By now, you've stumbled back to your apartment from the #KimExposedTaylorParty. And man, was it a rager.
But if you did manage to sleep through the excitement, here's the 30-second version of what went down: Rapper, and often Hollywood Public Enemy #1, Kanye released a song called "Famous", in which he raps, "I think me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? / I made that b*tch famous." Taylor cries wolf, er, claims she didn't know about the song and is devastated. West explains she did know about the song, and gave him approval on the controversial lyrics. Taylor again claims she did not know. West's wife, Kim Kardashian West, releases video footage of Swift giving her blessing to West on the song, and the Internet imploded.
I'm not here to explain why you should wave the flag of cyber support for either West or Swift, but rather to examine just how white feminism is playing an intricate role in this chess game, and how Swift is only perpetrating its problematic complexities.
Before going any further, let's define white feminism.
What white feminism is not; a rage-filled, hateful movement of white women banning together, and purposely leaving black women out of the feminist wave. What white feminism is; feminism where intersectionality is ignored. White feminism excludes the adversity faced by those not heterosexual, cis-gendered and white. And while it likely comes from a well-intentioned, it's troublesome. White feminism fights for wage gaps and gender equality, but often neglects the tides separating black and white women on the topics of: beauty standards, wage gaps between races, and social justice. And white feminism pickets the ban of double standards and promote girl power, but doesn't reach down to uplift the black women and their struggles as they, too, champion the fight against looking like a damsel in distress, and instead being a boss bitch. White feminism helps other white women.
And Taylor Swift is a perfect portrait of white feminism.
But even in this Kanye saga, she compromised her feminist convictions altogether. With her army of proud feminist friends—who have overall been appropriately applauded for their efforts to make change in this wave of modern feminism—Taylor's personal brand has shifted from the aforementioned damsel in distress to being the boss bitch. She has encouraged women to find strength, their inner voice and to stop overromanticizing the victim role. Which is why I find it curious she chose to not only adopt and burrow in her former comfort zone of melodrama, but went as far to manipulate the situation to cast Kanye West as a big, black, ominous villain; and packaged the theatrical act of victimization as "feminism".
Once the song leaked, it would have been more brave, more of a power move to stand in her truth, and be proud of her collaboration with a man she had previous beef with. Even if met with backlash, it's more cowardly—and frankly just fucked up—to mold the situation into something else to appease teen fans, mogul marketers and the sea of Kanye witch-hunters. And with her brand of convenient white feminism, she wanted to change something after the fact because it was happening to her, not because something was happening to everyone. Not because she thought the words would affect all women. Her privilege to turn one man's art and kind gesture into one woman's marketed agenda disguised as a 'feminist manifesto'. The pop star and poster child approved the lyrics suggesting Swift should sleep with West. You can't cry misogyny and thank West for the shout-out in the same breath without choking on hypocrisy.
Clearly, Taylor still holds her personal brand closer to her chest than her convictions. This publicity nightmare proved Swift doesn't stand up for what she believes; she stands up for what will make her seem tall. Which is even more pathetic considering 'girl power' is the only thing she preaches in the name of feminism. Note to Taylor: Feminism (white or black) isn't about taking down a man to get on top. Especially, a man who wanted to see eye-to-eye; a man who explicitly expressed wanting his music to make you and all people feel good; a man you granted permission to rap about you.
Armed with 140 characters and unappointed, vapid culture criticism, Swift's 'squad' challenged her opposers to "use their voice for for something that f*cking matters" and to "get their heads out of a hole" as there are more important things to talk about. And no doubt, in a country swept by tragedy, political debates and at the hands of mercy (and possibly, in time, Donald Trump), that is certainly true.
But interestingly, Swift herself has not spoken out about recent tragedies and used her very massive and once-likable platform to speak openly about more important issues. With the brave exception of the Orlando shootings, Swift has stayed silent and static about the Black Lives Matter movement as black Americans and white abolitionists run away from bullets, and march toward change. Why stay mum on topics of race? In fact, her now-nemesis Kardashian-West penned a very poignant, unapologetic essay entitled "#BlackLivesMatter". The feminist fight Swift claims to get in the ring for, is only for the issues affecting her and the demographic of her average fan. Case in point when she initially sought out a cyber deathmatch with rapper Nicki Minaj, when Minaj expressed frustration about being a black woman in the music industry, and failing to rise up to Hollywood's ideals of beauty, thus being punished for it. Swift's white privilege and lack of cultural insight created blurred blind spots and (no pun intended) white noise for her, drowning out Minaj's voice and obstructing the female rapper and entertainer from illustrating her point. Instead Swift took the focus from constructive commentary, and rung the bell on a woman-on-woman fight herself.
Going back to "Swiftgate", if Swift took more time to understand black culture, she would know the term "bitch" is often used as a term of endearment, or a "compliment, kind of" to use her own words from the conversation she had with Kanye West. The same people who want to reduce this exposed tape to nothing more than 'sensationalized tabloid headlines', are the same people who need to understand the seemingly-trite actions of manipulating the truth, and dodging allegations and concealing true motives are precisely the actions that fuel a white patriarchy, and only further her opportunism.
Swift cries "character assassination", but her actions are an abomination of artesy, feminism and honest character; all things she bases her brand upon, and hoped to be praised for by lying about the entire situation. Taylor is just another person who tried to take a black man down but got caught on tape, and is now trying to self-identify as the real victim. She would rather watch an innocent person go up in flames than accept responsibility for her actions. And the Internet has had enough. And once she fully understands her privilege, and becomes more in tune with her convictions, will she begin to rebuild herself, and secondly, her career.