I do not like Taylor Swift. It is not that her music is not my cup of tea, it is that I genuinely do not like her -– as a person. Why? Because I think she’s a terrible role model. I think she sends damaging messages to women in what she writes about as an artist, and also in the way she carries out her life as a person.
In her latest hit single, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” Swift writes about a boyfriend who keeps calling it quits and then wants to get back together. When I first heard the song, I rolled my eyes at another boy-crazy, sappy song, but then I read an article describing the song as a “girl power anthem” and from that indignation was born this commentary.
Swift is not in any way, shape or form a model for female empowerment. In fact, she is the opposite. In this song’s lyrics, Swift writes of the “exhausting” cycle of breakup and makeup, with her boyfriend making false promises and picking fights in some kind of twisted game that she cannot seem to figure out.
Are we supposed to stand in awe of your strength, self-respect and maturity in finally telling whichever of your boyfriends it was that “we are never getting back together,” and just completely ignore that it was you who chose to keep taking him back in the first place?
And this is not her only song with this theme of letting people take advantage of her -– see “Dear John,” “White Horse” and “Fifteen” to name a few.
What’s even worse, Swift herself doesn’t even recognize that she is an agent of her own victimization, as she believes that it is she that leaves abusive relationships with an upper hand, writing lines like “But I took your matches before fire could catch me.” Really? That’s debatable at best.
Of course, we all know about the Kanye incident in which Swift was interrupted, undermined and humiliated in front of all of her peers and a national TV audience, and instead of defending herself, Swift waited for then-boyfriend Taylor Lautner to come rescue her and let her cry on his shoulder (see “Back to December” lyrics).
The message? Females, stay weak and silent and subjugated and just wait for the men. Where was the girl power then, and when it was arguably needed most in her career?
When music critics disparage her talent, vocal abilities and song-writing skills, she replies not with intelligence in the form of an articulate and well-thought argument about her legitimacy as an artist, but with emotional, childish name-calling: “You’re mean!”
Swift is not a feminist. Swift is a patriarchal enabler.
In Swift’s most recent album, “Speak Now” (2010), only two out of 14 tracks are actually about a life other than Swift being obsessed with boys. Which begs the question: what will Taylor Swift write about when she does finally marry someone? What will her image revolve around then?
Will her working girl career be over? That’s a patriarchal message if I have ever heard one. A woman’s one and only goal in life is to get married, and any other interests leading up to that, like a music career, are just a strategy for achieving that goal, and are to be put aside once that goal is achieved.
I strongly believe these messages make Taylor Swift even more damaging to impressionable young women than the blatantly questionable morality and values of women like Kim Kardashian or Lindsay Lohan.
On account of the subtle nature of her lyrics, no questions are raised and no critical thinking ensues the just blatant acceptance of gender roles and stereotypes: a pretty, boy-crazy, emotional woman-child exuding conservative purity (and by association, passing judgment on any form of sexual expression), weak-willed, powerless, complacent and forever seeking validation from men.
Taylor Swift is certainly no role model for young women.