This week, news outlets -- including ours -- reported that Björk had pulled a Beyoncé when she released her new record, Vulnicura, with nary any fanfare Tuesday. But, that's not the only way Bey and Björk are similar. They're also both feminist icons. Feminist icons who, apparently, are among the myriad women who still have to fight to take credit for their success.
In a recent interview with Pitchfork, Björk spoke candidly about her intensely personal record, which touches on -- among other things -- her breakup with artist Matthew Barney and its effect on her family. Her role as woman and mother came to the fore several times during the conversation, specifically when speaking about taking ownership of her own work.
In the past, she said -- being the only woman in a band -- she allowed men to believe that they had had the ideas in order to get her way. However, that's, as I said, in the past. "I want to support young girls who are in their 20s now and tell them: You’re not just imagining things," she said. "It’s tough. Everything that a guy says once, you have to say five times."
Now, she's not as willing to let reporters and the like credit her work to the men in the room. For example, it was originally reported that her new album was produced by Alejandro Ghersi -- a.k.a., Arca -- while it had been co-produced by the pair of them.
That's an important distinction, one that becomes very obvious when one talks to Björk about her music, as I did around the release Biophilia in 2011. The woman is meticulous. The woman is smart. The woman is pulling all the strings. Still, her genius is sometimes attributed to the wrong people -- or disproportionately so.
According to Björk, the same thing would never happen to Kanye West. "I have nothing against Kanye West," she said. "[But] with the last album he did, he got all the best beatmakers on the planet at the time to make beats for him. A lot of the time, he wasn’t even there. Yet no one would question his authorship for a second."
Meanwhile, as Björk points out, electronic duo Matmos was credited with much of the work on her 2001 album Vespertine, for which she did 80% of the heavy lifting.
To avoid similar woes, Björk said she once advised M.I.A.: "'Just photograph yourself in front of the mixing desk in the studio, and people will go, ‘Oh, OK! A woman with a tool, like a man with a guitar.’”
Not that any of that should be necessary.
Nor should it be necessary -- bringing this full circle -- for Jon Stewart to stand up for Beyoncé when Mike Huckabee calls Jay Z her "pimp" in a ridiculous attempt to discredit her work as an artist -- and, you know, her role as an autonomous woman.
Björk's criticism of how we perceive artists who just happen to be women isn't just confined to the world of music, however. YA author Rainbow Rowell, after sharing Pitchfork's article, took to Twitter to reflect on how people referred to fellow author John Green as her mentor -- even though she had never met him.
Green, for his part, tweeted, "Agree wholeheartedly with all this," but the fact still remains: Despite being a popular, successful female author in a genre replete with popular, successful female authors, Rowell's career is still often attributed to a man.
And therein lies the rubs.
M.I.A. shouldn't have to take a photo behind her table -- nor should anyone have to speak for Bey. Rowell shouldn't have to take a photo of herself actually penning the words to "Eleanor & Park." And Björk sure as hell shouldn't have to explain the depth of effort she puts into her own work to anyone by way of justification.