Janelle Monáe: "People Have to Start Respecting the Vagina"

Janelle Monáe stars as one of five incredible young women to grace the cover of Marie Claire's Fresh Faces issue for May, and in addition to straight-up slaying her photo shoot, the 31-year-old singer, actress, and philanthropist also gave some pretty insightful quotes to the publication about gender norms and respecting and empowering women. Janelle, who has been in the music industry since 2003 and became something of an award season breakout star with her roles in Hidden Figures and the Oscar-winning Moonlight, also touches on embracing what makes you unique and her thoughts on creativity and nonconformity.

On Respecting the Vagina

"People have to start respecting the vagina. Until every man is fighting for our rights, we should consider stopping having sex. I love men. But evil men? I will not tolerate that. You don't deserve to be in my presence. If you're going to own this world and this is how you're going to rule this world, I am not going to contribute anymore until you change it. We have to realize our power and our magic. Because I am all about black-girl magic, even though I'm standing with all women. But this year? This year, I am so carefree black girl."

On Creativity

"Being poor helped me be more creative. It was my superpower. I had to get comfortable in my own skin — you know when somebody walks in a room and they have such a confidence that they dare you to say something about them."

On Being Strong and in Control

"It is important to redefine what sexy is. To redefine style . . . It is important for women to be [in control], especially when gender norms and conformity are pushed upon us. Women automatically are told that this is how you should look. This is how you should get a man. This is how you should get a woman. You need to fit into all these boxes to be accepted. I don't subscribe to that way of thinking. I don't think we all have to take the same coordinates to reach the same destination. I believe in embracing what makes you unique even if it makes others uncomfortable. I have learned there is power in saying no. I have agency. I get to decide."