The truth is that, while I remain a die-hard fan of her music and I think she’s a pretty great person who does good things and means well, she’s also got a lot of curious misconceptions about the world around her and its treatment of her.
Part of this is that she’s latched on to the new fad of “feminism” and it really really shows in her interactions with the media these days. I’m mostly putting this down to her age (we may be the same age, but Taylor’s experience with the world and my experience with the world are as different as chalk and cheese), but that’s not going to stop me from pointing out the flaws in her reasoning.*
Here’s what Taylor had to say recently.
Appearing on Australian radio show Jules Merrick & Sophie on Monday, she says her song critics are sexist.
“Frankly, I think that’s a very sexist angle to take,” she says. “No one says that about Ed Sheeran. No one says that about Bruno Mars. They’re all writing songs about their exes, their current girlfriends, their love life and no one raises a red flag there.”
Now I’m not going to claim that this criticism of her isn’t sexist. I think it’s pretty clear that men who write about sex and relationships, whether their records are rock and roll or rap, are more or less expected to talk about sex and their relationships. If Taylor Swift had a different set of chromosomes her lyrics and topics of choice probably would not be criticized the same way.
While I won’t claim that Taylor’s music has never been criticized by a man or by a non-feminist women, I do find it odd that most of the “boy crazy” criticism, that she complains about in this interview, has come from feminist blogs over the years.
Which is ironic, considering that she has now buddied up feminists.
From – Autostraddle (This particular article is riddled with more instances of this “boy crazy” criticism.)
Furthermore, Swift’s lyrical message to teenage girls is clear: BOYS. That’s it. Just boys. Crying over boys and feeling broken and/or completed by boys.
In fact, Swift loves boys at the exclusion of just about everything else, including other girls. Other girls are obstacles; undeserving enemies who steal Taylor’s soulmates with their bewitching good looks and sexual availability. Unfortunately for these mute yet effortlessly hunky jungle-eyed boys, by choosing the “beautiful” girls over Taylor (who is, suspiciously… also beautiful…), they’re missing out on Taylor’s unique understanding of their heart/inner fireball/angelic rainshower/sweet glory of Jesus. “All those other girls are beautiful,” Taylor pines, “But would they write a song for you?”
From Bitch Magazine (finding a single quote, when this entire article is just one big “stop writing about boys Taylor!” was hard.
Oh, I know. I’ve heard all the pro-Taylor propaganda – about how she’s a “good role model,” and an antidote to your Lohans or your Hiltons or your Gagas or whatever other female celebrities are being held up as examples of Moral Decay this week. Taylor is so SWEET. Taylor is so CUTE. Did you SEE that video where Taylor was insanely obsessed with that one boy but could not possibly be with him because she had GLASSES? Unlike that slutty mean POPULAR girl, who had the temerity to date a dude and disagree with him at times and be more socially adept than Video-Taylor! Clearly, Taylor speaks for us all!
From The F Bomb
That being said, I haven’t found a single one of Taylor’s songs that doesn’t centre around boys. I’m sure she has a complex and interesting personality, but I don’t know what it’s like because Taylor presents herself as an entirely boy-dependent, overly innocent, baby-faced bunny. The media milked the innocent bunny thing after Kanye interrupted her (and subsequently ruined his reputation) Come on, you were all thinking it, Kanye just said it out loud, as obnoxiously as he could. Which brings me to number 3.
Even Taylor’s friend, Lorde, critiqued her writing about boys last year. Of course I’m sure there’s more to this comment than what we saw and I’m sure they are very good friends, but was this sexist?
Should your ex-boyfriends be worried?
No, no. I try to stay away from talking about boys all the time. You can go to Taylor Swift to hear that.
– NY Mag
Now there have been men and women, both feminist and not, who have defended Taylor as well.
Taylor is not exactly the only singer-songwriter who has made a career singing about her exes. Maybe not every song in the world is about love but like, 98.7% of them are. It’s actually a perfectly respectable way to build a career in music. Ask Adele. If you’d like to hear a 22-year-old woman sing about the tedium of grad school applications, raise your hand. Huh, I’m not feeling a rush of movement out there. Exactly. We want to hear the dirt on the boys–and we even have suggestions for future reference!
Carolyn Gearig at Huffington Post: (Who actually points out that feminists are the ones critiquing Taylor writing about boys.)
And then there are Swift’s songs, primarily about relationships, breakups and falling in love.
Why is this considered bad? Other artists write about love, and it’s hardly surprising: love is a powerful emotion. People say that her songs are immature because she always blames the boy, but are you really going to tell me that during your last breakup, you said to yourself, “This was MY fault”? You probably didn’t, because it is a natural reaction to blame the other person. And for those of you who claim that Swift is stuck at age 14, she was 14 when she began her career, and middle and high school students remain her largest audience. Writing to her audience is an intelligent thing to do and a big part of the reason she has remained so successful.
3.) “Why are ALL her songs about boys!”
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.
However there is a discussion to be had as to whether those criticisms I posted stemmed simply from her gender, but from the fact that she wasn’t actively calling herself a feminist during those years and possibly because her lyrics weren’t sexually provocative enough.
Consider this feminist blog’s discussion of the music of Pink (another musician I enjoy).
P!nk may well be the most outspokenly, unapologetically, and explicitly feminist pop-rocker currently on the charts. While many female pop stars continue to profit from “empowering” images while ducking the “feminist” label — hi, Katy Perry! — P!nk weaves feminism into the fabric of almost everything she does. She shoes off her buff bod when she feels like it, but never in a self-objectifying way. (Somehow, we’re pretty sure she wears whatever she wants and doesn’t care what anyone says about it.) She writes songs about loving sex, hating her husband, loving her husband, and hating superficial starlets.
The prevalence of this “sexist” criticism may well have been caused by the fact that Taylor crossed the wrong group when she refused to claim the label of feminism in past years. Articles like this one at Bustle, tell the tale though. Taylor is now feminist, so she’s safe from our criticism…which has been some of the most vitriolic of the criticism she’s received over the years. I suppose time will tell. Will the feminists, who she now claims as friends and sisters, cease this type of criticism now that Taylor has fallen in line?
Maybe not, but somehow I get the feeling that she may hear that type of criticism slightly less now than she used too.
*Mostly because it brings me a hell of a lot of visitors to my blog. Also maybe I just want Taylor to notice me…it’s like I’m pulling her cute little blonde pigtails. Sorry Taylor.