Over the last week, you’ve likely heard the discourse surrounding the supposed fascination that men have with the Roman empire, which has been all over the internet, particularly TikTok, where the trend has had 1.3 billion views. Brutus this, Caesar that. Honestly, the only time I want to hear those names is during my biannual watch of Mean Girls.
But the most fascinating part of this discourse is what women claim as their equivalent of this apparent male fixation. So we've gathered a non-comprehensive list of ‘Roman empires’ for many young women.
The infamous picture of Phoebe Bridgers and Paul Mescal at the Met Gala (where he's looking at Daisy Edgar Jones)
Honestly, one could make a case for both the book and series Normal People being on this list. However, this moment should be in the pop culture history books, as there has seldom been a more cursed picture taken. This picture was successful in adding fuel to the flames of the rumoured torrid love affair between Jones and Mescal — especially as once they went as Fleabag and the hot priest for Halloween. The way Phoebe is looking at Paul who is looking at Daisy truly is the Gen Z equivalent of the Debbie Reynolds/Liz Taylor/Eddie Fisher kerfuffle.
Why did you drop out of Yale?!
Oh Jess Mariano, everyone’s problematic favourite broody 2000s dream boy. Perhaps this line of dialogue is so memorable due to Milo Ventimiglia’s theatrical delivery. Maybe it is because most women do not feel as if they are seen by the men in their lives? Or perhaps we're just not used to seeing a man believe in a woman’s (Rory’s) potential so much that they are willing to fight for them to see it.
The Salem Witch Trials
If there were witch trials in this day and age, we would all be burned and likened to Goodie Proctor. The witch trials have proven to be such a timeless fascination for women as it's a great reminder of how far society has advanced in the past 300-ish years. However, our current society still has the misogynistic tendency to crucify women. Just ask Taylor Swift, as she aptly stated, “They're burning all the witches, even if you aren't one”. Women’s fascination with the Salem Witch Trials is likely similar to a lot of our interest in true crime (even if we're conflicted by it), because we can identify with these women’s stories and feel a sense of catharsis through identifying with their struggles.
The six wives of Henry the VIII
My personal adoration of these women stems from the musical SIX, and I am not alone. The catchy rhyme “divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived” encapsulates so much feminist history. These six women’s stories are timeless; he divorced one because she made her painter essentially airbrush her portrait to make her more traditionally attractive, and two more were beheaded after being accused of adultery despite being victims of hyper-sexualisation. These women’s stories are sadly, timeless.
“It’ll Pass” – Fleabag
There has been no greater response throughout history to the words “I love you” than when the hot priest humorously replied with “It’ll Pass”. Fleabag itself is one of those feminist masterpieces that will be looked upon as a great marker of white feminism in the late 2010s along with the likes of My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh. This whole scene so eloquently encapsulates the dissociative feminism that this show is emblematic of, and this line cuts to the core of doomed romances.
Solange, Jay Z and Beyonce’s elevator ride
The world has not since recovered from this event, which is likely speculated to have occurred due to Jay Z’s rumoured infidelity, as was hinted at in Lemonade, and which Jay-Z himself later appeared to admit to in an interview with the New York Times. This seems far from the sort of scandal that would befall a celebrity as influential as Beyonce, as she has always held such a perfect public veneer. This scandal is one of the few moments where the public has been privy to such an intimate scene between one of the world’s most influential couples and this is likely why it is still remembered so vividly a decade on.
What happened between Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss
Jennifer Lawrence put it best when she stated, “I’d like to know what’s going on with Karlie Kloss and Taylor Swift”. This Roman empire has such lore behind it: the road trips where they traced their Karlie ❤️ Taylor in the sand on a beach; the speculated kiss at a 1975 concert in 2014; through to Karlie recently showing up to the Eras Tour and not being seated in the VIP tent. This very public friendship’s very private demise has been fodder for the public’s speculation regarding the nature of their relationship.
Astrology is unquestionably one of the main Roman empires for the girlies. The sheer amount of research and knowledge that goes into being an astrology girlie is gargantuan. If men are off being obsessed with something that happened thousands of years ago, and has very little impact in their daily lives, I fully support any woman that allows astrology to take over her life.
The people’s princess has had an unwavering impact on many generations of women. Princess Diana's compassion, gumption, intelligence, wardrobe, and empathy are why she is still one of the leading role models for women, despite her life being tragically cut short almost 30 years ago. She was the sort of women that would be beloved in this day and age as much as she was in the 90s. Vale Diana; you would’ve been such a Swiftie.