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Monday, 18 July 2016

Is Taylor Swift A Feminist?

Hannah Barnes

There is no questioning whether or not the recent shit storm that is Taylor Swift’s life is a feminist issue – just ask yourself how many male celebrities have been publicly persecuted in this way, had their romantic choices so closely scrutinised and their success so often challenged. Swift refers to herself as a feminist and she’s been playing publicly with feminist ideas for a while now, but still not everyone’s convinced.

I’ve been following Taylor Swift ever since she first released Love Story to the UK market. I fell in love with her country twang back when she was just ‘a girl, trying to find [her] place in this world’ – and now, it seems, she’s certainly found that place (it’s a crazy beautiful loft apartment in NYC if anyone was wondering).

Recently though, since the release of 1989 and Swift’s subsequent image change, I’ve found myself a little disillusioned with her brand of preppy feminism. 

Anyone with an internet browser will have seen Swift and her squad’s instagram takeover this 4th of July and in many ways she is the internet’s big sister; personally gifting fans, joining in with their excitement and offering up a pretty decent role model for young women to aspire to. But there’s something just a little high school about the idea of anyone having their own squad, and it gets even more awkward when everyone but Lena Dunham is either a model or could easily seek alternative work as one.

Far be it for me to sit here and bash such a strong and positive person though, her squad may seem inclusive but she is bringing feminism to a whole new generation of young women and would freely admit that she’s still learning along the way. Swift has been criticised in the past for her writing, which chronicles her (now famous) love life; because of the emphasis on boys, heartbreak and the boys that broke her heart. So much so that, many claim that Swift should be barred from the halls of feminism for good.

Despite the squad, I disagree. Yes, Swift’s early focus lies predominantly on her relationships (with a few exceptions to the rule here and there) but by broaching these issues Swift touches on something universal. Heartbreak after all, is gender free, as much as we might like to believe it’s a solely female phenomenon. 

By suggesting that Swift has let the side down by daring to discuss heartbreak honestly and openly (whilst also creating a killer career, I might add) we’re kind of missing the point.

Today, of course, everyone is talking about Taylor Swift for a very different reason. After being the subject of an extremely passive aggressive twitter rant by ex-beau Calvin Harris last week for daring to admit she penned the lyrics to his latest track This Is What You Came For. This week sees the release of that video by Kim Kardashian which details a conversation between Swift and West discussing certain lyrics for his track Famous. Note, at no point does Taylor hear, or agree to, the disputed (and insanely sexist whether disclosed or not) lyric ‘I made that bitch famous’.

She is, like many beautiful and talented women before her, a victim of her own success. A victim of her own self ownership. Kim Kardashian too, has seen her fair share of sexist shade; which is why in all of this West’s name is barely mentioned. Instead the women in question are pitted against each other as the media watches on with glee. Just as with Swift’s true story writing style and the subsequent attempts at ownership of her love life by the media (something she could be about to totally punk), these two most recent public spats show a very sexist side to the way information is delivered to us.  

A photo posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

As far as I can see, Swift is keeping a level head; attacking neither Kardashian nor West on a personal level and simply reinforcing the facts once again. She’s refusing to fight fire with fire, and refusing to fall into the girl on girl mud fight the media is lining up for her.

So, yes, absolutely. Taylor Swift is a feminist (and if you think I need to justify that anymore than because she says so you should check out this piece) and it’s a good job too, because she’s going to need all the weapons in her  Bad Blood arsenal to fight back against the sexism that just can't wait to see her fall. 

What do you think? Have your say in the comments section below!

Hannah Barnes / Author & Editor

I keep myself busy with my small business; The Loft Gifts, the period poverty charity I run; The Crimson Wave, writing here and for vaious platforms and a growing menagerie of household pets.


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