Writing Re-Enlightenment

Taylor Swift: Is she officially evil enough to date Loki, or are you a sexist?

Posted in Uncategorized by Caralyn Davis on July 16, 2016

The Calvin Harris Twitter rant about Taylor Swift trying to “bury” and “tear down” her ex-boyfriend has brought out the haters en masse, even getting the tag #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty trending as the Internet gleefully piled on. Everyone is very pleased that Calvin “exposed” Taylor for the manipulative, bitchy, evil snake that she is (insert multiple snake emojis here because that’s how all the cool haters roll). They don’t seem to realize or care that they are being sexist jerks.

“What? This isn’t about a man getting angry because a woman took credit for her own work! Why do you always play the sexist card? Taylor’s a disrespectful, fake Nazi Barbie trying to steal credit.”

No, sorry. You’re still a sexist jerk—and it very much is about a woman getting slammed for taking credit for her own work. Let me explain: Taylor didn’t “secretly” write (aka ghostwrite) the lyrics and melody of “This Is What You Came for.” Before her publicist acknowledged that she was the author, a person other than Calvin Harris already had that songwriting credit.

The world knew that Calvin didn’t craft every word and note of this song on his own—but no one cared until Taylor Swift was involved and they could help Calvin run with the narrative of the poor, wronged ex-boyfriend and the evil, bitchy ex-girlfriend. Calvin’s writer is suddenly his very recent, famous ex and somehow then—and only then—is it a problem for Calvin or anyone else that another person wrote the lyrics and melody. Let me repeat: It was never just his song. Another person had a listed writing credit and publishing rights the entire time.

Funny, Calvin never alerted the world that Nils Sjoberg might be trying to tear him down by writing a hit song with him. In fact, did he ever talk about Nils Sjoberg at all?

Maybe Calvin’s telling the truth and Taylor originally wanted the pseudonym. Maybe he’s not. Either way, I can understand why he didn’t tell interviewers “Guess what? Taylor is Nils. Let’s talk about her for 2.5 hours instead of my album that I worked very hard on.” But don’t most artists occasionally at least mention that they had a co-writer, perhaps even that they enjoyed working with them? Instead, Calvin erased Nils Sjoberg from the media picture, taking full credit for “his” biggest hit in recent memory.

Why was it OK for Nils Sjoberg to write the song? It’s simple: Nils Sjoberg was easily disposed of, but Taylor Swift is not. That a woman has enough artistry and enough power to control her own narrative and decide to take rightful credit for her work infuriates a lot of folks, including apparently Calvin Harris.

Calvin made the artful accusation that Taylor tried “to tear your ex bf down for something to do.” Why was her action about him at all? Taylor took credit for her own work. She’s allowed to do that at any time she decides to do so. She’s not trying to tear him down. She’s just not responsible for building him up.

“But no, she’s a serial dater, a slut, a whore, a dick hopper, a fake feminist, airing her dirty laundry in her songs, playing the victim … all those staged photos! She doesn’t deserve credit for anything because she doesn’t act exactly like we think a woman should act!!!!!” (The Internet throws a temper tantrum.)

There are too many accusations against Taylor for me to even begin to defend them point by point, and trying to justify her actions suggests that they need defending from indefensible personal attacks. The sheer volume of hate suggests that she’s now evil and nasty enough to date Loki himself and not just Tom Hiddleston.

However, I will say this: Feminism helps women to craft their own unique stories—not perfect stories, but stories that are just as valuable as the stories of men. Sexism tries to silence women and stop them from having these stories. It belittles women to the point where they only have worth within the context of what stereotypical men (and those strange, self-hating women who believe that men matter more) want and value. In other words, sexism doesn’t like to give women credit.

No one has to like Taylor Swift as a person or a musician. However, there is a vast difference between dislike and hate.

If you are attacking her because you don’t like the way she lives her sexual/romantic life, you are a sexist. Male serial daters are everywhere, yet somehow shaming men for how many women they date or how quickly they move on has never been part of the conversation.

If you are attacking her because you don’t like how she explores her emotional truth as an artist, you are a sexist. Again, male artists repeatedly mine their relationships with loved ones, friends, and foes for artistic fodder, and people celebrate their work.

If you are attacking her because she stopped letting a man control part of her professional story as a songwriter, you are a sexist. Men have been taking credit from women and discrediting those women who dare to assert their authorship—whether the work is a song or a slide set—since the dawn of time.

If you feel the need to take down Taylor Swift for her actions and you’ve never bothered to take down a man for those same actions, YOU ARE A SEXIST.

“It’s Twitter/Tumblr/Facebook/Instagram/whatever. I have every right to express my own opinion.”

Of course. But online sexism—online hate—has a trickle-down effect, infecting our daily lives and the lives of those around us. Just like you can pay good deeds forward, you can pay bad ones forward too.  And you will remain a sexist.


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