Before I get in to the content of this blog post, I have to start with a disclaimer: I am a Taylor Swift fan. I have all of her albums: ‘Taylor Swift’, ‘Fearless’, ‘Speak Now’, ‘Red’, and now ‘1989’. I have [too] many songs from those albums memorized. I even went to the Taylor Swift Red Tour concert in 2013. Wow, it feels good to get my not-so-guilty pleasure off of my chest.
My reason for elaborating on my love for Taylor Swift is to recognize the bias in my writing. I am a fan of her music, personality, style, social media presence, etc., so I view her differently than someone who does not encounter her persona very often. That being said, Taylor Swift has gone through somewhat of a feminist transformation in the last few months, and I think it’s awesome.
Taylor Swift’s songs have often been empowering towards women and girls. For example, “Mean” is an anti-bullying anthem, “22” encourages young women to embrace feeling “happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time”, and “We Are Never Getting Back Together” tells women to stand up for themselves and not indulge in toxic relationships. As evident in these songs and others, Swift has always been in support of feminist ideals without explicitly using the F-word.
However, 2014 Taylor Swift has gone through a transformation. In an interview with Guy A. Lepage on Canadian talk show Tout Le Monde En Parle, Swift talked about women in the media. She states:
‘I think when it comes to females in the media, you’ll see something that kind of upsets me, which is that females are pinned up against each other, more so than men. One thing I do believe as a feminist is that in order for us to have gender equality we have to stop making it a girl fight, and we have to stop being so interested in seeing girls try to tear each other down. It has to be more about cheering each other on, as women and that’s just kind of how I feel about it.’
She was also asked about her opinion on Emma Watson’s UN speech and He For She Campaign:
‘I wish when I was 12 years old, I had been able to watch a video of my favorite actress explaining in such an intellectual, beautiful poignant way the definition of feminism. Because I would have understood it and then earlier on in my life I would have proudly claimed that I was a feminist. Because I would have understood what the word means.
So many girls out there say ‘I’m not a feminist ‘ because they think it means something angry or disgruntled or complaining or they picture like rioting and picketing it is not that at all,. It just simply means that you believe that women and men should have equal rights and opportunities, and to say that you’re not a feminist means that you think that men should have more rights and opportunities than women. I just think that a lot of girls don’t know the definition and the fact that Emma got up and explained it, I think it’s an incredible thing and I am happy to live in a world where that happened.’
Taylor Swift’s feminist realization has been exciting to watch. She cut her hair, moved to New York, devotes her time to her female besties (including Lena Dunham, Lorde, Selena Gomes, and more), and transitioned from a country to pop artist. In fact, in an interview with The Guardian, Swift states: “Becoming friends with Lena — without her preaching to me, but just seeing why she believes what she believes, why she says what she says, why she stands for what she stands for — has made me realize that I’ve been taking a feminist stance without actually saying so.”
As for the 1989 album itself, Taylor’s new feminist persona bleeds into the music and lyrics. As a whole, the album is devoted to the positive changes in her life, rather than focusing on romance and heartbreak. In an interview with Fusion, Swift describes her life in relation to 1989: “My life is all about my friends right now, but I don’t have any song that’s like BEST FRIENDS ANTHEM, I really am trying to put these messages across subtly and tell stories where kind of those aspects of my life as felt rather than said to you.” Looking closer at the contents of the album, Bustle.com examined the lyrics of all of the songs on the album to find “5 ‘1989’ Lyrics That Prove Feminist Taylor Swift Is Here To Stay.”
Like I said in the beginning of this post, I love Taylor Swift, and her feminist awakening only makes me love her more. As an artist with a large following of young girls, Taylor’s feminist proclamation is bound to influence her young fans. I have a sister in the 8th Grade (13 years old), and she is a huge Taylor Swift fan, so I’m happy that the pop star she idolizes is also a positive feminist role model. As for my opinion on the ‘1989’ album itself, I like it. I’m not as enamored with it musically as I have been with some of her others (specifically ‘Red’), but the more I listen to it, the more I like it. My favorite song at the moment is “Blank Space”. ‘1989’ is the kind of album that makes me want to sit on the floor with my best girl friends with a bottle of wine and a plate of cookies, and talk about life while dancing around the room. It’s the kind of music that makes me feel young and free, and as a 21-year-old Senior in college, that’s exactly how I want to feel right now.