First, a quickie question answered. Buddhist vegetarianism (in my ignorant and probably incorrect understanding) is when it is rude to refuse a dish that has been prepared with meat in it but you don’t eat the meat. Like if your friend makes spaghetti with meatballs and serves you meatballs you just eat the rest of the sauce and noodles. If someone gives you chicken chow mein you eat everything but the chicken. But touching meat doesn’t make things off limits. That’s my understanding.
So my friend’s kid eats soup and rice made with chicken stock but he won’t eat any flesh; that’s what I mean.
Back to what I want to blog about. Problematic people. I’m going to give a hair of back story for context. My kids and I like Taylor Swift’s music. We don’t mostly follow her career or life. Part of what I like about TS’s music is that it is appropriate to listen to with kids. Much of my music is graphic sexually or involves a ton of swearing and I don’t let my kids listen to that. Excuse the expression, but TS is whitewashed and safe.
There is another singer out there named Nicki Minaj. I don’t listen to her all that much. Most of her music… isn’t stuff I want my kids repeating yet. Once my kids hit puberty and can understand why people sing about sex I won’t care. I like her music. But just like I don’t play many P!nk songs in front of my kids I don’t play much Nicki Minaj. I also don’t play songs like, “It’s Hard Out Here For A Bitch” or “It Gets Better”. My kids don’t need to hear about how they can grow up to swim through a pussy vault like Scrooge Fucking McDuck just yet.
Wait a few years.
So, Nicki posted on Twitter about her feelings about the video awards that somebody or other is doing. I really don’t pay attention. But I noticed that a singer I like was talking about her feelings about her position in a system that isn’t very equal to folks like her.
If it isn’t obvious already, Nicki is black.
So Taylor read what Nicki wrote, took it personally, and then there were dozens of pieces of writing produced for gossip bullshit magazines and websites talking about them having a fight.
Because a black woman talked about her feelings publicly and a white woman jumped up and acted like she was a victim.
That bothers the fuck out of me.
Ok, yes, Taylor has since apologized.
It’s all bullshit. None of this relates to me. This isn’t my problem. Except I was watching it happen in real time and I mentioned it to my 7 year old. She said, “Does this mean we should stop listening to Taylor’s music?”
Oh man. She told me to ask Twitter. I did. Some of my awesome friends had a little discussion with me. My friend’s husband pointed out that it really depends on how much you can separate the work of art from the artist.
I’m kinda shitty at that. I don’t watch Woody Allen movies. I will never watch Bill Cosby again.
But they are rapists. Is being a rapist worse than being a casual racist?
Oh man complicated.
As someone who has committed rape who is married to someone who has committed rape… why do I get to jump on that high horse? Why is that such a harsh line for me? Why am I acting like racism (especially the kind that isn’t THE PROBLEM–when we have cops regularly killing black citizens, Taylor Swift isn’t THE PROBLEM she is just a tiny cog in the system) is a bigger deal than rape?
I don’t know. But I kind of am. I’m not sure if it is because the Black Lives Matter stuff is coming to a head and it is a huge part of my awareness. I don’t know if it is because it is easier to get mad at women for stupid shit.
It is annoying that Taylor was pissy about a woman possibly creating issues between women when her music this year is about her feud with another woman. Get the fuck over yourself.
Should we refuse to listen to all Taylor Swift music from here on out? I don’t think I’ll do that.
I will continue to listen to the song Mean in full awareness of the layers of problems. Taylor isn’t the weaker man any more. She was weaker at one point in time. But from here on out in Taylor’s life there are very few people who have less structural power than her. She’s on the cover of magazines as one of the most influential people alive. She doesn’t get to act like the under dog any more. But no one ever wants to give up on that self perception.
I listen to that song to remind myself that I’m not the under dog any more either. From here on out… I’m the more powerful person in many if not most interactions.
That’s hard to internalize and really believe. I’m just a piece of white trash… right?
No. Not really. I’m a rich bitch. I’m privileged as fuck.
At this point in time and forever more in the future I have to be more careful with my words. I’m not the kid any more. I’m not the victim any more. If I attack people… I’m the bully. I don’t get to think that I’m the victim now.
That’s fucking complicated. That relates to the home school group and the throat kick shit.
Even if something bad happened to me… I’m not a victim any more. Not really.
That part of my life is over. I could still be victimized, but it will take more effort at this point.
I feel like an asshole because I don’t want to give up this one damn song. I don’t want to give up the reminder to myself.
I need to be careful. Or I’m going to end up being the one who is mean and all alone. I’m not sure that is what Taylor intended folks in my position to get from it.
Taylor needs to be careful that she doesn’t become the bully. The half assed apology she gave to Nicki is not enough.
Not once you have that kind of power. Just like I don’t get to pretend I don’t have power at this point.
I haven’t researched every musician I like. I’m sure many of them are racist shitbags. Should I punish the shit out of Taylor because she was dumb enough to fuck up where I could see it? That’s what it kind of feels like.
I worry about treating some people really harshly for having an opinion I don’t like and giving other people a complete pass just because I’m ignorant of them having the same problematic opinion.
In the end, I’m a problematic person. Not as much as Bill Cosby, say, but I also haven’t done as much good for the world as that man has done.
How do you figure out the balance?