Another day, another human being spewing prejudice at a group of people. Taylor Swift's new video, "The Man," was released on Thursday. Swift directed the video herself. It is the latest single from her "Lover" album and rose to number one on YouTube's trending page.
The video centers around a man, played by Swift and voiced by Dwayne Johnson, who epitomizes what I imagine most fourth-wave feminists believe men to be. While the video obviously tries to call out forms of sexism against women, it misses the mark badly.
Don't get me wrong, I believe women still experience sexism in America. There are also women outside of America who experience it as well. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be a problem that will end any time soon. However, this video does nothing to call attention to any of those very real issues.
The whole video has a mocking tone that came across as very sexist. It starts with Swift's character in an office building where it's clear he's the boss. His employees are literally showering him with praise and admiration. Everyone is clapping for him for no apparent reason. The scenarios in this video are deliberately over the top.
For this particular scene, I'm not sure what Swift's point is. There are plenty of female bosses, there have been for a very long time. Women are CEOs, heads of state, and running multi-billion dollar corporations. Sure, this wasn't always the case. It was difficult for women to gain the respect of their colleagues and sometimes it still is. But is mocking the opposite sex a good way to get your point across?
Then we cut to the cliche and predictable manspreading scene. Swift's character is portrayed spreading his legs on the subway so far apart that he takes up space from those sitting next to him. As someone who takes the train on a regular basis, I can tell you this is a highly uncommon occurrence.
I only see men sitting this way when nobody is sitting next to them. It's usually when the train isn't crowded and they have plenty of room. When someone comes on and sits next to them, nine times out of ten, the guy gives the person space. I don't think I've ever seen a man sitting on a train the way it's portrayed in this video.
First of all, men have balls. That's why we sit that way. It's not because we want to demean women. It's not because we want to assert our dominance. It's because we don't want to crush our fucking nutsack. If women had balls, they would be sitting the exact same way.
This unfair and false narrative also leads to plenty of outrageous results. Madrid banned manspreading on their public transportation. There was also a viral video of a Russian woman pouring water and bleach on men's crotches in St. Petersburg. Aside from the fact that this was assault, it made even less sense considering many of the men had plenty of room.
The whole term "manspreading" is completely sexist. The fact that they took a word and put "man" in front of it is prejudice. Terms like "mansplaining" also go in the same category. They're terms that do nothing but mock and belittle men for harmless microaggressions. Imagine if a man started using a term like "womansplain."
I also find it difficult to take this seriously when it's coming from a young, rich pop star from Pennsylvania who probably never rode the subway in her life. And if she did, I highly doubt it was nearly enough times to get an understanding of what it's actually like. Trust me, Taylor, a man couldn't manspread during rush hour even if he wanted to.
More mockery ensues after the manspreading fiasco. Swift's character steps off the train and pees in the subway station. This video reeks of someone isolated in a fame bubble and completely out of touch with the real world. As a New Yorker, I can tell you that the only people I've ever seen do that are homeless.
I understand that there are plenty of men who pee in public. However, this video makes it seem like it's some sort of epidemic. It's as if men feel like they can just pee wherever they want. It's absolutely absurd. For her sake, I hope it was tongue in cheek, otherwise, it would just be embarrassing.
There's also a scene where Swift's character is celebrated for being "World's Greatest Dad." Again, I fail to see the point here. Are women not celebrated for being great mothers? Do we not see a ton of "World's Greatest Mom" T-shirts at flea markets? Is Mother's Day a holiday I just have dreams about every year?
This video seems to argue that fathers are at an unfair advantage. However, I would like to argue that the opposite is true. If a marriage breaks up, the mother will almost always gain more custody of the children. Fathers are disproportionately impacted by child custody cases. There are so many heartbreaking stories of fathers suffering from depression and commuting suicide because they can't see their kids.
There's also the scene of Swift's character throwing a temper tantrum on a tennis court. It's unclear as to what the reason for the tantrum is, but perhaps that's the point. Is this a way of saying men are unhinged and can't properly handle their emotions?
What happened to the culture of ending toxic masculinity? What happened to the culture of teaching men to be more open about their emotions? I thought we were trying to show men they would still be accepted if they were open about their feelings. Now we're mocking them for it? This is yet another unclear point that misses the mark.
And to top it all off, Swift's character grows into an old man and marries a younger woman. Yet again, we return to the theme of mockery. The younger woman is clearly repulsed by the old man and just marries him for the money. Yet, she's not portrayed as the bad one in this scenario. It's somehow his fault. I'm guessing it's meant to show him as creepy or disgusting? Apparently it's wrong for an elderly man to be attracted to a conventionally attractive woman.
Older female celebrities often speak about what they see as a double standard. They say that men are able to date younger women without being judged, while they get criticized. I don't think that's true at all. Older men are often seen as creepy and perverted when going after a much younger woman. In an ironic way, this video's portrayal of such a relationship proves that.
Mocking the opposite sex isn't a good way to gain equality. Focusing on microaggressions only draws attention away from actual forms of discrimination against women. This video doesn't make an intelligent statement in an effective way. It will do nothing but create anger towards a particular gender among Swift's young fan base.
I would like to believe that's the opposite effect Swift was going for. Some people might love the video, but I feel she really missed the mark on this one.