Indie Author Weekly

161: Frivolity, worthiness, and internalized misogyny (from Taylor Swift to romcoms)

August 22, 2023 Sagan Morrow Episode 162
Indie Author Weekly
161: Frivolity, worthiness, and internalized misogyny (from Taylor Swift to romcoms)
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we explore...

  • What makes something "frivolous,” vs worthy or deserving of your attention and enjoyment? 
  • Internalized misogyny that can come to play with how we perceive Taylor Swift, romantic comedies, and more.
  • The perceived validity and worthiness of more "serious" content vs women being allowed to have fun and put themselves first.
  • Questions to explore to overcome feelings of embarrassment and shame about your (or other people's) "guilty pleasures," and the freedom and liberation of allowing more frivolity and personal enjoyment, regardless of how "silly" a thing may be perceived.

(This episode contains swearing between 6:45 - 7:02)

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Hello & welcome to the Indie Author Weekly podcast, where I take you on the behind-the-scenes journey of my adventures as an indie author. 

Today, we’re going to explore the topic of what makes something “frivolous.”

I’m your host, Sagan Morrow, and I’m an 8-time polyamorous romcom author plus I’ve also written several business books for solopreneurs.

Let’s dive into this episode…

What makes something "frivolous,” vs worthy or deserving of your attention and enjoyment? Let’s explore frivolity and worthiness… 

This is a really important thing to take into consideration when it comes to the novels we write and read, so I’m going to bring this back to the purpose of this podcast, which is all about the indie author journey, but we’re going to take a detour on our way there. 

Let’s start with what got me thinking about this topic in the first place…

Recently, there was a conversation in a group chat I’m in where some friends were saying how they don’t understand the hype around Taylor Swift, and how it was mind boggling to them that people pay so much money for concert tickets, travelling to the concerts, paying for outfits and getting dressed up etc. They were saying that they don’t like her music and they don’t get it.

Now, first of all: What is a group chat for, if not ranting! I am well known for going on rants in my friend groups, so I get it. I’m speaking to you on a solo podcast — of COURSE I love rants! So this is not at all a backlash against their conversation. This is probably much more me over-thinking a conversation they were having, and using it as an opportunity to explore adjacent ideas.Because I couldn’t stop thinking about this conversation they were having. And the more that I thought about it, the more I realized that one of the things that was bothering me is that it felt like there was some internalized misogyny going on.

Here’s the thing: Regardless of whether or not you liked Taylor Swift’s music, you can’t deny that her concerts are a women-centric event — and more than that, they’re an opportunity for adult women to get together with their friends and get dressed up and excited about something they adore and simply be with one another. It’s about pure enjoyment of her music and togetherness. It’s about groups of girlfriends having fun together — and spending money to do that and taking time off work etc to do that.It’s about women putting themselves first. 

So why is it that THAT is more cause for ridicule than, say, people spending lots of money on tickets to sports games, buying expensive jerseys, etc? Or, another example, people spending lots of money on a wedding, buying wedding dresses and bridesmaid dresses etc, travelling to weddings, and so on.

At the end of the day, these 3 events — a Taylor Swift concert, a sports game, a wedding — boil down to essentially the same thing: People spending a lot of money on a one-day event that makes them happy, usually involving matching outfits and enjoying time with their loved ones.

Why is one more worthy than another?

Let’s tie it into the fiction side of things, since, after all, this is the Indie Author Weekly podcast: I definitely find that people roll their eyes when they hear that I’m reading or watching yet another romcom. They often say things like, “Really, Sagan? Why aren’t you watching something better than that?” (They often use that terminology, “better than that” — as though there is something lesser about the genre.) I also often see people posting on social media that they recently read or watched a popular romcom, and they’ll have a disclaimer, saying something like, “This was predictable, but it was fun!” 

…Like they can’t just enjoy it. Most genres are going to be “predictable”! You usually know what you’re going to get when you’re reading a YA dystopian novel or an epic fantasy and so on. That’s kind of the point about genres, that we know what we’re going to get. So… why is it that romantic comedy, and romance in general, is the one where people roll their eyes at the predictability?

It’s because of internalized misogyny. 

It’s REALLY hard for us, for ANY of us, to let women enjoy things, where women are living life and having fun. Again, it’s really hard for ANY of us, no matter how much of a feminist we are or how much work we do to unpack this type of thing; there is so much internalized misogyny that it’s VERY difficult for us to let women enjoy things, let women live their lives in their own ways and have fun. 

Even when you take romcoms and compare them to “women’s literature,” women’s literature is viewed as more “worthy” because it’s more serious.

It is internalized within us that women can’t have a good time. That there’s something wrong with a thing if it’s not serious. That if it’s POPULAR — like Taylor Swift — it’s somehow less worthy, or less cool, than other artists.

This comes into play with other genres, too: cozy mysteries might be seen as "more frivolous" or "less serious" than gritty mysteries; they’re less worthy of acclaim or awards etc — with the underlying meaning being that BECAUSE it's "less serious," it's not as worthy. It's not deserving of a special prominent place on the bookshelf. 

Basically, what we're really saying when we say things like this, is that we believe we are more deserving of suffering, and that suffering is "better," than personal fulfillment, satisfaction, and joy. 

I never swear on this podcast, but I'm marking this one as explicit, because what the actual f*ck? What the f*ck? Why is "fun" not worthy? F*ck that. Why is frivolity not valid? F*ck that. 

And to bring it back to the beginning of this episode, when I was comparing a Taylor Swift concert to a sports game and a wedding — I want to give the disclaimer here that I don’t care, and I don’t NOT care, about any of these types of events. Either way, it doesn’t matter.

Just because I don't "get" something or might not do it myself, doesn't mean there's anything wrong with it. These things are great! To each their own! Let people live their lives and do what makes them happy!!! There are probably people out there whose lives have been changed because of TSwift's music. Why is that any less “frivolous” than a wedding? People get divorced all the time, so why is a wedding more "sacred" than a concert?

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether something is seen as frivolous. All that matters is whether you enjoy it, and to LET YOURSELF ENJOY the things that make you happy. 

I find that a lot of this comes back to something I mentioned a couple minutes ago, about the coolness factor of different things. So I have a few questions for you to think about, for ALL of us to think about, because again, this stuff is deeply internalized and no matter how much work we’ve done on it, there’s always more we can unpack.Here are some questions to consider: 

What do you feel embarrassed about that you secretly enjoy? What do you view as a “guilty pleasure”? Is there any shame attached to anything you enjoy? Do you find yourself setting aside one thing in exchange for another, because you feel like you “should”?

And then explore: What about that thing feels embarrassing? What makes it a guilty pleasure? Where did my shame about my enjoyment in this thing come from?

Let yourself enjoy what you enjoy. Who cares if it’s “cool” or not? And let other people enjoy what they enjoy, too. One of the most beautiful things is to see people’s excitement about their favourite things. Don’t take that away from anyone else, and don’t take that away from yourself. Indulge in childlike wonder. Get EXCITED, outrageously excited, about something, anything, again. 

What happens when you give yourself permission to do that? How liberating does it feel to fully immerse yourself in a “guilty pleasure” and allow yourself to enjoy it, even if it’s not “serious” or “cool” or “high brow”?

Because guess what? All of those things are subjective. They’re made up. We’re just perpetuating those systems when we force ourselves to like this thing vs that thing. 

How much FUN is it to enjoy something that’s “silly” or “frivolous?” Now, ask yourself: “Why would I NOT want others to enjoy that, even if I don’t personally understand it? Why would I NOT want more fun and delight in my own life?”

I hope that this gives you the opportunity to give yourself the permission you need to do, be, create, and enjoy whatever it is that makes you happy. None of these things are better or worse than another; none of these things are more worthy or valid than another. They just ARE. And we get to attach whatever meaning we want to attach to any of these things. 

There you have it — my take on frivolity! If you have additional questions about this topic, or any other topic you’d like me to address here on Indie Author Weekly, I would love to hear it. Please submit your topic ideas, questions, insights, at SaganMorrow.com/question

That, my friend, is a wrap for today’s episode of Indie Author Weekly. Access the show notes for this episode, including all links and additional resources, at SaganMorrow.com/podcast, and share your thoughts on this episode on Twitter or Instagram — my handle is @Saganlives. I would love to hear what you think! Did this resonate with you? Is this changing your perspective on things? Do you have a different perspective that you want to share? I want to know about it!

Please take 2 minutes to rate and review Indie Author Weekly on Apple Podcasts. Thank you so much for tuning in, and I will see you next week for another episode of Indie Author Weekly.