Anais St. John
November 21, 2016
How old are you?
I am 43.
Where are you from originally?
I am from New Orleans, born and raised.
What made you want to stay here?
I couldn’t imagine living anywhere. This is one of the most rich, cultural, fantastic cities in the whole world. I have been blessed with the opportunity to visit many other major cities but I couldn’t imagine living in any other city but my own.
Do you remember being taught or told anything growing about the behavioral expectations of being a girl?
I was raised around pretty strong female role models, my mother being one of them. My grandmother, my aunts, I had all these strong women. I didn’t have a father growing up so it was a very female centered upbringing. I really wasn’t cautioned about anything because I was always taught to rise above and be a strong person. I knew there would always be people out there who would try to belittle you and judge you and underestimate you. But I was always taught to rise above that and be who I am and be proud of who I am and to stand with my head held high and represent myself as a phenomenal woman as my mother and my grandmother and my great-grandmother and my aunts had.
Can you define sexism as it presents itself to you?
I believe that it is judging a woman on characteristics that someone may feel are less a man. It is being told you are not the equal of or being pushed down because you simply are not a man. It’s ridiculous.
How does being treated in a sexist way make you feel?
Angry. I don’t appreciate it at all. If it happens, I immediately react and respond to it. I don’t shy away from standing up for myself.
Do you always notice when individuals are acting in a sexist way?
It’s pretty blatantly obviously. And for me, it really only happens in bars and places where people have been under the influence of alcohol. Most recently, I was going to a new hotel bar and a guy held the door open for me and he said, “You’re lucky you’re pretty because I wouldn’t have done that for someone who wasn’t.” And I of course just whipped around and exclaimed, “Excuse me?! Really? Did those words just come out of your mouth? Really?” When you realize that someone is under the influence of alcohol saying really stupid things and sexist things, part of me wonders if I want to waste my time trying to correct this behavior. But what I do is make sure he knows that what they said was completely offensive and I will not tolerate that type of behavior and I kind of move on. You can’t argue with a fool, especially a drunk fool.
Do you think some forms of sexism are so engrained in the social constructs that both men and women have grown up with that it makes it hard to combat?
I really believe that it’s a learned behavior. I think that young men learn it from their male role models and it’s brushed off as locker room banter. “It’s just tough talk and what guys do.” We need to hold men up to a higher responsibility of being aware of not falling into the trap of promoting sexism and stereotypes and passing that on. Your children are watching you and they will mimic you and that behavior will become engrained in them. They don’t fully understand what they’re doing. They’re just trying to be like dad or their big brother and it’s a pretty vicious cycle that needs to stop.
Are there any particular stereotypes of men or of women that drive you insane?
It drives me nuts when women play into the dumbed down stereotype or when women think that a way to get attention is by pretending to be dumber. I think there is a confusion about using your sexuality for power and you have to know how to use your feminine gifts. My show is very sexy and I believe that there is a power in it but you can also degrade yourself. You can’t cross that line of misusing that power. It’s a very strong power we have and I can’t stand it when women don’t use it in the correct way or allow men and women to see the worst of them. Men? I could name a list of things that annoy me but I dislike a man who is not intelligent enough to understand that he is not going to get anywhere in life until he can fully respect the women around him and stand up to other men who are behaving in a sexist way.
Is there anything that you would like to add?
When you first gave me your questions I didn’t know if I had anything to say. I have not been put in bad situations. I know other women have and I am thankful that I have not. I think what you’re doing is important and I want to thank you for raising these questions. Having to think about it was a great process to understand that there are a lot of women who have an uphill battle especially in the entertainment industry. There are a lot of different female musicians who have different experiences and have more sexist experiences. One of my good friends is Trixie Minx and her entire image is around being sexy and I wonder how she has been treated because of that. It’s very thought provoking.