Feminist Mixtape: The Man by Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift’s pop anthem, “The Man,” is a catchy, upbeat song aiming to address the inequality between how female artists and male artists are treated and talked about. With a driving bass line, fun and catchy melody, and easy to understand lyrics, this song is able to reach audiences young and old alike. In her song, Swift discusses how every aspect of her personality, looks, actions, and decisions would be seen in a different way if she were a man. In our society there is a double standard between what is acceptable for men to do and for women to do. 

The line “They’d say I played the field before I found someone to commit to” addresses how when a woman cycles through multiple relationships before settling down with “the one,” she is judged differently than a man would be even though it is very common for both men and women to have many relationships. Swift changes this negative narrative by stating “And that would be okay for me to do” confirming to her audience that having multiple partners in life is normal and not something to be ashamed of.

Later in the song, Swift says “When everyone believes ya/ What’s that like?” This line is referring to the #MeToo movement and how women that come forward about sexual assualt, harrassment, and rape are most often doubted and questioned. Victim blaming is present in our society and is disproportionately against women more than men. 

The final line that stood out to me when listening to this song was “What I was wearing, if I was rude/ Could all be separated from my good ideas and power moves.” Women’s clothing is all too often equated with their success and the quality of their work. Instead of focusing on what women actually have to say or what their ideas are, the focus is on what she is wearing. Specifically, when female artists, actresses, or celebrities are interviewed the topic is almost always about what they are wearing, or how they look. In contrast, men are typically interviewed on what their acting experience was like, or what the song is about, for example. 

I connected this song to the reading by Lorber called “The Social Construction of Gender.” In the reading she argues that “it does not matter what men or women actually do; it does not matter if they do the same exact thing, the social institution of gender insists only that what they do is perceived as different” (Lorber 58). In “The Man,” Taylor is arguing that if she did not change anything about her actions but existed as a man, she would be perceived differently by society and treated better. Simply because we as a society perceive some actions to be more acceptable when done by a certain gender, it has become unacceptable to cross those made-up gender barriers. The issue is that there is no rhyme or reason for why we have these expectations for what different genders can or cannot do. The idea that what a woman is wearing determines her worth or success or how many partners a woman has had determines her value is a baseless belief that society has created. Taylor Swift is one of, if not the, biggest artist currently. She has an enormous platform and the ability to create change with the message she shares through her artistry and voice. This song is an attempt to address the disparities between how female and male artists are treated and spark discussion on how we can create change. Her feminism is not perfect and she can do a lot more to include intersectionality in her feminism and to use her priviledge uplift marginalized voices.

Theory of Praxis Assignment

After taking GSS 101, a theme that stood out to me was understanding gender as a social construct. Growing up I had a very limited mindset about gender and sexuality and accepted many of the ideas as they were presented to me. However, over the years I have understood more about the complexities and many identities within gender and sexuality. With this in mind, it led to me thinking about how I can use these ideas to influence an art piece for campus to spread awareness and normalize identities that aren’t ‘cis-gender heterosexual’. While there are already many sculptures, especially of bodies, around campus I wanted to propose a new sculpture of a body that implements the ideas of the diversity of gender identities and sexual orientations. My piece is inspired by the metal sculpture on campus by Jaume Plensa, titled Waves III. This piece is made up of letters from all different languages to signify unity and diversity. It is based upon cultural identity and the way that one individual holds a connection to a greater culture.

My idea is to create a sculpture on Davidson’s campus that intersects the ideas of gender as socially constructed as well as show the variety of identities among individuals. The sculpture would be made out of glass and would depict a human form, without genitalia, to represent an individual not tied to a gender. The position of the body would be arranged so that the arms were extended outward to signify openness of the individual. The idea is to show the complexities of humans and the many identities, both genders and sexual orientations that exist. The form of the body would be composed of words carved into the glass form of sexual identities, such as: “queer, bisexual, lesbian” and words associated with gender identities: “she, they, him, non-binary, trans.” And instead of the exterior of the form being perfectly smooth, shards of glass would poke out in all different directions to create an ambiguous body shape.The words would be repeated all over and done in different fonts to completely cover the entire form. The sculpture would symbolize the many identities that don’t receive recognition in a heteronormative society. This sculpture would work towards normalizing those identities that are not cis-gender heterosexuals, but also serve as a reminder of the hardships of LGTBQ+ individuals. The title of this piece would be “Complexities of Intersectionality” and would capture the chaotic and diverse nature of the gender and sexuality spectrum. While this sculpture wouldn’t explicitly touch upon identities within class and race that also affect an individuals experience, this would be the starting point to begin examining identities and start the conversation about other impacts on an individuals’ experience.

References:

https://www.davidsoncollegeartgalleries.org/uncategorized/seen-on-campus-jaume-plensas-waves-iii/

Theory To Praxis: Reconstructing Bathroom Labels at Davidson College

Davidson College is dedicated to “improv[ing] the Davidson campus climate for our transgender, genderqueer, and gender-variant students, faculty, staff, community members, and alumni” (LGBTQIA + resources, Davidson). However, much work still needs to be done to provide basic needs, such as comfortable bathroom stall usage, to the increasingly diverse student body. 

A Gender Inclusive Restroom Map can be found on the school’s website showing the gender-inclusive restroom options for the members and community of Davidson. At first glance, it appears that the school provides a wide range of gender-inclusive restroom options. After analyzing the map, all options are single-occupant restrooms which single out people who do not identify as cisgender. A few single-occupant restrooms on campus are still designated as either “male” or “female”. Shockingly, many places on campus designed to be “safe” places for students like Residence Halls (Akers, Knox, etc) and Student Life Buildings (Wildcat Den, Summit Coffee on Campus, etc) include no options for people in the LGBTQIA community who do not identify themselves as male or female. Academic buildings at Davidson College that do have single-occupant stalls tend to have them on the basement floor level. Students who need bathrooms not labeling them as “male” or “female” have a hard time accessing stalls quickly. 

It is evident that Davidson has a long way to go in creating a community that “welcomes and fosters mutual respect among all campus members” (LGBTQIA + resources, Davidson). I believe the best way to achieve this goal is by reconstructing bathroom labeling in restrooms at Davidson College. However, it is important to note that creating a safe bathroom environment that nurtures everyone’s needs will be a challenge and a long-term plan. To start, Davidson College should redesign the bathroom signs outside the door. Rather than having your typical ‘male’ and ‘female’ doll symbol, there should be a mixture of both figures where half is wearing a skirt and half is wearing pants. The same symbol should be used in all bathroom signs on campus. Changing the picture on a sign seems like a minor change, but is a big step towards creating a positive climate and raising awareness about gender diversity on campus. Along with labeling, the single-use bathroom should be changed from its traditional “unisex bathroom” title to “community bathroom.” Doing this, single-use bathrooms are rooted to meet everyone’s needs and eliminate the pressure of having to identify as ‘one sex’ as the term ‘unisex’ emphasizes. Using the term ‘community’ accounts for everyone on campus and eliminates gender and identity labeling. 

In the long run, Davidson can create a plan to create multi and single-community bathrooms on every floor starting in academic and residential buildings to provide options for everyone at Davidson and make basic tasks, like using the bathroom, accessible to all. Reconstructing the bathroom signs and labels is only the beginning. 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 LGBTQIA+ resources. Davidson. (n.d.). https://www.davidson.edu/offices-and-services/diversity-and-inclusion/lgbtqia-resources. 

Theory to Praxis: Reimagining Greek Life at Davidson

As a school that was founded by white genteel slave owners and remained segregated until the 60s and all-male until the 70s, Davidson has a long history of elitism. Unfortunately, the college has done a poor job of repealing exclusive traditions and making the school as welcoming and safe as possible to people of all walks of life. One particularly glaring area of inequality is the social structure of Greek life on campus.

There are many things wrong with the status of Greek life at Davidson. Racial disparities are perhaps the most visible problem. My friend Michaela Gibbons is working on a project called Stories Yet To Be Told, conducting research on the history of Patterson Court Council (PCC) – the governing body of Greek life at Davidson. We have had many conversations about PCC this semester, and a lot of them have centered around PCC’s dominating whiteness. Kimberlé Crenshaw’s theory of intersectionality and Lorde’s “There are No Hierarchies of Oppression” (1983) emphasize that racial equality (and other equalities) are necessary to realize gender equality. All of the nine predominantly white PCC organizations have individual houses on campus, while the six PCC organizations for students of color must share space at the BSC (Black Student Coalition) house. This is clearly a problem for feminism, although solutions are somewhat difficult to propose. In this case, the simplest method to reduce white special power on campus may be to disband PCC or consolidate the predominantly white organizations.

Aside from racial inequality, another issue with Greek life at Davidson is its relationship to the gender binary. As a collection of organizations with membership based on male or female gender identification, PCC reinforces ideas that there are only two genders, which is clearly false when one understands Lorber’s perspective that gender is constructed. Since humans have made up the concept of gender, there is no reason to believe in all-or-nothing gender rules. And yet, PCC membership is exclusive to men and women. (Turner House, one of the eating houses, does allow anyone who is not a straight cis male to join, but this introduces the problematic circumstance of requiring people to out themselves). Furthermore, the predominance of “bristerhoods” (fraternity-eating house mixers) perpetuates heteronormativity. Requiring all PCC organizations to be open to all genders would be the easiest solution to make Davidson more feminist, although that would require converting some fraternal organizations to eating houses.

A final, and particularly glaring problem with PCC at Davidson is rape culture. We briefly talked in class about how society conditions males to violate and disrespect female bodies, and there is a prevailing willingness to let this slide. Society reinforces hegemonic sexual scripts, an orgasm gap, and poor understandings of consent, all of which lead to unequal sexual citizenship. This means that women have less power than men to make the choice to have sex. This is obviously problematic for feminism. At Davidson, PCC hopelessly perpetuates rape culture. For liability reasons, the school has strict rules about alcohol for parties at PCC houses. Because PCC organizations are too lazy or busy to plan detailed weekly parties and want to avoid strict scrutiny from the school, weekly parties are predominantly hosted at Armfield, the only residential space on campus where open consumption is permitted. Currently, Armfield apartments which host parties are exclusively rented by predominately white men with strong fraternity ties. This leads to constant sexual misconduct and a lack of safety at parties. Once again, it is not simple to find a solution to male ownership of party space at Davidson. However, some viable options would be disbanding PCC, creating more school-sponsored social events, and preventing Armfield apartments from having five male residents.

PCC is rife with inequalities, much of them a byproduct of Davidson’s elitist traditions. Thus, disbanding PCC and ending Greek life at Davidson is probably the most feminist solution. This would introduce a social vacuum for some time, but it couldn’t be any worse that the forced quarantine of the 2020-21 academic year.

Theory to Praxis: A Program that Teaches GSS Concepts to Parents

Growing up, we are taught by society that gender dictates our roles in society. However, societal pressure is enforced by the people around us, our groups, and our cultures. Using the concepts taught in GSS, parents could raise their children in a healthy, judgment-free space. Also, occupations that work with children should employ the ideas taught in GSS as well. This includes teachers, child psychologists, counselors, pediatricians, coaches, and daycare workers. By employing GSS concepts, children will not be separated into boys and girls during gym class, children will not feel pressured to act a certain way to fit their societal role, and children will not be bullied for being fat if HAES is taught and the BMI index is reconstructed or removed.

I believe the most notable impact would come from parents teaching their children. Thus, I propose that a program or intervention should be created that teaches parents about GSS concepts; this way we can prepare parents to not enforce gender roles and allow their children to grow and to discover themselves and their identities without the influence of social constructs. Deconstructing Society would be a program that focuses on talking about GSS concepts to parents or future parents to provide them with information that will be helpful while they are raising a child. Deconstructing Society will create conversations around heteronormativity, gender roles, and sexuality. The purpose of this program would be to inform parents of the social construction of concepts and to help parents learn these concepts to properly educate their children on similar topics and to provide a healthy environment for their children to thrive.

However, Deconstructing Society could also be used to reach other audiences. Although aiding parents with GSS concepts would help parents provide a judgment-free zone for their children, Deconstructing Society could be used in colleges to discuss topics, such as rape culture, hookup culture, and similar topics discussed with parents. This program’s focus would be with parents. There are certain occupations available that could employ this program. For example, a family therapist could use this program to inform parents on how they can be supportive towards their gay child. Ultimately, Deconstructing Society would help parents create a safe and healthy environment for their children to thrive without being restricted by societal views due to heteronormativity and gender roles.

Theory to Praxis: Ending Child Abuse and Building Resilient Families

Written by Anna Newman

Overview:

I will be implementing my knowledge of gender and sexuality studies, specifically on women’s rights, feminism, and rape culture, to plan a civic engagement experience over the summer. Through a collaboration with SAFEchild in Raleigh, North Carolina and Strong Girls United, the goal of the project will be to educate children on noticing and responding to child abuse appropriately before it escalates, while also learning more about the implications that domestic violence has on parenting.  

About the Partners: 

SAFEchild is a non-profit advocacy center that ensures children have a safe living environment, free from abuse. SAFEchild empowers the children and their families by providing counseling services and childcare. One important aspect of SAFEchild is a program they run called “Funny Tummy Feelings” which is a program that educates first-graders about noticing and appropriately handling child abuse when they see it or are subject to it. Funny Tummy Feelings has been implemented in the Wake County public school curriculum for first graders; however, the goal of this project is to expand Funny Tummy Feelings to the Strong Girls United program. 

Strong Girls United is a mentorship program for young girls which pairs collegiate athletes with elementary school girls and the groups meet to discuss confidence building, mental health, and new sports skills. I believe that Funny Tummy Feelings could also be a beneficial addition to the Strong Girls United curriculum. Unfortunately, rape and sexual abuse are pervasive parts of society, but one way to combat this is to educate about rape culture and the ways you can stand up to it and notice it before it escalates.

Connections to GSS:

This project will be focusing on providing children and mothers the skills needed to build confidence in response to child abuse and domestic violence. Confidence and mental resiliency begin at a young age, and if we can empower elementary school girls, we can empower an entire generation to put an end to domestic violence and child abuse. My research would overlap with several articles that we studied in class about feminism. In the article titled Committee on the Status of Women in India, the author discusses how marriage can become a “hindrance for women seeking career advancement” which demonstrates that a marriage with power imbalances is the basis for domestic violence and abuse of power. Betty Friedan talks in the Feminine Mystique that in the 1970’s, rape was not considered a penalty. Friedan also discusses the topic of women not being fulfilled simply by staying in the house, making beds, washing dishes, and cooking for the family, which relates to the lack of liberties that the woman has within a marriage. These hindrances that married women face are the basis for domestic violence and patriarchy. One notable quote from the Feminine Mystique is “when she stopped conforming to the conventional picture of femininity, she finally began to enjoy being a woman” (279). When women stop allowing their husbands to control and abuse them, they enjoyed being women. Additionally, bell hooks’ work called Feminism is for Everybody encourages the notion that equality is the goal of feminism, and the goal is not to subvert men. In relation to my book review on the book titled Medical Bondage, white male physicians were abusing enslaved women’s bodies by taking advantage of their position of power and conducting unsolicited gynecological research and painful experiments. The consequences of these experiments were destructive, both physically and mentally, for these women. The enslaved women’s experiences with the gynecological experiments parallel the domestic violence that women today face in abusive relationships. Abuse within a relationship affects the way a mother can parent a child, which demonstrates the vicious cycle of domestic violence at a young age starting with a lack of self-confidence, then getting wrapped up in abusive relationships, and to then raise kids in an environment filled with abuse and neglect. So, my goal for this project is to confront and help children notice domestic violence at a young age so that they can grow up to be confident people in healthy relationships. After doing an analysis on the film Moonlight in my writing class, it was brought to my attention that some abusive family dynamics are avoidable, while others are out of one’s control. In Moonlight, a young boy by the name of Chiron was being raised in an abusive and neglectful household because his mother was involved with dangerous drugs and did not have time for her child; however, the opportunities available for the mother to parent her child were lacking. While I’m doing my research, l will be sure to look at the context of the situation (what resources are available to the family?) versus judging the situation and the parenting choices. 

Limitations:

The limitation of this project is that Strong Girls United does not mention anything about transgender children, non-binary children, or gender-nonconforming children. This is a research question that l will be asking the SGU executive board in hopes that something is done to make the organization more inclusive of children of all gender identities. Part of feminism is creating equity across the genders, so this feminist project is aimed at creating equity for boys, girls, and gender non-conforming children. Overall, the goal of this project is to provide a form of mentorship for children seeking assistance with confidence, mental health training, and skills needed to confront abuse if they ever need to use them. 

Implementation of Plan: 

A few summers ago, my mom and l volunteered at SAFEchild and we babysat the children while their mothers were in a counseling meeting. I am hoping to resume my volunteering with SAFEchild by babysitting the children and then shadowing one of the leaders during the counseling meetings. I feel like I would gain another dimension of appreciation for the struggles that these families deal with by listening to the mothers speak. Also, it would be impactful to listen to the women’s stories of domestic abuse within their marriages and how this abuse impacts their ability to mother their children. 

After shadowing a counselor, l would ask one of the leaders/counselors at SAFEchild to be a guest speaker at one of the meetings with Strong Girls United. The counselor can focus on teaching a Funny Tummy Feelings course for the SGU children. The plan is to empower young girls by giving them to skills to notice and respond to child abuse in a confident way. One possibility of furthering my research experience would be to shadow a pediatric physiatrist to learn about the impacts of child abuse, neglect, and domestic violence on youth’s mental health.  

Feminist Mixtape: God is a Woman by Ariana Grande

by Chase Waldner

Ariana Grande Goes Heavy-Handed and Provocative in "God Is a Woman" | GQ

Pop icon Ariana Grande blessed us with a feminist masterpiece titled, “God is a Woman.” The title alone challenged many gendered stereotypes and the lyrics are a wonderful dive into female sexuality. Grande created something equally empowering as it is catchy. She reverses the patriarchal norm of male domination over women with lyrics like, “I’m tellin’ you the way I like it, how I want it,” and “And boy, if you confess, you might get blessed // See if you deserve what comes next.” Here, Grande is expressing the power she has over this man and how she is the one in control; something rare in heterosexual relationships. For most of history men have had all the power. They were the ones who owned property, and that sometimes included women. Nowadays, in the states at least, you can’t own a person but that power dynamic is still a festering pandemic lingering in our society. Women are supposed to be a submissive, pretty face. They are supposed to look good to attract a man and then stay home to raise their children. This translates to the bedroom as well. The expectation for heterosexual sex is male pleasure and fantasy, women are merely the vessel to achieve it. This is where Grande steps in to challenge the sexist norm and flip the script. She sings about female domination and pleasure; about women being the controlling force in both the bedroom and in life. She sings about the power she, along with all other women, have to take their deserved, rivaling spot in the fight for gender equality.

DRI Grant Proposal: Intersectional Feminism Workshop and Research Project

Prompt from DRI Application Directions 

Introduction: 

The purpose of this project is to study the types of feminism and their intersectionality that Davidson students identity with, as well as how a structured workshop impacts students’ feminisms. For the project, we would create an intersectional feminism workshop and survey students before and after they participate to gauge how their identification with and knowledge of intersectional feminism changed. There are two main objectives. The first is to have a greater understanding of the student body’s feminist views. The second is to create more space for inclusive feminist frameworks on our predominantly white campus. 

Justification: 

As a first-year student of color, I’ve already noticed that most of the feminisms from students are white and centered around issues of the west. They are also not all-encompassing of queer/trans feminists or feminists of color. A 2019 Davidsonian perspective article discusses the need for intersectional feminism, especially for women in STEM, and raises the question: is Davidson the most welcoming, inclusive place it can be for all women on campus? The author of the piece acknowledges that she doesn’t see the inequalities that others see on campus because she is a white cis woman, but even posing this question requires a look into how the campus’ environment fuels inequalities. 

This research project is also essential because it studies all students on campus, not just marginalized communities (students of color, queer/trans students, etc.). The campus places the burden on marginalized students to grapple with their own trauma or uncomfort through group therapy sessions, communal dinners, etc., rather than addressing attitudes that may be coming from the dominant culture. This workshop is one way to strike that notion.  

Furthermore, there is a handful of literature on the importance of dismantling privilege on PWIs and creating supportive spaces for students of color. Intersectionality and Dismantling Institutional Privilege: The case of the NSF ADVANCE Program suggests frameworks for dismantling race and gender-based institutional privileges. While the academy relies on eliteness, intersectional frameworks can minimize the effects of its violence.

Implementation: 

First, I would create a survey that assesses the types of feminisms with which students identify. Questions would include how students feel about different social, political, and economic issues. The survey would also address how they see feminism on Davidson’s campus. I would create a second survey for after the workshop that is similar to the first. This gauges how an interactive educational workshop can impact one’s feminism. 

Second, I would work with GSS professors to plan an intersectional feminism workshop that addresses different types of feminism, creating inclusive spaces as an individual, and why intersectionality is necessary at a PWI. 

I would advertise this workshop through flyers, GSS classes, and Sociology classes, as many students need to participate in research for their major requirements. 

Preparation: 

I am prepared to execute this research project for three reasons. 

First, although I’ve only taken GSS-101, I feel equipped to begin or expand conversations about types of feminism and the need for intersectionality. In GSS-101, we read works from many feminists, including Kimberlé Crenshaw who coined the term intersectionality. 

Second, in high school, I led an annual feminism workshop for my school. This is because I read a lot of feminist and queer theory including authors like bell hooks, Sara Ahmed, and Judith Butler. 

Third, during my senior year of high school, I executed a research project that was structured similar to this project. I surveyed local middle and high schoolers about their experience with menstrual stigma before and after presenting about menstrual stigma and global menstrual oppression.

Dissemination:

I’ll detail the findings of the research project in a report that is presented to the general Davidson community. This will provide faculty and students with an understanding of how inclusive the feminisms that Davidson students identity with, as well as if workshops are a practical means of making students’ feminisms more inclusive and intersectional.  

I would also present these findings to the Freshman Orientation Team to propose a similar workshop for incoming first-year students. This would help incoming freshmen begin to grapple with their privileges before beginning classes, contributing to a supportive environment on campus.  

I’d also share this report with other student groups at PWIs that may have similar questions about how supportive and inclusive their campuses are for marginalized communities. 

Example Survey Questions: 

  • Do you identify as a feminist? 
    • If so, how do you describe your feminism? 
    • If not, why not? 
  • Do you consider yourself an intersectional feminist? 
    • If so, how do you define intersectionality? 
    • If not, why not?
  • In your experience, is the Davidson community inclusive? 
    • If so, please provide examples.
    • If not, why not?
  • In your experience, do you see intersectionality on Davidson’s campus?
    • If so, please provide examples.  
  • In your experience, do you see feminism on Davidson’s campus? 
    • If so, please provide examples.  

Works Cited: 

Arday, Jason, and Heidi Safia Mirza, editors. Dismantling Race in Higher Education: Racism, Whiteness and Decolonising the Academy. 1 ed., Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2018. Link Springer, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-60261-5.

Crenshaw, Kimberlé. “Why intersectionality can’t wait.” The Washington Post, 24 September 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/in-theory/wp/2015/09/24/why-intersectionality-cant-wait/.

Helena. “Teaching Intersectionality: Activities and Resources.” DISORIENT, 2020, https://disorient.co/teaching-intersectionality-activity/. Accessed 22 November 2021.

Hickman, Ross. “Exclusion, Harm, and Disillusionment at Davidson.” Davidsonian, 10 November 2021, https://www.davidsonian.com/editorial-exclusion-harm-and-disillusionment-at-davidson/.

Hunt, Valerie H., et al. “Intersectionality and Dismantling Institutional Privilege: The Case of the NSF ADVANCE Program.” Race, Gender, & Class, vol. 19, no. 1/2, 2012, pp. 266-290. JSTOR, https://www.jstor.org/stable/43496873.

Stanton, Domna C., and Abigail J. Stewart, editors. Feminisms in the Academy. University of Michigan Press, 1995, https://www.press.umich.edu/10669/feminisms_in_the_academy.

Winters-Mccabe, Annabel. “Let’s Talk About Feminism On Our Campus Now.” Davidsonian, 3 October 2019, https://www.davidsonian.com/lets-talk-about-feminism-on-our-campus-now/.

“God is a Woman” by Ariana Grande

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHLHSlExFis

As Ariana says, “You’ll believe God is a woman” by the end of an intimate act. In her song, “God is a Woman”, Ariana emphasizes women empowerment and raises awareness to a topic that is frowned upon in society- woman finding pleasure in sexual relations. Ariana encourages female empowerment through lines such as “And I can tell that you know I know how I want it” and “I’m tellin’ you the way I like it, how I want it”. In doing so, Ariana sheds light on the idea of women placing their needs and desires above men, this way the act of intimacy shifts from being man-dominated to woman-dominated. These lyrics emphasize the importance of women openly speaking about their sexual desires and reclaiming their bodily autonomy. 

This idea of being confident in speaking about sexual desires relates to Foucault connections between knowledge and pleasure, and how sex is just not supposed to be a learning experience, but also an opportunity to teach us something about ourselves. There is an urge to know something from sex and pleasure, but there is still the paradox of the sex talk where sex is silenced, yet we still talk about it explicitly and incessantly. Ariana paves the way for women to skip the act of silence and feel confident in speaking about their needs in a sexual relation. 

However, it is important to note there are limitations that exist in how gender plays a role in her song. Ariana references intimacy in a relationship between a male and female both in the song and the music video. For example she sings, “And he sees the universe when I’m the company.” With the usage of the pronoun, “he,” Ariana excludes homosexual relationships. Also, the exclusion of queer relationships does not address other women’s sexual experience, such as those who are transgender and lesbian.

Despite this, “God is a Woman” by Ariana Grande encourages female sexual liberation and celebrates female pleasure. 

Feminist Mix-tape: The Man by Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift portrayed as a man in the music video.

Taylor Swift dominates the music industry in 2021, but it was not easy to get to the top when she was fighting misogyny for her whole career. In February of 2019, Swift released her hit song “The Man” confronting sexism in the music industry, and declaring that if she was a man, she’d be the man. Her lyrics compare her achievements and life as an artist to the same of a man, and how society interprets both very differently. Men are far more respected in the music industry, and women who make it to the same place as men are often portrayed as “lucky”. Some lyrics that struck me the most include these two: 

“I’m so sick of running as fast as I can
Wondering if I’d get there quicker
If I was a man (Swift, lines 11-12)”

and similarly,

“They’d say I hustled
Put in the work

They wouldn’t shake their heads and question how much of this I deserve (Swift, lines 19-21)”

            These ideas date back to the first wave of feminism. This reminded me of when our class read “Declarations of Sentiments and Resolutions” from the Women’s Rights Convention held at Seneca Falls in July of 1848. This document argues that women are oppressed by the government and the patriarchal society of which they are a part. One quote that emphasizes the ideas that are present in Swift’s song is, “That woman is man’s equal—was intended to be so by the Creator, and the highest good of the race demands that she should be recognized as such,” (Stanton 1). Women were first fighting for suffrage against the existing notion that they should not have careers outside of the household, but instead their only duty was to tend to the home and take care of children. This was a time of expanding the women’s role to the outside world and creating new opportunities. They were regarded as incapable and had to fight exponentially harder to just obtain a similar place in society among men.  Unfortunately, I think that this is still a present idea that is attributed when women outrank men. It is almost seen as intrusive when a woman holds a lot of power, as if she is not welcomed to have such a high status. Society resorts to wondering how she got there or if she had connections, instead of recognizing her hard work and drive. Women in this position are also called bossy and bitchy, instead of being viewed a strong leader like men.  

            One limitation of how this song represents feminism is that Swift herself is a wealthy, white female who through hard work was able to make it to the top. I think this view is not inclusive with the intersectionality of different races, disabilities, etc. that other female artists have to face. Swift did not have these added obstacles to work past on her journey to success. Overall, this song, accompanied by its music video, is a way to expose the sexism within the music industry and how women need to work harder for the same results and recognition that men receive.

Music video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqAJLh9wuZ0

Citation:

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, 1815-1902. Address of Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Delivered at Seneca Falls & Rochester, N.Y., July 19th & August 2d, 1848. New York :R.J. Johnston, 1870.

Swift, Taylor. “The Man.” Lover, Republic Records. accessed November 9, 2021.