The story being Jake Gyllenhaal’s keychain.

Taylor Swift’s 10-minute version of “All Too Well,” released to much fanfare earlier this month as part of her 2012 album reissue. Red, has received obsessive levels of textual analysis that would make a Talmudic scholar blush. A song already intensively scrutinized by listeners for potential clues about Swift’s brief relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal has been dissected in even more detail, now that he has released what he says is the original, uncensored version, composed a decade ago. .

But wait! Should we trust the narrative that Swift has constructed for “All Too Well (10 minute version) (Taylor’s version) (From the Vault)”? (Yes, all those parentheses are in the official title). At Gawker, Olivia Craighead, despite being a self-declared Swiftie, injected a healthy dose of skepticism into the conversation, under a clickbaity headline announcing that “Taylor Swift is lying.” Craighead disagreed with what Swift has said in interviews about the song’s backstory; as he told Jimmy Fallon, “The 10 minute version of ‘All Too Well’ is what was originally written for the song before I had to cut it down to a normal length song.”

Craighead’s j’accuse centers on one line in the 10-minute version: “And you were throwing my car keys / ‘Fuck the patriarchy’ key ring on the floor.” If, based on the timeline of Swift’s events, these lyrics were written sometime in 2011, can we believe that she would have inserted the feminist phrase “fuck the patriarchy” at the time, or was it something added? later, which would undermine the notion that These are the opening lyrics of the song, which were shortened for the original. Red album?

Let’s put aside for a moment the burning question of how to interpret the line. (Did the car key launcher, which was supposed to be Gyllenhaal, say “to hell with the patriarchy, or something written on the key ring? And whose key ring was it anyway?” The song’s co-writer, Liz Rose could have played in shaping the lyrics in their various manifestations. Is Craighead right to dismiss “fuck the patriarchy” as an anachronism that reveals the lyrics could not have been written in 2011? As she says, “There is absolutely no conceivable way that [Swift] I’d even heard the phrase ‘Fuck the patriarchy’ at the time of writing the song. “

The evidence for the “Swift is lying” theory is pretty scant. Of course, it is true that the frequency of the phrase has increased, um, rapidly over the last decade, as is evident by looking at its usage pattern in a corpus of texts such as the one available in the Google Books Ngram Viewer. But Craighead is betting on another analytical product from Googleplex: Google Trends, a tool that charts the volume of different search queries over time. Based on the fact that Google Trends shows no problem for “fuck the patriarchy” before 2012, Craighead concludes: “If Swift is to be believed, she coined the phrase a year before any written mention of her came. to the Internet and then he didn’t say anything about it for a decade, or, more absurdly, Jake Gyllenhaal did. “

But Google Trends won’t tell you when a phrase was coined, only when people started taking enough interest in it to search Google in large numbers. Turns out there is a lot of history behind “fuck the patriarchy” that goes back well before the last decade. In fact, it dates back to at least Swift’s birth year, which even casual fans know was 1989.

In July of that year, just months before the beginning of the Swiftian era, New York’s LGBTQ magazine OutWeek ran an article by news editor Andrew Miller with the headline: “How To Fuck The Patriarchy (And How It Fucks You ). Another example appeared in 1991, in Girl Germs # 3, a riot-grrrl magazine launched by Molly Neuman and Allison Wolfe of the band Bratmobile. A piece by Dana Younkins (later reproduced in The Riot Grrrl Collection) contains the phrase: ” Kill for sport or lust or greed, I kill to screw the patriarchy. “And in April 1992, Lavender Reader, another LGBTQ magazine from Santa Cruz, California, published an article with the headline:” From Sex Radical to Boy Toy, or How I learned to stop worrying and screw the patriarchy. “

While those early examples show “fuck the patriarchy” as a phrase in longer sentences, it could soon be a rallying cry. Tim Keefe’s 1993 book, Some of My Best Friends Are Naked: Interviews with Seven Erotic Dancers, has this quote: “One by one, we all walked out of that meeting, and I finally said, ‘To hell with the patriarchy! ‘”And an anthology published by the Cambridge, Massachusetts feminist newspaper Sojourner: The Women’s Forum contains a photo from a 1995 pro-abortion rally, where the phrase appears on a protester’s poster:

A group of women are together holding a sign that says "Fuck the patriarchy."
Marilyn humphries

While “to hell with patriarchy” may have emerged as a catchphrase in activist circles in the mid-1990s, there was still a long way to go before a more widespread exposure of the kind that might have caught the eye of a young Taylor. Swift. But fast forward to 2009, when Swift was turning 20 and already had two albums under her belt. That year, in an article for Jezebel, Anna Holmes wrote: “Fuck the patriarchy – with all this fucking shame and blaming the victim, maybe the matriarchy is screwed.” Meanwhile, in a recap of an episode of The L-Word on Autostraddle, a blogger opined: “I’m generally a fan of ‘fuck the patriarchy’ posts, but he’s getting tired.”

Even if, as Craighead states in her Gawker piece, “Swift herself didn’t enter her feminist era until 2014,” she still might have found these “fuck the patriarchy” blog mentions and incorporated the phrase into her composition. Now, did those words appear on an actual keychain, one that Jake Gyllenhaal might have owned a decade ago? That seems a lot less likely, even if Swift is currently capitalizing on all the attention “All Too Well (10-minute version)” gets by selling “F * ck the Patriarchy” keychains as part of the merchandise on her site. In any case, let’s give Swift the benefit of the doubt in this case. The composer in it may have been initially impressed by the internal rhyme of “car keys” and “patriarchy,” and from there she sketched a line that can be endlessly debated and reinterpreted, a situation the Swifties are well aware of. well.

To learn more about the story behind Taylor Swift’s lyrics, listen to Slate’s podcast. Spectacular vernacular.

Leave a Comment