(ft. Sabrina Carpenter’s “Because I Liked A Boy”)
I'm sure everyone remembers the way Olivia Rodrigo dominated the month of January in 2021. And February. And March. And after teenage romance tears were shed listening to Rodrigo’s “Driver's License,” all eyes narrowed on Sabrina Carpenter, the girl who had allegedly wronged Rodrigo by dating her ex.
The chaos that ensued over the love lives of these young girls was international. Not only was Rodrigo’s song powerful in its own musical right, but the speculation behind who “that blonde girl” could be was even more powerful - even lending itself to an SNL special that debated the origins of the song. I couldn’t have been the only one who was unsettled hearing Pete Davidson speculate about a romance involving a minor.
Fast forward to July 2022, and the world is still strangely obsessed with these young girls’ dating lives. The problem is that the obsession with young celebrities and their romances blurs the line between what is and isn’t acceptable conversation between youth and adult. This line should be clear. Making inappropriate jokes and comments about or to young girls, even celebrities that may never see your online and anonymous messages, skews their definition of appropriate boundaries. This can lead to serious issues of harassment and manifest issues in their future relationships. And because young people are so active on social media, it’s important to show these kids that it’s not healthy for adults to be so invested in the relationships of a young person.
On a simple level, young relationships are trying for anyone who partakes in them. Having all your mistakes broadcasted to the public adds a whole new level of hurt and is incredibly damaging. People often assume that they have a right to pick apart celebrities’ relationships , but that is a dangerous game to play.
Let’s examine a firsthand example of the damage that public speculation can cause by listening to what Sabrina Carpenter herself had to say about the subject in her new song on the album “Emails I Can’t Send.”
In the song “because I liked a boy”, Carpenter references her relationship at the time as “so innocent” and simply just “two kids going through it.” The use of these words reminds the listeners that Carpenter considers herself still a kid, and the childlike diction of the phrase “because I liked a boy” emphasizes how strange it felt to be a young person in a relationship that people considered to be so devious and so adult.
She contrasts these feelings of young and sweet love with the line “Now I'm a homewrecker, I'm a slut, I got death threats filling up semi trucks.” It is in this line that the audience has to reckon with the fact that talk about Carpenter was more than schoolgirl gossip. It was dangerous and an attack on her own well-being.
After the release of Carpenter’s album, a tweet became viral stating that “the world owes Sabrina an apology.” But why did Carpenter have to remind the world of her humanity for them to feel sorry for her? Why couldn’t people, back in 2021, recognize that the prying into her relationship at such a young age was strange and hurtful?
We live in an era where many women are able to tell their stories about how the media and obsessive pop culture that focused on their sex lives damaged their lives at a young age (i.e. Britney Spears). So why is it constantly “so and so deserves an apology” years later and not “so and so deserves privacy in one of the most private aspects of their life right now”?
And I get it, I really truly do. Who’s dating who is a wonderful morsel of gossip to snack on, and most people can’t help but be intrigued with the most intimate parts of someone else’s life. But when that obsessive mentality cultivates an environment of death threats and sexualization, fans need to take a step back.
Young people deserve better. They deserve a chance to explore these experiences in peace.
Lily Olsthoorn is an online writer for the super cool, super lovely Rowdy Mag. If you’re wondering what she’s up to at this exact moment, she might be rollerskating, drinking tea, thinking about jazz piano solos, or petting a cat. Or all four. See her on Insta at lily.ols :)