July 21, 2024

The manosphere has Taylor Swift Derangement Syndrome

Poor Taylor Swift. The pop star is a billionaire and one of the most successful people on the planet. She has an army of devoted fans who happily bankrupt themselves to follow her record tours around the world. A German city only temporarily renamed itself Swiftkirchen to her credit. The Federal Reserve credited her for promote economy. And yet, when it comes to the most important measures of success, Taylor is a tragic failure: she is an elderly, unmarried animal who has not brought a child into this world.

This is the opinion of John Mac Ghlionn: a man no one has ever heard of. In a recent op-ed for NewsweekGhlionn argued that Swift is a terrible role model for women because “at 34, Swift remains single and childless… While Swift’s musical talent and business acumen are certainly admirable, even laudable, we have to ask whether her personal life choices are the ones we we want sisters and daughters to follow.”

The opinion of one random man in an obvious rage bait article published by a dying magazine wouldn’t normally be worth wasting oxygen on. However, this extraordinarily misogynistic piece is noteworthy because it is the manosphere’s toxic obsession with Swift. Ghlionn’s article came hot on the heels of a tweet by the infamous Andrew Tate blasting Swift for being 34 and single. Tate called Swift “antique” and asked: “If you’re a girl, why even live past 30 unless you have kids?” There’s nothing insecure men love more than trying to knock successful women down a peg or two.

Swift’s success isn’t the only reason her right-wing men are frothing at the mouth. Her politics also play a role. For a while, you see, the real Swift loved. After all, she is the embodiment of heteronormative ideals: a blond-haired, blue-eyed, ultra-feminine white woman dating an all-American football player. Andrew Anglin, the author of the white supremacist blog the Daily Stormer, called Swift a “pure Aryan goddess” at one point, claiming she was “secretly a Nazi and simply waiting for the time when Donald Trump makes it safe for her to come out and announce her Aryan agenda to the world”.

In 2020, Swift broke many neo-Nazi hearts when she mentioned white supremacy repulsive and Biden/Harris endorsed. The right quickly turned on their former goddess and she became the object of numerous conspiracy theories. Earlier this year, for example, a poll found that a massive 18% of Americans believe Swift is part of a “secret government effort” to re-elect Joe Biden. The right hates her because she is successful, but also because she refused to be part of their political agenda.

Ghlionn’s Newsweek headline is also worth acknowledging because it is part of a phenomenon you might call brand-washing. Once upon a time, Newsweek, founded in 1933, was a highly respected magazine. Over the past 15 years, however, it has been swallowed up by the digital economy and has become a shell of itself. Still, that shell — and the fact that many people still think of Newsweek as a vaguely respectable brand — has proven very useful to the right. In 2022 the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a respected civil rights advocacy organization, has a extensive analysis which found that after Newsweek positioned political activist Josh Hammer to run its opinion pages (he has now moved on to be a senior editor), the magazine took a “radical turn to the right, promoting extremists and authoritarian leaders promote”. In his personal podcast, the SPLC observes, Hammer often talked about “[shifting] pushing the Overton Window” and far-right views into the mainstream; that was probably his goal at Newsweek, too. As the New Republic noticed back in 2020certainly looks a lot like Newsweek’s “previous legitimacy [being] used to wash extreme and conspiratorial ideas”.

Bottom line: if you’re wondering why a brand like Newsweek would publish an op-ed in the year 2024 that essentially argues that women have no value without a husband and children? Well, you have to look at the broader context of what Newsweek has become.

Chet Hanks condemns the appropriation of ‘white boy summer’ by the far right

In 2021, Tom Hanks’ son joked on Instagram about how it was a “White Boy Summer“. He then tried to capitalize on this viral moment by releasing a terrible song and even worse music video titled White Boy Summer. Three years later, the meme is back because a new report by the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism found (surprise, surprise) that the term has been co-opted by racists and extremists. In a statement, Hanks called it “deplorable.”.

Testosterone prescribing for middle-aged women ‘out of control’

A rise of “testosterone evangelists” online means that an increasing number of menopausal women are reaching for the hormone in the hope that it will improve their libido, mood, concentration and overall health. However, experts worry that “testosterone prescribing is completely out of control in the UK”, and users may long term health implications.

“[T]the vagina has a higher potential for chemical absorption than skin elsewhere on the body,” a report from Berkeley Public Health explains. Tampons are also “used monthly by a large percentage of the population – 50-80% of those who menstruate use tampons – for several hours at a time”. Despite all this, very little research has been done on chemicals in tampons. “I really hope that manufacturers are required to test their products for metals, especially toxic metals,” said the lead author, a UC Berkeley researcher. “It will be exciting to see the public asking for this, or asking for better labeling on tampons and other menstrual products.” It does seem overdue. It feels incredible that more research hasn’t been done on tampons. In fact, until 2023, no study was ever published those tested period products with human blood.

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The Afghan women rebuilding shattered dreams in Iran

More more than 40,000 Afghan students, mainly women, are now studying at university in Iran. The country has become a “last resort” for many Afghan women who can no longer study in their home country because of the Taliban.

New book reveals Kennedys shocking treatment of women

Maureen Callahan’s Don’t Ask: The Kennedys and the Women Who Destroyed Them argues that the famous family must face a reckoning over gender.

Australian senator resigns from ruling Labor Party over Gaza

Senator Fatima Payman, whose family fled Afghanistan after the Taliban first took over in 1996, is Australia’s first and only hijab-wearing federal politician. After challenging her party’s position and voting for a motion recognizing a Palestinian state, Payman stopped Labour but will remain in the upper house as an independent. “Unlike my colleagues, I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of injustice,” Payman explained in a press conference. “My family did not flee a war-torn country to come here as refugees so that I can remain silent when I see atrocities being inflicted on innocent people.”

The week in pawtriarchy

What with Britain electing a new prime minister and the US counting down the days to November, you may be tired of election coverage. Treat yourself to a palate cleanser with the Guardian’s hard cover of polling booths. Paw-litics at its best.

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