This isn’t going to be a piece tearing down a beautiful, successful and smart woman – not even close. Taylor Swift is an luminious genius, and an outright superstar. I love her music, I enjoy how brazen, powerful and autobiographical she can be while creating beats and melodies that energize us to dance. She can speak to multiple generations at the same time, masterfully describing just enough of a modern woman’s life to pique an audience’s interest. You should listen to Taylor Swift’s music if it appeals to you. But artists should be careful about the themes of the messages they send, especially as it relates to being a woman in a “man’s” world – and this is why.
Taylor Swift recently released a new song you can watch above, called “The Man”. The song pretty well and succinctly demonstrates the not so subtle sexism that has been the undercurrent of western society for the last 100 years,; the unfair role that women have been placed in to be the gatekeepers of civility alone without similar responsibilities for men. It describes the different ways successful men are received in the music industry versus successful women, how women gain reputations for being “needy” or “hysterical” while men are seen as powerful for acting in similar ways. It makes a good argument for why men have it easier. But my point is “so what”?
Don’t listen to Taylor Swift or Nicki Minaj about the sexism they face. Don’t feel bad for them for being victimized by these perceptions. For one thing, they are multi-billionaires who are incredibly successful and for the other thing, they are talented and our focus on them should not be how they have had to experience adversity- but how they have succeeded despite it! Our little girls are watching and learning a narrative that they will be doomed to repeat if we continue to be complicit about it.
Look, we have all experienced sexism, men and women. I have sat across from many power house women over dinner and shared experiences of sexism. We talk about what could be done about it and then we realize we don’t care. Its a not powerful to reduce yourself to what people percieve you as.
This song, “The Man” and the Glamour Magazine cover of it that you can read here, as well as a piece in Forbes, and EliteDaily are all dangerous feminist narratives that are more likely to decrease confidence in young girls and create an idea of victimhood than encouraging them to be possible powerhouses like the women they idolize. These “perfectly feminist” sentiments are far more destructive to the self esteem of our girls than helpful because they are not empowering. Once again a strong woman describes her victimhood instead of owning her success as she deserves to- Ironic isn’t? Or maybe its just part of her artistic genius- Swift may be capitalizing on the idiosyncracies that exist in society, laughing all the way to the bank.
Maybe she sees that playing on her victimhood is en Vogue and profitable – but who pays for it ultimately?
Take, for example, the recent conversation I had with my boyfriend at a restaurant that he has been dying for me to write about. It was lunch time, and we were eating downtown in a restaurant that many business people were dining at as well. He leaned over to ask my opinion about a clothing option our waitress had chosen. “This is a really nice restaurant, right? Then why is our waitress not wearing a bra?” he asked me- “what is your opinion on that? I think its distracting and lowgrade” he finished. I could have launched into how unfair his assessment was, how she should be able to wear whatever she wanted. But I decided to take a different approach.
I laughed, I hadn’t even noticed her underclothing choice to be honest. She was a very pretty girl, kind, nice and attentive, the last three adjectives being characteristics I appreciate in anyone I meet. And so I started looking around the restaurant and I couldn’t help but notice how dressed down all the men were, especially for being “business” types, and how many of them were a little bit on the chubbier side. And they weren’t wearing bras, or undershirts, or anything to cover their “indecencies”. Their nipples and breasts were just as, if not more, exposed and unrestrained as our waitress’s were. It was quite distracting as I started to look around.
And so I asked him in reply “since when did men stop wearing undershirts? I see a lot of men in here showing nipple and no one seems to be upset about it, maybe I should start?” and I followed with “and how many of them do you think are not wearing underwear?” “This is a nice restaurant, why do they think this is okay?
And that’s my point – don’t hate the game – play the game! Just because someone tries to shame a woman for behaving a certain way or wearing certain clothes doesn’t make them right! Stop being complicit about it. Our world is full of enough criticism as it is. Be oblivious to it and be you. As one of my favorite Winston Chuchill quotes advises “you can’t throw stones at every dog that barks, you will never get to where you are going”
So don’t listen to Taylor Swift’s interview on how poorly she is treated in the music industry or by media. She is making a ton of money off of everything she is doing and she knows how to turn her situations to her advantage. Don’t listen to her- watch her. mimic her, and be as brave and big and controversial as she is. She has built an entire career on being underestimated. Women all over the world could do the same.
#woke #changeyourmilieux #bethechange