I've been listening to "thank u, next" on repeat for over 48 hours. Ever since Ariana Grande released the breakup track to end all breakup tracks, I've been pulling it apart and finding a new thing to love about it with every listen. Grande thanks her exes for what they've taught her—including the recently departed Mac Miller, whom Grande calls "an angel." I tear up every time Ari declares the next person she's dating is herself. "How she handles pain, that shit's amazing" is my new morning mantra. Don't even get me started on this lyric:
One day I'll walk down the aisle
Holding hands with my mama
I'll be thanking my dad
'Cause she grew from the drama
A touching ode to her mom AND crippling shade in one breath? Grande was on to something when she said this song was a "smash." There is only one thing about this latest bop that immediately made me cringe, and it's far from Grande's fault. From the first moment I heard it, I knew there would be a million people saying, "Hey, Taylor Swift! This is how it's done."
And, of course, it is not just Twitter getting in on the pile-on. Revolt released an article with the headline: Ariana Grande did what Taylor Swift couldn't. According to Revolt:
I guess Ariana Grande just did what Taylor Swift couldn't do: create an idyllic breakup anthem that anyone can vibe with and understand. Because while Taylor's are filled with that stiletto to the throat I'll show you final decree, Ari found peace in her chaos.
And that's a far bigger "fuck you" than anything Swift has ever written.
Though this article, and many of the above tweets, were written by women, I'd like to point out the internal misogyny and sexism of these statements. While "stiletto to the throat" alone is pointed gender-based language, the entire sentiment reveals one disappointing truth about our culture: woman shouldn't be angry, they should be thankful.
The truth is you'd never see an article comparing the way Ed Sheeran and John Mayer talk about women's bodies. No one's pointing out how Grande handles herself with more poise than say, Justin Timberlake, who built an entire solo career out of bashing his ex Britney Spears. Because Timberlake is entitled to his hurt and rage, even over a decade later.
Swift herself has a dicey history with feminism at best, and some of us haven't forgotten how long it took for her to speak out about this administrations' abhorrent treatment of women, immigrants, and people of color. That aside, it's exceedingly disheartening to see one amazing female artist used to tell another to take a seat. In 2018, the last message we need to send to women is that they need to simmer down and find inner peace.
Which, of course, is not Grande's intention at all. Why do you think she released this track on a Saturday night right before Pete Davidson would have to perform on SNL? That's what I call a power move. But ultimately, "thank u, next" is not about her exes at all. It's a song about self-love and empowerment. Grande is clearly ready to move on to the next chapter of her life, and I have a feeling she'd say "thank u, next" to anyone who'd pull her into Swift's narrative, one she never asked to be a part of.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.