Kelly Rowland Wants Women to Stop "Shrinking" and Start Embracing Their Sexuality in Music

“Coffee and sex in the mornin’/ Breakfast in bed, got me moanin’,” Kelly Rowland’s sensual single “Coffee” begins. It’s a morning sex anthem, an easygoing single packed with innuendos, a celebration of pleasure. Above all, it’s empowering, and it’s all too rare.

Rowland’s track — which she released in April — dismisses the patriarchal idea that women should keep their physical desires private. A step further, her Instagram Live segment Coffee With Kelly created a space where women could talk honestly about sex. Her efforts are hopeful, and with “Coffee” garnering positive reception, I thought maybe society had progressed. Then, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion dropped “WAP,” and I realized we are still far behind.

Rowland and I recently sat down to chat about her new JustFab collection, and I asked about the double standard female musicians face when singing about sex. Rowland’s a veteran of the industry, responsible for some of the greatest tracks of the last three decades — many of which paint physical desires in a positive, empowering light. Her new track “Crazy” can be added to this list. How does Rowland feel when critics try to temper — or even actively fight against — women’s sexuality in music, like we saw with “WAP”? To put it simply, if you come at her with this criticism, “I’m going to be rude about it.”

Songs shrouded in subliminal messaging can skate under-the-radar, but more explicit lyrics from women lead to pearl-clutching and angry tweets. The president can say, “Grab them by the p*ssy,” but god forbid women feel emboldened by their own bodies. Rowland doesn’t have the patience for that hypocrisy. “I just feel like that time has come and now it’s gone,” she said, referring to the attempted censure of women, not only in music but in life. “You can see how it’s trying to reflect itself, even in office. You know what I mean? Not wanting to get too political, but I just feel like now is a time where we shut them up.”

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