It's Time To Stop Pretending Taylor Swift Is A Feminist

Taylor Swift before she turns on the Christmas Lights at Westfield Shepherd's Bush, London. 06/11/2012 Picture by: Steve Vas
Taylor Swift before she turns on the Christmas Lights at Westfield Shepherd's Bush, London. 06/11/2012 Picture by: Steve Vas

If you asked me the question "Do you consider Taylor Swift to be a feminist?", my answer would be a resounding, unapologetic no.

My first and foremost reasoning is that she never actually speaks out on feminist issues such as the wage gap, and only takes a pro-woman stance when she directly stands to gain from it. An example of this would be "Bad Blood" which is about her tearing down Katy Perry (though Katy, who's known for stealing from Black culture, isn't a feminist either). Feminism isn't about what you specifically can get out of it; it is about ensuring that all women achieve liberation, whatever that may look like for them.

She also presents a very unhealthy and unrealistic example of female friendship; a group that consists entirely of tall, thin, conventionally pretty Western white women with only a few women of color to serve as tokens.

Another reason for my coming to this conclusion is that during this election cycle she has not made a single comment even with a misogynistic white nationalist running for (and having a good chance of winning) the highest seat in the land. For someone who claims to care about women's rights, this is an unsettling move.

My biggest reasoning for saying Swift is not a feminist is her long track record of anti-black racism, starting with the 2009 VMAs, when Kanye West came up on stage, took the mic and stated the obvious; that a talented black woman with a truly innovative video lost to white mediocrity and that it was unjust for this to be the case. Swift then claimed to want nothing to do with the "virtuous white womanhood in peril from blackness" trope, then proceeded to capitalize on it with songs such as "Innocent".

She has been using this disgusting trope to this very day, including when she lied about not knowing about Kanye's gross reference to her in his song "Famous" when video was shown of her approving the lyrics in a conversation with him. This plays into a long and disturbing history of white women only seeking the opportunity to oppress people of color in the same way that white men do. By playing up the "virtuous white woman" trope, Swift has shown women of color (Black women especially) that she couldn't care less about what happens to them, so long as she ends up getting her slice of the pie.

I'm fully aware that Taylor Swift is held to a different standard due to her being a woman. But that is not an excuse for her to behave in the way that she does just because she claims to support gender equality. At the end of the day, while she is a woman, she is a wealthy, thin, able-bodied, straight, cisgender white woman, which affords her a lot of privileges that other women don't have. Similar to many white "feminist" women of past eras, the only women Taylor Swift is concerned about is women like her.