Alice von Hildebrand human person

Blank Space: Who’s Got The Power?

6:00:00 AMVeronica Buehnerkemper

Many a dance party has been held in my dorm room featuring Taylor Swift's chart-topping new song, Blank Space:

Cause we're young and we're reckless
We'll take this way too far
It'll leave you breathless
Or with a nasty scar
Got a long list of ex-lovers
They'll tell you I'm insane
But I got a blank space baby
And I'll write your name

There is something incredibly catchy about this song that pulls me back to it time and again.  And then the skeptical side of me comes out, as it often does when considering lyrics to pop music.  What exactly do these words  mean?

Well, let’s first consider the title ‘Blank Space.’  In the music video, Taylor suggests a blank space by her initials on a tree… perhaps it could be expanded to blank space by her name… and then a blank space in her heart.  But don’t forget to consider all of the references to ex-lovers and the pain of relationships.

It makes me wonder.

Do we seek relationships for the sake of the highs and then the seemingly inevitable lows they end on?  Are we looking for the reckless side of love?  The sort of relationship that is incredible when you’re in it and devastating when it’s over?

It is worthwhile to consider that this song is written from a woman’s perspective.  There is a lot that comes with being a woman.  Along with the ability to give birth to children and the inherent nurturing instinct that women posses, we have an inexplicable power.  This power is seen in woman’s relationship with man.

My younger sister introduced me to a theory of hers: women can persuade men to do almost anything.  From convincing a man to come to lunch, causing him to forget a prior commitment, or getting him to squish that spider you are all too capable of taking care of yourself.  Essentially all you need is the right attitude and a flip of your hair and you’re set.

Now, I’m not saying that this philosophy is tried and true for every man and woman in each and every situation.  And I don’t mean to say that men don’t have a role in all of this, or that women command all of the influence.  However, there is a hint of truth to this theory that no sane man or woman can truthfully deny.  Think any honey-you-drive-me-wild refrain you’ve ever heard.  Even Alice von Hildebrand admits that “In daily life, it is rare indeed that a man turns down a woman’s cry for help.  Men appreciate being called upon, being given a chance to show their manliness, to play the role of a mediaeval knight whose glory was to protect the weak and even to engage in daring deeds to dazzle and conquer the beautiful lady of his love.” (1)

With great power comes great responsibility.

Given this incredible power, we have a choice.  To convince a man to act in a way which benefits only ourselves, or to convince them to act in a way which benefits not only us, but the man and society as well.

A woman’s influence can be the source of, or at least an integral factor in, a man’s downfall.  Think scarlet woman - sex appeal, seduction and absolutely perfected manipulation.  Bring on the broken promises, broken heart, broken home and finally the broken man.  Hildebrand points out that a woman with whom a man has an affair is called a ‘mistress,’ and that “the word ‘mistress’ indicates who is in command.” (2)  Not to say that the woman deserves all of the blame in these circumstances, but clearly a woman can use her power to entice another to sin.

On the other hand, women can be a source of encouragement for men to strive for greater things.  Think Belle, the ultimate in taming the beast and freeing the man - effortlessly, just by virtue of this mysterious, almost magical influence.  Again, Hildebrand highlights woman’s ability to bring man back to God as “it is, above all, by means of woman that piety is first awakened and spreads its mysterious influence over society.” (3)  A woman can convince a man to take that extra class or volunteer at an event.  Again, the woman can’t take all of the credit here, either.  But we can have some incredible pull.

In essence, this all comes down to acknowledging the mysterious power that rests in our hands, and thinking wisely and carefully about how we women choose to use it.

Swift sings:

I could show you incredible things
Magic, madness, heaven, sin

Which of these will you choose to show? Where are you leading your man?

Alice von Hildebrand, The Privilege of Being a Woman, 47-51.

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