Anonymous says…: A directory of problematic terminology.
Here follows a brief list of words, which seem to recur with alarming frequency in messages which are sent to kaylor shippers. If anyone wants to add to this, please do.
For educational purposes, (I‘m feeling charitable), I have included a précis of why each term might be considered inappropriate or troublesome. (In large part problems arise from the context in which they are used and not the words themselves.)
Accuse (and cognates): (verb.) to charge with an offence or crime
Example of usage: ‘stop accusing Taylor of dating her best friend’ ‘stop accusing Taylor of being gay.’
Yes, Taylor did use the term in that one tweet, but that does not justify its constant misappropriation. The (b)latent homophobia which is signalled by the phrase ‘accuse of being gay,’ cannot be ignored. Being gay (or any other orientation for that matter) is not wrong, just as it is not a stain on Taylor’s character to believe that she is, or wish her to identify as, non-straight.
Fan: (noun.) A person with a strong interest in or admiration for a particular person or thing. Derived from ‘fanatic.’
E.g. ‘If you were a fan…’ ‘You call yourself a fan but…’ etc.
Here, I think it’s worth asking what constitutes fandom and who gets to decide, whether an individual qualifies for membership? The answer, as far as I am concerned, is no-one – if a person chooses to label themselves a Swiftie, then that is what they are. There are no rules.
Fake: (adjective.) not genuine
E.g. 'Taylor would never be involved in a fake relationship’ ‘But that would mean all her songs were fake…’
Synonyms: Liar, manipulative, fame-whore, generally horrible person (I could go on…)
There are several problems with this:
1) It fails to recognise the complexities of human relationships – if Taylor’s public association with various individuals did not in private fulfil the conditions of a romance, this emphatically does not mean that there was no sense of fellowship or mutual admiration between the parties involved. They would not have been meaningless exercises, because they did not conform to your expectations of them.
2) It misunderstands the artistic process. (I’m basically just going to quote another post of mine verbatim):
The hallmark of a true artist is the ability to transpose a feeling from its original context to another where it has equal or even greater force. If the lyrics of a song cannot in reality be matched to any single public relationship, this does not make the emotion which inspired it and which it communicates any less valid. Nor, does it detract significantly from the credibility of Taylor’s oeuvre as works of art.
3) It is incredibly naïve - to insist that Taylor never lies is frankly ridiculous; everyone lies and Taylor, despite the best efforts of some to deify her, is very definitely human.
4) It is completely insensitive to the reasons why Taylor might feel the need to lie about a part of her identity. Society makes it difficult enough as it is to express yourself, if you fail to conform to its narrow definitions of sexuality and gender, without certain people feeling the need to tell you exactly what you should and should not be.
5) The idea that lying would make Taylor a despicable person or somehow unworthy of praise is preposterous (not to mention hypocritical). That is, of course, unless we have suddenly and inexplicably been transported to some alternate reality in which everyone is a paragon of virtue…
Freak: (noun.) a person who is abnormal
E.g. 'you disgusting freak’ ‘stop saying that Karlie and Taylor are girlfriends, you freak’
Synonyms: kaylor shipper, basically anyone who dares to suggest that Taylor may not be straight or is not straight themselves.
Again, this is unmistakeably homophobic; being queer might make you part of a minority, but it does not make you ‘abnormal’ - heterosexuality is not the default. It also demonstrates a complete inability to understand, let alone accept, that people might not only have differing opinions, but that those opinions are equally valid. A failure to agree with the popular narrative does not make you ‘a freak,’ if anything it simply suggests someone with an independent mind and a (healthy) sense of perspective.
(It might be worth remembering that Taylor has herself said in the past that she does not want a fan-base of sycophantic worshippers.)
Idol: (noun.) an inanimate object of worship
E.g. 'you really think your idol would…’
Synonyms: literal queen, perfect human
I accept that this term has come to be used colloquially to mean someone who is admired, a role model. I would contend however that the way in which it is applied and the self-righteous zeal which accompanies it suggests that in many cases it is still conceptually inseparable from (an almost religious) fanaticism.
Taylor might be a wonderful human being, but that is all she is. She is not a god. She is not perfect. She makes mistakes and that’s okay. Pretending that she doesn’t however is potentially damaging not just for her, but more importantly for your own self-esteem.
So, yes - I do think my ‘idol’ would, I expect it even, and mostly I don’t blame her for it, because human beings are infinitely complicated.
Taylor Swift: (noun.) an adorable and occasionally problematic cupcake.
E.g. 'Taylor Swift would never lie’ ‘Taylor Swift is absolutely one hundred per cent heterosexual’
Synonyms: princess, normal American girl (one of a pair)…
This isn’t directed at Taylor herself so much as it is against the image of ‘Taylor’ which anonymous posters like to invoke as a catch-all defence against anything they feel threatens their conceit of the world.
I’m going to quote 22, because it seems appropriate - ‘who even is Taylor Swift anyway?’
Despite the aura of approachability, which she cultivates, it is impossible to know definitely, how exactly the persona Taylor Swift, public figures corresponds to Taylor Swift, private individual.
(Quoting myself again, because why not?):
In many ways Taylor’s whole public life might be construed as a theatrical performance. That is not to say that ‘Taylor Swift’ is necessarily inauthentic but simply that she is only a very small part of the real Taylor Swift.
We are wear masks of some kind and to differing degrees, when we interact with others – it’s an extension of our instinct for self-preservation only to be truly ourselves among those whom we trust absolutely. For Taylor, this distinction must be more sharply defined than for many of us, if only because you can’t live your life entirely under a microscope without going mad; a few secrets are a necessary condition of sanity.
As such, the most any of us can ever really say is ‘Taylor Swift might be…’
Straight: (adjective.) (informal) heterosexual
E.g. 'Taylor is straight’ ‘You do know she’s straight’ ‘She’s dating a guy –she’s straight’
Synonyms: (allegedly) Taylor Swift
None of us can state with authority that Taylor does not/has never consider(ed) herself to be other than completely straight. (Nor can we confirm the opposite.)
Sexuality is not black and white – it’s not a simple case of being straight or gay; it exists on a spectrum. Thus that she is (ostensibly) dating a man does not prove that she is straight; similarly the fact that she has only publically ‘dated’ members of the opposite sex in the past. Indeed, even if she were to marry a man and/or never have any romantic encounters with a woman, it still wouldn’t mean that she was necessarily straight: behaviour is NOT the same as orientation.