So Taylor Swift’s vagina is a “ragged and worn looking” ham sandwich, “and rather unattractive to the eye”, according to blogger and Twitter sensation, Jennifer Mayers. “The right is much more neat, clean and pure. This represents my daughters’ innocence and purity because THEY were raised correctly.”
When Jennifer posted the tweet comparing Taylor’s labia to a ham sandwich she showed her anatomical ignorance and inspired a backlash via the hashtag #IfMyVaginaWereASandwich. Indignant, Jennifer followed with a post on her blog, defending the ham sandwich comparison.
“Let me be clear. I am NOT shaming Taylor Swift. She is shaming herself. She is a role model. She is an influence to innocent young girls like my daughters who look up to her. She is in the public eye and should be setting a good example of purity and Christianity. Instead she is flaunting her sexual escapades with all of Hollywood’s A-list celebrities and is now moved on to some even below that. Her conquests could fill a small stadium or certainly a barn at this point.”
On her Twitter profile, Jennifer describes herself as a wife, mother and Christian, but her views are so racist and extreme that people are questioning whether her profile is a fake. Let’s assume for now that she’s a real Christian woman making an earnest attempt to save Taylor Swift’s soul. “I PRAY Deeply for Ms. Swift that she looks inside of herself and finds the strength to stop this vicious spiral of depravity. Girls are watching. GOD is watching. Repent now and He will save you.”
So religious zealotry and publicity for her new e-book are Jennifer’s excuses, but what is the excuse for everyone else who joined the public shaming of Forbes magazine’s highest earning entertainer for the 2015 – 2016 financial year?
Taylor has been under attack ever since Calvin Harris confirmed their split in early June. News outlets immediately ran stories recounting her long list of exes and questioning why Taylor can’t keep a man. One article quoted unnamed sources saying Calvin left because he was bored with her in bed. Another had sources explaining that it’s because she was pushing for marriage and children and Calvin desperately needed to be free. Of her. The sexually inadequate, slutty, needy nightmare.
Two weeks after the confirmation of the end of her relationship with Calvin, Taylor was photographed with actor Tom Hiddleston and the slut-shaming went into overdrive. Even people with no interest in Taylor Swift seemed to join the lynch mob and enjoy social media attention by humiliating the 10 times Grammy winner.
As the groupthink and accompanying irrationality took over, people attacked everything from Taylor’s motives to her July 4 party to her breast size.
But it wasn’t enough to destroy Taylor. Tom had to be demeaned by association and Ruby Rose attacked for defending her friend. The social media lynch mob was in a fevered frenzy.
I felt like I was watching a modern re-imagining of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 book, The Scarlett Letter.
Taylor herself has questioned the misogyny that surrounds her. Earlier this year she told Vogue’s 73 questions that “If I could talk to my 19-year-old self I'd just say, 'Hey, you're going to date just like a normal twenty-something should be allowed to, but you're going to be a national lightning rod for slut-shaming.'"
Taylor is consistently crucified for writing about her relationships and defended herself to an Australian radio show in 2014, saying "no-one says that about Ed Sheeran. No-one says that about Bruno Mars. They're all writing about their exes, their current girlfriends, their love life and no one raises a red flag there.”
So why is Taylor Swift such a target for misogyny and why are women eagerly joining the lynch mob or watching silently while overdosing on schadenfreude?
Mysogynists don’t necessarily hate all women, explains Berit Brogaard, DMSci, PhD.They tend to hate a certain type of woman – the type of woman who considers herself equal to men. The type of woman who has power and status and independence.
Our society is built on the patriarchal belief that men are superior and women are subordinate. Christianity is built on this belief. But we are meant to be a secular society now. We should be challenging these beliefs and supporting a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body.
Women should be leaping to Taylor’s defence. Because ignoring her achievements, her philanthropy and her Apple-slaying power demeans all women. And counting the number of sexual partners she’s had or criticising the time she takes between boyfriends shames all women. And responding to her success with jealousy and hate undermines all women.
In 2014, Taylor told Cosmopolitan magazine about the kinds of conversations she has with her friends. "My girlfriends and I talk a lot about feminism and the inequality between the way men and women are talked about. The kind of things we say are: ‘Why is it mischievous, fun and sexy if a guy has a string of lovers that he’s cast aside, loved and left? Yet if a woman dates three or four people in an eight-year period she is a serial dater and it gives some 12-year-old the idea to call her a slut on the internet?’ It’s not the same for boys, it just isn’t and that’s a fact.”
For all women everywhere, that’s just not good enough.