I vividly remember my ninth birthday and the excitement that rushed over me as I opened up my present: an MP3 Player. That same day, with the help of my parents, I eagerly downloaded "Fearless", "All Too Well", and "Red."
Although I have been a Swiftie now for over a decade, like many other POC Taylor Swift fans, I was disappointed to hear about her alleged relationship with Matty Healy. Her decision to pursue a relationship with him specifically highlights the disconnect between her and women of color like me. By aligning herself with someone that perpetuates a public disregard for marginalized groups, Taylor Swift reveals her true self–serving values and priorities.
Matty Healy is the lead singer of the British pop–rock band The 1975, and claims to be “a traditional progressive who is suspicious of woke–ism.” Healy was also rumored to be Swift’s new rebound after a breakup with her boyfriend of six years, Joe Alwyn, when he was spotted leaving her New York City apartment and kissing her on a date. However, it's his frequent discriminatory practices and comments that have resulted in a storm of controversy amongst Swifties.
On the Feb. 9th episode of The Adam Friedland Show, a podcast that prides itself on provocative content, Healy made a disturbing statement about how he masturbates to porn of Black women being humiliated, brutalized, and racially and sexually degraded. He has also made comments about watching Ghetto Gaggers, a violent porn website that dehumanizes Black women.
Healy's behavior, such as openly discussing this niche of porn, has perpetuated the objectification and fetishization of Black women. This subsection of porn that he consumes suggests that he sees women of color only in situations of exploitation and power imbalances solely due to their racial background, rather than in a healthy and fulfilling relationship.
To make matters worse, Healy laughed as the hosts of The Adam Friedland Show mocked Ice Spice’s accent and referred to her as an “Inuit Spice Girl” and a “Chubby Chinese lady.” In this case, he acted as a bystander, complicit in discriminatory practices and the cycle of systemic oppression. Rather than using his privilege to challenge existing power structures, Healy instead laughed at the host’s racist jokes. These microaggressions serve as a reminder of the discrimination experienced by women of color like Ice Spice, who is an American rapper of Dominican and Nigerian descent. These questionable actions have made clear his lack of cultural sensitivity.
As arguably one of the most famous and influential celebrities of our time, Taylor Swift holds the responsibility of using her image and platform to advocate for marginalized communities. Her documentary, Taylor Swift: Miss Americana, portrays Swift beginning her political journey and tells her audience that she has a new interest in using activism to amplify marginalized voices.
However, Swift’s relationship with Healy has raised questions about the squeaky–clean feminist image that she tries to present. Swift fails to keep anyone accountable as she refuses to address Swifties’ concerns about his behavior, therefore only condoning his actions. Her decision to associate with him reflects her values and her alignment with the white feminism that only she benefits from. This further proves how several white celebrities like her and Healy choose to stay complicit rather than using their platform and white privilege to address systemic issues.
Over the past few months, Swifties have out–streamed the "Taylor's Version" of many of her songs, leading her to record–breaking success. Because of their dedication, she holds the record of being the first artist to hold the entire Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 and has become the highest–earning woman musician of the past decade.
Recognizing the collective power that Swifties have, many have begun to mobilize and ensure Swift upholds her promises to promote social justice. Healy’s comments combined with Swift’s decision to remain silent have sparked outrage among her base, leading to the launch of a #SpeakUpNow campaign spearheaded by Swifties on social media. This campaign demands that she address Healy’s remarks.
The letter states, “your voice holds tremendous power and right now your silence is palpable. This silence sends a message of indifference, particularly to the fans who have supported you … Staying silent about actions that perpetuate hatred and contribute to systemic oppression undermines the progress that was made towards equality and understanding.”
Rather than addressing Healy’s derogatory comments, Swift collaborated with Ice Spice to release additional songs in her album, Midnights. This move is an insincere response to the controversy and demonstrates her lack of commitment to marginalized communities. Moreover, her choice to release a remix with Ice Spice now, is presumably to clean up Healy’s image by driving away the attention generated by his discriminatory comments. But instead, it merely emphasized her album and also a supposed good relationship between the two women.
While it is important to recognize the challenges Swift has endured under our patriarchal system, her experiences still vastly differ from those of women of color. Her recent actions as well as attempts at socially conscious songwriting (like the song "The Man") dismiss the nuances of other marginalized communities and fail to acknowledge the struggles and complexities we face.
By dating Matty Healy, Taylor Swift has proved to us that intersectional feminism is not her priority, and she is only willing to stand up when she and other white women are a victim of patriarchy.
While she might be a fierce advocate for her own rights, Swift will continue to be complacent when women of color are impacted, exemplifying her narrow view of feminism. When Healy reduces Black and brown women to objects of desire as a way to fulfill racial fantasies, Swift continuously attempts to sweep her white privilege under the rug by remaining as silent as she is unaffected. Her self–serving style of feminism has left many fans like me feeling frustrated, unheard and excluded.