THE BLOG

What I Have Learned From Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift

24/07/2015 17:44 BST | Updated 24/07/2016 10:59 BST

Literally nobody on the internet said anything about the exchange between Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift so I guess it's up to me to fill that cyber-void. I've deconstructed all the buzz on the whole bruhaha so you don't have to. Here's what I have learned:

Feminism is intersectional, whether we get it or not.

Swifty made it about feminism, but she didn't seem to get intersectionality. Feminism is simple, despite all the chatter. Intersectionality just means oppression/discrimination that is experienced through combined social constructs. (E.g. I do not experience sexism in the same way as a black woman because I am white. Her race and gender are so bound together that her experience of sexism reinforces that of racism, and vice versa.) Taylor didn't demonstrate an understanding of intersectionality, she put herself in the discussion whilst ignoring the very real issue of racism in the media. Some would say this ignorance is fairly typical of the insular, white, western feminist movement. This may well be true, but feminism is intersectional, because it's simply the equality of the sexes, that's all. My feminism will be intersectional, or it will not be feminism. The problem isn't feminism, the problem is us.

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Tay, like me, needs to check her privilege.

Because Swifty didn't seem to understand intersectionality, she didn't check her privilege. Rookie error. This basically means she is white and thin and able-bodied and rich and straight and white again, so the world she inhabits is hers for the taking, hence the VMA nomination. Nicki, on the other hand, recognises the world she inhabits is racist, so no nomination. If you are not sure whether you have white privilege, it's easy: go to a mirror - are you white? If so then you have white privilege. It's so important that we all grow up and recognise that it is not a 'tantrum' for Nicki to point out that performers such as Taylor appropriate black culture whilst enjoying the success that the white media brings her. (I rap, so cultural appropriation is something I need discussed.) To frame this as a 'spat' undermines the issue of racism, which is a less comfortable topic, but lies at the heart of what Minaj was trying to highlight. Nicki made it clear that it was not personal, and indeed Swift could/should use her considerable platform to highlight this issue too, but in order for Tay to understand, she needs to recognise her white privilege.

But that's nuance, and people don't like nuance.

We need to boycott misogynist media.

It's difficult to imagine this happening with men, (despite Bruno Mars' lame tweets to Ed Sheeran) because misandry doesn't surreptitiously pervade every corner of our culture. However, if it did, it would be appropriately discussed and not given the narrative of a 'cat-fight'. Hey, magazines, stop it. These same magazines obsess over women's bodies and make me feel like my soul is dying. (I'm going to stop reading them because I've been meaning to stop thinking of myself as flesh-and-hair-that-is-not-as-good-as-Meghan-Fox's-flesh-and-hair and instead as an actual person with ideas.)

Nothing has changed.

Misogyny in the media is pervasive and damaging and you already know that. Nicki Minaj called out the racism of white skinny beauty standards, but regardless of your race, if you're a woman you gotta be sexy and have a bangin' body. Ed Sheeran is nominated for a VMA but he hasn't had to be sexualised. Ed doesn't have to have a bangin' body because he's a man. Taylor, Nicki, Rihanna, Beyonce, Katy Perry - all these women are hyper-sexualised and applauded primarily for the way they look. Nicki Minaj is an incredible rapper. She is not her arse. Taylor Swift is a mega successful pop star. She is not her legs. The company who own MTV (and therefore the VMA's) is called Viacom. Of the board of directors at Viacom, only three out of thirteen of them are women. At Fox, only two out of twelve are women. That ratio is matched in boardrooms across the media sector. These male-dominated formats shape what we see on our screens. Judging women on the way they look and not what they do is telling women that their image is their worth. Now that the hatchet is buried, maybe Taylor and Nicki could address that.