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The Selena Gomez and Hailey Bieber Drama Proves We’re Still Obsessed with Pitting Women Against Each Other

Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, and Hailey Bieber have been at the center of some “serious” drama this week according to the internet. But there’s a huge, glaring problem in how the situation is being covered. Everywhere you look, there’s the suggestion that Selena is feuding with Hailey over ex Justin. Once again, the two women involved in celebrity drama have been painted as enemies — while the only guy involved walks away with his reputation clean. In case you’ve totally missed this drama (lucky you), here’s a brief rundown.

This week, Selena released two new singles, “Love You to Lose Me” and “Look at Her Now.” Both songs have lyrics that fans believe are about her former relationship with Justin, which ended back in March of 2018. So far, so simple.

Shortly after Selena’s first single dropped, Hailey posted an Instagram story of a Summer Walker song called “I’ll Kill You.” The song doesn’t just have an aggressive name — the lyrics are about keeping a relationship safe no matter what, and include lines like “tryna come between us, it won’t end up good.” And that’s where things started to get messy.

Backlash for Hailey’s Instagram story was immediate. Selena’s fans swarmed Hailey’s page with song lyrics and negative comments (the model has since turned off comments on her profile), and news outlets scrambled to write up Hailey’s “shade” against Selena. When Just Jared posted about the “feud” on his Instagram, Hailey wrote this in a now-deleted comment: “Please stop with this nonsense…there is no ‘response.’ This is complete BS.”

Within 24 hours, Selena commented again too. “I will never stand for women tearing other women down. So please be kind to everyone,” she told fans during an Instagram Live. Sure, she could have been talking about anything — but it seems pretty clear she was referencing their treatment of Hailey.

So, how did this become all about Selena and Hailey, with Justin’s name nowhere to be found? You could blame Hailey’s ill-timed Instagram story, and claim these two stars brought it on themselves. But, even if Hailey did intentionally ding Selena on Instagram, I still believe Justin is more to blame for any conflict between these women.

One of the most-discussed lyrics in Selena’s new work is this: “You turned me down, and now it’s showing / In two months you replaced us / Like it was easy.” Many believe this refers to Justin moving on with Hailey so quickly after his split from Selena. And when Ryan Seacrest asked the pop star about these lines on Thursday, her answer revealed a lot.

“I’m really grateful… because I’ve actually experienced that a million times before and that’s the unfortunate part about what I do,” Selena said. “So it’s all very real to me, and I’m sure it’s just entertainment for other people, but I just—I think I had become numb to it, and it would be stupid of me if I didn’t acknowledge what I had felt.”

Given the on-again, off-again nature of Selena and Justin’s relationship, Selena may have been implying that Justin would often quickly “replace” her after one of their breakups — thus, her having experienced it “a million times.” But whether or not that’s what she meant, Selena makes a valid point: She’s writing about her real life, and real pain that she experienced. Why are we so much less interested in that than a passive-aggressive Instagram story?

With her new songs and subsequent comments, Selena has given us more than enough fuel to get angry at Justin and how he treated her. Even Hailey’s comments should make us angrier at Justin: Why does Hailey still feel so threatened by Selena? If she felt truly secure with Justin, surely she wouldn’t feel the need to call out his ex-girlfriend on Instagram — right?

Even though Justin is at the root of both these women’s problems, the media has ignored his role, asking instead what Hailey will say to Selena, or what Selena will say to Hailey. The story quickly was spun into a feud between two women and bulldozed past the fact that a man’s bad behavior created the situation.

Selena and Hailey don’t deserve to be compared and scrutinized, forced into competition while Justin, the so-called prize, walks away scot-free. For a long time, women were encouraged to blame “the other woman” when a man cheated or was otherwise disloyal. But we’re catching up to that trick, and realizing how much we’ve lost — and men have gotten away with — by misplacing our anger. When covering celebrity drama like this, it’s time for the media to catch up too.

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