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OPINION: How Travis Kelce’s relationship shifts patriarchal media

Travis+Kelce+by+All-Pro+Reels%2FCreative+Commons+%28CC+BY+2.0%29
“Travis Kelce” by All-Pro Reels

/Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0)

If you don’t live under a rock, you probably are aware of the current popularity of Taylor Swift after her career-defining Eras Tour and the subsequent movie premiere. Swift has been breaking record after record this year with the re-release of some old albums as well as the release of her brand new album Midnights last year. 

Whether you are a fan or not, her current levels of success are compelling. Amidst this popularity around her music,  fans and speculators have followed her new relationship with Kansas City Chiefs star, Travis Kelce. 

Throughout her 20-something year long career, entertainment media has closely followed Swift’s love life, tracking her current relationship status and its relevance to her music of the time. In an interview with Swift with the Los Angeles Times from 2015, she mentions being discouraged from the dating scene after the media has heavily intervened with her personal life and created false narratives about her true intentions. She said, “ … everyone’s calling you boy crazy, making jokes about you at awards shows? That’s public humiliation. And I don’t think it’s fair.”  

Regardless of who her partner was at the time, she faced scrutiny and patriarchal questions and digs by the media about her love interests; questions and comments that male celebrities with similar power in Hollywood do not often get asked with the same frequency.  

Unfortunately, the patriarchy of celebrity interviews is not a new phenomenon, as women have suffered in the limelight for many years. Oftentimes, women are asked invasive questions about their body or their sexual history.

In an interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur, a German news outlet, Swift was asked when she plans on having kids since she had just turned 30. She responded, “I really don’t think that men would be asked this question when they turn 30, so I’m not going to answer that now.” 

With all of this past traction around her love life in mind, it’s no surprise that her and Kelce’s relationship has made headlines considering his popularity in his own respective field. This time, Kelce is experiencing a taste of these invasive questions and the overall experience of having your relationship speculated and highlighted opposed to milestones in your career, which women have faced since the dawn of time. 

Men are frequently the ones asking the invasive questions to their female counterparts in interviews. Almost always, women do not ask other women patriarchal questions regarding their personal life, since they too often understand how it feels to, first, be violated, and second, have people base your career around your relationships (or lack thereof).

Men are typically not asked these questions since the media views them as more than just a partner, rather an individual with a career that is the reason they are successful, not due to the proxy of their lover. Oftentimes, male celebrities’ relationships with women are just a footnote of their media coverage.

In a recent press conference with the Kansas City Chiefs, Kelce was asked if he’s “in love,” and was pestered about the current status of his relationship and the whereabouts of Swift at recent games. He responded with, “I’m going to keep my personal relationship personal.

TikTok users responded to this same interview posted by CBS Sports with comments saying, “Reporters need to stop. And stay with football.” “Keep it personal my a**. They’re making a business out of it. Absurd.” “Nobody cares omgggg.” “You know the fans have got to be SICK of seeing and hearing about Taylor!!’ She’s beautiful and talented yet so overrated!! Stick to the game.” 

However, PR from ESPN seems to be running with this whole Kelce and Swift thing despite negative feedback from sports fans in posts surrounding the relationship. According to the AP and a representative from Fanatics, a sports merchandise website, ever since Swift’s first appearance at Arrowhead Stadium, Kelce jerseys have spiked 400% in sales. ESPN has posted countless photos of Swift and friends at the games on ESPN’s own socials as well as NFL’s and KC Chiefs socials. 

Swift’s personal account as well as ones managed by her team have yet to post or comment on this relationship. However, during her recent concert in Argentina she changed the lyrics to her song “Karma” from “Karma is the guy on the screen ” to “Karma is the guy on the Chiefs,” alluding to her current relationship. 

It’s also noteworthy to mention the “chase” element to this relationship that is part of the reason it gained so much traction. At first, Swift was apparently not interested in Kelce; he was upset that she didn’t want the friendship bracelet he made for her when he attended her concert. However, he was persistent enough to get in communication with her, which highlights another element of the patriarchy of relationships.

While it’s unclear what Kelce’s true intentions were when trying to connect with Swift, this shows how some men feel entitled to women and getting their attention whether or not the woman is interested. The “locker room culture” that sports media has created from this relationship is shameful, although not surprising. 

Many believe that Swift cannot maintain a relationship due to her own faults. Although, her past relationship with Joe Alwyn is an example of some men’s paralyzing fear of inferiority, which can be to blame for her failed love interests.

These theories are analyzed in books likeThe Love Gap,” which explains that when a woman earns a higher salary than her male lover, he could feel subordinate while yearning for a more “traditional” heterosexual relationship dynamic. Since Kelce is incredibly successful in his own field, it will be interesting to see how this shifts that narrative about Swift’s ability to date long term. 

Again, whether or not you are a fan of these two celebrities, it is engrossing to watch their relationship evolve via media involvement. This is a time when the gears are shifting; male stars and their fans are experiencing a hint of the intrusion and its irrelevance to one’s career that comes with being in an A-list relationship. 

Annabel is a UA student studying journalism and studio art. Outside of writing, her interests are music, art and photography.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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