marina has consistently shown through her work and through her interviews that she understands the dynamics of sexism in contemporary western society.
to properly interpret electra heart, you have to be familiar with the family jewels, which—while opposite in sentiment to the album that followed it—contains most, if not all, of the proto-concepts that became electra heart: a dissatisfaction of societal obligations, a feeling of alienation and aloneness, and the desire to revel in those things.
and my point is not to say that marina/the electra heart album are to be taken completely as a joke, because there are absolutely instances of genuine sentiment on the album: the “pop” sound is a reflection of marina’s desire to have mainstream success, not a satire of popular culture; fear and loathing is a direct unmasking of the entire concept project itself, acknowledging the different characters that appear in the songs;
but most importantly, sex yeah is the heart of the album.
if history could set you free
from who you were supposed to be
if sex in our society
didn’t tell a girl who she would be
(didn’t tell a guy who he should be)
those lyrics are not an honest account of her own experience but the words of someone keenly aware of the place their words and actions occupy, and a straightforward echoing of feminist theory.
lana del rey, on the other hand, is the diametric opposite, while somehow garnering praise for accomplishing the same thing.
but lana doesn’t reject her societal obligations, she embraces them. she lavishes in her role as the classical feminine ideal: passive, submissive, dependent, and happy with it. at best this could be classified as choice feminism, the fact that she chooses to be these things makes it a “feminist” decision and therefore acceptable.
unfortunately choice feminism doesn’t take into account the very real patriarchal structures that influence women to make counter-feminist choices and that perpetuate patriarchy itself.
the real nail on the coffin for me was this 2013 interview with electronic beats, the entirety of which is pretty laughable. lana is dishonest outright about her family and childhood (“we never had any money,” lana grew up on lake placid; boarded at kent school, included on business insider’s list of 28 most expensive private high schools in america with a yearly tuition of $45,300, and then fordham university with a yearly tuition of $42,850), and when asked about her take on feminism replies that she “doesn’t have one.”
lisa blanning wraps up by asking lana about the struggles she’s experienced in the road to making her music.
Well, it does seem kind of sad, it is almost as though you can’t do anything right.
Yeah, oh it is sad. Trust me. It’s not fair.
And do you think that’s a feminism thing? Or would you say an anti-woman thing?
[laughs] No, I think it’s an anti-me thing.
lana, in contrast to marina, doesn’t understand the place her words and actions occupy, and not only created counter-feminist work but largely denies an understanding of feminism in general.
so by that count I think it is abundantly apparent that marina’s portrayal of outdated, sexist gender roles was ironic and that lana’s is not.