When news broke a couple days ago that Taylor Swift broke up with boyfriend Calvin Harris, the internet brimmed with snark: How long until she sings about this breakup? Swift’s lyrics have long been criticized and trivialized, reducing her to a boy crazy one note.
Today, People Magazine posts a headline: 8 Breakup Albums by Male Artists That Didn’t Earn Them as Much of a Rep as Taylor Swift with a list including musicians generally regarded as geniuses and poets: Bob Dylan,Willie Nelson, Elvis Costello, Marvin Gaye, Frank Sinatra, and Kanye West. Guess what? All those dudes wrote about break ups multiple times in multiple albums like most artists do.
I am so fucking sick of women artists being relegated to “confessional” or “chick lit.” It starts when kids are young, babies, in the whole “just for girls” “special interest” category of children’s media. Literally, from birth, we train kids that stories about girls are not important, are less interesting, are less than. I can’t tell you how many parents have responded to me, when I tell them about this blog: “Oh, I don’t have to worry about that, I have boys.” Yes, mom and dad, you do have to worry about that. It’s up to you to seek out media for your kids– your kids— with female protagonists. It’s up to you to avoid inundating your child’s imagination with narratives and images that repeatedly teach that females belong on the sidelines. And even if you work your ass off to show your children alternatives, they’re still going to suck up gender stereotypes which are literally everywhere. So try. Try harder. Change the world, don’t be a bystander. I’m going off on a tangent. The point of this blog was an optimistic one, to congratulate People Magazine. I wrote almost the exact blog People did today on Reel Girl, years ago. The Bob Dylan song I cited wasn’t “Don’t Think Twice” but “Idiot Wind.” There are scores to choose from. Ask yourself: What can you do today to support women artists?