After the announcement of the Video Music Awards, Nicki Minaj took to Twitter to thank MTV for the nominations she earned—Best Female Video for “Anaconda,” Best Hip-Hop Video for “Anaconda,” and Best Collaboration for her work on “Bang Bang.” Here’s where it got messy: She also tweeted that she felt “Anaconda” was snubbed for the Video of the Year award, which is considered the seminal award of the night, and that her collab with Beyoncé, “Feeling Myself,” deserved attention too.
“When ‘other’ girls drop a video that breaks records and impacts culture they get that nomination,” Minaj wrote in reference to “Anaconda.” And who’s the other girl? It appears to most directly be Miley Cyrus.
Last summer, “Nicki Minaj's much-discussed ‘Anaconda’ video smashed Vevo's record for the most views in 24 hours, racking up 19.6 million clicks in the first day of its release,” wrote The Hollywood Reporter. “‘Anaconda’ tops previous record-holder Miley Cyrus, whose ‘Wrecking Ball’ clip garnered 19.3 million views…” In turn, Miley received the video of the year award. Both videos were considered provocative and controversial, especially in their expression of women’s sexuality.
“If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year,” Minaj tweeted. Yet for some reason, Taylor Swift felt—perhaps as a white slim woman with a video nominated herself?—that Minaj was targeting her personally with these statements.
“@NICKIMINAJ I’ve done nothing but love & support you,” T-Swift tweeted. “It’s unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot…” Nicki seemed super-confused about this response (as I, and a lot of other people watching, were as well.) “Didn’t say a word about u. I love u just as much. But u should speak on this,” she responded to Taylor.
Of course, this was portrayed by the media as Nicki starting a conflict, which, based on the full text of the debate, seems to be totally false. By the next morning, many outlets wrote articles calling the debacle out for what it is: a valid critique of the body-shaming and racism inherent in the music industry.
Taylor’s comments were simply derailing. She epitomizes the unfortunate subset of women that have been dubbed White Feminists—aka, not feminists at all. (If you haven’t heard the term, White Feminists aren’t simply feminists who are white; they are feminists who ignore intersectionality and make women a homogenous group whose #1-priority should be to “support” each other.) Nicki didn’t pit women against each other; she criticized a sexist and racist system.
Everyone’s heard that Taylor Swift now considers herself an unabashed feminist, which seemed pretty great when I first heard it. But it’s not great at all if this is her feminism. When Nicki said to her, “u should speak on this,” she’s completely on point. Being a feminist in this day and age means highlighting the plights of women who have less privilege than you; often, systemically, that means queer women, poor women, and women of color. Yes, Taylor might be right that “one of the guys” replaced Nicki on the roster, but as a white, thin, conventionally attractive woman, it’s just as likely Taylor could have replaced Nicki. Taylor is at the top of her game right now as a musician and celebrity; she has such a valuable platform to speak as a feminist and person. She needs to learn a little bit more about the issues before she does. Twitter user @itsbereniced said it best:
Update: Taylor Swift issued an apology to Nicki Minaj via twitter. It doesn't excuse her reaction, but it's important that she acknowledged her mistake. Swift's tweet reads: "I thought I was being called out. I missed the point, I misunderstood, then misspoke. I'm sorry, Nicki."
Images via Twitter and billboard.com
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