By Rachel Yelverton
I cannot stand Taylor Swift. Yes, I know she is America’s sweetheart, and I can’t deny that her annoyingly long list of hits are incredibly catchy. I have even been known to belt out “Style” when I am alone in my car. But I can’t shake the fact that she is so painfully annoying to me.
Before you roll your eyes and write me off as a jealous hipster, hear me out. I absolutely love that a heavyweight superstar is labeling herself as a feminist. I wish all stars of her magnitude would also publically label themselves as feminists. But Taylor Swift’s version of feminism is not only wrought with contradictions; the whole thing feels like nothing more than a ploy to gain media attention.
Feminism is about equality, and that equality cannot be selective. Swift is generally silent about any issue that does not directly affect her life. When your feminism only applies to social injustices that apply to you, that’s not feminism; it’s egocentrism masquerading as awareness. Swift has an unparalleled, platform but refuses to use it to address intersections. Don’t get me wrong, girl power is great and all, but not remotely sufficient.
Almost every single music video Taylor Swift has ever released makes me cringe. Quite possibly the most problematic of all of Swift’s videos has to be “Wildest Dreams.” The video is set in 1950s Africa without a single African individual in the entire thing. If you turn the sound off, it actually looks like a biopic of the colonization of Africa. This isn’t the first time that Swift has blatantly appropriated cultures in the quest for aesthetic goals, and it most likely won’t be her last.
Next, who could forget the “Blank Space” video, or aka the “Trivialization of Domestic Violence and Unhealthy Relationships”? For teeny-boppers who love to scream T-Swift song lyrics, this hit is nothing short of a smash. However, if followers took one minute to digest the meaning of the video, they might reconsider making this song their anthem.
And how could I forget the much anticipated “Bad Blood” video, which had a cast full of Swift’s equally famous clique? The song was inspired by a feud between Swift and Katy Perry, and the video is basically a giant “you can’t sit with us” to Perry. This contradicts Swift’s fight with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in which she accused the pair as not supporting her, and to quote directly, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” What’s the truth here, Swift? Where are the guidelines for feminism? Should we be supporting women just for the fact that they’re women, or is it OK to take down a competitor if you get into a fight? The video displays all strong female characters — great start. However, it turns into nothing more than a bout between females. Shouldn’t the feminist movement band women together instead of pegging them against one another? Swift practices both of these ridiculous extremes and finds herself regularly playing the role of victim.
As much as it pains me to say, Taylor Swift is an incredible business woman. Her brand is pristine with the right amount of edge. Her transformation from girl to woman was as smooth as a well-done ombre, and we all still think that if she weren’t famous, we could totally be her BFF.
Maybe I am being too hard on her; she’s still young and her job is being a musician, not a social justice warrior. But if you want to label yourself as a feminist and reap the benefits that come with that, a little more compassion would be appreciated.
Rachel Yelverton studies political science. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.