The One that (Surprisingly) Kinda Pissed Me Off

It's a well established fact that I love me some Taylor Swift. I have regular Swifty dance parties in my room, know all the words to all her songs, and think she's funny, sweet, and beautiful (and that she treats her fans very well). That's why I was surprised I had such a negative reaction to her new single Speak Now. I get that all of Taylor's songs have this kind of wish fulfillment element to them. Love Story actually rewrites Romeo & Juliet (which... okay? But at least use historically accurate costumes in your video, girlfriend), and at the end of the You Belong to Me video, she ends up getting the guy. And in Picture to Burn? She gets to live the fantasy of every wronged ex and smash up her ex-boyfriend's things.

The thing I've really tuned into lately, though, is how nasty she can be to the "other girl." And she always attacks the "other girl" in the same way. See:

You Belong to Me:

or Teardrops On My Guitar

In videos, "other girl" is always depicted with opposite coloring than her and generally comes off as a harlot when compared to Tay-tay's sweet innocence and longing.

Speak Now is the first time I've seen it really come out in an actual song. Roommate J (frequent dance party partner) and I, after listening to the whole thing, just kind of looked at one another and were like, "Hmmm... kinda rude, right?" Maybe we just watch too much Say Yes to the Dress or we're just the types to sit and pine silently while the boy we love marries the "other girl."

Speak Now is a song about a girl crashing (read: ruining) another girl's wedding, and... it comes off as pretty mean-spirited:

I am not the kind of girl Who should be rudely barging in on a white veil occasion But you are not the kind of boy Who should be marrying the wrong girl

I sneak in and see your friends, and her snotty little family All dressed in pastel And she is yelling at a bridesmaid, somewhere back inside a room Wearing a gown shaped like a pastry

This is surely not what you thought it would be I lose myself in a daydream where I stand and say

Don’t say yes, run away now I’ll meet you when you’re out of the church at the backdoor Don’t wait or say a single vow You need to hear me out and they said speak now

Fun gestures are exchanged And the organ starts to play a song that sounds like a death march And I am hiding in the curtains It seems that I was uninvited by your lovely bride-to-be

She floats down the aisle like a pageant queen But I know you wish it was me, you wish it was me Don’t you?

Don’t say yes, run away now I’ll meet you when you’re out of the church at the backdoor Don’t wait or say a single vow You need to hear me out and they said speak now

Don’t say yes, run away now I’ll meet you when you’re out of the church at the backdoor Don’t wait or say a single vow Your time is running out and they said speak now

I hear the preacher say speak now or forever hold your peace There’s the silence, there’s my last chance I stand up with shaking hands, all eyes on me Horrified looks from everyone in the room But I’m only looking at you

I am not the kind of girl Who should be rudely barging in on a white veil occasion But you are not the kind of boy Who should be marrying the wrong girl

Don’t say yes, run away now I’ll meet you when you’re out of the church at the backdoor Don’t wait or say a single vow You need to hear me out and they said speak now

And you say lets run away now I’ll meet when I’m out of my tux at the backdoor Baby I didn’t say my vows, so glad you were around When they said ‘Speak now’

GIRL. YOU WERE NOT INVITED. WHY DID YOU GO, IF NOT TO MAKE A SPECTACLE AND RUIN "OTHER GIRL"'s BIG DAY? (On a completely different note... what is up with her awful taste in men? If this girl really is as awful as she implies, then why would she want to get back together with the guy who fell in love with her?)

And this is the other thing that really bugs me about this song: But I know you wish it was me, you wish it was me/Don't you?

How do you know? That's a little presumptuous, isn't it? You Belong to Me covers the exact same topic, but here it just seems smug. (And, if it were really true, why did they break up in the first place?)

The idea of the "other girl" being bitchy, dumb, or, worse, slutty/promiscuous is ALSO something I've been noticing in a number of YA novels. She's the maneater trying to steal the main character's man--a bitchy cheerleader, or an ex-best friend. She rarely ever has a personality beyond that.

I'm guilty of this, too. There's a scene in BW where Syd notices a barmaid coming onto North. She's actually a little relentless about it, though North makes it clear he's not interested. Syd is pretty innocent and chaste on all accounts, which makes that scene read like I was coming down the barmaid for wanting that kind of thing from our dashing, angsty wizard. At the time, I was only trying to inject a little humor into the scene before Owain entered the picture, but it no longer feels harmless to me.

I can't believe I'm about to type these words, but I actually thought Gossip Girl had an interesting take on the "other girl." Spoilers for this season follow, so don't read if you haven't seen them and intend to watch.

05_gossipgirl_560x373

We find out that after Chuck was shot at the end of last season's finale, he was saved by Eva, a beautiful, kind, loving woman who took him in and nursed him back to health when an ambulence never arrived to help him (they were in a tough area of Prague, I believe?). She is the exact opposite of Blair, both in personality and appearance. Now, I'm always on Team Blair and Chuck/Blair is the only reason I'm still even a little invested in the show, but Eva was clearly the better woman of the two. Every bit of dirt Blair tried to dig up on her to ruin Eva and Chuck's relationship backfired (including her catching Eva selling back an expensive watch Chuck bought for her, only to have Eva explain that she did it get money to help Chuck's butler/driver/something or other--sorry, wasn't paying close enough attention to this bit!). She uncovers, via an otherwise worthless Dan Humphrey, that Eva's financial circumstances forced the poor thing into prostitution to try to make ends meet. Hooker with a heart of gold, indeed.

Chuck stands by her, though. Which, naturally, forces Blair to up her game. She plants Chuck's once-lost passport (he was mugged before he was shot and the passport--which, omg, the picture, the picture!--was sent back to Lilly by the French[?] police) in Eva's suitcase, and claimed that Eva lied about not knowing who Chuck was when she helped him. THAT gets Chuck to break things off with her and, when he discovers Blair's deceit, to revert back to Mean This-Means-War Chuck.

Blair, for her part, claims she was only saving him from Eva and kept insisting that Chuck didn't belong with her. Sound familiar?

One of the things I really liked about Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins was the complicated relationship that St. Clair had with his girlfriend (Ellie) vs. the relationship that the reader wanted him to have with Anna. You come to know Anna and love her so much for her wit, intelligence, and outlook on life, and THAT'S what makes the reader think she really is the best match for St. Clair (and vice versa). It's not about putting the "other girl" down or slut-shaming her, but using Anna herself to demonstrate why the pair belongs together.

Anyway, I could ramble on about this forever, but I'd love to hear everyone's take... comment away!

P.S. Tay-tay, please write and release more songs like this:

Not every relationship is a fairy tale, not ever girl dances outside in her best dress while it's raining, and very few people actually own white horses... but many of us have had relationships like this.