16/03/2013

Red

It's well known that when I talk about Taylor Swift and, inevitably, someone tells me they that they hate her, I will reply with "I used to be annoyed with Taylor, but then I saw the light.. and that light is Red."

What I fail to mention when someone discusses their disgust with Taylor is that I regret ever being against her. Too many people place blame and shame onto the 23 year old like it's a rare accolade to hate her, when it's actually just conforming; worryingly, as  her personal life and relationship status is increasingly treated as public property, the reaction Taylor Swift receives for her actions is patriarchal nonsense distilled with too many years of trying to keep women from doing what they want to be doing. I couldn't care less if you didn't think much of her as a recording artist, all taste is subjective right? But if you tell me that you don't like someone, anyone, because you brandish them (or have been told by all the media/someone else) that they're a slut, then I have a problem. 

It is so wrong for countless reasons. First up is that you shouldn't judge anyone for behavior you deem 'slutty', especially when it seems that the category of young women that Swift falls into is the age and gender which is most afflicted by the backwards mentality that if you have a relationship, or relationships, wear tight clothing, talk about things both frivolous and important to you, etc, then you are a slut. It makes no logical sense.  "For a female to write about her feelings, and then be portrayed as some clingy, insane, desperate girlfriend in need of making you marry her and have kids with her, I think that’s taking something that potentially should be celebrated—a woman writing about her feelings in a confessional way—that’s taking it and turning it and twisting it into something that is frankly a little sexist.” For Taylor Swift to even have to stand up for herself and defend her choices in the 21st century is disappointing. Even worse are that people like Michael J. Fox get involved in this issue by saying stuff like "No. No ... Just back off. I don't keep up with it all.... but Taylor Swift writes songs about everybody she goes out with, right? What a way to build a career." Why is he getting himself involved when Taylor Swift is linked to his son? That's kind of creepy. 

This has all been inspired by Anaheed's post on Rookie today which has led me to some really relevant quotes, best of all from Kathleen Hanna, catalysing the fact that I wanted to write about Red/Taylor Swift without posting numerous pictures of me sobbing on my bedroom floor clutching her album (read: without appearing like an emotional wreck/creepy fan). Kathleen Hanna said "I’m totally into Taylor Swift. I think she has super-clever lyrics, and I love that she writes her own music. Some of the themes she writes about are stuff I wish was there for me when I was in high school, and I’m so happy she really cares about her female fans. She’s not catering to a male audience and is writing music for other girls. I don’t care if she calls herself a feminist or not. There is something that she’s doing that feels feminist to me in that she really seems to have a lot of control over what her career is doing. She’s 23. People say she’s dating all these guys. Well, yeah, she’s a young person and is dating all these people ’cause that’s what you do when you’re young. John Mayer can fuck 84 people in one day and nobody calls him a slut. I think that’s the subtext of some of the things she’s said recently." I feel exactly the same way about Taylor Swift. I like her music and am endlessly annoyed by the treatment she gets for being herself. Why can't she date people? What kind of example are you setting to Taylor Swift's audience, many of whom are younger than myself?

Since Taylor Swift strides an issue of sexism simply because she's a woman doing what she wants, dating who she wants, and singing about what (and who) she wants, she is the example in my biggest argument when faced with more negativity when the word feminism is mentioned. It's an excerpt from Rudy Francisco's poem chameleon, in which he says "what will the boys learn from us?" and that's what is most important to me: you've got to create these positive attitudes and social awareness so that ignorance is left where it belongs, forgotten in the past. I like Taylor Swift because I think her fourth album is good and appreciate her as a person for writing music that I like. When I tell other people that, I wish they would tell me their opinion on her music, rather than her personal life. 

1 comment: