Originally published on independent.ie
Kim Kardashian and Taylor Swift’s long-running feud was reignited last week, when Kim posted a throwback photo of herself with a nude waxwork of Swift. The waxwork was created last year for a highly controversial music video of Kanye West, Kim’s husband. The record and video would create a bitter chasm between Kimye and Taylor – and their fans – for ever more.
Kim’s photo on Instagram was promptly flooded with thousands of rat emojis, as Swifties made their feelings known: Kim is a rat. Meanwhile, the online hand-wringing from those not particularly affiliated with either celeb began in earnest. “Why can’t women support each other?!?” they shouted into the abyss.
For those who don’t live on the comments section of Mail Online, the beef started back in 2009 at the MTV VMAs ceremony. Fresh-faced and wide-eyed 19-year-old breakout artist Taylor Swift was accepting Best Video award for You Belong with Me. Kanye Went, in a decision which changed the course of pop-culture history forever, climbed on stage and took the mic from her to announce, “I’mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.”
Kanye apologised, then repeatedly retracted his apologies in the years following. To be fair, Beyoncé DID have one of the best videos of all time. Kanye went on to marry Kim Kardashian and appear in pally red-carpet photographs with Taylor; she presented him with his Video Vanguard Award at the 2015 VMAs. All seemed well. Then, 2016 saw the release of Kanye’s record, Famous, the video of which featured the likenesses of many naked celebrities (including Taylor) in bed with the rapper, as well as the line, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous.”
This is where it all kicked off. Taylor and her management forcefully condemned the song, and denied Kanye’s insistence that he’d okayed it with her beforehand.
Enter Kim, the internet’s patron saint of ‘keeping the receipts’, who uploaded a video of the conversation between Taylor and Kanye in which Swift can be heard saying, “I mean it’s like a compliment, kind of… go with whatever line you think is better. It’s obviously very tongue in cheek either way. And I really appreciate you telling me about it, that’s really nice.”
Taylor’s Instagram was soon swamped with snake emojis in reference to her perceived sneaky behaviour. It is true that there’s no evidence to suggest that Taylor knew she’d be referred to as ‘that bitch’, or that she signed off on the naked model of herself in the video. Taylor accused Kim of launching a character assassination; the world grabbed its popcorn.
People soon found something new to tweet about, so Kim’s gleeful shit-stirring on Instagram last week sort of came out of the blue. At this point, it’s clear that the Kim/Taylor beef is nothing to do with Kim and Taylor; it’s been hijacked as a cautionary feminist tale of the perils of women who are mean to other women. 2017 has been the year of celebrity feminism. It has seen the movement of women’s fight for equality diluted down to a homoeopathic feminist placebo of vague apolitical ‘supporting women’ and ‘loving yourself’.
When Tina Fey and Amy Poehler poked fun at Taylor’s dating life at the 2013 Golden Globes, Swift invoked Madeleine Albright’s quote about enabling women to succeed in male-dominated politics, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
A baffled Tina Fey commented, “It was just a joke, and I think it was actually a very benign joke.” Amy Poehler’s deliciously patronising response was, “Aw, I feel bad if she was upset. I am a feminist and she is a young and talented girl. That being said, I do agree I am going to hell. But for other reasons. Mostly boring tax stuff.”
Presumably they’ve been around long enough to know that girls being uncritically nice to all other girls will not dismantle the patriarchy.
When Katy Perry was questioned about her conflict with (of course) Taylor Swift, she took a similar line as her foe, “I think personally that women together – not divided and none of this petty bullshit – women together will heal the world.”
Feminism doesn’t mean that female comedians can’t laugh at (completely absurd) female celebrities. Feminism doesn’t mean that Kim and Taylor have to be friends. While I don’t condone Kim’s dissemination of Taylor’s naked body, I kind of have a grudging respect for the fact that she loudly and proudly dislikes another woman. Because that’s OK. In a culture hell-bent on insincerity, it’s nice to have a dose of truth now and then. Removing the right to think Taylor Swift is a bit rubbish is not what Emily Davison threw herself under the King’s horse for.
Rita Ora fell foul of the sisterhood last week too; the singer posted a picture of Conor McGregor with the caption ‘date night’ and, in a mass sense of humour failure, was slammed online. The problem was that she ‘disrespected’ Dee Devlin, McGregor’s partner of eight years and the mother of his child. I almost can’t believe that Ora’s people had to release a statement spelling out that “Date night is a figure of speech, Rita also posted selfies with Donatella Versace as her real date and one with Jourdan Dunn as her date.”
Never mind that Rita Ora isn’t single herself. Never mind that Dee Devlin almost certainly couldn’t have cared less. I credit her with more cop-on than the legions of weirdly over-protective fans leaping to her defence in the name of sisterhood. Perhaps they’d be more in their line to talk to McGregor, the man showering strippers with bank notes in London, about respect. The other night he grabbed the microphone in nightclub Cirque Le Soir to shout: “What’s up, Rita Ora?” Yet Rita is the she-devil.
As a woman, I’d like to reserve the right to support whoever the hell I want. I’d like to think I’m not going to a special place in hell because I think Taylor Swift can be a knob and that Rita Ora didn’t do anything wrong.
Obsessing over women liking every single other woman is not only pointless, it’s distracting. This unexamined celeb feminism-lite is turning people off ideas that are truly important. Don’t worry about Dee or Taylor or Beyoncé’s feelings.
They’re grand. We’ve got bigger fish to fry.