Criticizing Taylor Swift And Her Fellow Girlbosses Rouses The Fragile Feminist Ego

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'All male criticism of Taylor Swift must be a manifestation of misogynist hyper-masculinity. At least that is the takeaway from Washington Post gender columnist Monica Hesse’s Sept. 28 op-ed regarding the recently reported romance of Swift and tight end Travis Kelce.

Hesse quotes random representatives of the “super-alpha-fragile-istic fringe of the football side,” in support of her claim, and for good measure ropes in a recent Federalist piece by Mark Hemingway on Swift’s music. Hesse, who for some reason refuses to cite Hemingway by name, grossly mischaracterizes his arguments by (falsely) claiming Hemingway’s complaint is only that Swift writes about breakups, heartbreak, and “how things made her feel,” and that his critique is little more than the stereotypical patriarchal double standard foisted upon women.

Not that Hesse’s finger-wagging at male criticism of female celebrities is all that unusual. Whether we are talking about the faltering U.S. women’s soccer team, obese female musicians, or self-obsessed actresses, there is an inevitable chorus speedily rising to defend them and accuse their detractors of sexism and misogyny. Yet this reality exposes a delicious irony of the women’s rights movement since its very beginning: the fragility of the feminist ego.
Since Mary Wollstonecraft’s 1792 book, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, a constant rallying cry has been the demand for equal treatment. “We need to see men and women as equal partners,” 20th-century feminist writer Betty Friedan declared. “Women will only have true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation,” argued Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

But do feminists actually want equality? Feminists demand that female athletes be celebrated as amazing, unprecedented superstars whether they win or lose. Advocates for gender equality in sports don’t want fair market competition based on customer preference, but to bully and coerce the sports industry to devote as much airtime as men’s sports to indifferent viewers. Male soccer fans who don’t like women’s soccer are sexist — that was the conclusion of a 2021 study at the University of Durham in the United Kingdom. Thus the demand that “change starts with more media coverage,” according to attendees at the 2022 SportsPro’s OTT Summit USA.'

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