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The Observer (UK)
July 5, 2009

Tori Amos in Amsterdam, May 2009, photo by Paul Bergen

What I know about men
Tori Amos, musician, 45, married with one daughter

I have known the violent side of men, the side that can destroy another human being because of their own desires [Amos was sexually assaulted at knifepoint when she was 21]. I couldn't be normal with men for a long time. I had to take on all kinds of different scenarios in my brain to be with them. I don't think I had a healthy, intimate relationship until I was with my husband. Sometimes you can take on the vision of women the abuser had and start to apply it to yourself without even recognising it. I've spent years and years trying to stop that. The most dangerous thing is it finds a home in your own mind and the messages just get repeated. You don't know how you could allow yourself to be compromised. Ultimately I think the thing that men have taught me is that I am my own keeper. I will never give myself over to anyone.

Violence and seduction are a ticking bomb. I think it goes back to the powerlessness some men feel. They feel so emasculated that they get angry or seek attention from a place that they shouldn't. For a man to get off on a woman screaming, the wires have got crossed somewhere. When you're dealing with men with real power they only want you if you're willing. It's about the dance between the male and female. Real power is about exchange, not subordination. For some people a powerful man is a bully. He's powerful because he scares people. And I would say that's not a powerful man -- that's an intimidating man, a man who uses intimidation tactics. A powerful man is a man that knows who he is and doesn't need to manipulate people to get what he wants.

My father was the head of the house, there was no question about that. His parents were both stern Christians. His mother was the iron hand behind him, probably the biggest influence in his life, and wanted him to follow the path of the ministry. My mother had hopes and dreams too, but ultimately put them aside to have children and become a minister's wife.

My brother was a fantastic cheerleader for my development as a musician. He was almost 10 years older than me and would really push me to develop as a songwriter. My father was more like an agent -- he took me to the clubs to play piano and sing. He got quite a lot of flak because nobody could understand how a Methodist minister could be seen in gay clubs. He would say: "Where else would you take your 13-year-old daughter? It's the safest place in town."

I've worked with many powerful men in the music industry. The big power brokers in the industry are still men for the most part. And not just them: it's the people behind them, the business affairs, the structures, the boards -- it's all men. And there are the good guys and the not- so-good guys. There are the controlling men and there are those that want the exchange.

The birth of my daughter was my healing. I claimed my body back. I stopped being a victim. And I happened to marry a man who, because he's British, was not ingrained with that religious seed that America can scatter. He believes in a woman's right to her own sovereignty. It took the love of a good man. When I was reverting back into my, let's say, perversions, he would say: "Let's go get an ice cream. I am not going to enable you. If you can only come as a wanton woman for hire, because you feel dirty and shamed, then no. Women are goddesses." And I know that and I believe that. I chose a man who believed that too.


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