Saturday, 18 June 2016

Taylor, Calvin, Tom, Sexism and Double Standards



I almost despise myself for a creating a post on this topic. The fact that any of us are remotely fussed about the news of a blossoming romance between Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston, with all the tragedy and chaos going on in the world at the moment, feels pretty ridiculous. But like I said in my last post, escapism is important in terms of momentarily distracting us from serious and devastating matters, so perhaps it’s helpful that we have these celeb stories to chew on amidst the stories we should genuinely be worrying about. But I do think we need to remind ourselves that these are people too….being a celebrity does not mean you are absent of emotion, and all other human responses. 
But I think we found ourselves particularly shocked/saddened by the Calvin/Taylor split because they seemed genuinely extremely loved up, like they may be in it for the long haul. Many of us have followed Taylor Swifts relationship history via the media, as well as her music, and I know I was very happy to see that she appeared to have found a good match in the Scottish DJ, she always referred to as Adam. I remember old interviews with Calvin, prior to what they called his Hollywood make-over, he was always very private, guarded and sometimes even a bit surly. The fact that he appeared to be okay with being  part of some of those achingly adorable Instagram moments, made you think this was a very special relationship for him too, as did the proud gaze and loving embrace captured on TV when Taylor won an award. In the same way we did with Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, we invested a lot in this relationship. We look to couples like them to embody the romantic fantasy, the Disney fairytale. When things don’t work out we feel betrayed, and we don’t just lose a flawless couple that we looked to, to instill hope, we lose some faith…faith in love as a whole.

First things first. Let’s talk about the break up from Calvin. It was announced or made public a couple of weeks ago. This does not actually necessarily mean it only just happened. They could have split up ages ago for all we knew, and just decided to put on a united front for a while,  making sure the announcement or awareness of their separation suited their plan or strategies. I knew of a celebrity couple who decided to wait until they announced their divorce so it coincided with another A- list divorce announcement…they knew that sharing the news spotlight would be easier than having all the attention on their story. 

When we first heard of the news it was made out to be a fairly mutual decision, and Calvin Harris responded to all the buzz and questioning over social media in very mature and classy manner in his first tweet commenting on the split - very different to the aftermath of his separation from Rita Ora.  Whether things were genuinely as civil and respectful as they seemed, we don’t know. They (and/or their people) may well have decided it would be best for both parties to declare the split a amicable and mutual one, whether or not that was really the case. If Taylor had dumped (what a ghastly expression that is) Calvin via text (which has been reported) then perhaps to save some face and male pride (another outdated term perhaps) he may have asked that it be portrayed as a a mutual parting of ways. Something you may be happy to do to ensure both parties come out of it well.

Now apparently Calvin is upset because he now believes Taylor and Tom may have started whatever it is they have, while they were still together - according to ‘reports’ ( those bloody ‘reports’ and ‘close friends’)  he was not happy about their chemistry filled Met Gala dance. Once again we have no proof of this, but those wanting to feel negatively towards Taylor have inevitable capitalised on this theory - citing her as man-hungry, a goer, a cheat etc. I’ve seen a lot of 'poor Calvin' tweets, even though we really have no idea of the timeline of events or the real nature of any of these relationships. Perhaps the venom comes from the fact that we believe Taylor’s actions are the reason behind the demise of this ‘perfect couple'. How dare she live for herself and make decisions that make her happy! I mean it’s only her life!

I was also surprised to see the amount of comments saying they expected more of Tom than to date a serial celebrity monogamist. She’s dated a few famous men yes, but wouldn’t you find it safer to date someone else who understands the industry, and who values a the importance of discretion when it comes to certain personal details (who wants to risk someone selling a story including very intimate details), and dating someone who isn’t as likely to be in it for the money.  From my point of view she's seems quite a the catch for a man. I believe these views largely stem from people wrongly believing they truly know a celebrity, perhaps they’ve watched all their films or press interviews, or even met them briefly in person. Tom is an actor and in the public eye, I guarantee as a fan or TV viewer you don’t know him well enough to know what sort of partner he should be going for. Many seem to have made yet another assumption that because he is well spoken and went to a good school that he should date a certain type of person….another very outdated viewpoint.

Because many don’t want to believe Tom or Taylor would genuinely go for each-other, particularly at this stage in time, they are calling it a stunt or a calculated PR move. Obviously Tom is hot property in the UK at the moment since his raunchy stint in The Night Manager, which was followed by a campaign to crown him the next Bond. In the US his star is not sparkling quite as bright yet, so many have deduced this would be a clever move to elevate his position in America. Yes, the theories have merit, but once again there's no evidence that this is the reason - how sad that we are in era of such manipulated reality that we could believe this to be true though. 

So now let’s talk about the fact Taylor Swift has moved on. This is assuming that it is the incredibly speedy rebound we believe it to be, which I said before, we have no proof of.

I think we forget that people react in different ways, and have their own way of dealing with things. I’ve always preferred to have time on my own to reflect and languish in being be truly independent again after a long standing relationship has broken down. Some of my friends want to party and fill their calendar with booze filled nights, ones that will conclude with a few one night stands or feature temporary mood boosting random snogs. Others like to ‘shake it off’ and get back on the dating scene immediately. How your respond to a break up depends not only on your character, but the circumstance of the split and how you feel towards the other half of the partnership. If completely shattered and heartbroken you may want to give yourself time to get over the shock and grieve the loss. If you felt that it had fizzled or come to a natural end you may not feel the need to wallow and you may be eager to get back into the quest of finding your mr/mrs right or next mr/mrs right now. If the other person did you wrong, there may be an element of ‘ well I’ll show them’  and you may go on a mission to make them regret wronging you.

I think a few things that may be troubling some people about this particular love story is the fact that in recent weeks we have read reports or quotes stating that Taylor thought that Calvin was ‘the one’ and that their relationship was magical. So it makes people question whether those comments were genuine, or whether she is incredibly fickle, or makes us believe she is not mourning the end of the relationship enough. If it was as ‘magical’ as we were made to believe surely she should be crying with her cats on the sofa watching The Notebook. That’s what movie portrayals have conditioned us to believe is the correct/only reaction. 

When I’ve split from long term relationships, on the most part we’ve never been on bad terms, circumstance and timing that has been the cause for the dissolve in the partnership.This has meant that I have cared greatly about their feelings and welfare in the aftermath and never wanted to cause undue hurt. We have always remained connected via Facebook and all the other stuff that makes break ups far more traumatic (deciding when to change your relationship status ugh), so I’ve always ensured that I’ve been mindful with what I post,  out of courtesy making sure I let them know privately any developments that may cause shock or upset before posting publicly. This is always a hard balance to strike. When you decide to stay friendly with an ex it’s difficult to know how much you should tell them, censoring some of the time but ensuring they know enough so they don’t feel like they’re being lied to or given mixed signals. I hate ill feeling, particularly between two people that clearly meant a lot to each-other, but I have to admit staying friendly with exes does complicate things and sometimes a clean and bitter break can’t actually be easier to traverse.
So anyway, I couldn’t help but think of Calvin when I saw the images of her looking oh so cute and snuggly with Tom. We’ve all felt that feeling in the pit of the stomach and the scary increase of heart rate when we hear that our ex has been getting close to someone, or  when we see a flirtatious comment under a fb pictures, but to see these beachy picture-perfect stills splashed over newspapers and websites, and no doubt tweeted directly thousands of times day….well that’s gotta hurt, whatever the reason or circumstance of the break up. This is the only thing that slightly bothers me, if the break up is as fresh as it appears, out of kindness/respect I would personally have kept it under wraps a bit longer, but then again everyone says it was Calvin's retisence to settle down that lead to Taylor calling it a day. 

An ongoing theme is that we don't know what's going on, so why do we pretend to be able to give valid opinion?!

What bothered me more about all the reports regarding this evolving love/break up story is the glaring double standards and they’re what really spurred me to write this post and feel like there could be something positive to come out of writing about a stranger’s relationship - something which I wouldn’t usually want to comment on.  On the Daily Mail there were the sort of comments that make me despair and wonder whether we’ve been put in a time machine and catapulted to the past without being informed. Luckily some of the commenters were pointing out the unjust nature of what can only be called ‘slut shaming’ , but the fact that high profile journalists, and female ones at that, were writing such drivel is incredibly disappointing, not to mention incredibly unhelpful. These articles constantly want to remind us of Taylor’s past boyfriend’s and flings in a way that suggest they believe her number of exes to be too high. The fact of the matter is though, if someone is single, but extremely appealing as a potential date or partner like Taylor, it is fairly likely they are going to continue to form new relationships following on from a split. When I see the back catalogue of males we are told Taylor has dated since her relationships with Joe Jonas, it feels fairly modest compared to many of the numbers some of my friends have racked up. When you date and explore relationships you are working out what you want and don’t want out of a team mate, trying them on for size to a degree, and sometimes they just don’t fit. It seems fair dos to me that you should move on and keep working out what and who you want out of life and try and find someone that fits a bit better. You have to be incredibly lucky to find that first time…if ever. You also have to take into the account the dating scene in America which is very different to us over here…it’s far more acceptable to be dating a few people at a time until it’s made exclusive.

I also want to remind people that Taylor was in her teen/early twenties during a lot of these high profile relationships. Yes, in some ways she’s probably grown up faster than the average due to the business she’s in, and due to her clear work ethic and ambition which will have lead her to spending a lot of her life surrounded with older people - much of her entry into adulthood dealing very grown up decisions and situations. However, in many way’s she will have had an affected or even stunted her adulthood, her celebrity status no doubt effecting the ease of forming honest and equal relationships. For people to form such harsh and damning based on her love life during her early twenties feels grossly unfair to me. These are the years we are consistently learning about ourselves, with major setback and triumphs regularly punctuating. If we don’t truly know who we are or who we want to be how the bloody hell can we be sure what we want in a partner. To me it feels fairly inevitable that during this age some of us will make poor choices or be tempted by some unsuitable characters, but my in my case at least, scrambling with these bad eggs was helpful in my quest for healthy love.

Taylor has always been the artist parents have been happy for their kids to listen to. She was always deemed a better role model, in comparison to the likes of Rihanna for example. Perhaps Taylor’s love life and the media with publicises it in this rather old fashioned ‘she get’s around’ way upsets the people who looked to Taylor to be an angelic guide to their offspring. There’s numerous holes in this too….First there’s the assumption she’s sleeping with all the men listed in these articles time-lining her track record - we don’t know, and nor should we. But if she was/has then what the heck is wrong with that? If the woman in question has a healthy view of sex, and doesn’t see it as something she has to do to feel validated, but simply enjoys it, what would be the issue if she was having sex with multiple people, let alone having sex with one person she is dating at that point in time.

Another thing that irked me was the unfounded assumption that because she’s ‘gone through’ a few high profile boyfriends that she must be a nightmare, hard to live with, needy, high maintenance and so on…. Why do people instantly assume that her behaviour or character has been the fuel for the deterioration in the relationship? When you look at some of the men in her past they have had just as many other partners in their love timelines, yet we don’t assume they are difficult to date. Another double standard.

My last thought is that people often prefer a victim, an underdog. She’s beautiful, she’s rich, she’s talented, but ‘aww she can’t keep a man’. It’s as though people needed that blip on her Gold-star, A —list life to feel like they relate to her. They feel more affection for someone that has been wronged, needs looking after, or tragic in some way - because they are things that happen to us normal folk and prove that she’s not this invisible, perfect human. You’d think we could be inspired by her strength, and ability to move on. Our response makes it feel like we’d rather she fester in post break-up grief.

By now she is a PR pro, and will know how to manipulate certain things to suit her ambitious plans.  Whatever the truth is and whatever the media mist is, no one should have to sacrifice happiness or love, or be made to feel bad for wanting to ensure their life is filled with it.

According to Calvin ‘She’s just doing her thing’….I say, carry on girl.


P.S Hope you understand this article was not written to wade in on something which should be a private matter, but because I think it provides a reason to talk about a wider problem. 

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