Mishah Hamid, '26
I have listened to Taylor Swift for as long as I can remember. Whether I am in my mother’s car, working out, completing my math homework, or deciding what my first Exchanged article should be about, the first option that comes to mind is Taylor Swift. Even as I am writing this article, I am listening to her evermore album.
Swift is seen by many as a feminist model that can inspire everyone, specifically teenage girls my age. Her music is an art form that can resonate with all of us, from turning fifteen years old and experiencing the beauties and challenges of young friendships, to the struggles of growing up and experiencing the treacherous or gorgeous (see what I did there) outcomes of romantic relationships.
I wanted to dedicate this article to deep dive into the “feminist” values she represents; obviously, we all know that she is currently re-recording her earlier albums to gain rights for her music, and it is known that she tries her best to express feminist morals that can be inspiring to everyone, specifically the younger generations in our society. However, as I’ve grown older, watched some of her older interviews and music videos, and learned at NCS more about what it truly means to be a woman in society, my opinions on Swift have slowly pivoted away from praising her every action to questioning her feminism and how she chooses to express it.
Let’s talk about Swift’s dating history. In the past eighteen years, Taylor Swift has dated at least fourteen men. In an interview with 2DayFM, Swift responds to the allegations that she only writes songs about her ex-boyfriends: “Frankly, that is a very sexist angle to take, no one says that about Ed Sheeran. No one says that about Bruno Mars". Swift is basically saying that people only criticize women about their dating histories and ignore men’s. Personally, I would disagree. People point fingers at Leonardo DiCaprio and Pete Davidson all the time, and they have dated almost the same number of people that Swift dated. Sure, people do not accuse men like Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran of writing songs about their exes, but both did not have a dating history of fourteen romantic interests. In this interview, Taylor Swift is using sexism as a cover- up to tell people to stop being mean to her. She needs to accept that her dating history is problematic and unusual, which is why she is always asked about it. The longest she has gone without dating someone was 6 months, establishing the fact that she has a problem with being alone. It is evident that Taylor Swift always needs a guy beside her, indicating that she can never be alone. Additionally, as Swift feels that she always needs a man to feel complete, a woman calling other people sexist for recognizing the fact that she has dated a long list of men does not sit well with me. Swift is only covering up her exposure of her different boyfriends by calling other people sexist, while not holding herself accountable for the truth; that at least ¾ of her discography is about some boyfriend or love interest. As Swift expresses that people are sexist for claiming that she is only writing songs about her exes, she is portraying a false example of femininity and feminism: you cannot use feminism to defend yourself and your own problems that do not have to do with you being a woman- it paints a false and demeaning picture for other women, and Taylor Swift does not represent all women.
Next, I want to address the Bad Blood music video. There are multiple issues I have with this music video and the concept of the song. So, what is Bad Blood? It’s a music video full of badass-looking and dangerous-cool fighter women that are played by many of Swift’s big Hollywood friends like Cara Delavigne, Selena Gomez, Gigi Hadid, Zendaya, etc. This video so far may seem feminist because Swift gathered up her model friends and had them dress into “badass” outfits while they rode motorcycles and threw knives. This concept explains a very surface and superficial understanding of feminism- a modern day feminism that expresses that women are empowered when they wear short, latex outfits and knee-high boots while learning how to fight. I am sorry to say this, but a woman does not need to feel powerful if she dresses sexy and wears clothing that resembles lingerie. I think that if a woman feels this way, then that truly unfortunate, because a woman’s empowerment should come from within her own mentality and mindset. The music video does not demonstrate this idea at all, but instead instills an idea that woman are only powerful if they choose to expose their bodies, and enforces an idea that empowerment comes from a woman’s appearance.
Secondly, the concept of Bad Blood does not represent feminism because it completely sets women against each other. For background context, Swift wrote this song to bash Katy Perry because she used Swift’s background dancers for her own Prismatic World tour midway the Red tour, without her knowledge. Swift perceived this incident as Perry trying to sabotage her Red tour, so she wrote Bad Blood to justify that she was hurt by these actions, and to basically portray Katy Perry as a villain. At the time, Taylor Swift had a larger following than Katy Perry did, and Taylor Swift writing this song caused all her fans to turn against Perry. Because of this, Perry received a lot of hate messages and death threats. In an interview, Swift was asked about the music video, and responded, “we have to stop making it a girl fight, and we have to stop seeing girls try and tear each other down. It has to be more about cheering each other on as women”. To me, it is questionable that Swift said this even though she initiated the “girl fight” by writing a diss track about Katy Perry and having the whole world turn against her. She is the one “tearing” Katy Perry down, instead of “cheering [her] on as a [woman]”, or as she describes herself, a “feminist”. In this situation, Taylor Swift sets women against each other, and was tearing a woman down to boost her following and her ego. This is not feminist.
Though I do not agree with Swift’s feminist morals and ideas, I still think she is a smart lyricist and songwriter, which is why I still support her music. Her songs help me through tough situations, and I think she always puts her all into a tour to make it a memorable experience for everyone in attendance. We all have to understand that there is no specific definition of what exactly feminism is, and I used Taylor Swift to express my own. I know that there will be many people who do not agree with this article, but I hope you can understand my points and opinions on feminism and why I believe Taylor Swift isn’t the right feminist model we need to inspire our generation, and the many generations that will come after us.