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03rd May 2021

Billie Eilish says every girl or woman she knows has been taken advantage of

Danny Jones

The 19-year-old singer revealed past abuse in her British Vogue interview

Billie Eilish recently made her British Vogue cover debut, speaking ahead of impending new music and around subjects like fame, body positivity and reinventing herself.

In the full interview with Vogue, things got pretty personal and at one point she revealed that she had suffered abuse earlier in her already relatively young life; her latest song, ‘Your Power’, is one she describes as an “open letter to people who take advantage – mostly men”.

Although the alternative pop star didn’t want to go into too much graphic detail – the whole idea of her song and its statement being to take back control – she did qualify it wasn’t a music industry figure. In the #MeToo era, various entertainment figures have come out with their past traumas and abuse of all kinds.

In the piece, Elton John is quoted as having mentioned the likes of Lady Gaga and Kesha, among many others, who have “all spoken out about this abuse of power”. He went on to say that “the more people that write about it, the better. It’s been swept under the carpet since music began. Billie is the torch for this new generation of people who say, ‘I’m not putting up with this anymore.’”

But, crucially, Eilish’s focus was not strictly on an industry perspective because, as we know, the abuse of women is rife throughout society. She went on to say that she doesn’t know of one girl or woman who hasn’t been taken advantage of. She reiterated that in songs like ‘Your Power’ and ‘When I Was Older’ there was a clear statement that she wanted to make:

“I don’t know one girl or woman who hasn’t had a weird experience or a really bad experience. And men too – young boys are taken advantage of constantly.

I wanted to say that it doesn’t matter who you are, what your life is, your situation, who you surround yourself with, how strong you are, how smart you are. You can always be taken advantage of. That’s a big problem in the world of domestic abuse or statutory rape – girls that were very confident and strong-willed finding themselves in situations where they’re like, ‘Oh my god, I’m the victim here?”

She went on to describe it as “so embarrassing and humiliating and demoralising to be in that position of thinking you know so much and then you realise, I’m being abused right now.”

In the lyrics to her latest release, she sings:

But you ruined her in a year
Don’t act like it was hard

And you swear you didn’t know (Didn’t know)
No wonder why you didn’t ask

She was sleepin’ in your clothes (In your clothes)
But now she’s got to get to class

As the song continues, she goes on to say, “You said she thought she was your age/How dare you?” – a very precise notion that you don’t need to dig any deeper to understand.

She also spoke of the double-standard still held against people in her position, referencing those who take issue with her talking about the abuse of power and people taking advantage of minors, whilst simultaneously posing in revealing clothes.

In short, she tells them to get stuffed and says “there’s no excuse”, declaring instead that “It’s about taking that power back, showing it off and not taking advantage with it […] I’m not letting myself be owned anymore.”

Eilish admitted that while she “used to not understand why age mattered” she now realises that she thought that way because “when you’re young […] you’re the oldest you’ve ever been. You feel like you’re so mature and you know everything.”

She went on to remind readers, simply, “People forget that you can grow up and realise s*** was f***** up when you were younger” and that “There’s all these people who are incredibly vulnerable and would honestly do anything you say. That’s a crazy feeling. Nobody should be given the power that we’re given.”

Her new album, Happier Than Ever, drops July 30th and, by the sounds of things, looks to deal with similar subject matter throughout. It’s an admirable subject for someone of her age to talk about so frankly. Good on you, Billie.