Singer-songwriter Liz Phair emerged on the music scene in 1993 with her debut album Exile in Guyville, a sharp, boundary-breaking work that established her as a feminist pioneer for its uninhibited and raw female point of view. Phair, now 52, has just released her memoir, Horror Stories, which discusses her evolution as an artist—including the fact that she, like so many other women, had to face #MeToo experiences on her climb to success.
Phair admits she didn’t initially want to write about these moments. “I’m in a different place in my life, I’ve worked out my life in such a way that as a mature woman I don’t feel unsafe a lot of the time,” she explains in an interview with the Associated Press. “But I had to go back and think about all the traumatic things that had happened to me. And it made me angry and it made me embarrassed and it made me ashamed. And I didn’t want to deal with that. But isn’t that probably like a lot of women? And so, I tried to do it.
“There are things that I have either not told anyone about, or tried to compartmentalize and put on a shelf,” she continues. Once I started opening up all the boxes of memories, I really just wanted to throw them out of the closet on the floor, like, ‘And this one, and this one, and this one.’”
Phair acknowledges she is not alone in this mindset, suggesting that many ambitious women kept silent in order to keep working in male-dominated fields. “We never told how bad it was. We wanted to work in the male work world. We wanted to participate in society. And I think the price of that, at the time, was not being too disruptive.”
The singer believes this is an issue that still is requiring broad attention. “Everybody’s got their #MeToo fingerprint. I don’t think there is a woman in America who hasn’t experienced it,” she relates.
“It’s an overwhelming problem and I think when people say this ‘#MeToo thing’ has gone out of control—I don’t think so. I think this needs to be systemically dealt with.
“It is a big wave, but because of how heartbreaking and unfair and unjust the circumstances are for many people…the wave needs to break over everyone.”
In addition to her book, Phair has also released her first new song since 2014, “Good Side,” on which she reunited with Exile in Guyville producer Brad Wood.
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