Janelle Monae Explains Why Addressing Her Sexuality Was Important to Her

Janelle Monae at 2018 GRAMMYs
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The 'Dirty Computer' singer hopes to empower other women to embrace the arts and their own sexuality.

Sexuality was very much on Janelle Monae's mind on when she was putting together her new album, Dirty Computer.

In a wide-ranging interview with Ebro Darden on the Apple Music radio show, Beats 1,  Monae discussed art, empowering women, Black Panther, the influence of Prince and the importance of sexuality in her new album. She has been outspoken in her desire for people to freely embrace their sexuality, particularly if it doesn't conform to typical gender norms, and on Thursday, came out as "pansexual" in an interview with Rolling Stone.

In her interview with Darden, she said that Dirty Computer speaks to precisely those issues.

"It's a conversation that I want to have with us as a society, as human beings, about what it means to tell somebody that the way they’re programmed -  their existence - whether they're queer, LGBTQ, IA (intersex or asexual), in that community -- whether they are minorities, whether they're bugs or viruses, whether being a woman, whether being poor, makes you have bugs and viruses," she told Darden. "What is it like to live in a society that is constantly trying to cleanse you, and tell you that you need to conform, you need to be reprogrammed... deprogrammed? And so I just wanted to talk about my own bugs and viruses, and how I'm choosing to deal with it."

She added, "I just feel like my sexuality, my women's desires are one with God, it's all one it’s all a beautiful thing, and I just hope that women feel more free, feel more empowered. I do." 

She also talked about how the "Time's Up" movement is "not just a Hollywood thing."

"I remember being you know a little nervous going on the Grammys and speaking on behalf of 'Time's up', and just letting people know that sexual harassment, sexual abuse, sexual assault -- all that is not just a Hollywood thing," she said. "It’s going on in the music industry, it’s going on in… we’re talking about the abuse of power. That's what we should know, and men should know that women's rights are human rights."

Monae has made a point of not just talking, but also working to empower women. She recently spoke to ET at the launch of her Fem the Future campaign, which is designed to support and empower women through the arts. She said that fellow supporters like Lupita Nyong'o and Zoe Saldana inspire her to do more to help women.

"These are the women that keep me grounded, that keep me motivated, that encourage me, that empower me. When I look at them, I always feel like I need to be doing more," she shared.

More more on Monae's efforts with Fem the Future, watch the video below.