This is a video for the song “Miss Independent”, released by singer Kelly Clarkson in 2003. It was a hit in the United States, peaking at number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Clarkson was the first winner of the American Idol reality competition show, and this was the lead song of her debut album. The lyrics of the song tell the tale of an independent and aloof woman who finally lets down her guard and falls in love. The protagonist is variously described as “Miss Independent”, “Miss Outta-My-Way” and “Miss Never-let-a-man-help-her-off-her-throne”, suggesting a strong and fiercely independent but cold personality. In the lyrics, the process of falling in love is described as transformative and deeply rewarding: “It took some time for her to see/ How beautiful love could truly be/ I’m so glad I finally see.” In the video clip, the singer wakes up the morning after a house party and reflects back on the night. Glimpses of the male love interest appear throughout the song, until she meets him face-to-face at the end of the clip.
Would you describe Clarkson’s ‘Miss Independent’ as a feminist? What qualities makes someone a feminist? What qualities make someone not a feminist?
Is being a feminist compatible with falling in love? Is being an “independent woman” compatible with falling in love?
This song could be classified as part of a postfeminist backlash, where the second wave, liberal feminist values of independence and strength are dismissed as no longer useful or desirable. In this song, it is taken for granted that a woman can be independent (and her independence is described in a series of not-so-flattering adjectives), but in order for her to access the ‘beautiful’, ‘true’ and ‘real’ experience of love, she is required to denounce this independence and make herself vulnerable to a man. This is part of a broader postfeminist social trend where traditional, girlie, conservative femininities are seen as rewarding, glamorous and desirable.