Thursday, December 17, 2015

Taylor Swift's Success, Explained in One Word? Whiteness.

Why pop music's biggest star owes all her fame and fortune to white feminism ... and the jealousy of others.

By: Jimbo X

When Taylor Swift - a native Pennsylvanian born to a Merill Lynch V.P. and a mutual fund marketing executive - first popped up on the country music scene in the late 2000s, I - for one - didn't expect her to go on to become the biggest crossover music star of the 21st century. Alas, the savvy businesswoman she's always been - she had advertising deals with Maybelline and Abercrombie and Fitch in middle school and was inked to a major record label at 14 - perhaps we never should of doubted her.

Swift's latest album, 1989, is one of the most successful albums of the digital download era, with more than 8 million copies sold in one year's time. With concert revenue and endorsements factored in, Forbes estimates Swift stands to make $80 million in 2015 alone. Other estimates approximate her net worth to be as high as $280 million.

As of late 2015, 1989 - so popular that a Google search produces its Wikipedia article before the Wikipedia article for 1989, the actual year - has resulted in no less than seven singles. It's no doubt a pop culture phenomenon, but per the Internet - the cyber emporium of umbrage and envy it is - Taylor's success has precious little to do with her catchy, brilliantly over-produced pop tunes and flashy music videos and deft self-marketing. Rather, Ms. Swift is little more than a beneficiary of one of contemporary society's greatest injustices, white feminism.

Ya'll know what white feminism is, don't you? Well, if not, pull a chair on up and Uncle Jimbo will tell 'ya all 'ya needs to know. Back in the late 1980s, there was this woman named Kimberle Crenshaw, who decided that traditional second wave feminism wasn't doing an adequate enough job addressing the plight of black women. So she came up with this concept called "intersectionality," which postulates that the subordination of black women cannot be fully explained or remedied unless both their inherent blackness and femaleness are considered simultaneously. The example she is most famous for includes a discrimination lawsuit filed by several General Motors workers who just so happened to be black and female; since the company hired both men and women and black people and white people, the double whammy of being African-American and porting about XX chromosomes kept them from being able to technically cry foul. All in all, it's a pretty sound theory, as far as modern-day feminist ideology is concerned. (Let's just, uh, overlook Crenshaw's other theories about white people hating O.J. for being black and not because he got away with double homicide and how Trayvon Martin's death embodied contemporary white racism, even though the guy that shot him was ... well, kinda' Hispanic.

All right, so what does this have to do with Taylor Swift, you may be wondering? Well, that's where the whole "white feminism" thing comes into play. Long story short, white feminism is whenever any melanin-deficient cisgender female who doesn't subscribe to an ethos of feminism that takes intersectionality into consideration. To quote a blog that features no less than eight exposed breasts as its featured image, "you are not automatically a white feminist because you are a white heterosexual woman, but you are a white feminist if your feminism is not intersectional and only benefits white cis women." Need a little bit more clarification? Well, here's another site that comes complete with a handy-dandy Venn diagram, as well as such hilarious advice for white women as "being a good ally means recognizing that sometimes your input is not needed or wanted" and "it can be very off-putting to feel attacked for a transgression that you know yourself not to be guilty of, but in the context of social justice and movement building, if you're feeling attacked, it probably means you're having your privilege challenged." [LPT: for god's sake, don't ever say any of those things to black women, though.]

Seeing as how Taylor Swift is one of the most recognizable celebrities on the planet - not to mention her statuesque frame, blazing azure eyes and blonde locks pretty much make her an Aryan Superwoman by default - it's not at all surprising that a lot of anti-white feminism rancor is tossed her way. Indeed, she's literally front and center in the header photo of a caustic article titled "The Brutal Truth Every White Feminist Needs to Hear," which touches upon the topic of intersectionality by way of ... uh, the placement of hair care products at pharmacies? After Swift took to Twitter to strike back against a needlessly antagonistic Nicki Minaj (who was being a sour sport over not getting an MTV award nominations and playing the race card like a Nintendo controller), a whiny windbag ... I mean, esteemed journalist ... over at the Independent described Taylor as "white feminism's off-beat, bambi-legged Patronus" - and even after looking up what the fuck a "Patronus" was, I still have no clue what that insult(?) is supposed to mean. That pro-Nicki/anti-Taylor sentiment is echoed in the subtly titled Blavity op-ed "Taylor Swift Just Exemplified What's Wrong with White Feminism," in which the authoress of color rails against white women for liking Amy Schumer movies and not tweeting about police brutality and transphobia enoughHeck, Swift even has drawn the ire of noted anti-feminist feminist Camille Pagli, who condemned Tay-Tay as a "an obnoxious Nazi Barbie" whose "twinkly persona is such a scary flashback to the fascist blondes who ruled the social scene during my youth."

As caustic and condemnatory as those editorials were, they all pale in comparison to an Everyday Feminism post titled "5 Ways Taylor Swift Exemplifies White Feminism - And Why That's a Problem" (apparently, headline writing has never been these types of bloggers' fortes), which denounces T.S. for all of the following:

Unable to find anything objectionable in the video for "Style," the authoress instead attacks Taylor for only sleeping with, and I quote "straight, cis, able-bodied, fit, middle-to-upper class, white dude[s]." Because nothing says feminism, I suppose, quite like telling another woman what she needs to stick in her vagina. Bonus hypocrisy points: from the looks of it, the writer in question isn't dating a homosexual, transgender, wheelchair-bound, morbidly obese, impoverished, melaninated woman, either

If all of this self-righteous vehemence directed towards Taylor seems more than a little suspicious to you, it should. Granted, she did grow up wealthy and was groomed by mega-conglomerates to sell merchandise by the truckload, but you can also say the very same thing about Beyonce and Ariana Grande. Despite the accusations of chauvinism and racism, Swift's lyrics can hardly be considered offensive - her breathy-but-still-PG-rated entendres in "Wildest Dreams" are about as explicit as her music gets. Meanwhile, Azealia Banks and Rihanna have no problems tossing out the terms "bitch" and "nigga" ad nausem in such delightful, women-celebrating tunes as "Hood Bitch," and"Bitch Better Have My Money," while Taylor's number one "victim" Nicki Minaj croons such heartwarming lyrics as "look at ya'll bitch ass niggas, stop lyin' on your dick ass niggas" ... and sometimes, at private concerts for Angolan dictators, to boot. 

Whereas any number of pop and hip-hop starlets nowadays "twerk" in front of pre-teen audiences (periodically showing up at awards shows with their breasts exposed, in some cases), Swift's sexualization is limited to a bare midriff and her trademark ruby pout (and yes, there are indeed individuals out there who feel as if Taylor's iconic red lip look somehow smacks of racism.) And if Taylor's sappy break-up ballads regent of pungent heteronormativity, what to make of the oeuvre of Missy Elliot, whose catalog is glutted with such horrifically straight lyrics as "if you got a big dick, let me search it',"small dick, get no chicks" and "swing that dick in my direction, i'll be out of control?"

Of course, one can't help but detect just a smidge of hypocrisy in the anti-Taylor bandwagon ... and really, the anti-white feminist movement as a collective. Indeed, as inadvertently demonstrated by self-described "vegan anti-racist changemaker" Aph Ko, many black feminists who have subsumed themselves into the blogosphere echo-chamber are doing precisely the same thing they are mercilessly decrying white feminists for doing - namely, co-opting and appropriating the philosophical frameworks forged by people who hail from different ethno-racial backgrounds and adhering to a strict, tribalistic Tao that not only encourages in-group conformity - to the point it almost borders on ideological self-segregation - but absolutely demands it

"White feminists use theories and perspectives from women of color (and even imagery) to seem as though they're being diverse," Ko oh-so-ironically cries, "but effectively, only really care about their own experiences as well as propping up their own voices." (And if that isn't a clear-cut example of the pot calling the kettle ... itself ... I don't know what is.)

For anti-white-feminist types (many of whom, oh-so ironically, only view whites as worthwhile "allies" when they have paid a public penance and dedicated themselves and their resources to aiding and abetting their initiatives and furthering their self-serving agendas), Taylor is about as easy a target as one can imagine. She's omnipresent, her media image is about as spotless as they come, she's been named the most charitable celebrity in Hollywood three years in a row and she's idolized by millions of girls the world over. She's successful, she's a world-class self promoter and she doesn't have to use sex appeal to sell concert tickets. The only thing more lily white than her complexion, it seems, is her reputation - and its not like other women would ever be envious, resentful and obsessive over that, right?


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