This week Taylor Swift tweeted her frustration at the new Netflix show Ginny & Georgia for what she called “a lazy, deeply sexist joke” at her expense. The scene in question involves an argument between the titular characters in which the daughter tells her mother, “You go through men faster than Taylor Swift.”
Swift called out the streaming service for “degrading hard-working women” and accused them of hypocrisy as they also released the singer’s 2020 documentary, Miss Americana. So why does one joke in a new sitcom warrant such backlash? The sinister side of these digs at Swift’s expense has been a problem for years, and the issue goes much deeper than Ginny & Georgia.
The same jokes about Taylor Swift being a serial romantic have been overused by the media since she first found fame. Her love life has always been in the spotlight, but only recently have the double standards in the entertainment industry really come to light. Most of the time, pop music is about love and relationships. Ed Sheeran writes about love. Justin Bieber writes about love. So why is Taylor Swift accused of being a maneater, and these men can go about their business? It’s a question Swift herself raised in 2019’s The Man, where she imagines how she would be treated by the media if she were a man.
The argument that it’s “just a joke” breaks down further when you take a long look at this representation of Swift. Ginny & Georgia has chosen to put forward an image of the singer that was created by the media instead of seeing her as a woman who has worked hard for everything she has. And is this Taylor who goes through men at an alarming speed the same Taylor that has been in a committed relationship for several years now? Of course, her relationship status is no reason to assign her more worth, but it goes to show that strong women will attract criticism no matter what they do.
Netflix hasn’t made any statement in response to Swift’s rebuke. The streaming service has been behind shows like Grace and Frankie, Dear White People and One Day At A Time, and yet they had no qualms over this misogynistic joke at the expense of an artist who they celebrated in a documentary just last year. To add insult to injury, this has all happened in the lead up to International Women’s Day. At a time when the media should be lifting up women’s voices, it has instead settled for cheap digs at a successful woman who has been mocked like this for over a decade.
It’s time to stop making fun of women for their behaviour: sexual, romantic, or otherwise. It’s 2021, and it seems like every time we think we can stop having this endless conversation, another lazy joke appears and reminds us of the judgement we face every day. Taylor Swift is right to stand up for herself – as she has also had to do over the ownership of her own music – and she’s setting an example to girls everywhere that they should hold the media responsible for their treatment of women in the spotlight.
Image courtesy of Raphael Lovaski.