Lena Dunham Has Declared Today Taylor Swift Day. Here’s Why We All Need To Get Better At Celebrating Female Success

Female jealousy can be utterly corrosive, but Lena D reminds us why we need to get better at bigging each other up...


by Daisy Buchanan |
Published on

Happy Taylor Swift day! We’ve all been looking forward to 1989 more than we anticipate the beep of the microwave when we’ve just got home, we’re drunk and we’ve put a pie in. We’re joined in our fangirling by another fan who provokes deep feeling in all of us. Lena Dunham has declared the 27th October ‘National Taylor Swift Day’ and we don’t quite know what to do with ourselves. Our Lena love is strengthening and deepening our Taylor love. The crush is cubed. We’re a fan of the fandom. It’s a fangasm. Everything is fan-dabby-dozy.

When you’re a famous, allying yourself with another famous is akin to watching countries signing treaties and promising to join forces during a war. It’s sometimes safer to be a Switzerland of a celeb, knowing that when you become someone’s mate, you’re not just falling in with someone who you might go for wines with. You’ve got to consider their ‘personal brand’. If you get close, it’s all fun, games, winter latte clinking and sweaty hat swops - until a week later when they snog your ex, or take up Scientology, or tell you that the relationship is contingent upon your willingness to RT a tweet promoting their new and preposterous juice cleanse business.

We like to watch women tearing each other down. It gets people to watch TV and read magazines and go to the movies.

And when you’re a famous woman, it’s harder still. We like to watch women tearing each other down. It gets people to watch TV and read magazines and go to the movies. Are we interested in heartwarming tales of lovely BFF-dom, or do we get giddy when we read that Poor Jen and Courtney Cox are no longer mates, that Kim Cattrall talked to no-one for all six seasons of SATC and is rumoured to stick pins in an SJP doll, and that VB hates the other Spices so much she won’t use the same staircase as them? If you’re a lady in the public eye, and you fall out with a lady mate, you have to brace yourself for the inevitable response. ‘THIS PROVES WOMEN ARE COMPETITIVE BITCHES WHO CANNOT SUPPORT EACH OTHER! FEMINISM WILL FAIL!’ is the subtext of the false sympathy. When birds can’t be buddies, people fall over themselves to crow.

READ MORE: In Defence Of Dressing Like Taylor Swift

Now, I don’t think feminism depends entirely on us all liking each other. Some women, like some men, are really fucking tedious. But I do think that lots of women are bloody brilliant, and when we publicly celebrate each other’s brilliance, we’re shoring ourselves up against the sexist storms. Women are constantly criticised for seeing each other as rivals, but we’re surrounded by so much tokenism it’s only natural that we’ve learned to see other women as a potential threat. Women live with a one in, one out policy. There was only one girl in Top Gun who got to fly any planes. Jo Brand and Sarah Millican do not tend to get booked for the same panel shows at the same time. If you’re a girl and you’re good at singing, you’re the new Mariah. If you’re a girl who’s good at singing and you’re bigger than a size 12, you’re the new Adele. The quota for women - or a woman - is always full. So why would we waste our breath telling people that we think another woman is completely brilliant, when that means they’ll get chosen to fill the space, and we’re probably doing ourselves out of a job?

Because bigging each other up is the only way to make more jobs. Whenever I see a woman doing something exciting, impressive, or just cool, I feel like it’s a triumph for the team. And I know, from attempting to do exciting things myself, that when you’re a woman it’s rare for the good stuff to just fall out of the sky. Because the world isn’t set up to give us opportunities, we have to take them, and make them. To experience envy is to feel a sickly, poisonous sense of ‘Why them, and why not me?’ But fate hasn’t picked your rival over you. Your rival is following their personal own dream or mission, and forging their own path - which means they’re not your rival at all.

It’s the mates, mums, aunties and sisters who understand what it’s like to get snared up second guessing yourself, who know how to talk you off the ledge of uncertainty.

I have known bitter, corrosive jealousy. I (very) briefly met Taylor at a festival I was covering for a teen mag, and I was so envious that I thought I might throw up on my wellies. She was tall, slim, and too beautiful to look at. You could put her hair on a sack of potatoes and she’d still be ten times hotter than me. Similarly, as much as I adore Girls, I’m furious with Lena for coming up with it, for stealing the idea I never knew I had. The jealousy burns like a car seat on a sunny day. But Taylor can’t help her height or hair any more than I can help mine. And if I used my jealous energy to write my own TV show about young women, the success of Girls probably means I’ve got a better chance of getting it made. At this stage, it would be short sighted of any producer to say ‘We’ve done our show about women for this decade, sorry.’

READ MORE: Lena Dunham Has Released A Ton Of Brilliant Advice Videos In YouTube

My biggest cheerleaders have always been women. It’s the mates, mums, aunties and sisters who understand what it’s like to get snared up second guessing yourself, who know how to talk you off the ledge of uncertainty. They’re the ones who make a point of praising you, because they know women don’t grown up assuming that we’re good. Our confidence can only benefit from external reinforcement. And I’ve always strived to big up my girls. To remember those pangs of jealousy are a sign that someone else has done something brilliant, and that brilliance is to be encouraged and applauded. When I succeed, and get to fly the plane, I’m not there to take as much as I can before another woman shoots me down. My goal is to get us all airborne.

Follow Daisy on Twitter @NotRollerGirl

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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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