Haven’t we all heard the same things about Taylor Swift?
She dates too many boys.
She only writes songs about love.
Has she ever thought that maybe she’s the problem?
The media is quick to criticize most celebrities. But with Taylor Swift, it’s slightly different. We hear the same remarks over and over again whenever she’s spotted in public with a boy – even when it’s her own brother. Her songs have opened up her thoughts and emotions to millions of people around the world. But people seem to take this as a reason to constantly attack her personal life. How we treat Taylor Swift, despite her enormous success as a solo female artist, is representative of the sexism that still consumes our society.
The feminist movement, which began in the late 18th century, has taken huge strides toward equality between the sexes. Females have since broken the barriers of being just a housewife and taken control of their own lives. But there still seem to be issues of social equality in how we currently treat women, even when they are empowered.
When you’re a young woman in this country who consumes pop culture through a variety of mediums, it’s almost impossible not to feel bad about yourself. The media seems to tell young women, “you’re not perfect, and you’ll never be perfect, but you should try anyway.” It’s easy to feel diminished, discouraged and powerless in today’s society. But Taylor Swift works against this.
The autobiographical nature of Taylor’s music makes it easy to connect to her audience. They easily relate to the themes that she sings about. But because of this, Taylor is often criticized for suggesting that girls should constantly seek the affections of a boy. This podcast explains why this may not necessarily be true.
In her own words, Taylor has said:
“For a female to write about her feelings and then be portrayed as some clingy, insane, desperate girlfriend in need of making you marry her and have kids with her, I think that’s taking something that potentially should be celebrated – a woman writing about her feelings in a confessional way – that’s taking it and turning it and twisting it into something that is frankly a little sexist.”
In reality, Taylor shouldn’t be criticized for dating boys at all. She should be able to date however many guys she wants. Is she supposed to remain single as long as she’s famous so that people never talk negatively about her? It’s her life, and in the words of Carolyn Gearig, “The whole point of feminism is that women should be able to make choices about their lives without centuries-old stigma hanging over them.” There is in fact a double standard when it comes to dating, which feminism has been fighting against. When a woman gets a lot of guys, she’s seen as a “slut” or “whore.” But when a guy gets a lot of women, he’s seen as “studly” or “manly.” It’s unfortunate that women can’t express their sexuality the same way men can without being ridiculed.
If feminism wants to continue moving forward, we should stop criticizing women for expressing themselves. We are wasting our breathe by tearing each other down, and debating about who is or isn’t feminist enough. Taylor, and every other musician, has no obligation to uphold feminist ideologies in every aspect of their lives. But even having said that, I think Taylor’s success, and her music, are in fact empowering women.
Gearig, Carolyn. “Sexism, Feminism and Taylor Swift.” Huffingtonpost.com. 2 May 2013. Web.
Green, Laci. “Why I’m A… Feminist *gasp*” Online video clip. Youtube. Youtube, 23 Apr. 2014. Web.
Sales, Nancy. “Taylor Swift and the Growing of a Superstar: Her Men, her Moods, Her Music.” Vanityfair.com. April 2013. Web.
Swift, Taylor. “Dear John.” Speak Now. Big Machine Records, 2010.
Swift, Taylor. “Fifteen.” Fearless. Big Machine Records, 2008.