SNAKE AWARENESS

Demi Lovato Calls Bullshit on Taylor Swift’s Girl Squad Feminism

In a new Glamour interview, Demi Lovato questions the images Swift promotes of size-zero girl squads and self-serving feminism.

Danny Moloshok / Reuters

In the olden days, we thought the most effective way to stop a snake was to cut off its head. That was before Snapchat. In July, Kim Kardashian West used social media to out Taylor Swift’s serpentine streak. Through exclusive footage Kardashian confirmed that Swift, who had publicly condemned Kanye West’s “Famous” lyrics, actually approved of the song from the get-go. It was one small editing assignment for Kim’s social media intern, but one giant leap for mankind. Yeezy-clad Internet denizens from Camilla Belle to Katy Perry flocked to their nearest #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty. Calvin Harris rejoiced, Selena Gomez cried, and Khloé Kardashian tweeted a fake picture of Chloë Grace Moretz’s asshole.

As the dust began to settle on the rubble of Taylor Swift’s career, the party slowly fizzled out. Taylor went into hiding, Tom Hiddleston recommitted himself to fashion/abstinence, and the battle of the over-enthusiastically accented K/Chloes came to a close. Luckily for the rest of us, there’s one celebrity vigilante who refuses to leave well enough alone. Demi Lovato may have spent the last decade trying to step out of Selena Gomez’s shadow and/or write a song of the summer, but she’s not about to let her questionable credentials stop her from randomly putting Taylor Swift on blast.

In her new Glamour cover interview, the girl who introduced Joe Jonas to marijuana called Taylor Swift out for her hypocritical feminism and her size-zero girl squad. Lovato articulated her own feminism, which includes “just speaking out” about issues like the wage gap, before turning to Swift. “To be honest, and this will probably get me in trouble,” Lovato began, “I don’t see anybody in any sort of squad that has a normal body. It’s kind of this false image of what people should look like. And what they should be like, and it’s not real.” She continued, “I think that having a song and a video about tearing Katy Perry down, that’s not women’s empowerment.”

Demi Lovato knows that she has no business going after Taylor, and that it will probably get her in “trouble” in the long run. But Demi—God bless her—isn’t starting drama for personal gain. She’s in this for a pure and simple love of the shit-talking game. If Lovato ever had a single fuck to give, she donated it to charity long before this November cover story. Back in February, Lovato came for Swift with all the misguided confidence of Donald Trump posing for a taco bowl picture. Not only did the former Disney star attack the pop princess way back before her public outing—she went after her for making a $250,000 donation to Kesha for Dr. Luke-related legal costs.

Lovato’s basic argument was that as a feminist, Swift should speak out on behalf of sexual assault survivors—not just throw money at Kesha like she’s Tom Hiddleston after a particularly long outdoor makeout sesh. While Lovato’s point is not a bad one, attacking an incredibly popular celebrity for her charitable giving was arguably her worst idea since purity rings. At the time, Swift’s army did not take kindly to Lovato’s proclamation that, “I’m also ready for self-proclaimed feminists to start speaking out or taking action for women’s rights.” They took even less kindly to her snide subtweet, “Take something to Capitol Hill or actually speak out about something and then I’ll be impressed.” After the Swifties descended on Lovato’s social media, the “Cool for the Summer” singer quickly clapped back. “There’s no ‘rivalry,’” Lovato insisted. “I just give more fucks than other people and would rather start a dialogue ABOUT WOMEN COMING FORWARD ABOUT BEING RAPED than throw money at one person.”

For a while there, it looked like Swift and her squad’s reign of gluten-free, leggy terror was powerful enough to squash any and all naysayers. But now that Swift’s innocent public image has been permanently torn asunder, her various discontents are finding refuge in the backlash Kim K created. For Katy Perry, that means a triumphant-ish performance at the DNC, and a well-deserved vacation with Orlando Bloom’s penis. For Calvin Harris, it means continuing to text Taylor Swift. (Seriously, dude?) And for Demi Lovato, this post-squad reality means never, ever having to say you’re sorry.

In a Twitter apology published in the wake of the Glamour story, Lovato turned convention on its head by refusing to apologize. Lovato tried a half-explanation for her anti-Taylor diatribe, tweeting, “Don’t forget that words can be taken out of context when doing interviews.” However, she prefaced that sentiment with a description of an interview that doesn’t sound out of context at all: “I get asked questions. I answer them. Sue me…still not apologizing for saying what everyone wants to say.” Lovato rounded off her Tweet-storm with a tried and true deflection: “I don’t understand why people care so much about what I say in interviews? Do y’all watch the news? Don’t y’all got shit to worry about?”

Here, Lovato is taking a page from Selena “I’ve never tweeted about Black Lives Matter” Gomez’s playbook. Gomez all but coined this diversionary tactic back in July, when she attempted to come to her friend Taylor Swift’s defense by tweeting a big “nothing to see here” sign. Unfortunately, Gomez’s convenient plea to elevate the national debate fell on deaf ears, as did her convoluted argument that saying Black Lives Matter doesn’t actually matter.

Americans have been forced to swallow a lot of B.S. this year—apparently, Pepe the frog is a hate symbol, not paying taxes makes you smart, and Ted Cruz isn’t the zodiac killer. But celebrities self-righteously begging their fans to focus on real issues might just take the cake. Additionally, as a millennial content consumer, I’m personally offended by Lovato’s assertion that someone can’t both watch the news and diligently follow a trail of Taylor Swift tears—let a girl contain multitudes! If the 24-year-old Lovato wants to add “Taylor Swift Snake Awareness” to the list of admirable issues that she publicly speaks out about, then more power to her. But when you have a history of making headlines for your extra-curricular Swift-bashing, you can’t complain when your very public gossip session makes headlines. Lovato can claim innocence all she wants, but tweeting something doesn’t make it true—just ask Khloé Kardashian.