“You hate Taylor Swift?!” a boy practically spittles at me one night after my drunken confession of dislike for the Swifty. And it’s not that I want to attack her personally or hate her country-cutetsyness. I don’t harbour a ton of dislike for those who desire a life centralized around family and motherhood either (full time moms are some of the coolest, strongest ladies just fyi) - it’s simply that I don’t think her attitude and the content of her songs warrant the universal approval parents seem to give her. Be it the constant virginal motfis or her demonization of other women and ridiculous idealization of men, T Swift just doesn’t strike me as someone who should get an all access pass into the iTunes and bedrooms of young girls.
Though the awesome feminist blog Autostraddle already covered this shiz in a post entitled Why Taylor Swift Offends Little Monsters, Feminists, and Weirdos, I still want to rant about it. For the sake of avoiding repetition I will just focus on what I find to be the most offensive element of her music:
Boys are adorable deer to be fawned over and cuddled… meaning we can’t hold them accountable for any lack of responsibility or critical thinking.
Straight up, in these catchy country pop songs men are idealized to the point of toxicity to both genders. When I say idealized I don’t mean her idealization of their physical appearance, which is the way most people talk about their latest lumpin’ romantic interest. It can be cheesy but it is present pretty much everywhere in music and definitely isn’t worth getting all riled up about. What I AM riled up about is her prescription for the treatment of these strapping young gentleman.
An important public service announcement from LSP.
Here’s what I can gather story wise from the line above, which is from Swift’s song Better Than Revenge: Girl and boy are dating, boy and another girl mutually agree to pursue a relationship together behind girl 1’s back, drama unfolds. Here’s the weird part about the way Taylor’s lyrics explain a situation like this: The blame is almost exclusively put on the other womenwhen the hurtful backstab has TWO culprits. Depending on the circumstances, such as whether or not girl 2 knew about girl 1 or her relationship with the guy and so on and so forth, the man might be ENTIRELY RESPONSIBLE for the hurtful incident. Even if this wasn’t the case, HE was still the one in the committed relationship. Yet the song isn’t about that, it’s narrative relies on demonizing the other women for “stealing”. Yeah, that’s right, stealing. As if men lack agency of their own and are property that can be stolen. Am I the only one who feels It’s unacceptable to have lyrics like this, that treat either one of the sexes this way!?
Don’t worry, obviously the song is equally offensive to both genders. Singing angrily about another women taking your boyfriend is kind of wacky in its own right, but sometimes our emotions get the best of us and we unconsciously shift blame that should be distributed to multiple people onto one person. Okay. That’s understandable. What isn’t understandable is the way Swift ACTUALLY sings about this women.
She’s not a saint, and she’s not what you think / She’s an actress, whoa! / She’s better known for the things that she does on the mattress
In this one line alone Swifty manages to convey several harmful messages about women and womanhood to, well, young women and girls! One being that women and girls are somehow less earnestly or sincerely interested in their hobbies or things that they talk about or mention. This is an unfortunate element still present in our society, which if you believe no longer exists just think of the flack that girls that enjoy video games or similar nerdy hobbies catch i.e, “she’s not even into it, she’s only pretending to be into it to GET ATTENTION, attention who-ore!”. So coming from a supposed female role model, it really stings. This girl isn’t what you think, she couldn’t possibly be genuine around you, she’s tailoring her behaviour to get your attention!
That isn’t to say that some people aren’t fake or fake aspects of their personality, clearly there are a lot of people who do. A lot of people, not a lot of women. It’s a human thing, not a gender thing, portraying it that way doesn’t exactly send the best message.
Besides this we have a lovely slut shaming mattress comment, just what every young girl needs to hear. Remember, Taylor Swift says that if you’re sexually active (even if you’re safe and responsible with your activities) you don’t mean a damn thing to her! You should probably just abandon your life now and live in a dumpster, you are literally worthless.
To wrap this thang up, basically I have nothing against the fairy tale stories pushed by Swift, it’s just the way she goes about telling them that concerns me. Sing all you want about finding the one, getting married and having children, I will be happy for you because that’s what you want. Whether it’s a life of full time motherhood or being a career gal or some combination of the two, it doesn’t matter. No path is inherently more worthwhile than another, the important thing is that our choices are respected. Just don’t push the idea that these men are toys to be played with or that other girls are just slutty obstacles in your way - they are people to connect with too.