Here it is.
I would love to hear your response to my latest column, “Taylor Swift’s Breakups” for The Huffington Post.
As a mom of two teenagers and a preteen, I often turn to my children in an effort to understand popular culture. I keep asking them why kids love Taylor Swift so much. Their response is they don’t know.
That is exactly how I feel. I really don’t get why Taylor Swift is becoming more and more popular and, at least according to one CNN story, is now taking over the world.
Many people argue that she isn’t the best singer currently performing. She isn’t a great dancer as evident in her music videos or her performances. A lot of other talented singers and artists can outperform Taylor, but for some reason, she seems unstoppable at this point.
So what is the attraction of Taylor Swift? Why is she making millions as a singer? I do not have the answer, but one thing that is clear with Taylor is that every time she “breaks up” she makes money. The amount of money seems to rise with every breakup.
Who would have thought that breaking up could bring so much success?
But this is happening with Taylor Swift. Every time she breaks up with a boyfriend, she writes a song that sells. And it sells a lot. And some of her former partners write songs about the breakups, and they sell as well.
Not only did Swift breakup with her boyfriends, but she also broke up with Nashville and moved to the pop world in New York City. The breakup and move has made her a huge profit.
Most recently, Swift broke up with Spotify and as a result her new “1989” album is the first album to go platinum this year, with 1.287 million sold in its first week. This is an incredible feat; it is now the most successful record debut since 2002.
Her breakups, or more precisely Taylor Swift’s ability to win from her breakups, could be a life lesson for women around the world.
Taylor’s use of a “breakup” can provide both a symbolic lesson and a tool for many women around the world who are entrenched in traditional feminine roles that hold them down or keep them from moving forward.
Women have come a long way from even my mother’s generation. My mother and the women of her generation, living in Asia, would not have challenged the patriarchal culture, tradition, and practices which oppressed and suffocated women. My mother’s generation would not have challenged the blind obedience to men which was so heavily entrenched in the Confucian philosophy embedded in our Asian lifestyle and culture.
In all cultures, women find it hard to break away from their traditional upbringing, culture, and religion. Much of that traditional upbringing, culture, and religion is used to keep women subordinate and subjugated to men. In such a world, it is hard to “break up” and move on. Women may fear the unknown future and the possible challenges that may come from a breakup.
I do not know why Taylor Swift broke up with her boyfriends; relationships often end for complicated reasons. But her breakup with Nashville and country music and her breakup with Spotify were intentional and calculated. She wanted to redefine herself and her music. She wanted more freedom in how her music was distributed and purchased. These breakups were intentional.
Women who live in abusive families, in abusive relationships and hurtful situations would do well to consider carefully the possibility of a breakup. Women need to get out of such relationships, but doing so may be challenging. The Domestic Violence Intervention Program of Iowa, along with other organizations that address domestic violence, reports that women are significantly “more likely to be killed in the two weeks after leaving than at any other time during the relationship.”
Women in abusive situations need to break up with care and with the support of family, friends, service providers, law enforcement and the community. It takes hard work and careful planning and determined steps. Our society needs to make sure the resources are available to help women make such breakups. Because while such breakups will not bring our sisters money, but they will bring priceless freedom and possibilities of new life.
Although my children and I don’t know why Swift is so popular around the world, we take one life lesson from Swift’s life: breakups can be profitable in terms of creating new opportunities for fullness of life.
So as a community, we need to create the resources to provide the support for women who are in abusive situations to take the challenging step of breaking up. Breaking up can be life giving.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Grace Ji-Sun Kim is Visiting Researcher at Georgetown University. She is the author of 7 books, Embracing the Other (forthcoming); Theological Reflections on “Gangnam Style” (Palgrave) co-written with Joseph Cheah; Reimagining with Christian Doctrines (Palgrave) co-edited with Jenny Daggers; Contemplations from the Heart (Wipf & Stock); Colonialism, Han and the Transformative Spirit (Palgrave); The Holy Spirit, Chi, and the Other (Palgrave); and The Grace of Sophia (Pilgrim Press). She is a co-editor with Dr. Joseph Cheah for the Palgrave Macmillan Book Series, “Asian Christianity in Diaspora”.