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Why Mariah Carey is a Feminist Icon

With 15 studio albums, five Grammy Awards, 19  World Music Awards, 10 American Music Awards, and 15 Billboard Music Awards already under her belt, singer, songwriter, performer, and producer Mariah Carey is a pop powerhouse. Her commercial and critical success is well deserved–with a five-octave vocal range, Carey’s vocal control is unmatched.

Although her vocal prowess is well known world-wide, what many people don’t know is that Carey has been on the front lines fighting against sexism in the music industry since her 1990 debut. “I did not feel like I was being treated the same as some male artists when I was coming out with my first album,” she said, referring to her first album, aptly titled Mariah Carey. She blames this on the lack of women in the music industry at the time. “The decision makers, particularly in the beginning of my career, were always men and exclusively men.”

There were plenty of frustrating and blatantly sexist misconceptions about the artist regarding  her sudden surge to pop-stardom. In 1993, Carey married Tommy Mottola, owner of Casablanca Records and head of Sony Music, when she was just 23. Because she married so soon after her career began, many attributed her success to her relationship. “When you’re with someone 20-something years older than you, and you’re a female, the perception is always going to be this girl’s being taken care of. No, darling,” Carey stated. “And they made billions of dollars off my incessant work. I did nothing but make albums.”

But Carey is still hopeful for the next generation of female singer-songwriters. She believes a lot of progress towards gender equality has been made in the industry, citing Missy Elliot’s Hall of Fame Induction as a major step in the right direction. “I’m really proud of looking at Missy Elliott and what she’s had this year, even though she beat me for the Songwriters Hall of Fame… I love the fact that she’s always been her and she’s allowed to be her.” 

Carey is also in full support of the #MeToo movement. She has alluded to instances of sexual violence throughout her career, but has never come out as a survivor. “I’m so proud of the women who have come to tell their stories, because I didn’t do it, and I should have done it. That’s an incredible accomplishment.”


It’s safe to say Mariah Carey is a feminist through-and-through, and with an upcoming memoir to be released in 2020, Carey too will have a chance to tell her story.

Featured Image by all-systems-go on Flickr

Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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