Nicki, Taylor and the Catfight That Wasn't

Nicki and Taylor You may have heard that Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift got into an EPIC Twitter fight last week. The Telegraph referred to the incident as a “spat.” “Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift and the Catfight that Completely Missed the Point” read a headline in The Independent. A Google search for “Taylor Swift Nicki Minaj feud” returns over eight million results.Sounds like these ladies really duked it out, huh?…Actually, their exchange wasn’t nearly that contentious.What really happened was:

  1. Nicki, feeling snubbed after “Anaconda” didn’t get a VMA nomination for Video of the Year, took to Twitter to call out bias in the music industry. “If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year,” she wrote in one tweet.
  1. Taylor took the “women with slim bodies” comment as a knock on her video for “Bad Blood,” which was nominated for Video of the Year (and features a gang of her model friends). She accused Nicki of “pitting women against each other.”
  1. Nicki wrote back, basically telling Taylor, Look, girl, this is not all about you.
  1. The internet freaked out. Several other celebrities weighed in. The media’s thinkpiece factory went into overdrive.
  1. Taylor called Nicki to apologize, and they had a long talk. Taylor later tweeted out a public mea culpa: “I thought I was being called out. I missed the point, I misunderstood, then misspoke. I’m sorry, Nicki.” Nicki accepted her apology, saying, “Everyone makes mistakes. She gained so much more respect from me. Let’s move on.” Everything was all good between them again.

 (New York Magazine has a more detailed timeline of the back-and-forth that includes commentary from notable third parties.)To be sure, the conversation between Nicki and Taylor was illuminating. It highlighted the fact that white feminists need to do a better job of incorporating intersectionality into their fight for equality. It also reminded us that there are limits to the “women should support other women” mantra of feminism in 2015; disagreeing with or disliking one woman should not mean that you have to hand in your feminist card.What their disagreement didn’t show was two women engaged in a “bitter, continuous hostility” or a “mutual enmity or quarrel that is…prolonged or inveterate.” That’s how Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com define “feud,” and the Nicki/Taylor debate did not fit that bill.So let’s ease up on the drama-filled, battle-to-end-all battle descriptions of the incident, okay, media? Maybe we could even thank Taylor and Nick for starting some valuable public conversations.