Taylor Swift shouldn’t be shunned by feminists

It often makes me grit my teeth when feminists get carried away with categorizing what is and is not feminist. The entire idea of categorizing and labeling people and shoving them into little boxes is sort of anti-feminist, especially when women start being shoved into “what’s good/not good for feminism.”

I love Feministe, but reading Jill (who I usually agree with about pretty much everything) deride Taylor Swift for not being the best thing for feminism rubbed me the wrong way for a few reasons, including the fact that this kind of categorizing is a slippery slope.

What I found most absurd about Jill’s reasoning is her discomfort with Taylor Swift playing the virgin too much, which Jill chalks up to a “problem with her branding.” Where exactly is the line then? Should Swift be more like Miley Cyrus, a 16-year-old girl who takes pictures of herself half-naked and does on-stage performances with a stripper pole? If being hypersexualized isn’t the answer, then that leaves an artist with the choice to be asexual, and really, haven’t women been portrayed as asexual for long enough?

Instead of giving Taylor Swift the benefit of the doubt that maybe her own personal choice and personality is not to be overtly or overly sexual, Jill instead jumps to the conclusion that it’s a role she is playing to sell records. This type of judgment puts women into corners. It’s the kind of dilemma women are caught in all the time, because they are judged if they are virgins or act virgin-like, and they are judged if they are overly sexual. Women are supposed to claim their own sexuality in the eyes of feminism, but how are they supposed to claim it for themselves if feminists are judging them for choosing the wrong level of sexuality to portray? Women should not have to worry they’ll be heckled by men for dressing/acting too sexy, but heckled by feminists for not dressing/acting sexy enough.

And, like Jill, I love Lady Gaga, but she isn’t exactly the holy grail for feminists considering she “worships” men, and I’m pretty sure she denies even being a feminist. And, I agree that Taylor Swift writes most, if not all, her songs about guys, but so does Lady Gaga, and most music artists — a majority of music is about love, that’s pretty standard. John Mayer is always writing about love, Ne-Yo is always writing about love, everyone is always writing about love.

Personally, I think Paramore is good for feminism because Hayley Williams leads a rock band, and rock is a genre where really popular bands are 99.9% male, except maybe The Donnas, and few have just a female lead singer, except maybe No Doubt or Garbage.

It’s your musical preference whether you want to hear someone sing about love over guitar, piano, studio-mixed beats, whatever — but it’s an insanely slippery slope to say it’s OK to write about wanting to ride on someone’s disco stick, but it’s not OK to write about unrequited high school love. I don’t think heartbreak or heterosexual love is the only thing women experience, but I think it’s one of the most influential aspects of songwriting, and it’s hard to decide where to draw the line if you’re trying to label anything as “anti-feminist” if it’s too devoted to men.

This topic opens a whole can of worms about what exactly is good for feminism, which opens a can of worms about sexuality and how heterosexual feminists are supposed to be empowered, independent women while also attracted to men. (See: Naomi Wolf, “Radical Heterosexuality.”)

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2 Responses to “Taylor Swift shouldn’t be shunned by feminists”

  1. busylivingpretty Says:

    I totally agree! You made some extremely good points – its the judging itself that keeps us girls from doing what it is that the judgers want us to do! Taylor Swift should be allowed to be herself, without being seen as “faking it to sell records”, and so should Lady Gaga, and Paramore, and any other artist, group, or person.

  2. Taylor Swift shouldn’t be shunned by feminists « Busy & Living Pretty Says:

    […] as seen on: https://isandwich.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/taylor-swift-shouldnt-be-shunned-by-feminists/ […]

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