Taylor Swift calls out sexist joke in latest Netflix series

Swift publicly called out Netflix’s new show Ginny & Georgia for its ‘deeply sexist’ joke regarding her personal life. It is not the first time a female musician has been vilified within mainstream media.

If you’ve perused Netflix over the last few weeks, you’ve no doubt seen advertisements for Ginny & Georgia, a new drama-comedy that follows a young mum and her teenage daughter as they settle down in New England.

The show was called out by Taylor Swift two days ago for a ‘lazy, sexist’ joke that pokes fun at her personal life, specifically the men she’s previously had relationships with.

Twitter backlash was immediate. #RESPECTTAYLORSWIFT began trending on Monday evening and Taylor was quick to criticise Netflix for approving the joke after partnering with her last year for her documentary, Miss Americana. Neither the show nor the streaming service have responded.


What has Taylor’s experience in the industry been thus far?

Interestingly, several YouTube commentators and Swift fans have described this situation as ‘overblown’ and ‘dramatic’. They argue that a simple joke about dating does not necessarily translate as ‘slut shaming’ and isn’t inherently sexist, and it’s understandable why some take this stance.

The larger problem here is less about a single joke, however, and rather the cultural issue it highlights.

Taylor’s career has been plagued by an absurd media obsession for her dating life. Seven or so years ago she was routinely described as a ‘crazy girlfriend’, ‘obsessive ex’, and ‘serial dater’, terms you’d seldom associate with a male performer who was similarly open about their life experiences.

In response, Swift has used her artistry to take ownership of her media persona several times. 2014’s ‘Blank Space’ was a deliberate, self-aware mockery of her public image, while 2017’s ‘Reputation’ actively fought against the slander she received from other high-profile celebrities, namely Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.

Taylor has had to actively resist the pressures of mainstream media in ways that are unique to the female experience. While this one single joke in a Netflix show may seem insignificant, it actively dismisses and ignores all of the efforts Swift has taken to dismantle the patriarchal hypocrisy of the industry.


Is she an isolated case?

Anyone keeping up with music news will tell you that, unfortunately, this is not exclusive to Swift. Media outlets continue to find novel ways to vilify female musicians and celebrities.

Britney Spears has faced scrutiny recently with her sorority case, with streaming platforms predictably jumping at the opportunity to create entertainment and documentaries based on her situation. What’s most telling is the one voice that actually matters is left out – Spears herself.

Other top musicians and stars such as Kesha have faced legal disputes over workplace abuse and Billie Eilish has created video pieces outlining her own experiences with sexism and slut-shaming. Female pop stars continue to receive heavy amounts of patriarchal comments and nonsense, even in 2021.

We’ll have to see if Netflix responds. It may end up censoring and removing the joke entirely, as the platform often reworks its shows post-release.

Either way, let’s hope for less lazy jokes like these in future, no matter how seemingly small. If the industry wants to truly change it needs to be accountable for all sexist moments such as these – not just the big, grand gestures and public court cases.

@thredmag

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