Sinéad O’Connor has retracted her announcement, made over the weekend, that she would retire from music and live performance.
In a new statement posted to Twitter, the Irish musician explained to fans that she had felt “badly triggered” by a series of interviews regarding her new memoir, Rememberings, in which she writes of surviving physical and psychological abuse.
The Irish musician said it was “unnecessary and hurtful” for Woman’s Hour presenter Emma Barnett to repeat a statement, made by Neil McCormick in the Telegraph, calling O’Connor “the crazy woman in pop’s attic”, during an interview on 2 June.
Posting on Twitter at the time, she described the interview as “extremely offensive and even misogynistic”.
The BBC said in response: “During an interview about her new book, Sinéad O’Connor was talking about her mental health and was asked what she made of a comment by a music critic reviewing her book in recent days.”
On 5 June, the Irish musician said she was retiring “from touring and from working in the record business”. She tweeted: “I’ve gotten older and I’m tired. So it’s time for me to hang up my nipple tassels, having truly given my all.”
Two days later, she explained: “I was already so badly triggered by the time the BBC fucked me up the ass, with no warning, lube or permission, I lost my shit after women’s hour [sic]: I felt like I did thirty years ago and for thirty years. That I’d be better off (safer) if I ran away and gave up being in music at all. Because I keep getting used as a coat hanger for people to clothe with whatever they like.
“My legal vulnerabilities or past agonies dragged up for salacious entertainment and the paying of the mortgages of mostly men, who, thanks be to God, have never and will never know what it’s like to be a female trauma survivor in this world. A world falsely claiming every day to be less poisoned by stigma or misogyny that [sic] it is in reality.”
Of the Woman’s Hour interview, she wrote: “Of all the shite they could have asked about they grill me on having four kids with four fathers,” she wrote. “About being ‘a horn dog’. Then Barnett dares to suggest that ‘oh aren’t we much better now about discussing mental health’. No, Bitch. Because if we were you wouldn’t have dragged up the madwoman in the attic scenario.”
Contacted for further comment, a BBC spokesperson reiterated the broadcaster’s previous statement.
O’Connor said that media had been asked to be sensitive and not ask about child abuse or “dig deep into painful shit about mental health which would be traumatising for me to have to think about” during interviews to promote Rememberings.
She said that only US media had respected the requests, and suggested that the BBC, a Canadian broadcaster and the Guardian “might have a look at themselves and learn from this so that no other survivor of violent trauma will be as triggered as I was”.
She said, “The hugest misconception (I’m always asked this but never answer of ‘Sinéad O’Connor’ is that she is Amazonian. I’m not. I’m a five-ft 4-in soft-hearted female who is actually very fragile. When people ridicule or invalidate or disrespect or abuse or misuse me on the grounds I suffer from severe long-term effects of the barbaric physical and sexual abuse I grew up with, every time I go to sell a record, a show or in this case a book, it triggers me. I turn back into that hurt child. Or that appallingly treated young woman. And my job becomes something I’m terrified of.
“But I love my job,” she continued. “Making music that is. I don’t like the consequences of being a talented (and outspoken woman) being that I have to wade through walls of prejudice every day to make a living. But I am born for live performance.”
Since prematurely announcing her retirement, O’Connor said she had felt supported by fans and professional peers and remained committed to her 2022 tour dates. “Also, I lied when I said I’m past my peak,” she wrote. “Ain’t no such fuckin thing :) I’m just past listening to any more shite about how crazy people are invalid.”
O’Connor said she did not care whether the BBC or Barnett heeded her words: “What matters more is that I say it on behalf of all women who are legally vulnerable as a result of violent trauma. Or emotional and psychological abuse. If things were in any way improving re stigma, which is a murderer, you [Barnett] wouldn’t be presenting that show. Which should actually be renamed Pigs In Lipstick. Or Fuggin Female Mysoginists [sic].”