Taylor Swift Keeps the Feminism Train Rolling with Her Perfect "Yeah, But..." Theory
Taylor Swift has been on the promotional grind in anticipation of her new album 1989. She is doing a ton of interviews and the sound bites have been making the rounds on the Internet. As usual, reporters are asking her about her romantic life, and in a recent interview with Esquire, Taylor Swift was asked, "Why do you think there's so much attention paid to your dating habits?" Swift had an interesting answer that really made me think: "I think with every celebrity story there has to be a 'Yeah, but...' Take Beyoncé: She's incredibly talented, gorgeous, perfect role model for girls, empowering women all over the world. Yeah, but... let's try to pick at her marriage. I think that every celebrity has that. And predominantly women, unfortunately."
Swift's "Yeah, but..." theory is pretty spot-on. She is a Grammy award-winning artist, yet we are all fixated on the two-week relationships that she has had with other celebrities. A lot of people would say she "asks for it" writing very personal songs about her previous boyfriends and friends. Pretty much every time a new Taylor Swift track comes out, we all ask who was that about? Which ex is she throwing shade at now? This speculation can even overshadow the actual song.
It's hard to say how much control Swift has over the media's questions given that she does keep writing songs about her actual life and relationships. But is the media latching on a little too hard to Swift sharing personal tidbits or has the artist set this up herself for publicity and more radio spins? That is the paradox I find myself wondering about. It's hard to know where to draw the line when it comes to talking about a star's personal life when she talks about her personal life for a living in songs.
But what it comes down to is that I agree with Swift's "Yeah, but..." idea. She does talk about her life in songs, but this does not need to be turned into a negative topic that keeps coming up — even outside of her interviews. Male artists talk about relationships in their songs as well, yet they are not as highly scrutinized for it. Swift is not the only female star plagued by the "yeah, but..." problem and at this point she is not going to be the last. Many models, actors, and singers are affected by this take down of female celebrities.
There was virtually no negative press about Beyoncé's personal life. Yeah, but... then her sister Solange lashed out at Jay Z in an elevator. Everyone wanted to know why her sister would be so aggressive with her husband and this lead people to speculate about the state of Beyonc é and Jay Z's marriage. People analyzed everything from their rings to changed song lyrics trying to form a conclusion about their relationship instead of focusing on their join musical tour.
Ariana Grande pretty much owned the summer. She had hit single after hit single and then she ended it by opening up the show MTV's Video Music Awards. She was absolutely killing the game. Yeah, but... there are so many rumors about her being a diva. She went from being the sweetheart with an amazing voice to getting overly criticized, misquoted, and gossiped about.
Kendall Jenner has been working hard to make it as a model, and she walked in shows for multiple fashion weeks this year all around the world. Yeah, but... she has a famous family. Would she even be working for these designers if she was not a Jenner? That's hard to say. Yes, I am sure that her last name gave her the spotlight, but I doubt that designers would risk using her if she was not talented or professional.
Jennifer Garner has been an actress for a long time, and a very successful one at that. Yeah but... she is also a mom. And many male actors are also dads, so I don't see the point of singling her out as a mother/actress instead of just an actress. In a speech about gender equality, Garner compared press interviews she did with those her husband Ben Affleck did on the same day: "I told him every single person who interviewed me — and I mean every single one... asked me: 'How do you balance work and family?'" And not a single person asked Affleck about it. As Garner points out, they have "the same family," yet people only asked her about this work/life balance.
It is sad that at this point artists who are so successful are still being referred to as female singers, female models, mother/actresses, etc. It takes away from their work and their achievements and this "Yeah, but..." mentality needs to stop. Taylor Swift does talk about relationships in her songs, but she should not be singled out for her personal life like so many other female celebrities. The focus should be on their work, end of story.
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