The Internet Standoms Pop Culture

It’s okay to not want your fave to know you exist

The internet is a window that needs some curtains. Or shutters. Or drapes. Anything that creates a semblance of privacy, respect, and boundaries I think would do the internet some good. At the very least, maybe it would end the rampant, unchecked sexualization, fetishization, objectification, and dehumanization of celebrities by fans.

The internet and social media have made it possible for just about anybody to see anything. For those of us who are fans of celebrities (reminder: real-life people), this means that thirst tweet, smutty fic, or fan edit we just posted could very well be seen by the people we stan. And if that doesn’t embarrass us, then we need to have a conversation about fan culture.

In 2021, Twitter and TikTok users are both the poster-children for and the spokespeople against toxic fan culture. I regularly see tweets and videos that explain why people are so judgmental of fans in the first place. For a brief moment a few months ago, there was a trend where people admitted which celebrities they think they could pull on their best day. Now, there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with this trend, mostly because it’s not that serious and it does help humanize celebrities. But there were some people who made it obvious they were not joking. For these fans, this trend was a microcosm of how normal it is to sexualize celebrities.

A few years ago, back in One Direction’s heyday, Larry Stylinson was the pinnacle of toxic fan culture. While shipping real-life people is hotly debated in fandoms, Larry Stylinson shippers are considered radicals in the shipping community.

For most Directioners, even if we thought it would be cute for Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson to date in real life, we left it at that. It was simply a thought we briefly had before moving on with our lives. We did not show up to concerts, meet and greets, and other public events on a mission to make it clear to the boys that we were obsessed with their sexualities and insistent on fetishizing their (probably non-existent) relationship. To this day, toxic Larries think Harry and Louis are trying to communicate to them through coded messages.

In fandoms where fictitious worlds are brought to life through the power of film and television, toxic fans blur the line between fantasy and reality. Star Wars fans’ (and Disney’s) treatment of John Boyega is one example. Shadow and Bone fans’ treatment of Danielle Galligan is another. In both instances, fans attacked the actors online, even going as far as sending death threats.

Basic human respect and decency dictate sending hate and death threats to anyone is horrible. And sending hate and death threats because a Black actor playing a Black character speaks up about how blockbuster series fail to explore the nuances of characters of color or because an actor playing a character isn’t curvy enough is the epitome of toxic fan culture.

Also, toxic fans are almost always involved when celebrities have to take a hiatus for their mental health. Toxic fans are why Little Mix is now a trio, why Chloe Bailey received so much misogynoir-fueled hate online recently, why Natalie Portman left the spotlight for a brief period of time, why Sulli and Hara are no longer with us, and even why Britney Spears experienced such a public breakdown (why do you think paparazzi were following her so closely? Because fans were too interested in her life).

Luckily there are people who are trying to correct this toxic fan behavior.

Lindsay Webster, of Buzzfeed fame, is a well-known Harry Styles superfan. In a recent YouTube video, she admitted she’s never actually wanted to marry Harry. She’s just a really big fan of who he is and what he does. This is very relatable, and it should be the only opinion held by fans. On Twitter and TikTok, I’ve seen fans echo Webster’s opinion with humor, reminding others in their fandoms that they’re probably not going to ever meet their fave, let alone marry them. Other fans have joked about how they cannot believe they stan a human person, while still others have admitted they never want their ult to know they (or their fan page) exist.

No one is saying you can’t stan celebrities. But celebrities should always be treated like people because they are people. Respect their privacy, respect their boundaries, and remember that they don’t owe us anything.

Keep going to concerts, meet and greets, book signings, red carpets, award shows, and more—but if you meet the celebrity you stan, don’t show them your fics, and don’t pull up the webtoon you drew of them in a furry relationship. It’s really not that hard to rein in the hate, creepiness, and judgment in favor of keeping fan culture light, fun, and enjoyable for everyone.

Even if you’re not one of these toxic fans, I still suggest we all get in the habit of logging off of the internet from time to time. There’s more to life than being a fan—and I say this as one. Go out and experience it. Or, at the very least, start small and go outside to touch some grass.

Keep up with entertainment news and trends and follow our brand-new Pop Culture Instagram account

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

Tech Race Now + Beyond Inequality

Gen Z is bringing cyberbullying back — or are they?

I had never visited Donald Trump’s Instagram page before but, when I went to check it for the first time, I found the oddest thing in the comments. Virtually every other comment was a teenager responding to his post with cyberbullying — yes, cyberbullying. All of these comments were various insulting puns with heart and fairy emojis. These comments tend to be witty bait and switches — “You made my day…worse!” or “You tried your best! Stop trying!” or other similar sentiments. Apparently, it got so bad that Trump turned off his comments. Some critics say that cyberbullying is back in a big way. But I don’t know if this is quite true.

What I do know is that members of Gen Z have been finding new ways to confront people online. Sometimes Zoomers will take aim at innocuous people they view as an easy target, such as millennial Buzzfeed readers or anime-loving band kids. Other times, they’ll go after peers and classmates. But something that has gained my interest is the “cyberbullying” of celebrities and politicians.

You might wonder: Is it cyberbullying if it’s a celebrity? Yes and no. Celebrities are still real people, as are politicians, and any form of harassment can hurt them. However, the act of bullying requires some kind of power imbalance.

Think of it this way: Back in school, bullies would usually target kids who were at least at their level or went after people they felt were less powerful. If a teenager on social media “bullies” the president, the same power imbalance isn’t there. The president isn’t a middle school child, even if he acts like one. He holds power over most of the population, meaning that the power imbalance necessary for bullying isn’t there. The same thing goes for other politicians.

What about celebrities? Well, from my experience, most celebrities who get “bullied” or “canceled” are targeted because of past problematic behavior. It can often be unfair, but most recently, people have been targeting celebrities who support Trump or refuse to speak in favor of Black Lives Matter.

One way this manifests itself is by pulling out “receipts” of racist incidents on social media. Within classrooms and college campuses, a similar pattern happens. Zoomers are perfectly willing to call out racist, sexist, and homophobic acts, especially if they can back up their claims with evidence. Most often, this involves digging up offensive social media posts or comments, rather than simply insulting someone. There are entire Instagram and Twitter accounts dedicated to exposing racists. Other generations might find it unusual, but it’s similar to the hate pages of millennials’ youth. The only difference is that these accounts have a social purpose.

These accounts function in a variety of different ways. Sometimes these accounts call for people to lose academic scholarships, college acceptances, or face disciplinary action for offensive behavior. Others have stated that they will remove the incriminating “receipts” if the person involved writes an apology or makes a donation to a relevant fund. In my experience, most just want to make sure that everyone is held accountable for their actions.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes these accounts go too far. Sometimes they “dox” the people involved and reveal personal information. Sometimes people go as far as to send death threats and hate mail. All of these actions constitute actual cyberbullying. However, we need to separate these actions: Sending death threats to a peer or exposing them to real harm is very different from simply calling them out for racist behavior. It’s certainly different from leaving a harmless comment with a fairy emoji on the president’s Instagram account.

Cyberbullying is alive and well, but so much of this so-called “political cyberbullying” is anything but that. Let me make one thing clear: Holding someone accountable for their reprehensible statements and actions isn’t bullying, it’s justice. We should all draw the line at doxing and threats, but it’s alright to hold people responsible for their actions. At the end of the day, let kids have fun with fairy emojis and puns, so long as they direct their mockery to the right people.

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

The Ultimate Guide to Dating Love + Sex Love Advice

Here’s why your single friend always gives the best relationship advice

Not to toot my own horn, but I think I give excellent dating advice. However, if you were to ask me for my dating credentials, I would hand you a blank piece of paper.

For some, being serially single is not a choice. But for me, it’s a lifestyle.

I have been single for all of my adult life, and I thoroughly enjoy the independence and solitude—which I know freaks people out. While some single people date, I do not.

So how does this make me—and other serially single people—expert at giving dating advice?

Let me let you in on a few secrets of the trade.

The first secret is not actually a secret but a well-known fact: Almost all forms of content are about love.

Save $20 off pleasure products at Lora DiCarlo for Vagina Appreciation Day. Sale runs April 23rd - April 25th.

Even content that exists outside of traditional romance genres usually includes love and sex. For example, that action movie you just watched, was there a romantic arc in it?


Most movies, television shows, and books have provided blueprints for all kinds of relationships. A lot of these blueprints have helped me understand what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like.

I’ve also read more than a fair share of fanfiction. Honestly, when you asked for my dating credentials, I could have sent you the link to AO3 and, if you’ve ever read any fanfiction, you’d have immediately understood why this gives me so much credible dating insight.

Even being someone who grew up alongside the Internet has made many of us mini experts on random topics. Most of us didn’t necessarily seek this information out; it just appeared on our Tumblr, Twitter, or Instagram feeds.

Here’s the real secret: All relationships are the same.

Whether platonic or romantic, open or closed, monogamous or polyamorous, all relationships are made of the same ingredients. The dictionary definition of relationship describes the connection between people. And we all have experience with that. I may not date, but I do have lots of friends.

Some of my friendships have failed while others have thrived. This has helped me gain insight on communication, boundaries, and respect—insight that applies to both platonic and romantic relationships.

I’ve also watched most of my loved ones experience all kinds of different relationships. As you can imagine, being single gives those of us who are serially single plenty of free time to observe other people’s relationships—and, if you’re a Virgo like me, judge these relationships in order to perfect the advice we give to those who may (or may not) ask.

Just because your single friends haven’t dated anyone—casually, seriously, or at all—doesn’t mean we’re not familiar with the territory. All of our observations add to our dating advice credentials.

In fact, we’re kind of like therapists.

Because we’re removed from romantic situations, we have clarity uncolored by personal bias and experiences.

Most importantly, your serially single friends arguably have the most experience with prioritizing themselves and their needs. This makes us adept at keeping your best interests top of mind if you come to us for romantic advice.

We want you to be yourself and to love who you are. We will encourage you to take the time to learn more about your wants, needs, and goals before diving further into romance.

The best advice I can give as a serially single person is to try out being single. Being single has a lot of perks, the top of which is that it can give you the time, space, and energy to explore you who are.

I’m not saying everyone should be single. I’m just saying don’t knock it till you try it.

And, don’t worry. I promise I won’t say “I told you so” when you realize being single helped you become a better romantic partner.

Happy dating!

Looking for more like this? Find more on our Instagram!

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter.

Editor's Picks TV Shows Pop Culture

Don’t be fooled, ‘Ginny and Georgia’ is no ‘Gilmore Girls’

Spoilers Alert

It’s Sunday night and I stumble across the trailer for Ginny and Georgia. The words, “we’re like the ‘Gilmore Girls’ — but with bigger boobs,” play on-screen and I’m instantly intrigued. Because who doesn’t love a mother-daughter duo tv show? More so, when it references the ultimate feel-good Stars Hollow fantasy. So of course I started watching the show expecting something light, but wow, was I wrong. There was so much in this show, maybe too much for me to unpack in one article but here are my thoughts:

Ginny (played by Antonia Gentry) is a fierce feminist and a seemingly strong-headed teenager who was raised by her single mom, Georgia (Brianne Howey). 

“Life is a battle and beauty is a goddamn machine gun.” – Georgia 

Georgia is a sassy force of nature, and we see that over the flashbacks that are peppered through the narrative and her will and determination to protect herself and her children at all costs. She’s always dressed for success – on a mission to dominate a world that was cruel and unfair to her. And yet, she doesn’t stop at anything. She wears her armour like a second skin and no one is given permission to pierce it.

The series begins with Georgia moving to Wellsbury with her two children, Ginny and Austin (Diesel La Torraca). Ginny and Georgia have a fascinating relationship and the mother-daughter duo is complex if anything. They come across as best friends and yet as the show progresses, cracks begin to form within their relationship and ends in ashes (pun intended). 

“I’ve accepted that everything that sparks joy is cancerous, and I love string cheese. I’m embracing death.” -Maxine

Ginny instantly finds a new friend in the girl next door, Maxine. She’s full of life, energy and drama – she’s the girl we’re rooting for throughout the series. But along with an introduction to Max, Ginny meets her broody (so typical) twin brother, Marcus. How much do we live for the bad boy trope on tv? But I’m not complaining, cause for me, it worked. Meanwhile, Georgia has already been spotted making her moves on the town’s Mayor, Paul (Scott Porter) who FYI is George Tucker from Hart of Dixie!!! The show was really chasing those small-town feels. It’s clear front the onset of the show that Georgia has a dark past, one that she’s been running from her entire life and that she tends to find a new man in every place she ventures (as Ginny states). 

[Image description: Three people standing in the street. The girl in the middle smiles while the one on her right is frowning.] Via Netflix
[Image description: Three people standing in the street. The girl in the middle smiles while the one on her right is frowning.] Via Netflix

There’s one flashback in particular that resonated with me deeply and I wish they had given this plotline more to unpack. But since they didn’t, I’m here to introduce you to my favourite character, Joe (Raymond Ablack). Firstly, can we just acknowledge how beautiful this man is? His charisma, persona and all-around good guy VIBES were just killing it throughout and I was rooting for him and Georgia to end up together. But I’m getting ahead of myself. 

We see a 15-year-old Georgia finding out she’s pregnant at a rest stop, when she meets a young boy (Joe) who shares half of his sandwich with her. He tells her he’s from this town called Wellsbury and ends up giving her his black ray bans. It’s this adorable, whimsical and purely sweet moment. When Joe realizes that Georgia is the girl from the stop he gave his glasses to all those years ago – he’s ready to finally confess his love for her. And damn, was I there for it. 

But alas, she was already engaged to Mayor Paul. What struck me about this plotline, in particular, was that Georgia was always determined. She wanted a better life for herself, and seeing Joe and finding out where he was from stirred something within her. I would have loved for the show to explicitly show Georgia acknowledging that dream of hers. But Georgia is never vulnerable, she lives for power and the upper hand and that’s how she gets out of so many awful situations.

As the series moves along, we find out that not only was Georgia’s past chequered, it was in fact, murderous. Her history though is only one string in this narrative. The show keeps you on your toes – questioning where it’ll take you next. We have the new girl cannon coming in with Ginny, a girl who’s never even had friends much less kissed a boy turns popular and that power almost changes her for the worst. There’s the whole love triangle with the good boy (Hunter) vs the bad boy (Marcus) who Ginny loses her virginity to almost ten minutes after meeting him. You do you, sis. 

And then we have the biracial identity aspect, Ginny’s dad is Black (Zion – who I’ll get to in a bit because so many thoughts) along with dealing with racism within the classroom. Although the race aspect could have been handled better, there is one scene where Ginny claps back at her English teacher for being racist and another time when she speaks out about analysing literary theory solely through a white male lens. As for the fight between Ginny and her also biracial boyfriend, Hunter – what was THAT? The way they attacked each other with racial stereotypes was cruel and honestly just left a sour taste. We needed more time to unravel that thread and yet, the story picked back up again and pulled us into the whimsy of it all.

[Image description: Ginny and Georgia bonding over while the mother does her daughter's hair] Via Netflix
[Image description: Ginny and Georgia bonding over while the mother does her daughter’s hair] Via Netflix

Zion is Ginny’s father who is basically out of the picture. He’s the guy that comes back temporarily to make everything seemingly okay while playing happy families but ups and leaves. In a way, I was rooting for their family to get back together and when Zion reveals that he truly wants to stay in their lives and commit to a future together – I was living for it. But just like Chris and Lorelai in Gilmore Girls, some families don’t have happily ever afters.

“What do you care? You go through men faster than Taylor Swift.” – Ginny

That wasn’t the only problematic moment in the show though. Recently, Taylor Swift called out the series because of its reference to her dating life:

“Hey ‘Ginny & Georgia,’ 2010 called and it wants its lazy, deeply sexist joke back,” Swift wrote. “How about we stop degrading hard working women by defining this horse shit as [funny]. Also, Netflix, after ‘Miss Americana’ this outfit doesn’t look cute on you…Happy Women’s History Month I guess.”

And honestly, ya girl loves Taylor so I did feel like the reference was unnecessary. Taylor’s love life has been overtly dissected by the media for years—why can’t we give her a break? Let’s be honest she saved us this year with folklore and evermore and Love Story (Taylor’s Version) and she she doesn’t deserve these cheap jokes.

“This is love.” – Abby.

Maxine is aching over her recent breakup as Abby feeds her oreos and whispers the wise words of all true friendship and they lay tethered in the air between the four girls of MANG (Maxine, Abby, Norah and Ginny). For me, one of the greatest elements of Ginny and Georgia was that friendship. While the show encapsulated so many different things, this was one piece that resonated with me. It was fuelled by drama, by stomach aching laughter, friendships being broken and formed again – everything that I (think) teenage friendships encapsulate. On that note, Gen-Zers on TikTok have been bashing the show for its acutely millennial depiction of teenagedom. But what can I say? All I know about teenagers is what I’ve seen in the classroom. 

Revelations about Georgia’s past come to light in the finale and Ginny along with little Austin are seen leaving Wellsbury as a result. There’s a foreboding voiceover as the half-siblings drive off on a motorbike where Ginny claims that she’s running away from it all. And in a painstakingly beautiful light, it’s juxtaposed with Georgia’s final voiceover where she believes she’s finally free and the running is all over: roots planted, lies put to bed – a fictitious happily ever after. 

So if you were expecting to walk through the dreamscape of a pretty and pure Stars Hallow, drenched in sunshine and love, stop now. That isn’t what you’re doing to get. Georgia is no Lorelai and Ginny is no Rory. There’s a lot within the show that makes you feel, love and hurt but there’s also a lot that is inexplicable and everything comes to a fleeting and forceful end with the finale. That’s not to say I won’t be hoping and eagerly waiting for season two.

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter.

Celebrities Pop Culture

Joss Whedon has been accused of abusive behavior yet again

Followed by Ray Fisher’s allegations of abuse of power and misconduct by Joss Whedon, former Buffy the Vampire Slayer stars have come forward with their own experiences of alleged abuse by Joss Whedon. Much of these allegations repeat what others who have worked with Whedon have claimed over the years.

Earlier in July 2020, actor Ray Fisher reported allegations of abuse of power by Joss Whedon on the set of Justice League. He tweeted that Whedon’s behavior on the set was “gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable.” These allegations were followed by a subsequent internal investigation launched by WarnerMedia. The statement from the company provided little explanation of the course of action it would pursue. However, Fisher has since refused to appear in any DC films.

On Wednesday 10th February, Charisma Carpenter, who played Cordelia on Buffy, accused Whedon of abusing his power.

On Wednesday 10th February, Charisma Carpenter, who played Cordelia on Buffy, accused Whedon of abusing his power. Carpenter has previously claimed that she was “afraid” to go public with her allegations, as it could considerably impact her career. However, in the wake of the MeToo movement and increased awareness and advocacy for women’s rights, she admitted she feels much more confident today coming forward with these allegations. Carpenter recalls being body-shamed by Whedon during her pregnancy and subsequently dropping out of the show. 

Carpenter was motivated to come forward in solidarity with Ray Fisher’s allegations against Whedon that made rounds in the news last summer. Amber Benson who played Tara on Buffy also issued a note of support for Carpenter and backed up Carpenter’s claims regarding Whedon’s behavior. In a tweet, she wrote:

Even Sarah Michelle Geller who played the titular character Buffy Summers came forward in support of her co-stars. In an Instagram post, she stated that while she is proud to be associated with Buffy Summers, she does not want to be associated with Joss Whedon forever. 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Sarah Michelle (@sarahmgellar)

Geller’s partner Freddie Prinze Jr. said in 2003 that his wife has had to deal with a lot of nonsense behind the scenes on the show. We know that Whedon has publicly mocked Geller’s work in the past. He called her work in Cruel Intentions “a porny”, which Geller claimed to be “incredibly hurtful” to her. 

Michelle Trachtenburg, who played Buffy’s younger sister on the show, also asserted that Whedon did not display “appropriate behavior” around her as a teenager. However, Trachtenburg did not provide a detailed account of Whedon’s behavior. However, she did claim that there was a rule saying that Whedon “was not allowed in a room alone with Michelle again”.

Allegations about Whedon’s behavior have been surfacing for a while. The global successes of Marvel’s The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron directed by Whedon resulted in him being brought to direct competitor DC’s Justice League. It was a challenging production that was made worse by Whedon’s “gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable” behavior according to Fisher.

Whedon has come under great scrutiny in recent years due to allegations of misconduct. He has had to leave several projects such as the Batgirl movie for Warner Bros., Pippa Smith: Grown-Up Detective for Freeform, and most recently The Nevers for HBO Max.

Whedon has yet to respond to the latest allegations made against him and his reps have refused to comment. However, what these recent allegations clarify is that toxic and abusive behavior by those who hold significant power is more prevalent than we imagine.

In the past, young actors were regularly villainized, it was Geller who bore the brunt of fan backlash, whilst Whedon always got a free pass and his career continued to grow. Whedon received praise and appreciation amongst fan circles for interacting with fans regularly through Buffy message boards. On the other hand, Geller was demonized for not accrediting Whedon and all that he did for her career.

In an increasingly evolving cultural climate, many people have come to realize that abusive behavior by those in positions of dominance is unacceptable. Those exploiting their power need to be held accountable. Despite being the victim, it took Carpenter almost a decade to gain the courage to finally share her story.

Abusers can have any gender, but most often in history, it’s been proven to be men who walk away with no consequences. We need to overcome the misogynistic patterns. Instead of being blindsided by the fame and praise of men in positions of power, we need to at the very least hear out the victims and recognize the existence of a pattern. Without this, we continue to fail the future generation of actors and actresses. 

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

World News The Internet Politics

How meme culture has redefined our understanding of politics

In the age of social media, it’s almost impossible to not see a meme. Viral memes such as ‘Roll Safe’ or the ‘Kombucha Girl’ are always somewhere on the timeline. Due to our regular encounters with memes, it would be undeniable to negate the impact that memes have had on consumers, whether it’s just for laughs or spreading bite sized chunks of information. However, the surge in political memes has brought into question the effectiveness of these memes and the validity of the information spread through these memes.

For instance, take the memes about ‘World War III’, due to the tensions between Iran and the US back at the beginning of the year. I personally wouldn’t be laughing about how wars and one of the most powerful and funded militaries on the Earth would destabilize – nothing new to them, they’ve done this many times – a country who has suffered at the hands of their military. But hey, that’s just me. Cultural awareness is pivotal, especially in an increasingly global village. Though it can be argued that humor is a coping mechanism, I still think it is important to remain culturally aware on how an event on one side of the world can negatively impact others. 

This has been a tough year for politics – from the US Presidential Elections, the Conservative Party’s failings with Brexit, the UK’s abysmal Track and Trace system, #ENDSARS, and quite frankly, everything. Each of these incidents have been turned into memes in one way or another. During the US elections, I know I was not the only one who cried tears of laughter at the memes of Trump losing his job. 

But, what’s interesting is how meme culture has redefined our understanding of politics. It wouldn’t be shocking to say that perhaps due to more young activists, the way some Gen Z understand politics is through memes. Some politicians even attempt to relay this back to them, but they are not always successful. For example, Hilary Clinton’s tweet about student loans conveyed how clearly she was out of touch with the youth and could be deemed as insensitive, when she asked, “How does your student loan make you feel? Tell us in 3 emojis or less.” It was an extremely poorly worded tweet, knowing that hundreds of thousands of American students are in college debt. 

Despite living in evolving times, sometimes politicians need to understand that not every young person is the same. Whilst memes do have an influence, whether temporary or not, these attempts simply reduces all young people to a category, failing to take into consideration the different ways youth engage with politics. For instance, in the run up to the 2017 General Election in the UK, there were multiple political campaigns from the Labour party on Snapchat. Leaders like Boris Johnson attempted to engage the youth on Snapchat, only to end up as a temporal meme somewhere on the Internet. 

The emergence of memes in political discourse, pioneered by social media, is due to humor. This enables society to consider how humor can be used in political contexts through shared meanings. It would be a lie to say that political memes don’t evoke the necessary discussions about issues such as taxes or healthcare. For example, if someone makes a meme about how incompetent Buhari or Trump is, it could act as an indirect conversation to engage with others on political topics through social media.

Acting as a cultural phenomenon, memes also enable us to recall political incidents and history. For example, there was a meme of ‘Tank Man’, who stood in front of tanks, protesting after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. Due to Chinese censorship, the images of the tanks were replaced with rubber ducks. It highlights how we can still remember political events and can even safeguard those who may be censored from sharing certain pieces of information. Whilst they are powerful forms of social data, it’s important to consider what memes mean for public memory. How do we ensure that we remember genuine events rather than edited variations based on memes. Despite this, memes aren’t just used for negative purposes such as targeting politicians (though these are hilarious), but they simplify things and remain accessible for a lot of people.


Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

Sexuality Dedicated Feature Love + Sex Love

Even experimenting with my sexuality seems like a step too far

My whole life, not being straight wasn’t an option I allowed for myself. I knew it was just so much easier to what was expected by my family, friends, and society. A remnant of my upbringing, sexuality in general carried a lot of stigma and pressure. But now that I am on the cusp of adulthood, I wonder how different everything could have played out if I allowed myself to explore. 

I can’t even recall the first time a girl had caught my attention, that’s how far back it was. I must have immediately justified it as liking her hair, or the way that she dressed. Perhaps, I reasoned that I just wanted to look like her, and maybe I did. But then, as I went through my teenage phase, I would often fantasize about girls. I didn’t develop any crushes on anyone I knew, but I wondered what it would be like. 

Scrolling through Tumblr, a haven for young people questioning their sexuality, I found myself wandering over to those pages with the artsy nudes. Appreciating them just for their artistic merit, of course, I would say to myself. But afterward, I would feel such shame that my chest grew tight. What was I doing? Who was I? I never brought it up to anyone else, but I remember being on the verge of tears as I reasoned to myself that all girls were like this. I was just young and curious. From then on, my sexuality became a tough cycle of self-denial and censorship. 

But it didn’t always feel that way to me. Even after I started questioning my sexuality, I was still okay with moving on as I always had, being straight. I normalized it to such an extent that for a while, I stopped questioning it. I pursued relationships with guys and it felt normal, if still controversial to the conservative community around me. When I got older and went on an exchange program for a year, I did the same. On the dating apps, I didn’t hesitate to click ‘men’ as my preference. During my last week there, I swapped phones with a friend to swipe through a dating app for fun. On her screen, a woman’s profile popped up. I knew that she was bisexual, but for a second, it felt like the world was playing tricks on me personally. “She’s cute,” my friend said, peering over. She was.

I felt regret. It was my last few days away from home, so I felt that I had missed my chance to try going on a date with a girl. Although even the thought made me feel nervous, I still regretted never trying and now the door to experimenting with any of that seemed firmly shut. I already planned in my mind how I wasn’t going to tell any of my friends, how I could downplay it if they found out. It was crazy, that I was already prepared to keep it a secret. It struck me that day that I was afraid of experimenting because what if I really was bisexual? Just placing that term anywhere next to me felt earth-shattering.

Perhaps it was fear, or just a desire to avoid conflict. I had always been a non-confrontational person and would rather choose to avoid tension even if I have to give some of myself up. Already in a precarious relationship with my cultural identity and family because of my so-called liberal ideas and forward-thinking when it came to feminism and gender, I didn’t want to seem even ‘stranger’ in their eyes. I didn’t want to be rejected. Every move I made caused ripples, even that year away from home was a scandal. If I dared to experiment, who knew what would happen? It seemed like whether or not I was bisexual, just experimenting had the potential to complicate my life. 

I was afraid of that uncertainty. So I never put myself out there. The fact is that I might have tried it out and found that I actually wasn’t romantically or sexually attracted to women. I could find out that I was. If I had known then that sexuality could be fluid, that it could change over time even without the pressure of labels, would experimenting have been any easier of a choice to make? 

But I still wonder, what if? I think I’ll always wonder about that. I also think about other things I am afraid of exploring because of culture, family, friends, and other external factors. Hopefully, as more awareness is brought to experimenting and sexuality, things will change for the better, and more people will feel comfortable exploring important parts of themselves. As for me, I’m not sure where my life will take me. I wouldn’t rule out anything in my future. This is only the first step, confronting my internal ideas of ‘normalcy’, and I suppose it’s okay to not know if and what comes next.

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!


I am more my true self on my fake Instagram account than on my real one

Linda leaned against the glass window of a used book store, her cheeks painted red under the gleaming neon light. The glowing “BOOKS” sign reflected in her tiny white shades which were balanced precariously at the edge of her nose. She peered over them in the direction of the camera, grinning. The accompanying caption was the starting point for many jokes to be had throughout her account: “She can’t read”. This was mostly amusing due to the fact that was Linda, a then-junior English Literature student.

It was my roommate that came up with the tasteful name, Linda, as soon as I put on those white shades for the first time in an Urban Outfitters. They were so unlike me, a girl who exclusively wore black. They were a very “bitchy accessory” that drew attention. With their encouragement, I created a finsta (a fake Instagram account) embodying Linda and her bold fashion choices– the list of which grew gradually as I was in New York City after all.

Is having an alternative online persona or a finsta dishonest? We’ve moved on from thinking that everything we are being presented online is genuine. We know social media warps our expectations of each other and is not a true reflection of someone’s reality (although there has been a call for users to show more authentic versions of themselves). 

I pressed ‘share’ more times in a day than I blinked.

Having an alias, finsta account, spam twitter or any other side account allows you to let loose. I believe that they allow you to explore different parts of yourself. Your unbothered side, that unironically enjoys Tik Tok videos, gets to shine through. Or your liberal views get to be made known despite the sternness of your conservative home. Who is to say which is more authentic? And does it matter? 

In my online persona case of Linda, I could play with inside jokes. I could post whatever I wanted whenever I liked. Gone were the days where I had worried about any curated scheme or began overthinking about whether the content seemed like ‘me’. I didn’t have to care if people from high school (who I don’t even speak to anymore) or my mother’s cousin’s nephew’s friend got the ‘wrong idea’ about me. 

Having an alias, finsta account, spam twitter or any other side account allows you to let loose.

My online persona was confined to my private finsta account and I only followed people close to me. I enjoy having a page that I can look forward to posting on. It wasn’t about the likes or comments. It was about the joy that came with the account itself. The fact that it was clearly a finsta made it clear that I was saying, “Don’t take me seriously. Not here at least”. 

In propagation for finstas, I’d like to make it known that the ‘share’ button is always a site of anxiety for me. That looming moment just before you press it often fuels a lot of tension within. I know that it isn’t a real social interaction, not in the same way as a handshake. But it would rather be eternalized in the digital realm – something a finsta can combat. Having an alternative persona allowed me to overcome this anxiety and let me share whatever came to mind. I pressed ‘share’ more times in a day than I blinked. If the post contained a poor fashion decision or an ill-received spoken word video, it was Linda’s doing. 

In my experience as a Muslim woman, we, as well as other women with more conservative backgrounds, use finstas and online personas as a personal outlet. An alternative account is seen as a haven away from the male gaze or even their family’s eyes. The accounts become a way to have a presence online while also remaining private.

Other friends of mine use twitter accounts with aliases to release any pent up thoughts. They read like journal entries. They aren’t forgetting who they actually are or trying to fool anyone. Instead, it is simply a space for us to put ourselves out there while not fearing anyone’s judgement.

The accounts become a way to have a presence online while also remaining private.

There is the fact that any of these side-accounts could turn into a breeding ground for gossip. I can’t deny that I haven’t seen the dark side of being unfiltered and unencumbered by social judgement. People tearing each other down behind aliases and exploiting anonymity to be cruel to those around them or other strangers. But there is a potential for so much more. 

We need these spaces. We need to be under-the-radar and ourselves…or maybe someone else entirely. It may be an illusion, but finstas and alternative accounts do feel more private and personal. Linda can attest to this. 

2020 Elections Celebrities Pop Culture

Dear Kanye West, the US presidency does not exist to stroke your ego

My lazy night staying in, binging on both chocolate and mindless television, took a stark turn when Kanye ‘Yeezy’ West took the stage at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards. He held the mic close to his mouth, almost eating it up, donned in his signature casual brown monotone outfit. I expected a similar infamous performance of, “I’mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time!” Instead, we all got something even worse. With a forced purpose in his stance, after an agonizing 11-minute speech, West announced that he “has decided to run for president in 2020.”

In my experience, no one initially took the rapper seriously. How could a celebrity with no political background possibly be voted into the highest office in the land? Surely there had to be some form of vetting process to ensure that a capable professional would run the country. And then Donald Trump became president, and the seemingly high standards of the political system as we knew it fell apart.

This trend of unqualified individuals (historically men) seeking out jobs that are above their skill set continued through West’s recent reiteration that he still intended to run for the United States presidency this year – even though he has yet to qualify to get his name printed on the ballots needed for people to vote for him.

While this may very well be a publicity stunt, West has always maintained that he is a self-proclaimed non-conformist genius, and his megalomaniac and downright conceited behavior of considering himself the ‘greatest human artist of all time’ is perfectly in keeping with his recent presidential announcement.

How could a celebrity with no political background possibly be voted into the highest office in the land?

He completely disregards the administrative processes put into place that govern these national elections. A tweet is not enough to technically enter the race. West would have to file with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and qualify to have ballot access – both of which he has yet to do.

Considering that all minor parties have already chosen their presidential candidates for 2020, West may have to run as an independent. However, the deadline for an independent candidate to register to appear on the ballot come this November has already passed in Indiana, Maine, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, and Texas. Together, those states represent 102 out of the 538 votes in the electoral college.

West could secure the country’s two other biggest Electoral College prizes: California and Florida. However, the process is not an easy one. In Florida, West has a deadline of July 15 to gather the signatures of 1% of all registered voters in the state to achieve ballot access. In California, his deadline is August 6.

These tasks may be difficult but not impossible. So, if West truly is the genius he claims to be, manifesting his (pseudo) ‘big dick energy’ into meeting these deadlines should be easy enough for someone with his money.

People’s lives are not an experiment you can carry out whenever you want to stroke your ego and prove your supposed greatness.

However, I think it is safe to assume that through this seemingly rushed announcement this late in the race, he is essentially making a mockery of the election process by assuming that he can throw in his name whenever the mood suits him and the system should adapt to meet his urges.

As a South African, many (including myself at times) may question my passion for this topic considering that I am not a citizen of the country West wishes to lead. However, as seen when Trump was announced as the 2016 winner, international outrage is common when historically-changing events occur in the US as the country is viewed as having a hand in the running of many others. West intending to run for office, in this same way, incites global confusion and distaste.

These far-reaching concerns are further spurred on by the fact that West is an international celebrity, establishing a household name long before this announcement or even his marriage to Kim Kardashian. This level of fame does not come without its monetary perks. West has an estimated net worth of $1.3 billion. His wife, Kim Kardashian West, has an estimated net worth of $900 million.

It baffles me that a couple that is notorious for flaunting their privileged lifestyles (just look at Kim’s posts of her diamond encrusted teeth grillz and $3,000 – $50,000 Friesian horses) could possibly believe that they could resonate with a middle-class public. West may have come from humble beginnings, but he has clearly been distanced from the realities of the struggling working class even going as far as celebrating his wife becoming a billionaire (a claim that has since been disputed) despite figures showing that nearly 40 million Americans have lost their jobs during this pandemic. To add salt to the wound, according to latest reports the billionaire’s apparel company, Yeezy LLC, reportedly received $2-5 million from the Paycheck Protection Program, a “loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.”

West may have come from humble beginnings, but he has clearly been distanced from the realities of the struggling working class.

Regardless of whether West would make a decent president or not, many are speculating as to why he is doing this in the first place. Some argue that, as a Trump supporter, he is running to hurt Joe Biden by trying to peel away Black voters from the presumptive Democratic candidate. Others theorise that West is not really running, just promoting his new album. The least shocking suggestion, however, is that West may be doing this simply for attention, just as his buddy Trump does.

What is really concerning is that, at the end of the day, countries require thoughtful, honest and well-informed leaders. Nothing in West’s background, especially his history of impulsive behavior, suggests he is up to the challenge of being president. The oval office is not the stage at the VMA’s. People’s lives are not an experiment you can carry out whenever you want to stroke your ego and prove your supposed greatness to get a few more million Instagram followers. His running will ultimately prove to be a dangerous distraction at a time where experienced leaders must raddle together to get the public through this fatal pandemic.

I can only hope that West decides to sit this one out and channel his pathological egotist ways into a more constructive project.


Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

Book Club Books Pop Culture

Navigating queerness & tradition in YA fiction with Adiba Jaigirdar, author of “The Henna Wars”

Adiba Jaigirdar is an Irish-Bangladeshi writer, poet, and teacher with an MA in Postcolonial Studies. Her latest book, The Henna Wars, is a poignant story about two Muslim girls falling in love.

Be sure to check out our live Instagram event featuring Adiba and our own editor, Shaima. We’re also doing a giveaway of her book, enter now!


Adiba Jaigirdar’s debut novel The Henna Wars stems from a genuine desire to inspire joy. She was drawn to “write a story that made [her] happy and that was funny to read and fun to write.” She settled on the idea of a romantic comedy with two teen girls with rival henna businesses while “attempting (and failing) to teach [herself] henna”.

Looking to up the stakes of the girls’ rivalry, Adiba imagined what it would be like “if the two girls were also romantically attracted to each other, and grappling with what that might mean.” From there, everything else came together to make this wonderful tale of love, longing, and growing up. 

The Henna Wars revolves around themes of queerness, first love, culture, and family. Adiba interjects stories with themes that are relevant to herself and her life, and exploring them in the medium of storytelling.

Her influences range from The Princess Diaries, Hayley Kiyoko and Janelle Monáe to Bollywood film like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai which she cites as part of her introduction to romance.

She recalls the first time she encountered a person of color writing about people of color in Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses (which we love!). Reading her stories made Adiba realize that it was possible to write about people like herself.

As a queer woman of color, she acknowledges that she has a responsibility to represent her culture, gender, and sexuality in her work. “There’s a lot of pressure, especially because there aren’t a lot of novels out there about Bangladeshi teens, and even fewer about queer Bangladeshi Muslim teens,” Adiba said. “Even though realistically I know that it’s impossible to represent everything as you write a single story, I still felt the pressure of that.” 

To her, storytelling cannot be separated from politics. “Especially as a queer Muslim South Asian, there’s no way that what I write is not going to be political. My very existence is political.” 

As she writes in the contemporary era, I was curious to see what she finds unique to the time that we are currently living in. To her, this time is a time of “rising up against oppression and attempting to enact change.” Yet, she believes this has been the case for a while, as “marginalized people have been fighting for our rights for a long time. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.” 

If this story were set in the future, she would love to say that the “characters like Nishat and Flávia wouldn’t have to worry about their sexuality, race, and culture making it more difficult for them to fit in.” However, she has her doubts. “I’m not particularly hopeful of that happening anytime in the near future.” 

For the writers out there or those interested in what happens behind the scenes, Adiba admits that her writing process is “honestly a little chaotic.” When she first begins writing, she “usually have a very basic idea of the story I want to tell. I figure out the important bits that I need to be able to write the story—the beginning, the end, and bits and pieces in the middle. Then, I begin to write and it’s a process of stringing everything together. It’s a little like putting together a puzzle. Once it’s out there on the page, it’s time for me to begin revisions and shape it into something that really works.”

[Image Description: Book cover of The Henna Wars, two girls with henna reaching their hands out to each other.] Via Twitter
[Image Description: Book cover of The Henna Wars, two girls with henna reaching their hands out to each other.] Via Twitter
The scenes that she enjoyed writing the most were the Bengali wedding scenes at the beginning of the book. “Bangladeshi people are obsessed with weddings, and our weddings are a whole event. So it was nice to explore that aspect of my life through the lens of a character like Nishat, who is surrounded by the familiarity of a Bangladeshi wedding, while also stumbling across her childhood crush.” 

As for how it feels to see her work being shared around the world, Adiba admits that “it still feels a little surreal.” Her dreams of being a writer when she was younger seemed to rely on her writing about straight white characters with whom she shared few experiences. Those were some of the only stories that she saw published or have mainstream success. “It was hard for me to imagine a world where someone like me could be writing stories about people like me.” 

In the future, she hopes that The Henna Wars can allow queer brown girls to see a reflection of themselves in its pages, and that it can open doors for more queer brown people to write and publish more of their own stories. 

For those that have enjoyed the latest book-to-movie adaptations like To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before or Crazy Rich Asians, Adiba shares that she would love to see The Henna Wars adapted for the big screen in the future. Especially if the potential adaptation stays true to the ethnicities of the characters.

As of now, Adiba is revising her second novel, which will be out from Page Street in spring 2021. It’s another YA romantic comedy which follows two girls—one Bangladeshi Bengali and one Indian Bengali—who have to start a fake relationship in order to achieve what they want. 

Have you entered our Instagram giveaway yet? And if you absolutely cannot wait, get The Henna Wars on Amazon or on The Tempest’s own virtual bookshop supporting local bookstores.
Editor's Picks Celebrities Standoms Music Pop Culture

32 reasons why I will always be a die-hard Taylor Swift fan

Taylor Swift may be a polarizing figure, but you can’t deny that she’s created her own space within the music industry’s revolving door.

Point blank PERIOD.

1. Her lyrics.

[Image description: close up of Taylor Swift singing and getting emotional.]
[Image description: close up of Taylor Swift singing and getting emotional while singing, “and you call me up again just to break me like a promise, so casually cruel in the name of being honest” from her song All Too Well.] via Giphy

Who has ever been heartbroken and not cried to a Taylor Swift song? Taylor Swift’s lyrics are always incredibly honest and to the core. She writes about her personal experience and creates songs that everyone can relate to. She is also the queen of bridges. If you doubt me, check out the All Too Well bridge.

2. The Man song and music video.

[Image description: Taylor Swift in movie set talking to another Taylor dressed as a guy in a sport outfit. Next to them is a director chair.]
[Image description: Taylor Swift in a movie set talking to another Taylor dressed as a guy in a sports outfit. Next to them is a director chair.] via Wikimedia

This song is the feminist manifesto we didn’t know we needed from Taylor. And the music video with male Taylor is ABSOLUTE GOLD. She calls out all the double standards that successful women have to face every day.

3. She invites fans to her house and bakes for them.

[Image description: Taylor Swift in a black dress holding a plate of chocolate cookies to a group of girls.]
[Image description: Taylor Swift in a black dress holding a plate of chocolate cookies to a group of girls of different ages.] via Wikimedia

When Taylor was about to put out 1989, she was worried about what her fans would think about this full-on pop album. She decided to invite 89 of them to her house and play the album for them in a secret session.

Since then it has become a tradition for Taylor to choose fans from social media and play them her albums before their release date. She even bakes cookies for them! To date, these sessions have never resulted in her songs being leaked, which is a real testament to the love her stans have for her.

4. She filed and won a sexual assault lawsuit – all for a $1 settlement.

[Image description: Taylor Swift in a concert wearing black and singing "if a man talks shit"]
[Image description: Taylor Swift in a concert wearing black and singing, “if a man talks shit then I owe him nothing.”] via Giphy

If you don’t know the story, this is how it goes: Taylor Swift went to court in 2017 against the Denver DJ David Mueller. Mueller had sued Taylor for defamation and losing his job after the singer had complained to his employer that he had grabbed her inappropriately during a photoshoot. The moment was caught on video and there were witnesses.

He asked for $3 million in compensation. Taylor filed a countersuit in response, claiming assault and only requested $1 in compensation to make a point.

I still get chills reading her testimony, especially in light of the fact that she won.

5. She was a ‘nice girl’ that learned to make her voice be heard, and let’s be real: we’ve all been there.

[Image description: Taylor Swift wearing red lipstick and a red shirt and saying "thank God I don´t do that anymore.]
[Image description: Taylor Swift wears red lipstick and a red shirt, saying, “thank God I don’t do that anymore.”] via Giphy

Her recent Netflix documentary, Miss Americana, is a reflection on how Taylor went from wanting to please everybody and being seen as a “good girl” to learning to be happy despite other people’s opinions.

The documentary — which has already reached critical acclaim, according to review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes — touches on a multitude of issues. And most of those issues aren’t pop star problems. They’re human problems.

6. She flipped the script on the bullying that people put her through, reclaiming the “snake” sign they used for her new signature. 

[Image description: Taylor Swift in a red dress drinks tea and acts surprised while snakes appear from behind her.] Via Tenor
[Image description: Taylor Swift in a red dress drinks tea and acts surprised while snakes appear from behind her.] via Giphy

After Kim Kardashian West “exposed” Taylor Swift’s supposed lies in a tweet about National Snake Day, Taylor’s social media was flooded by snake emojis. People used that emoji to call her fake.

Taylor disappeared from social media for a year after that but came back with a whole era based around snakes. She claimed an image that people used to bully her and turned her into her personal brand: there’s nothing more badass than that.

7. When she used the attention from Kanye’s leaked call to ask for donations, instead.

[Image description: pictures from Taylor's Instagram stories replying to the Kanye West controversy]
[Image description: pictures from Taylor’s Instagram stories replying to the Kanye West controversy.] @taylorswift / via Instagram

Continuing with the Taylor vs. Kim feud, in 2020, the full call between Kanye West and Taylor was finally leaked. It resulted in proving that she was telling the truth all along. Kanye never mentioned the line “that bitch” in the call.

Taylor then used all the media attention that she was getting because of the leaked call to ask people to donate money to Feeding America and The World Health Organization.

8. The Easter eggs. All the Easter eggs.

[Image description: Taylor Swift with pink highlights and a blue sweater smiling with a series of pastel Easter eggs in front of her.]
[Image description: Taylor Swift with pink highlights and a blue sweater smiling with a series of pastel Easter eggs in front of her.] via Entertainment Weekly

If you’ve ever followed the release of Taylor Swift’s music, you know that it is very similar to a treasure hunt. Taylor loves to leave clues and Easter eggs in her posts, songs, and music videos for her fans to find. And we love looking for them!

9. Taylor’s hard-hitting points in her acceptance speech during Billboard’s Women of the Decade Award.

[Image description: Taylor Swift against a pink background pointing at herself with both hands]
[Image description: Taylor Swift against a pink background pointing at herself with both hands.] via Wikimedia

Taylor Swift was awarded Billboard‘s first-ever Woman of the Decade, thanks to the singer’s vast musical accomplishments over the course of the 2010s. During her acceptance speech, she used the opportunity to call out sexism within the music industry.

She spoke out on the barrage of criticism typically accepted around women’s bodies and relationships. She called out Scooter Braun and the role of private equity in the music industry. It was an empowering and honest speech where she spoke out about issues of the music industry that are not commonly brought up.

Ettika - Jewelry designed just for you in Los Angeles!

10. The song Ronan and the story behind it.

[Image description: Taylor Swift in a red dress tries not to cry.] Via Google
[Image description: Taylor Swift in a red dress tries not to cry.] via Giphy

One of Taylor Swift’s saddest songs is RonanShe wrote this song using phrases from the blog of a fan that had lost her 4-year-old son, Ronan, to cancer. Taylor credited the fan, Maya Thompson, as co-writer and donated all the proceeds from the song to cancer charities. Taylor has only performed this song once, during a Stand Up To Cancer gala.

11. She has been honest about her struggle with her body image.

[Image description: Taylor Swift with her hair undone singing to a microphone.]
[Image description: Taylor Swift with her hair undone singing to a microphone.] via Giphy

One of the most shocking scenes within Miss Americana is the moment that Taylor confesses that she had an eating disorder. She even pulls out a picture of herself and points out all that she hates about it before stopping herself.

“This would cause me to go into a real shame, hate spiral. I caught myself yesterday starting to do it and I said, ‘Nope. We don’t do that anymore. Because it’s better to think you look fat than look sick.’ There’s always some standard of beauty that you’re not meeting,” she said. “It’s all just fucking impossible.”

It shows that the biggest star on the planet is feeling the same insecurities and pressures that millions of people face. It’s important we reject society’s unrealistic expectations.

12. The “Taylor Swift effect” in voter registration.

[Image description: Instagram post of a polaroid black and white picture of Taylor Swift sitting in the sofa with her head resting on her arm.]
[Image description: Instagram post of a polaroid black and white picture of Taylor Swift sitting on the sofa with her head resting on her arm.] @taylorswift / via Instagram

In 2018, Taylor Swift broke her long-held silence with a post on her Instagram urging people to vote for the Democratic candidate in the Tennessee primaries. She stated all the reasons why she was voting for this candidate and reminded people to register if they wanted to vote.

In the next 24 hours, 65,000 people registered in what the media called the “Taylor Swift effect.”

13. 13 is her lucky number.

[Image description: a young Taylor with curly hair showing the number 13 painted on her hand ]
[Image description: a young Taylor with curly hair showing the number 13 painted on her hand.] via Wikimedia

Who chooses the only number that everyone else considers unlucky as their personal lucky number? Only a queen. And she uses it everywhere.

14. Taylor’s Equality Act petition.

[Image description: Taylor in a concert with her hands in the air and wearing a rainbow outfit.]
[Image description: Taylor in a concert with her hands in the air and wearing a rainbow outfit.] via Wikimedia

When Taylor dropped the song and music video for You Need to Calm Down she was criticized for queerbaiting.

However, many forgot that the song went along a petition for the Senate to pass the Equality Act, a law against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation that had been approved by the House.

15. She was the sole writer in her third album, Speak Now.

[Image description: Taylor dressed with a golden jacked talking to Jimmy Fallon about having written a song by herself .]
[Image description: Taylor dressed in a golden jacket talking to Jimmy Fallon about having written a song by herself.] via Giphy

Taylor’s greatest talent has always been songwriting. When people criticized her second album, Fearless, saying that such a young girl could not have written those songs, she decided to write her third album, Speak Now, all by herself. It is a masterpiece and shut up critics everywhere.

16. Taylor does free meet-and-greets for her fans.

[Image description: Taylor and two fans with unicorn headbands and pretending to be cats .]
[Image description: Taylor and two fans with unicorn headbands and pretending to be cats.] via Wikimedia

Instead of requiring fans to pay for meet-and-greets, Taylor finds them on social media and the audience. Then she spends hours before and after every show hanging out with the Swifties. Know any other mega celebrity that does that? No? Thought so.

17. She calls out sexism.

[Image description: Taylor Swift with short hair complaining about sexism in music]
[Image description: Taylor Swift with short hair complaining about sexism in music.] via Giphy

She actively speaks out about sexism in the music industry, particularly how people criticize her for writing about her love life yet don’t do the same to male artists.

18. The Apple Letter and her defense of artists’ rights.

[Image description: a series of tweets by Eddie Cue in response to Taylor Swift saying that Apple0s policy will change.]
[Image description: a series of tweets by Eddie Cue in response to Taylor Swift, saying that Apple’s policy will change.] via Wikimedia

For years, Taylor’s used her influence to support artists. In 2015, Taylor wrote an open letter to Apple explaining why she was going to pull her albums from Apple Music. She criticized the policy of not paying artists during the free-trial period of the app. Apple changed its policy less than 24 hours after that.

The latest? In Taylor’s recent deal with Universal Records, she included a clause that stipulates that all of Universal’s artists will be compensated if the label sells its Spotify shares.

Women's clothing

19. She is a proud cat lady.

[Image description: a Taylor riding a giant cat with a unicorn horn in a forest and throwing glitter.]
[Image description: a Taylor riding a giant cat with a unicorn horn in a forest and throwing glitter.] via Giphy

Taylor’s cats are almost as famous as she is. Who could resist Dr. Meredith Grey, Detective Olivia Benson, and Benjamin Button?

20. She doesn’t take herself seriously.

[Image description: Taylor Swift on a running track and falling from it]
[Image description: Taylor Swift on a running track and falling from it suddenly.] via Giphy

Taylor Swift is hilarious. Who else would allow an ad like this one to air?

21. She wrote songs for both The Hunger Games and Hannah Montana: The Movie.

[Image description: Taylor Swift playing the guitar ans singing. At the top there is the Hannah Montana logo.]
[Image description: Taylor Swift playing the guitar and singing. At the top there is the Hannah Montana logo.] via Wikimedia

Two movies that symbolized our teenage years feature the musical genius of Taylor Swift. Who could forget about them?

She wrote You’ll Always Find Your Way Back Home for Miley Cyrus, and wrote and performed Crazier. For The Hunger Games, she co-wrote and sang the masterpieces that were Safe and Sound with The Civil Wars and Eyes Open.

 22. She made being 22 cool. 

[Image description: a close-up of Taylor wearing a black hat and red lipstic and mimicking the number 22.]
[Image description: a close-up of Taylor wearing a black hat and red lipstick and mimicking the number 22.] via Giphy

Who hasn’t sang along to Taylor’s song 22 on their birthday? Before her song, turning 21 was the biggest highlight of your early 20s. Then Taylor came along and reminded us that you can still party and have fun, no matter your age.

23. She taught Zac Efron how to play the guitar.

[Image description: Taylor Swift and Zac Efron sitting on a red couch and holding guitars.]
[Image description: Taylor Swift and Zac Efron sitting on a red couch and holding guitars.] via Wikimedia

Vote for Taylor to star in a High School Musical remake?

24. THAT Miss Americana scene.

[Image description: Taylor Swift sitting with her legs crossed in a sofa saying "I need to be on the right side of history".]
[Image description: Taylor Swift sitting with her legs crossed on a sofa saying “I need to be on the right side of history”.] via Giphy

During Miss Americana, Taylor shows the moment when she stood up to her team and her own father and decided to make her political views public. It is a very emotional moment and I still cry every time I watch the scene.

25. Taylor is the first youngest woman in history to win two GRAMMY Awards for Best Album of the Year (plus a couple of others!).

[Image description: Taylor Swift holding four Grammy awards in the red carpet and looking shocked.]
[Image description: Taylor Swift holding four Grammy awards in the red carpet and looking shocked.] via Wikimedia

The first album was awarded to her when she was just twenty, making her the youngest person to win this award (until Billie Eilish). We love us some successful women.

26. She stalks her fans on social media (in the nicest possible way!).

[Image description: picture of an instagram account with a message from Taylor saying: SABRINA I LOVE YOU.]
[Image description: Screenshot of Instagram account with a message from Taylor saying: SABRINA I LOVE YOU.] via Buzzfeed

Taylor Swift recently offered financial help to fans who were left without work amid the COVID-19 pandemic, sending them $3,000 each.

She also has secret social media accounts where she follows her fans and sends them monetary help or concert invitations. 

27. She made country music cool and then switched into a whole new music genre. 

[Image description: Taylor Swift dressed in a purple dress and jacket shrugging.]
[Image description: Taylor Swift dressed in a purple dress and jacket shrugging.] via Giphy

Taylor was a successful country artist and could have continued being one for years. Instead, she decided to take a leap and switch to pop, teaching us to not be afraid of change.

Search and buy domains from Namecheap

28. Her self-awareness.

[Image description: Two Taylor Swift looking at each other dressed in costumes from her tour. One of them is crying because the other one is calling her 'fake'.]
[Image description: Two Taylor Swift looking at each other dressed in costumes from her tour. One of them is crying because the other one is calling her ‘fake’.] via Giphy

Songs like Blank Space and Look What You Made Me Do are great examples of how Taylor parodies the image that the media has created of her in a brilliant and catchy way.

29. She taught me that it’s okay for people not to like you.

[Image description: Taylor Swift singing to the camera 'Haters gonna hate'.]
[Image description: Taylor Swift singing to the camera ‘Haters gonna hate’.] via Giphy

At the end of the day, the only person that needs to like you is yourself.

30. Her constant reinvention.

[Image description: Taylor Swift's style evolution]
[Image description: Taylor Swift’s style evolution.] via Universal Records

Any Taylor Swift fan will be able to recognize the year and album it is whenever Taylor posts a throwback photo. Taylor changes her style, hair, and aesthetic for every era she enters.

31. That time when she learned to apologize for apologizing and showed us that it’s okay to be angry.

[Image description: Taylor Swift sitting in a couch apologizing and then apologizing for apologizing.]
[Image description: Taylor Swift sitting in a couch apologizing and then apologizing for apologizing.] via Giphy

During the last scene of Miss Americana, Taylor is seen ranting about sexism. Then she stops herself and apologizes for getting angry. A woman behind a camera tells her not to apologize because she is allowed to be angry. At that moment, Taylor recognized her moment to learn and took it to do so.

32. Last, but definitely not least, I’ll always love her for just how imperfect she is.

[Image description: Person cries into the camera with the text, "LEAVE TAYLOR ALONE."] via Youtube
[Image description: Person cries into the camera with the text, “LEAVE TAYLOR ALONE.”] via Youtube

She hasn’t always used her voice, and she’s been involved in drama. But no one is perfect, and Taylor genuinely is someone who treats her fans and everyone the way they want to be treated — with respect. 

Can’t get enough of The Tempest? Check out our other newsletters for more email goodness:

  • The Tempest Weekly: Sent every Sunday, a dose of good news and storytelling, intel, and eye candy.
  • Need/Want/Love: A handpicked selection of themed stories with a personal twist from around the world, sent on Mondays and Fridays.