Although Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj seem to have ended yesterday’s Twitter feud with an apology from Swift that Minaj accepted, the spat offers an opportunity to discuss the particularly female form of backstabbing we all know and hate.
In case you’re not a Twitter hound, here’s the long and short of the short-lived and gracefully ended feud. The “Bad Blood” between two female artists began over the Video Music Awards, specifically about Best Video nominations. Minaj, arguably the most influential female rapper ever, took to Twitter to vent her frustrations about not getting nominated, postulating that the snub was due to the type of body highlighted in her hit video, “Anaconda.”
When the "other" girls drop a video that breaks records and impacts culture they get that nomination. 😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊
— NICKI MINAJ (@NICKIMINAJ) July 21, 2015
Her song samples the earlier anthem to the female posterior, “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-a-Lot, and both carry on, at length, about big butts.
Swift, who did have a video land in Best territory, felt this was personal and parried back. Her video did not focus on the backsides of women, but instead was a more girl-power hero-fantasy mini movie. The Twitter play by play has been well documented elsewhere, if you want to track it.
It’s not uncommon for women to meet the success of other women with sniping and verbal (or written) jabs. Swift had an opportunity to pick up and encourage a sister who was noticeably down and upset. Minaj was obviously displeased that her work and creative vision didn’t resonate with the committee the way she’d hoped, and she was turning it outward. She also made points about race and physical standards for women that could have sparked discussion, but instead this has been somewhat lost in the media focus on the catfighting between two women.
Twitter divided sharply on this into #teamtaylor and #teamnicki, with Minaj supporters out-tweeting Taylor’s two to one. It wasn’t limited just to fans. Celebrities like Katy Perry waded into the fracas, as well.
It's not even any shade to the other artists. It's just that Nicki is getting snubbed for doing the same thing they're winning awards for.
— King (@KingCaIeb) July 21, 2015
Take Stock Of Yourself For a Second
Now that we’ve dipped into a fight that on the surface feels pretty high-school, let’s talk about why you should care. Women have opportunities, both on the micro and the macro level, to support other women. When a sister hits a home run and is wildly successful we have two main choices: to cheer her on or to cut her down. It’s not uncommon to react poorly when you’re passed over and you feel it’s unjust. Swiping out in a way that can wound others when they’re experiencing what you’d hoped makes things worse, not better.
Feminism hasn’t solved issues of race or body acceptance. Maybe it’s time to try a different tactic. Twerking your way to fame doesn’t lead to all the critical acclaim Minaj seems to desperately want, and immortalizing each and every bump in her personal life hasn’t made Swift terribly popular with her peers.
I tell my kids all the time to treat others as they’d want to be treated. I don’t think playing out disagreements in public can really lead to amicable conclusions. How would this have resolved itself if Swift had picked up the phone and texted Minaj to clarify whether the barbs were aimed at her or the industry in general? Bringing the general public and the whole Twitterverse into the issue dumped fuel on an already volatile discussion.
Swift and Minaj Are Better than This—and So Are You
Swift has shown in the very recent past that she’s more savvy than this. In her open letter to Apple about payment for artists during free trials, she employed a far different approach: copious compliments to Apple, a request by her on behalf of nameless others, yet more compliments, and a gentle final dig. This was also a lot more productive and got the results she was hoping for— Apple’s acquiescence. Her measured dealings and claims of respect for a company stand in contrast to her fast reaction to a supposed friend.
One thing both ladies did right here is making their reconciliation just as public as their fallout. Thursday brought us Swift apologizing, and Minaj accepting it and saying they’re still friends. Apologizing can be hard, especially so publicly, but it’s much better than letting disagreements fester. Swift has once again shown grace under pressure, even if she didn’t lead with her best foot this time. While we should all take this incident as a reminder to stop ourselves from getting into the same situation, we also can learn from it that an open apology is the best way to end the squabble once it’s started.
Women, let’s uplift other women. Let’s encourage them to be the best possible versions of themselves. And let’s work on that for ourselves, as well.