(Since I was recently booted from my position at Damn Straight Politics in an INCREDIBLY unethical takeover, I’m moving a few posts from that site to this one. Enjoy!)
Last year I opened a can of worms by writing an series of articles defending Disney Princesses from the vile hatred of feminists. Feminists naturally did not approve. Since I’m a glutton for punishment I’ve decided to continue doing similar articles through out 2014.
This month’s topic of discussion: Taylor Swift.
I really don’t get the hatred that feminists have for Taylor.
They call her “a feminist’s nightmare”, but she is really a feminists dream, regardless of the lyrics in her songs or the way she presents herself (which is their real problem with her, that she chooses to act in a way that THEY don’t approve of).
She’s 24, has several albums out, is insanely popular, and makes more money in a week than I make in a year. She writes her own songs and is a talented singer and musician. She’s a capitalist dreamboat as well, and a very generous philanthropist besides, but she also epitomizes the ideals of feminism. She’s made it in the world of music without selling out her principles or ‘sexing herself up’ to sell albums (which USED to be something feminists railed against in the entertainment industry) and, frankly, her songs are not as sexist as feminist want you to believe. While they have a certain quality of youth and innocence, they are much deeper than than “BOYS. That’s it. Just boys. Crying over boys and feeling broken and/or completed by boys.” (AutoStraddle)
After reading far to many feminist rants about Taylor I have boiled the complaints down to the top 5.
5.) “Taylor Swift’s Music is not groundbreaking!”
This one confuses me, because I’ve yet to see a current musician that is truly “groundbreaking” lately. Lady Gaga is rehashing Madonna and half the music I listen to on Sirius on the way to work is indistinguishable from the other half. Innovative music is difficult and generally hard to sell. My sister went through a period where she continually insisted that Owl City and The Postal Service weren’t “real” music because they used computers to make most of the music they played, instead of instruments…now she loves them, but it was a hard sell.
“Pop” generally stands for “popular” and it’s no sin for record companies to choose to record what sells and no sin for Taylor Swift to write what sells.
Not everything has to be groundbreaking or aiming to shake things up and there’s nothing wrong with choosing a certain style and going with it. Taylor at least has written more than one style of song over the past few years, unlike some pop stars whose have music that sounds painfully identical from album to album.
4.) The inexplicably contradictory complaints that she is too pure/boy crazy.
This complaint usually does occur in the same article. They will have one section discussing how she is too virginal and pure and then a paragraph later they will start complaining about how many men she dates.
It’s a little difficult to understand how these two things work. I get that Taylor tends toward a certain innocence in her lyrics, which is part of her image (and probably part of her personality), which gives her songs a soft quality that is romantic, but I don’t see a reason to hate on her for that when there is plenty of other people filling the “raunchy, hot and heavy” pop music stereotype. It’s not as if all the popular musicians are the same as Taylor Swift, in fact she’s one of the few offering that sound to consumers.
She’s also 24, of course she dates. She honestly doesn’t date much more than any other 16 to 24 year old…the only reason we care is because she’s famous. It’s not as if every song she writes is about a new person (or even necessarily about someone she dated).
I get the feeling that feminists wouldn’t care as much if she was having one night stands and Entertainment Weekly was taking pictures of her doing the “Walk of Shame.” That would totally be feminist I guess.
Because she’s a pop singer, duh.
No, stop, don’t pretend that she’s the only one that does this.
The majority of the song’s on Katy Perry’s new album, Prism, were about relationships (the rest were mostly about sex).
Most of the songs on Lady Gaga’s Born This Way album were about sex, which seems to be as close to a relationship as Gaga ever gets.
Pink, who seems to be a popular musician for Feminists as well, came out with The Truth About Love, which is almost exclusively made up of songs about relationships and love.
This isn’t a new thing and Taylor Swift is not the only one doing it, so why are feminists exclusively criticizing her for this? I get the feeling it’s the “sweetness” that she pours into her tracks, as opposed to Pink, who curses her way through songs and Lady Gaga who seems to like pushing the envelope to write the raunchiest tracks she can.
I guess if Taylor Swift would let an f-bomb go in a song about a boyfriend, that would make it feminist friendly.
More importantly, while most of her songs are dealing with relationships, she has branched out into other topics over the years. Songs like Change, Best Day, Mean, Innocent, Never Grow Up, and The Lucky One show that.
2.) “She plays the victim/needs men to save her/takes feminism back 20 years.”
This sort of complaint just goes to show that generally the people critiquing Swift have listened to the singles and top hits off her albums and never actually taken a look at the other songs.
Most of her top hits have been the more happy/pop friendly songs on her albums where I suppose you could get this impression, if you are looking for it, but other songs on her albums are a good deal more about personal strength, moving past heartbreak, and ending seemingly abusive relationships.
Some of the top ones that show these emotions, in my opinion, are Tell Me Why, You’re Not Sorry, White Horse, Dear John, Begin Again, and The Last Time.
I don’t see an overwhelming amount of victim hood in lyrics like “I’m sick and tired of your attitude/I’m feeling like I don’t know you/You tell me that you want me then cut me down/I’m sick and tired of your reasons”, “So you don’t have to call anymore/I won’t pick up the phone/This is the last straw/There’s nothing left to beg for/And you can tell me that you’re sorry/But I don’t believe you baby”, or “All the girls that you’ve run dry have tired lifeless eyes/Cause you’ve burned them out/But I took your matches/Before fire could catch me/So don’t look now/I’m shining like fireworks/Over your sad empty town”.
I would call these the lyrics of a strong woman and I fail to see how this would harm feminism at all. Obviously you can have a relationship and have heartbreak and still be feminist friendly right? After all feminists don’t hate men yeah?
1.) “SHE SAYS SHE’S NOT A FEMINIST!”
This is the #1 reason that feminist hate her.
After all, who would dare to disagree with feminism or say they aren’t a feminist? She must hate women!
The funny thing is that Taylor Swift has a perfectly credible reason to not consider herself a feminist. She says that she doesn’t consider herself a feminist because she doesn’t believe in the idea of men vs. women. She was raised to believe that women who worked just as hard as men could be just as successful.
Feminists shrilled “THAT’S NOT WHAT FEMINISM IS! WE DON’T THINK WOMEN ARE MORE IMPORTANT! WE JUST WANT EQUALITY.” Unfortunately for the feminists saying that, they seem to be ignoring that Feminism has done a very poor job of messaging. There is more than enough reasons for someone to believe that Feminists are advocating for women being considered better than men and that feminists are part of a “woman vs. man” mentality…because there are a lot of very vocal feminists out there who are saying just that.
Don’t critique someone for “not knowing what feminism is” when the issue is your inability to get your message about what feminism really is out into the world. The imaginary speck in Taylor Swift’s eye is way less important than the log in yours.
Those that choose to not consider themselves feminists have a valid reason for it and that reason is within the feminist community.
In the end it’s apparent that the reason’s feminists have for not liking Taylor Swift are shamelessly contradictory, shallow, and based on lack of actual knowledge about the musician.
But really, were we expecting anything else?
*Clearly I am referring to a specific subset of feminists, but judging by feminists websites and the response to their articles hating on Taylor, there is a pretty common thread of hating going on here.