Earlier this week, MTV released the nominations for the 2015 Video Music Awards. On Tuesday, Nicki Minaj vented her frustration with the nominations on Twitter. Her video for Anaconda did not receive a nomination for Video of the Year or Best Choreography, despite its enormous influence on pop culture this past year. The cover art was inescapable online, and attempts to recreate the choreography were similarly ubiquitous.
In her tweets Minaj calls out racism in the music industry as well as the double standards set for women of color. Her first tweet read: "If I was a different 'kind' of artist "Anaconda" would be nominated for best choreo and best vid of the year as well."
Minaj is referring to the fact that she is not within the "thin and white" power structure the music industry glorifies and rewards. She continued to tweet, noting: "When the 'other' girls drop a video that breaks records and impacts culture they get their nomination."
And: "If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year."
These last two caught the attention of Taylor Swift, who had been nominated in the Video of the Year category and missing the first tweet interpreted the following two to be directed at her video for Bad Blood. Swift then fired back at Minaj for the perceived insult, tweeting:
"I've done nothing but love & support you. It's unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your spot."
Aside from exposing her own narcissism and paranoia, Swift's response also exposed some big issues in the industry, and with white feminism.
It's worth noting that Taylor Swift has been on a feminist happy kick over the past year or so. She's outspoken about feminism, which is great given that only few celebrities are. In a way she seems to be promoting her girl power image as a way to shake off her serial dater image. Her Instagram has turned into a veritable who's who of tall pretty blonde models baking cookies, having sleepovers and doing crafts. Whether it's a promotional tactic or if it's genuine, it's good to see women promoting women, supporting women and embracing feminism.
Swift's response to Minaj's tweet seems to be in defense of this kind of feminism: the kind that supports women and calls out women who knock each other down. What she missed is that feminism has to extend further than just tall, thin women who bake and do crafts.
If Taylor Swift is going to be a good feminist, she has to be intersectional. Swift should recognize that Nicki Minaj, because she is a black woman, faces challenges and discrimination that are different than those she will face as a white woman.
A video like Bad Blood being nominated for Video of the Year may be a feminist triumph. The video has an overwhelmingly female cast, and shows women in empowering roles. However, Anaconda, an equally influential video was not nominated, and Minaj's argument is that it is because she isn't the right kind of artist (read: white) and the video doesn't promote "slim bodies." Anaconda is a video featuring women of color promoting full figures.
Taylor's reaction only proves Nicki right. Swift thought she was being progressive and inclusive in her feminism, as shown in her response about supporting women, but in reality she was only looking as far as feminism affected her.