Change, Music

noé's Debut Single "Lady" is a Sexy and Assertive Toast to Female Sexual Empowerment

By Jackson Howard

Spread the Love

noé likes sex. She’s proud to like sex. And she thinks that if you’re a woman, you should be proud to like sex, too. As a result, noé is also really fed up, and for good reason. She’s sick of seeing women who embrace their sexuality being shamed for the very same reasons men are celebrated. Big topic to cover for a debut single, to say the least.

Yet this new single, “Lady” — premiering here on Not Mad as her first official release — succeeds as an unabashedly sexy, assertive and alluring attack on this seemingly undying and yet incredibly relevant sexual double-standard of condemning women and championing men.

This isn’t to say the song isn’t fun, though. Over a pulsating, slow-burning beat produced by noé’s frequent collaborator, Fernando Familiar, noé shows off her vocal range while instructing a boy on the exact ways to love and treat her. A sample verse:

None of them other boys consider me a lady

With my clothes to the floor 

They feel me like a figurine 

But sex should never be a one way street

Quit calling me names 

I’ll make you love the pain.

Yeah, she’s really not fucking around. Born in Paris and raised between Hong Kong and Aix en Provence, France, noé will graduate from Berklee College of Music in December, and is currently living in between Boston and New York. She took a few moments to discuss with Not Mad the inspiration for “Lady”, her feelings about the word “slut” and slut-shaming, the importance of promoting female sexual empowerment and “mutually pleasant” sex, and her upcoming debut project.

Not Mad: Before we even address the lyrics of this song, I want to first talk about perspective. It feels like in “Lady” you’re almost looking a guy into his eyes and giving him these instructions. Is this about right? Why did you choose to frame the song with this structure? Do you feel like addressing the song to a “you” makes it more impactful?  

noé: “Lady” is about a woman taking control of her own sexuality and not being ashamed of doing so. First of all, I’d like to establish that if I decided to portray the “Lady” character as a heterosexual woman having sex with straight men, it was not only because I wanted to draw the character from my personal experience, but also because I wanted men to relate to the issues exposed in “Lady”, [issues that are] constantly confronting women around the world. There are many other ways women can have sex and I hope that the song and its fundamental meaning will resonate with women of all different sexual orientations.

Second of all, I wrote the song as a direct address because I wanted it to be as intimate as possible. This is an important subject to me, and if I was going to take the risk of writing explicit lyrics, I wanted the entire song to be as impactful as possible. I feel like using the “I” and “You” pronouns makes it personal, and involves the listeners a lot more…In any sexual relationship, I want women to feel represented, empowered and stimulated by the “I”, and I want their partners to want to be the “you”. I want them to feel excited by the idea of a woman taking control of her sexuality, to the point where I want those [male] partners to “want” to be respectful towards these women, and treat them the way they deserve to be treated.

The lyrics in “Lady” are unabashedly sexual and assertive. You’re telling this boy to sit down in your seat and to let him let you show how it’s done “when a lady leads.” You then tell him at the end that “you’re gonna go down on me,” which I think speaks for itself. This being said, it’s inevitably – and unfortunately – more shocking to conventional pop music (whatever the fuck that is) that these words are coming from your mouth, a woman. Why was it important for you to make a song that positioned you, as a woman, as the one sexually in charge?

I wanted to depict a woman taking charge sexually because people tend to directly relate a woman who “loves sex” with the word “slut” and I couldn’t disagree more with the bad connotation of this association. If the definition of a “slut” is a “promiscuous woman”, then I don’t understand how the term became an insult. People tend to think we should stop calling women with multiple sexual partners “sluts”, but I believe we should embrace the word and its meaning, and instead, stop judging women for who they are and how they decide to live their lives. The word isn’t the issue, the issue is how we think.

Moreover, the idea most of us have of a woman who “loves sex” couldn’t be more erroneous. Women don’t have to have thousands of sexual partners, the skills of a pornstar, the body of a Victoria’s Secret model or any other stereotypical qualification to “love sex”. But even if they do happen to have all of the above, than so be it! Who are we to judge? Everyone deserves to be treated respectfully in a sexual context (or any other context for that matter). There is no exact definition of a woman who loves sex. She can be a party girl, a college girl, a married woman, a mother of three, a business-woman or whoever she is, enjoying as much sex as she wants, however she likes it.

This omnipresent “slut shaming” by men and women against women needs to stop. Not to mention the sexism and hypocrisy of it all since a man having multiple partners and an active sex life is in most cases looked upon [as having an] aura, and in some countries even stereotyped as being the “perfect man”. Yet, “promiscuous women” are called names and looked down upon.

The sexually-in charge-“Lady” I wrote and sing about stands for all these women: The ones openly enjoying their sex lives, the ones afraid of talking about their sexuality, the ones ashamed of loving sex, the ones who won’t take pleasure in the act because they were told it was disgraceful, the ones who won’t have sex for fear of “slut shaming”, the ones who think they are not good enough for sex, and all the other women who wish they had more of a say on their own body and sexual activity.

Do you feel like more women – especially women in college, like yourself – need to take more control of their sexuality?

I wouldn’t say that women “need” to take more control of their sexuality. I’m not forcing anyone to do so, but women who choose to take control shouldn’t be afraid of doing so… I do believe women should start talking more about their sexual activities, and do so with pride instead of shame; however, we need to provide them with a safe environment in which they can express themselves without being judged.

It feels like sex is a taboo subject amongst many women, because many of us grew up in a society in which conversations about women’s sexual activities never surpassed the mere concept of reproduction. Some of us were never even [had it] explained how sex could be pleasurable to women. We had to figure it out on our own, and sadly some women still haven’t figured it out. In fact, I’ve realized many women don’t know what “mutually pleasant” sex feels like. I don’t blame it on women, nor do I blame it on men. I blame it on the general assumption we’ve maintained throughout the generations that “women don’t like sex”. This only fueled the belief that sex shouldn’t be / can’t be pleasing to women.

This assumption brought many of us women to feel alienated with our own bodies, making us less confident about our overall sexuality and less inclined to stand up for ourselves and pleasure in sexual contexts. If we can hardly change the older generations’ opinion on women and sex, we can help younger ones understand and embrace women’s sexuality and make choices of their own.

Are you planning on releasing an EP or full-length project to follow this up?

Yes! I am currently working with my amazing producer Fernando Familiar on my upcoming EP. It should be released by the end of this year. I am very keen on my music being just as compelling as it is meaningful, with songs having deep significance and sparking conversations on subject matters that are important to me. However, “Lady” only showcases one aspect of my personality. My EP will touch base with other sounds, emotions and issues I hope many of you will be able to relate to. I can’t wait for you to discover the other facets of who I am!

Jackson Howard is the Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of Not Mad. He just changed his sheets and slept really well last night.