TAYLOR SWIFT VS. ED SHEERAN
If you think about it, musicians Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran are extremely similar. They are both singer-songwriters, they both write about their relationships and they both make absolute smash hits with bridges that should grant them honorary degrees in architecture. Basically, their only differences are their nationalities and their genders.
And yet, even though they both draw on their love lives to help fuel their art, when Ed’s Don’t is blasted in a room it is mostly greeted with sing-alongs and foot taps by middle aged mums. However, when Taylor’s I Knew You Were Trouble is played, some people just can’t help but roll their eyes and cry ‘attention-seeker’.
There’s no denying that public commentary around Taylor Swift has very much been, ‘she goes through lots of men and pumps out as many songs in the process’.
Back in 2014, the Fearless singer told 2DayFM, “People are gonna say ‘Oh… she just writes songs about her ex-boyfriend.’ And I think, frankly, that’s a very sexist angle to take. No one says that about Ed Sheeran. No one says that about Bruno Mars. They’re all writing songs about their exes, their current girlfriends, their love life, and no one raises a red flag there.”
And although we may like to think we’ve progressed since Taylor voiced this very valid opinion, every now and again this problematic rhetoric comes creeping out of the woods (no pun intended).
Just last month, the Netflix show Ginny & Georgia took a stab at the Folklore singer, with a character actually voicing the line. “What do you care? You go through men faster than Taylor Swift”.
Taylor, of course, wasn’t taking that jab lying down and headed to Twitter to respond to the tactless script writing.
"Hey Ginny & Georgia, 2010 called and it wants its lazy, deeply sexist joke back," she tweeted.
"How about we stop degrading hard working women by defining this horse sh*t as FuNnY. Also, @netflix after Miss Americana this outfit doesn't look cute on you 💔 Happy Women's History Month I guess."
And the Lover singer isn’t just fighting these sexist battles on Twitter, she’s also written a feminist anthem called The Man which, we cannot stress enough, is the perfect song to blast if you’re ever on an angry run.
The lyrics read: “I’m so sick of running as fast as I can,” - yes, the irony is not lost on us - “Wondering if I’d get there quicker if I was a man… ‘Cause if I was a man, then I’d be the man.” Damn straight, Tay Tay.
SERENA WILLIAMS VS. MALE TENNIS PLAYERS
If you’re an avid tennis watcher, you’re sure to have witnessed a player smash a racket out of frustration every now and then.
Australian player Nick Kyrgios, for example, is known for… let’s just say… making it known when he’s not happy. He has thrown a chair, smashed rackets and yelled curse words at the umpire on multiple occasions.
While many tennis fans have merely accepted that this is Kyrgios’ ‘thing’, American player Serena Williams has not been afforded the same luxury.
Back in 2018, Serena was competing against Japan’s Naomi Osaka in the US Open tournament. During the game, the umpire, Carlos Ramos, penalised Serena for her coach “coaching” her during the game which, for some reason, isn’t allowed in tennis? Like, sweetie, what’s their pay-check for then?
After Serena lost the next exchange, she threw her racket down in frustration and broke it. A move like this would usually garner a warning; however, because of the earlier penalty for coaching, Serena was hit with a very rare point penalty.
The tennis legend then requested the umpire apologise to her for insinuating that she cheated, and for stealing a point from her. The umpire did neither but rather awarded Serena with a game penalty for what he deemed “verbal abuse”.
At this point, Serena said to Carlos, “Do you know how many other men do things that are much worse than that? This is not fair. There’s a lot of men out here who have said a lot of things and because they are men — that doesn’t happen to them. This is unbelievable. … Because I’m a woman, you’re going to take this away from me?”
The following year, the Herald Sun published a cartoon of the events that took place during the tournament. It depicted Serena jumping up and down on a tennis racket. The umpire Carlos and her opponent Naomi could be seen in the background, a speech bubble protruding from the umpire’s mouth which read “Can you just let her win?”.
The cartoon garnered a lot of claims of racism and sexism. Not only did the public liken the depiction of Serena to dehumanising Jim Crow caricatures, they also pointed out that Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka had been completely white-washed in the image.
"Specifically, concern was expressed that the cartoon depicted Ms Williams with large lips, a broad flat nose, a wild afro-styled ponytail hairstyle different to that worn by Ms Williams during the match, and positioned in an ape-like pose," the Australian Press Council said of the cartoon at the time.
The artist, Mark Knight, denied that his depiction was racist, and some people online even defended the portrayal, one user tweeting, “Serena acted like a baby and he drew a crying baby”.
But, the thing is, male sports players throw tantrums all the time without receiving the same backlash. In fact, when they do it, it’s often seen as passion for the game that should be applauded. Yet, when Serena broke her racket and pleaded her case with the umpire, significantly calmer than male players before her have done, she was labelled a “crying baby”. You just can't deny the double standards at play there.
GIRLBANDS VS. BOYBANDS
Do you remember back in 2018 when Ed Sheeran and Beyoncé performed together at the Global Citizens Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa? Queen Bey entered the stage looking like she was chairing the Met Gala while the Shape Of You singer looked like he had just strolled out of the pub.
The costume clashes sparked a lot of controversy at the time, with many people pointing out the discrepancy when it comes to what is expected of female performers and what is expected of male performers.
Consider the boyband One Direction – guys, we hate to break it to you, we think their hiatus wasn’t really a hiatus. Those boys would constantly run onto stages wearing jeans and t-shirts with no choreography to their name - which is totally fine, go off kings! We mean no tea and no shade, Midnight Memories was a cultural reset.
The media certainly didn’t have a problem with their approach, even heralding the group for being “different to other boybands”. They were truly the “pick me boyband” we all adored.
But compare them to girlbands; Little Mix, Fifth Harmony, the Spice Girls, Pussycat Dolls and more. If you watch their live performances, you will see each member dressed to the nines, often in full glam, performing highly polished dance routines. If they rocked up on stage à la One Direction in jeans and t-shirts with no choreography, you can guarantee the media would slam them for it.
JULIA GILLARD VS. MALE AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTERS
(AKA: Julia Gillard vs. Every Australian Prime Minister)
Australia’s first, and so far only, female Prime Minister Julia Gillard was at the receiving end of a tidal wave of media scrutiny during her time as PM.
While our current Prime Minister Scott Morrison (Scomo) has been under fire for his handling of the recent sexual assault allegations, the backlash has been purely for the tone-deaf things he has said. Like beyond tone deaf. Seriously, he should have consulted his wife Jenny before every press conference.
But how much commentary have you seen on the clothes he wears? (Except perhaps for a few references to some Hawaiian shirts if you know what we mean). Where’s the slander for the tone of his voice? Or what about the way he walks? We’ll wager a guess it will be hard to find.
Yet comments scrutinising what Julia Gillard wore, the way she spoke, and the way she walked dominated the media when she was piloting our country. And this criticism was on top of the usual backlash politicians receive for their policies. Ahh, ever so generous, Australia.
Focusing on these attributes when it comes to a female leader but not caring so much when it’s a man in charge? Congrats sexism, you’ve done it again.
Heck, even the Leader of the Opposition at the time, Tony Abbott, was guilty of treating the Prime Minister differently to male politicians.
We’ll let Julia and her iconic 2012 misogyny speech take the reins on this one.
Standing up in parliament, Julia called Tony out for his sexist behaviour in what has since been voted the most unforgettable Australian TV moment.
“I was offended too by the sexism, by the misogyny of the Leader of the Opposition catcalling across this table at me as I sit here as Prime Minister, “If the Prime Minister wants to, politically speaking, make an honest woman of herself…”, something that would never have been said to any man sitting in this chair.” Julia told her fellow politicians.
“I was offended when the Leader of the Opposition went outside in the front of Parliament and stood next to a sign that said “Ditch the witch.” I was offended when the Leader of the Opposition stood next to a sign that described me as a man's bitch. I was offended by those things.
“The Leader of the Opposition says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynists are not appropriate for high office. Well I hope the Leader of the Opposition has got a piece of paper and he is writing out his resignation. Because if he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn't need a motion in the House of Representatives, he needs a mirror.”
Period Queen, you tell him! But, of course, the man at the receiving end of that iconic call-out went on to be the Prime Minister of Australia. Figures.
JANET JACKSON VS. JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE
If you’re wondering why pop sensation Justin Timberlake’s name is brought up every year during the Super Bowl – America’s NFL championship game – here’s why.
In 2004, musicians Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake performed at the coveted gig that is the Super Bowl halftime show.
During the performance, the pair sang JT’s smash hit Rock Your Body. At the end of the number, as Justin sang the line, “I’ll have you naked by the end of this song”, he ripped a part of Janet’s top and exposed her nipple to the crowd and the viewers at home. Believe us when we say that you have never seen a camera pan so fast.
The incident was later classed as a wardrobe malfunction, but no amount of PR was enough to withhold the swarm of backlash the singers received. No, sorry, that Janet Jackson received. Justin Timberlake barely got a slap on the wrist and he went on to headline his own Super Bowl halftime show in 2017.
Meanwhile, Janet was forced to release a written statement and a video apology; she was not allowed to attend the Grammy awards the following month – bearing in mind that not only was Justin allowed to attend, he was asked to perform there – she was also blacklisted from multiple radio stations which made it impossible to promote her music, causing her eighth Studio album Damita Jo to be one of her worst selling albums.
Our blood is boiling at the double standards.
CAPTAIN MARVEL VS. MALE SUPERHEROES
Yes, we know Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) is a fictional character but even in an alternate universe, women just can’t seem to catch a break.
Captain Marvel, a film starring actress Brie Larson, was released in 2019 and, from some of the reviews we’ve read, it seems that, given the ability, many viewers would have readily snapped their fingers like Thanos so that the female superhero would disappear entirely.
Marvel fans across the globe called the character “arrogant”. But their criticisms were oh-so-hypocritical when you learned that the lines they were rolling their eyes at were similar to quotes also said by male superheroes. So where were the cries of “arrogance” then, huh?
TikToker @jkevinparker has proven this point perfectly by showing side-by-side clips of Captain Marvel and the other Avengers.
The user captioned the video, “Women are told they aren’t confident – then when they show confidence, they get told they are too arrogant. But men who show the same energy get praised. This is a double standard!”
He then shared a clip of Captain Marvel saying she was “on her way to kill Thanos” and, when the other Avengers voiced their doubts, asserting “before, you didn’t have me”.
Apparently, this overt portrayal of confidence was too much for some to take. And yet, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before.
Indeed, the TikTok went on to show clips of Ironman deem himself “the best”, Thor label himself the “strongest Avenger” and Spiderman claim he was busy doing someone else’s job for them.
All of these lines are on par with Captain Marvel’s display of self-assuredness – so why is her character deemed arrogant while the male superheroes are revered? Say it with us… sexism.
It cannot be clearer that the bar is so firmly on the floor for men while it is chilling next to Jupiter for women. But while this discrepancy makes us want to curl up into a pessimistic ball, we are attempting to focus our attention on the queens who are calling this behaviour out.
From Serena identifying sexism in sport, to Julia Gillard’s iconic misogyny speech, conversations are starting to be had, conversations which are crucial to – slowly but surely – fostering change.
P.S. Piers Morgan, Meghan’s never going to text you back, it’s time to move on babe xx