Ann Wilson Reflects on Sex-Abuse Message of Heart’s ‘Barracuda’
She wrote the lyrics in reaction to a record company promotional campaign that had attempted to suggest that she and her sister, Heart guitarist Nancy Wilson, were involved in a sexual relationship.
“That pissed us off,” Wilson told Rolling Stone. “It went against everything we were trying to initiate, trying to invent – and the fact that our first time in [Rolling Stone] had that lascivious implication … the sleaze factor really dawned on me in that moment. Those lyrics were written by my true nature, in true rage. I hope that that song will come in handy now when women are thinking about what they want to do and not do.”
Wilson noted that the same things that happened in 1977 still happen now. "Back then I didn't know why, and now I know we were just being cast as cute girls rather than people who had ideas and abilities," she said. "In our early twenties, we'd go into radio stations and they'd say, ‘We love your tits.’ It was irritating. And if they touched me – that was just the most icky, nauseating feeling ever. But in the ‘70s, if I'd have said to my manager, ‘Whatever DJ touched my shoulder in the wrong way … ,' who would get fired? Me. Maybe not fired, but passed over; told ‘f--- her’ or ‘what a bitch.’ I heard that tons."
Watch Heart Perform 'Barracuda'
She went on to say that "people talk about each other in the worst way, especially when you become a product for sale." "You're just a thing," she said. "‘Is it nice? Is it pretty? Is it amenable? Will people buy it?’ ... Like, ‘How wild can you two sisters be together?’ ‘They must be in a lesbian incest relationship.’ That whole idea of two sisters, young, still nubile, being together in a frame being sexual is a really big diversion. It's a way of taking emphasis off of our music and our message.”
Wilson argued that displaying sexuality in the music industry hurt women more than men and that it was “just not a fair trade.” “Women accept willingly that they have to turn themselves inside out to be good enough – big, plump fish lips, makeup, f––able," she said. "It's really problem for young women in their childbearing years. They need to realize they are more than wombs. They need to realize they are valuable.”
Insisting that she had no “anti-male” feelings and wanted to see true “equality” between genders, Wilson noted that she thinks "young women just coming into their power can mistake their sexual power for their actual power. I think that idea of ‘because I'm sexy, I'm a feminist’ is kind of immature. But as long as women think being sexy is what makes them beautiful and powerful ... then it will continue.”
“This is not a gender problem," she continued. "It's a power issue. It's a problem of respect. When we are able to strip off the gender thing, then we'll get somewhere.”