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Alanis Morissette Accepts The Icon Award | Women In Music


– Hi. (applause) So when this incredible
honor was run past me, the first thing I said was,
“I can’t, I’m Canadian. “I can’t go accept an Icon Award.” You know, I’m also
Canadian, so I said yes. And I quickly Googled the word ‘icon’. A painting of Jesus Christ. (audience laughs) And another holy figure. Okay, I can’t go, I can’t go. A person or thing regarded
as a representative or a symbol of something. That I can get behind. There were a few others, but. I can get behind the symbol of something. And I remember in the early 90s, a lot of people asked me, “do you feel responsible? “You’re in front of so many people, “You’re around this planet singing “your god damned guts out every night. “Do you feel responsible for people?” And I was so beleaguered
and daunted of all of this that I said, “no, I don’t.” I’m barely responsible for my own self. As time went on and fame
didn’t wind up being the thing that I thought it would be. I was sold the bill of goods that perhaps some of us have been sold. I thought I would be
sitting around a fireplace or a campfire with Sharon Stone (audience laughs)
and Johnny Depp. And just a lot of people petting my head and we’d be singing Kumbaya. But that wound up not being the case. And it was a slightly
isolating experience. Fame is a very strange thing. It creates a social
context that is not normal. It’s not normal. I was a watcher. My whole life I was an observer of humans. I loved the human condition. So all of a sudden, everyone’s
eyeballs turned toward me. And the irony, the real irony,
is that I loved performing, but I was really, really
terrified to perform and didn’t like it at all. So my temperament, a lot of people talk about
bravery and so much courage to be a woman in music and empowerment and, while I will always stand by that, I just want to salute the women
who continue to go to work, who are really, really sensitive
and terrified and still go. (applause) That’s me. I also want to acknowledge
all the women that inspired me to sing in the first place. Everyone from Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Whitney
Houston, Olivia Newton-John, Carol King, Annie Lennox. So many women. Some of whom I even reached
out to during the wildness of the late 90s. And a lot of them said, “what
are you calling me for?” I said, “well there’s no
handbook, I need your help.” And they said, “oh, you’ll be fine.” So I imploded. And I figure people in the
public eye either explode or they implode or they
just stir extroverts. So if you’re an extrovert, this is normal. I am not, although I
can ham it up, for sure. And I really wanted to be
friends with all these artists who were touring at the same time as me. But as Taylor mentioned,
it was an unusual time of me playing with a lot of
different gentleman bands. And it was challenging
because if there was not going to be any sex or
any romantic interaction, then they didn’t know what to do with me. So they ignored me backstage. And I know a lot of the
other women that we around me were just holding it together, as well, and we were all just kind
of keeping our eyes down. Just to kinda survive it at the time. And just want to
acknowledge all the artists, all the female executives
and producers and mixers and designers, masters. My mouth is so dry. Does anyone have any water? (audience laughs)
I need water. Okay. Anybody. My husband. (applause) I just had a baby like ten minutes ago. (applause) So I have to acknowledge my husband because I could not do what I’m doing and be able to unschool
and have the amazing family that we have together without you. And none of this is
possible without support, specifically from my partner. And we’ve talked a great length about the idea that feminism and the feminist movement itself is a feminine movement. So yes, it’s about all genders. It’s about the femininity within us all. And the qualities of the
feminine, of being vulnerable, of being scared and still
standing up and speaking, of doing what so many of the
amazing, incredible women who are here tonight have done and continue to do
tirelessly, quietly, often. I think that’s why it’s so exciting to me to be perhaps known as being
vulnerable as an artist. ‘Cause the more vulnerable I
am, the more empowered I feel. I just feel like there’s less to have to, less of a lie to have to live up to, even though I’m scared as anyone else is. Then there was this one-dimensionalizing that would happen a lot. This reduction, like this
girl, Alanis, is one thing. She’s really, really angry. Okay. Okay, then a few years
later she’s very spiritual. Okay. And it just kept going. Then I was quirky. Then I was really dumb
because of a malapropism. Then I was also, “isn’t she, like, 90?” I was called an elephant man. I was loved and ignored
and adored and hated and then I was considered really hip and then totally irrelevant and then totally relevant again. And then I was considered a
boss and then a podcaster. And these roles and archetypes
are within all of us, all of the women in the room here and all the women that I’ve worked with, everyone at my table. I just feel like these
are all parts of us. And there was a period
of time where I was told I could only be one thing. I had to stay in my lane, so to speak. And so I wanted to direct a
video for a song called So Pure and I was really excited about it. And a few people at the
record company said, “you can’t do that. “That’ll be a career-killer for you.” So the best part of evolution, in terms of the industry for me, is that now, the multitudinous
aspect of all of us women in the room is being welcomed that we can be feminine and masculine. We can be scared and brazen. We can be articulate and just exhausted. To be a woman is to
have diffuse awareness, so multitasking we can do in our sleep. But a little worried about our bodies. Because we are taking on so much and yet we’re still doing
so much of the conventional, stereotypical things
that women typically do on top of all the things that
we now know that we can do and we don’t have to apologize for. Okay, I have to take a sip, sorry. I’m just really happy that this is a time where young women
performers can do all things without being shamed for who they are and they can dress, we
can dress any way we want, we can speak anyway we want, and we’ve always been able to, but now we do it without
public shaming to some degree. And my dad told me when I
was really little, he said, “there’s three ways people
will feel about you, “no matter what you do. “One is that people will
love you and adore you. “The other option is that
people will hate you. “And the other option is
that they won’t give a shit.” So he said, “just keep
doing whatever you’re doing, “because no matter what you do, “those are the three responses.” So, thanks, Dad.
(applause) So thank you for this. Thank you for walking alongside
me over the last many years. It’s such a heady time right now. A lot of culmination happening. Working collaboratively, I think
part of one of the greatest feminine qualities is the
ability to work really well in a team setting and collaboratively. And it’s just been a joy to do
that more and more and more. Thank you, patriarchy for
crumbling and falling. (audience laughs)
(applause) Thank you to the brazen
and the tender artists for continuing to be
self-expressed in an industry that once wanted to hold you up and then just as easily
and just as quickly turn away from you. To my younger self and to all women, I would say, “keep
going, keep chronicling, “keep expressing, keep asking for help, “keep working together,
keep setting boundaries, “keep showing up, take naps when you can, “and restore when you can.” And thank you so much. This is really an honor to receive. Thank you. (applause)

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