This article starts off with a confession of mine : I am a Taylor Swift fan. Yes, I grant you a moment to let this revelation sink in.
You’re finished? Great.
So let’s move on to the actual topic of this article. Here’s a question for you: Why is it that women like Taylor Swift, who appear to be seeing a string of guys, but without any knowledge about their actual relationship status, are insulted and called names, whereas male lotharios such as John Mayer or Jake Gyllenhaal are hailed as chick magnets, womanisers, and heroes without negative connotations? What strikes me is the fact that most tabloid journalists writing these scathing reviews are women, and many females criticize and insult those women who date around. And I ask myself: Are they simply jealous, desperate, or disappointed with their own love lives? Followed up by: But shouldn’t us women stick together? Despite the feminist movement’s attempts for women to be regarded just as serious and intelligent as men, there seems to be an ongoing completely illogical rivalry and jealousy between females, particularly between those who date around and those who always seem to come out at the short end. Quite ridiculous if you ask me. I don’t want to make any generalizations here but you can’t deny that most women still compare their relationships with those of other women. Men might do so too, you say.
Nevertheless here’s the major difference between women and men: When men compare each other they want to win by having more (former) lovers than their ‘opponents’, and they pat the ‘winner’ on the back. However, when women do so, and one lady seems to be seeing more guys than the other, the ‘defeated’ lady defends her smaller number by saying ‘well, at least that shows I’m not a slut’ (or maybe she’s not saying but thinking it for the sake of the ‘friendship’).
Is the idea that women are supposed to be pure and limit their number of relationships still intact? I do think so. We have not yet reached the point where womens and mens’ relationships are at the same level. In spite of feminist movements over the last few decades, large parts of our society hold on to the puritanical belief in chaste women who have to wait, and refrain from meeting, dating, and loving more than one guy (a year?). But why is that? And why do we still not criticize men’s consumer behaviour when it comes to the opposite sex? In contrast, a high number of past relationships and lovers seem to render men even more attractive!
In my opinion, the media should be particularly blamed for this never-ending debate on female and male relationships. The media (whereby I’m referring to tabloids, books, music, and film in particular) spreads the dangerous and explicitly outrageous idea that women should restrict and limit their choices in men, because people (especially the male species) are going to regard them as being of less value on the basis of their count of former relationships. On the other hand, why does the media turn a male dater into a desirable bachelor?
If Taylor Swift sings about heartbreak and it becomes a hit, people even start sympathizing with the subject and ‘victimize’ the guy that the song is about. Yet most of the music industry’s male artists owe their success to (now) famous love songs about past lovers, take Ed Sheeran, Train, Bryan Adams, Aerosmith, Coldplay, or James Blunt, just to name a few, as examples. No ‘victimization’ going on there.
If Taylor Swift meets guys, there seems to be an archive of generic headlines following the pictures (‘She’s at it again!’, ‘New Song Material’, etc.), mocking her (innate) desire to meet people of the opposite sex.
On top of that, the media even judges innocent get-togethers and interprets them as ‘dates’ without knowing anything about the actual relationship between the two people. Yes, there might be a romantic connection, but they could also be just friends or acquaintances meeting up for lunch or coffee. Either way, it damages the woman’s reputation.
If guys such as Jake Gyllenhaal, John Mayer, and the like, meet with women, the press starts speculating about their relationship status and tries to comfort all the women who will miss out on the opportunity of dating these, oh, so desirable guys.
And this is the major reason for my anger at the media and their depiction of relationships. They turn men into victims who did not choose to be admired by women and who are in no way responsible for the array of dates they go on, and the plethora of hearts they break. And in a twist of events it is all of a sudden the woman’s fault the relationship didn’t work out. However, if a woman is left heartbroken once again, the tabloids blame her past relationships: ‘She had it coming.’ ‘Look, what happened the last few times.’.
This is essentially not only a question of gender equality but also a matter of basic human rights. Women are not forced to restrict themselves to a certain number of guys by law, in contrast, they are allowed to meet as many people as they would like to. It is solely the society and especially the media who create this myth of the ideal woman. And the media does it in a way that is no longer justifiable, as it depicts women as the only ones to blame for break-ups and failures in their own (love) lives, in a humiliating manner that in no way respects women’s dignity.
So instead of commenting on women like Taylor Swift, on how many guys they are seeing and dating, we should stop minding someone else’s business, and focus on topics that are of higher global importance than people’s love lives.
Maria was listening to ‘Wildest Dreams’ and ‘Shake it off’ by Taylor Swift while writing this article.