The Swift/Minaj Feud: What’s the Bigger Picture

If you’ve been on Twitter in the last week, you’ve probably seen many tweets about drama between Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj. Following the announcements for nominations for the VMAs, Nicki took to Twitter to share her frustration that her hit “Anaconda” was not nominated for Video of the Year.

Nicki commented that if she was a different “kind” of artist, she likely would have been nominated. Taylor took offense, feeling Nicki had called her out, as she was the only female nominated for Video of the Year. Cue the drama.

Taylor called Nicki out for attempting to pit women against each other and Nicki responded by claiming that only videos celebrating women with slim bodies would be nominated.

What’s interesting with both of these women, and what their 140 characters or less tweets allude to, is that this Twitter spat isn’t about two artists hashing out some high school level drama for the world to see. These women are battling issues that are important to discuss in music and pop culture today. Though this could’ve been construed as a passive aggressive Twitter fight between two competitors, it’s really about the two bigger issues that women in music, and Hollywood, face today.

1. Nicki’s Grievance

Nicki had valid questions as to why her video was not nominated, despite being nominated for Best Female Video and Best Hip-Hop Video. Historically, award shows have been known to favor white, pop artists who fit society’s narrow ideas of body image and beauty. Nicki’s complaint was not necessarily directed at Swift, but it was intended to point out this problem in the music industry. Minaj refers to the slight by wondering if she was a different “kind” of artist, would she have been nominated? “Kind” could refer to a lot of things: race, body type, genre, gender, and all are areas the music industry needs to grow to include and appreciate more. Media outlets are beginning to discuss many of the issues that Nicki alluded to, which Minaj has celebrated in her Instagram post.

2. Taylor’s Objection

Taylor, who recently discovered she’s a feminist, fought back against what she felt was an unsupportive culture for women in music. She believed Nicki was calling her out specifically and was trying to pit women against each other. Swift knows that women already face a lot of obstacles in the music industry and is a huge advocate for women supporting each other. While Swift had a valid point, she missed the bigger picture. But in the spirit of trying to support each other and advance women in music in general, Taylor realized her mistake, apologized to Nicki both on Twitter and over the phone.

As both icons have resolved their “feud,” the bigger issues that caused it still exist. Minaj and Swift’s grievances have begun to ignite a discussion about equality and acceptance in the music industry as well as the importance of women supporting each other. Let’s hope everyone leaves the drama behind and talks about the real issues at stake.

Iris Proctor
Iris is the director of ArborWoman.