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Demi Lovato spoke to Jane Fonda about their gender journey, admitting that ‘the patriarchy’ held them back for too long


By Sarah Finnan
01st Jun 2021

Demi Lovato / Instagram

Demi Lovato spoke to Jane Fonda about their gender journey, admitting that ‘the patriarchy’ held them back for too long

A famous singer, actor and activist, Demi Lovato joined fellow Hollywood star Jane Fonda for a candid chat about their decision to come out as non-binary.

Just one week after they came out as non-binary, Demi Lovato joined Jane Fonda on one of her Fire Drill Friday live streams. Both vocal advocates on matters close to their hearts, their conversation centred on Demi’s career, activism and later gender issues, with discussion soon turning to the patriarchy.

Speaking openly of their upbringing and experience, the singer feels that the patriarchy is largely to blame for the feelings of shame they felt growing up, adding that nothing would have changed if they had continued to listen to what society expected of them.

How the patriarchy is responsible

“If I had listened to the patriarchy, my life would have never changed – my gender, my pronouns would have never changed. I would have probably been married to a man, with kids, doing the thing that I was raised to believe that I should do,” Demi said.

Also touching on both their childhood and religious beliefs, Demi agreed that growing up in Dallas Texas was definitely “harder” as a lot of norms were already pushed on them from a very young age.

“There’s been moments in my life that have been very confusing to me, you know being ten years old, attracted to women and not knowing what that meant as a Christian and being raised in the South where that’s not very… you know, it’s harder there,” they continued. Questioning the ways in which the patriarchy had been holding them back, the former Disney Channel star added that it was about being put in a box. “Telling me that ‘you are a female, this is what you are supposed to like, this is what you are supposed to do, don’t dream bigger and don’t speak louder.’ That didn’t vibe for me, because I am too outspoken for that.”

Telling Fonda that they realised they were living their life for other people, it was only after a close call with death that Demi really decided to start being their true self. “I just started listening to me, which I ended up finding out was equal parts masculine and feminine and so when I stripped myself of the norms that society has pushed on me, specifically by the patriarchy, I have become the most complete and authentic version of myself that I’ve ever been in my life, and I’ve never been happier.”

What is the patriarchy though?

Jane Fonda did her best to define it, explaining that it “has been the social paradigm for millennia”. “It views the world as a hierarchy. Human beings are part of a hierarchy. White men are at the top and then it goes down to women of colour at the bottom and it’s the rule of the fathers. It’s woven into every part of our lives and our culture and the institutions that govern our lives. It’s what keeps people in cages at the border and say ‘you can’t come in’.  It’s what doesn’t give Covid-protective equipment to people of colour who work in meat-packing plants.”

Only sorry that it took them so long to start living authentically, Demi’s coming out is important for a myriad of reasons – namely because it paves the way for others to follow suit and with today marking the dawning of another Pride month, her timing couldn’t be better. You can watch their full conversation below.