selling, you would know where the line. But you don’t. And instead of listening when someone tells you, you want to talk about rules dividing us. I don’t want to be united with anyone that can’t practice basic decency and respect.
    And she is a Republican. That isn’t necessarily an insult, but I meant it as an insult.

  12. Ann says:

    She is a 90s feminist icon. There were lots of “girl power” themes in Tragic Kingdom. I’m Just A Girl… She is a sheltered Catholic and it seems she’s following the disappointing trajectory of getting more conservative with age.

    And the “you know?”s Uh. Her interviews always have way too many “you know?”s

    • Wiglet Watcher says:

      She’s always seemed to adopt what her partner is. Even with Blake she changed her whole style to his. Her music was influenced by others and she evolves as a follower of latest trends and the company she keeps.

      She was a front woman with a fun band and co-wrote some feminist influenced songs. Her feminism stopped there.

      • Ann says:

        Yeah, I guess that’s accurate. Sucky. I thought 90s Gwen was the coolest chick ever. But now that you mention it she did always kind of roll with the tide of the men in her life. TK is basically all about Tony.

    • MissMarirose says:

      Nah, I never bought that. She’s one of those “feminists” that only wants equality when she thinks SHE is not being treated equally. It’s a self-centered, non-intersectional kind of “feminism.”

  13. Elizabeth says:

    What is gained by her being defensive about a mistake? Why is it so hard to say “yes, I messed up, I now realize why it was wrong, and I won’t do it again”? Very simple and probably the truth, and I’d guess most people would accept that. But by doubling down on it, and pulling out every excuse in the book, she is just giving it more and more life because SHE won’t let it go. Sometimes ego is our worst enemy.

    • lucy2 says:

      It’s amazing how many people will just refuse to admit to a past mistake.

    • Trix says:

      She doesn’t seem to think she did anything wrong so she’s not going to apologize for it until she actually realizes it or it benefits her more press wise to apologize. And even then. It will still be in a way that is useful for her attention to something she is promoting. I wouldn’t expect more from her at this point. Which is a shame.

  14. Amy Bee says:

    She’s from orange county, of course she’s Republican. And guilty as charged on the cultural appropriation.

  15. Lily says:

    The ‘lack of rules’ may have worked for Gwen in the past but it didn’t work for those that weren’t her. Thus there are more rules now to encourage parity and a fair go for those typically taken advantage of and forced behind.

    ‘The rules‘ aren’t to make Gwen’s life unnecessarily harder, it’s to make the lives of the most vulnerable slightly better.

    When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.

  16. BeanieBean says:

    She looks like Courtney Love in that first of three IG photos.

  17. Honeybear says:

    The only people complaining about ‘woke’ culture tend to be the ones who’ve said or done shitty things in the past.
    And how embarrassing her comments on feminism, to be so obtuse at her age. Shows her privilege that she can look the other way.

    • BeanieBean says:

      Yes, apparently one needs to be angry to be a feminist, or feminists are always angry, whatever ridiculous nonsense she was trying to say.

  18. Lily says:

    Mindfulness about cultural appropriation is not about some people being offended. That’s not why it’s inappropriate.

    It’s that for centuries, people have been forced to ‘assimilate’ to western culture and make their speech, dress, hair, skin, food, home decore, etc more ‘white’ in order to participate in society. They’ve been forced to resign their culture and customs so as to be more acceptable to white people’s sensitivity.

    So, it’s not ok when white people take those cultural elements and parade their new lewk as cool and edgy, while the traditional wearers are bullied, fired and disadvantaged for it.

    Plus, taking from another culture usually involves stereotyping and further degradation of a culture.

    We may one day get to a place when we can all celebrate other cultures by borrowing customs freely. But we’re not there yet. Because equality isn’t there yet.

  19. EnormousCoat says:

    Oh Gwen, if you do not know what you are talking about, decline to expound. She equates feminism with anger and makes anger a bad thing & believes recognizing and respecting other people’s cultures is divisive and making people angry. People have a right to be angry, it is symptomatic of not being heard or recognized. Maybe I’m wrong, but as someone who grew up in Catholicism, I found it to be very focused on suppressing any and all talk of feelings, especially angry ones. Because they know that’s a powder keg.

  20. Markio says:

    Eh, I’m torn on the harajuku girls. I’m Japanese American and it didn’t really bother me too much. I realized Gwen was using them as props, ugh, but I did take my daughter to her concert back then, and my preteen daughter at the time loved seeing Japanese women being featured at a concert. Plus, in Japan, culture vultureism is a big thing. The mindset is that when they copy other culture’s style they put a lot of research into it and do it as an honor or homage to the originators. So I’m guessing the harajuku girls probably felt like it was a huge honor that Gwen had them, even as props. With that said, no way in hell would I ever, or have ever stole someone else’s culture and presenting it as my personal fashion. But every year at our Japanese street fair, there are young weaboos dressed up in ceremonial and regular kimonos with geisha makeup on, but some of the elders think it’s kinda cute, not me or anyone under 50. The worst person, since she was invoked in this article, was Madonna with Vogue. I mean she ripped off queer black and brown ballroom culture, used them as her own props in videos and on tour and for a long time was widely believed by people outside of NY ballroom as the originator or voguing. And I don’t remember her giving them the credit they deserved, but maybe I’m mistaken. I don’t see Gwen having some Japanese girls who really wanted to be there and who probably didn’t understand American cultural appropriation as the worst example, certainly she’s always been a bit problematic.

    • Maddie says:

      Gwen has culture vultured Japanse culture, Indian culture, black culture, Native Americans and even Cholas. She’s terrible. And the way she talks about it reeks of white privilege.

      • Markio says:

        I agree with everything you wrote. I hope I made it clear I don’t condone her bull. I was just speaking specifically on the harajuku girls, since they are from Japan and I read they felt honored to share their culture and it was cool to my young daughter to see any Japanese representation at a major concert, that’s all really. Megan and Nicki love their asian stuff too, and I love Megan’s excitement and knowledge about it, she’s a professed weaboo who does it right. But, yeah, Gwen is more than annoying and really problematic. My husband grew up near her and has probably seen her performing at like a dozen house parties back in the day and he can’t stand who she’s become.

      • bettyrose says:

        Markio:
        I definitely see where you’re coming from. I am not culturally Japanese but I lived in Japan for years and I never had any sense of people feeling at all marginalized or oppressed (in Japan. I’m aware of the oppression faced by Japanese Americans), so if anything people enjoyed when westerners wanted to respectfully adopt elements of Japanese culture. It’s a different issue than a white woman, for example, wearing dreadlocks to work. Moreover, Harajuku isn’t an ancient culture; it’s a shopping district in Tokyo that birthed a teenage subculture. These points don’t excuse Stefani’s ignorance or using Japanese women as props in her videos, and frankly I just find her grating, but I think it’s a more complex issue than one sin of cultural appropriation that fits all scenarios.

  21. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Someone should write a song about appropriation and showcase a through-the-ages illustration video of all the ways whites have been doing this forever.

    And end it with the phrase: Too many rules.

  22. Asking for a friend says:

    I just want to say how much I appreciate Celebitchy and the folks who comment. Reading your comments always makes me feel good and sane in this crazy world.

  23. Carmen-JamRock says:

    So typical…..the kind of person who benefits from the struggles of others for rights, justice, freedom and the life we all want to live, without contributing in any way shape or form to the blood sweat and tears that go into the making of that life. Ugh!

  24. Silent Star says:

    It’s not “rules” Gwen. It’s respect. Ugh!

  25. Mina_Esq says:

    When Katy Perry dressed up as a geisha, that was suuuper offensive. If Gwen had donned a traditional kimono to dance around on stage, i’d find that offensive too (my gosh, has she done it?!). But, and this may be controversial, I’ve never had an issue with her adaptation of Harajuku style. It’s a pop culture matter. I think it’s weirder that a grown woman wanted to dress and act like a high schooler, but the whole thing is centred on youth fashion, not tradition. It’d be like Americans taking offence at foreigners dressing and acting like Cher Horowitz in the ‘90s. I don’t think anyone was left with the impression that the whole of Japan was meant to be represented by the act. Granted, i’ve only been to Tokyo 3 times. It’s possible that more people outside of my circle were outraged by it.

    • SomeChick says:

      to me, it was using them as human props. if she wanted to dress like a Harajuku girl herself, fine, no problem. it’s fashion. but having actual people as cartoony props while she presented herself as a real person with agency crosses a line.

      • Mina_Esq says:

        Fair enough. She should have left out the human props! I was thinking more about her general adaptation of the style to her shows, clothing line, etc.

  26. Zoe says:

    Not sure how/why people think it’s a sacrifice to include other perspectives and consider not taking up space that isn’t yours. These are the folks that say we’re more divided now than ever and that things were better when they were kids i.e. when minority voices weren’t included. Hearing non-majority voices is not the same thing as invalidate your voice or meaning you don’t have to question privilege.

  27. lunchcoma says:

    I suspect she’s one of those mushy people who waffles and says that Democrats have some good points but Republicans have some too. I don’t really picture her voting on a regular basis? I don’t know why it’s assumed that celebrities are all conscientious voters.

    Honestly, I enjoy Gwen as a musician, but she strikes me as a mushy person who doesn’t have a lot of convictions. She joined No Doubt because her brother was in a band, seems to shape herself a bit around the men she dates, and generally seems like she’s sort of a follower.

  28. Margo says:

    The Madonna look is not good….please, back away from the makeup and gold chains.

  29. Izzy says:

    “I’m definitely not a Republican when I’m shilling my music.”

  30. Lunasf17 says:

    I’ve always found her overrated and never understood what all the hype around her was. She is pretty but I don’t think her music is very unique or creative in anyway, it always sounded like all the other 90s and 2000s stuff on the radio growing up and it all blended together. One one hand we weren’t talking about culture appropriation as much back then so we can’t really judge her by today’s more woke/social media standards but she is also a Catholic (I mean has she not seen the news about that institution for the past 20 years but still wants to give them her money and time?) and from the OC (super white privileged area) and dating an idiot so I don’t have sympathy for her. Also are we calling out men for cultural appropriation or is it mainly women these days? I just notice every story seems to be focused on women when it comes to CA but never men. I assume a lot of them have been doing that as well but maybe we still just want to be harsher on women instead of men? Just something I’ve noticed. Seems like the media still wants to punish women for whatever issues they’ve had in their past, whether deserved or not while being oddly quiet anytime it comes to men.

    • L says:

      “I just notice every story seems to be focused on women when it comes to CA but never men.”

      It’s never, ever men. Mark Ronson (White man from England) and Bruno Mars (half Asian, a quarter Eastern European, a quarter Latino) wrote the song Uptown Funk, a shameless Black cultural ripoff which even name-checked Harlem and Jackson Mississipi!!! A place I doubt either have them have ever been to in their lives.

      If it had been two women, a white woman from England and an Asian-American, say, Ellie Goulding and Awkwafina. They would have been ripped to absolute shreds and never lived it down the rest of their careers.

    • L says:

      Another thing that I’ve literally never seen men be called out on, despite a very large number of them doing it, is blackfishing and vocal blackface. A large number of male performers try to cultivate confusion on whether or not they are Black when they absolutely aren’t at all – again Bruno Mars is another good example of this.

  31. L says:

    “I don’t even know if I knew what feminist at that time was. I was very sheltered growing up with my family. I wasn’t political. I wasn’t angry.”

    Oh really? I was at the Tragic Kingdom tour in 1995. The audience was almost entirely teen girls. I was 12 years old. My mother, who was an extreme right-wing conservative, allowed me to go because she thought it was like a teeny-bopper band, and waited in the car in the parking lot the entire time.

    The openers were the Lunachicks, a feminist punk group who introduced themselves by stating, “Now, we’re going to play a nice little song for you. It’s called, “DROP DEAD.”"

    Later, when No Doubt played “Just a Girl,” first, Gwen got the whole crowd to threatiningly whisper, “Fuck you, I’m a girl.” Then, she got us all to SCREAM: “FUCK YOU, I’m a girl!”

    I lived in a household where I was punished for even saying the word “darn,” and living under very heavy misogynistic “religious” rules, so this was one of the most thrilling moments in my life at that point.

    The “fuck you, I’m a girl” screaming was so loud that when I got back to my right-wing mother in the parking lot, she accusingly asked me if I had participated in it. I said I didn’t and smirked.

    It was very, very memorable for me and I was in love with Gwen for years.

    It hurts my heart to see what she’s become, a pathetic, sad, grasping Real Housewife, a Trump lover, someone who desperately and pathetically adores the type of asshole that tries to run over turtles for fun, someone who gets scary amounts of plastic surgery and is too afraid to even let her own husband see her without a full face of makeup. I just keep coming back to the word pathetic. It is so sad. She is so sad.

    • Darla says:

      Awww. I’m sorry she ruined that fantastic memory for you.

    • Amando says:

      I miss that Gwen… She’s always been traditional, but she had a bad ass rock chick side to her that is long, long gone. She doesn’t even speak to the guys in No Doubt anymore. I knew it was over once she turned into a solo pop star. She could have had such a long, amazing, respectable career if she had gone the RHCP or Foo Fighters route of sticking with her band, putting out new music consistently and touring during the summer. ND had such a great catalogue of music.

    • Valerie says:

      I liked some songs off of their first two albums, but there was always something keeping me from calling myself an actual fan: Gwen herself. One of my friends in our friend group in high school looooved her, thought that she was the coolest ever, and I wanted to see what he saw, but I just felt like she was not as authentic as she made herself out to be. That was 15 years ago, and my opinion of her has only lessened.

  32. HME says:

    I remember watching her being interviewed once back during her Harajuku girls phase. I think it might have been for Much music? Anyway she was in this room with the Harajuku girls all around her in different poses and the interviewer asked one of them a question and Gwen literally said something like “don’t talk to them, they don’t speak” and then she giggled and the Harajuku girls did a cutesy head tilt thing. Even at the time, and this was way before I’d had my eyes opened about cultural appropriation etc, I can remember being pretty shocked and appalled by that.

    I can understand how at the time she didn’t realize it was problematic but in 2021, after everything that has happened in the last 5/6 years in particular, to STILL not see what was wrong with it? Yikes.

    • bettyrose says:

      Yeah, that’s really awful. Objectifying/dehumanizing young Japanese women is disgusting and shows a complete lack of awareness of the Harajuku girl culture (which in itself is a rejection of young women being treated as invisible).

  33. Kimberly says:

    not about gwen who is a paid pony…but the world of real people:

    Every region has a culture and as people travel and move, it is shared and adopted through experience. By being uber sensitive, sometimes we miss out on some good, and some learning experiences.

    I let it go that white people call actual tacos Street tacos…or the term taco Tuesday…it’s like have you never been to a taqueria? but still happy they enjoy good food…I’ve let go of the avocado toast crowd driving my avocado prices up and even stopped wanting to punch a person in the face when they say, “Guac”….Strides my friends…..long long strides…to learn we can share what we love and part of our culture

    • Jais says:

      Not gonna lie… I had never thought of Taco Tuesday in this way and liked the alliteration. Just looked it up and there’s a lot of articles about whether it’s offensive or not. Thank you for bringing this up.

    • goofpuff says:

      Don’t even get me started with how badly people mispronounce ‘pho’ or ‘banh mi’ – it’s SO GRATING. Those aren’t even the hardest words to pronounce or get close to right in Vietnamese! Regular people I understand, but people on TV or YOU TUBE didn’t even bother to learn the correct pronunciation grate on me for every cultural dish they ‘showcase’ on their show making. When you don’t have respect for the culture you’re using to make your $$$ that to me is cultural appropriation.

  34. wahine says:

    In my family we are Japanese/Hawaiian and Norwegian. I have twin boy/girl and the amount of cultural appropriation for our three the cultures is astounding. People think they are so “cool” but did not have to be placed in internment camps and my father did. I constantly have to explain to my children that it is that is NOT a proper tattoo using a Nordic symbol or Hawaiian symbols and storm the capital as Qanon and worn by white people full of hate. With both children I have to explain that those that have not had to suffer, like many writers above mentioned, do not understand what minorities have had in their lives. Anime and sexualizing and fetish of women is NOT the Japanese culture of my daughter and son. My children teach others and celebrate Japanese, Hawaiian culture through trying to get these added to school curriculum and through our cultures, dance, and music of our ancestors. My daughter does not “see herself” in these Harajuku. Yuriko Koike, Kaʻahumanu and other leaders is how she sees herself. Gwen needs to look into Japanese history and the history of Japanese Americans. Educate yourself the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History (TEAACH) Act (HB 376) just passed in Illinois. Gwen is stuck in the 90s….women are more than this.

    • Markio says:

      @Wahine, totally get it. My family was interned too. We are members of the HMWF and my kids and I attend and volunteer every year for almost the past decade. Maybe we will see a Kanye sighting in Cody, jk. The same daughter I referenced is right now doing a college internship for the JACL. Since you were implying that her role models were all pop culture sexualized caricatures, I can assure you, they were not. She had met Sen Inouye several times amongst almost every influential Japanese American from the past 2 decades through her involvement in JA nonprofits. But go on and judge a 9 year old. Hard lines like yours play into the woke competitions that are unwinnable. I could list my resume to up the ante you put down, but there can be nuance and we as Japanese women all know the gross crap that comes with it sometimes. Implying that I don’t know that experience is, well….
      I was just saying it was nice for a 9 year old to see any representation at an American arena concert by women who *chose* to be performing in it and did not feel exploited. There’s a difference.

      • wahine says:

        @Mariko Thats awesome! My Grandfather was one of the JACL founders! I also apologize I can see how you thought I was referencing your daughter, I sincerely was not. I was talking about how Gwen sees our culture. My daughter is 11 currently, again I apologize, this year of Asian hate crimes has been hard on us all. My daughter and I are going to see her first concert in the fall. I completely agree with your daughter being excited to see asian performers at a concert!! thank you for letting me know this, good luck to your daughter gomen-nasai

  35. Jayna says:

    She’s not a Republican. She threw a big fundraiser for Obama at her home, in which Michelle Obama attended. Their very last state dinner the Obamas invited Gwen to perform. She took her kids to the White House during the day. At the state dinner, Blake Shelton came with her and even performed a song with her and mingled with the guests with her. The Obamas showed clear affection for Gwen in photos. She stated a few years ago, while dting Blake, how she would feel if one of her sons came out as gay. “I would be blessed with a gay son,” she said. “I just want my boys to be happy and healthy, and I just ask God to guide me every day to be a good mother because it is not an easy job.” Not that she would accept her child as gay. She would feel it’s a blessing.

    You can be a Democrat and have some moderate beliefs as a Democrat., even a few conservative beliefs, mingled with very progressive or liberal beliefs. Lots of people of all races do in the Democratic Party. We are not some monolithic party on every issue. There is no way in the world Gwen would have voted for Trump. Trump is an ugly human being through and through. Gwen is a really good human being.

    She’s never been some huge political person out posting about politics. But because she is a practicing Catholic and dates Shelton some of you think she would be a Trumper or a conservative Republican? Nah. I definitely believe Gwen voted for Biden. President Biden is someone she would love as a president, a genuinely good human being who cares about others, about humanity, and happens to be a Catholic like her. Being a Christian should be caring about others, about our planet, having empathy for others. The Republicans are the exact opposite.

    • WTF says:

      Then why didn’t she just say that she is a Democrat. And she wouldn’t have been the only Republican invited to the Obama White House. Or the first Republican to raise money for Obama. Obama pulled in a lot of Republicans. That is how he won.

    • Amando says:

      Yes, she USED to lean democrat, but I’m sure you have noticed that Gwen has changed A LOT since getting involved with Blake. She caters to that new weird fanbase that are obsessed with them as a couple because she’s clinging to whatever will keep her famous and rich. I have followed her career since 96. Now she’s a devout Catholic conservative country woman full of botox. I very much believe she wants people to love whomever they want, but that’s where it stops.

  36. sparker says:

    her insipid music was never worth the price of identifying with her ignorance. not when there was so much else to choose from. besides, she was always just a poser.

  37. Robin says:

    She’s not even coherent.

  38. Impress says:

    I feel so reassured in never liking her as a person and only hwr music with no doubt. Shes gross

  39. Darla says:

    Sorry, I just can’t get past the “I leave a trail of greatness behind me”.

    Who talks like that? I would crack up if someone said that to me.

  40. Amando says:

    That’s not Madonna vibes, that’s Debbie Harry vibes.

    Ugh…Gwen used to be my favorite for many, many years…but since she hooked up with Blake, I’ve found her insufferable. She doesn’t “get it”. I do believe she has good intentions most of the time, but the fact that she had 4 costumed young Asian girls who weren’t allowed to speak following her around for years is such a problem.

    Gotta love how she danced around the politics question. She used to be a democrat, but I believe she’s a republican now. She molds herself into whatever her man wants her to be and we all know Blake loves Trump.

    And her new song, Slow Clap is the worst. She’s trying too hard to be young. Her music is at its best when she is HONEST about her feelings, her relationships and her life.

    • Wiglet Watcher says:

      As soon as No Doubt disbanded her sound changed and her personality seemed to change with it.
      It gets me when she says “my band” when the whole song Don’t Speak is about it not being just her. They were a unit. Not Gwen and the No Doubts.

    • Jayna says:

      Slow Clap is horrible. She’s lost any ability to write melodic music it appears. I didn’t like her first single either, although the music video was cute with all of her looks over the years. But the song? Nope.

  41. Valerie says:

    Republican dog whistle, lol. There’s a difference between appreciating and appropriating/exploiting a culture. I wouldn’t expect her to know where to draw that line, even though someone her age and with her resources should.

  42. LisaT says:

    So many people say that she has changed her views due to Blake. However, I saw country fans posting how he has changed due to being with Gwen. He is apolitical and fans have seen that he hasn’t voted in multiple elections.

  43. You Know Me says:

    She waits for Drunken Cowboy to tell her what to think. Ugh. What a disappointment ole Gwen morphed into.

  44. Markio says:

    @Wahine Sis, it’s all good! I too am wound tight. Sorry if I was too defensive. Incredible that your grandfather was one of the founders! We got to get to know fmr president Floyd Mori. My daughter’s internship is a genealogy mapping research project for the JACL that is hoping to find the ancestors of those who were interned. It’s been such a strange issue with some JA families ashamed to talk about it, that many younger generations may not know their history, so they are doing this genealogy mapping that I’m guessing once done will be publicly accessible! Thanks for the response back and hang in there with all that’s going on and navigating it with younger children.

  45. Finny says:

    It’s a crime to be a republican ?? It’s a crime to have your own views and perspectives on anything anymore . I grew up sharing in cultures , we celebrated each other . Now it’s called stealing . I understand the grand scheme of it all , yet I also see how unless you agree with everything liberal it’s a crime . We are way more divided because people truly cannot just respect others ! Go on about your day ! Everyone is overly concerned about correcting everyone else ! Live and let live !

  46. Ines says:

    When I went to Hyderabad for work a couple of years ago, we went out for a team meal. All the local women in my team agreed to wear kurtis, and requested that both my Egyptian colleague and I (white latina living int he UK) do the same. On the way to the restaurant, they put bindis on us. I have an awesome group picture from that day, which I cherish. When one of my Indian friends in the UK saw it on my Facebook she complimented me on my look.
    But I would have never turned up at the office dressed in a kurti if it had not been a request from my Indian colleagues.

  47. Chica says:

    Gwen Stefani is a performer. Her job is to entertain, her politics are her business.

  48. NCWoman says:

    The one thing I’ll semi-agree with is that some corners of the internet do get hyper-fixated on judging to the point of obsession relatively minor things that people did when standards were very different. And that does make people more defensive–and make it harder to have productive conversations that can actually effect change. I’m not saying give people a pass on their past conduct, but some of them get tarred and feathered online. And that doesn’t help us get to where we need to be on cultural appropriation IMO.