Feminist, Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift speaks to Maxim about her feminism

Once upon a time Taylor Swift denied being a feminist. Because she didn’t know what feminism was.

Back then she told The Daily Beast,

I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.

But she’s had an awakening. First thru a friendship with Lena Dunham. As she told The Guardian:

As a teenager, I didn’t understand that saying you’re a feminist is just saying that you hope women and men will have equal rights and equal opportunities.

What it seemed to me, the way it was phrased in culture, society, was that you hate men. And now, I think a lot of girls have had a feminist awakening because they understand what the word means.

For so long it’s been made to seem like something where you’d picket against the opposite sex, whereas it’s not about that at all. 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.

And then experience heightened her awakening.

Taylor Swift, Feminist

Taylor Swift, Feminist

As she explained to Maxim, she came to see that,

Feminism is vital to growing up in the world we live in…

I think that when I used to say, ‘Oh, feminism’s not really on my radar,’ it was because when I was just seen as a kid I wasn’t as threatening. I didn’t see myself being held back until I was a woman.

She sees a double standard that criticizes her for writing from personal experience:

A man writing about his feelings from a vulnerable place is brave; a woman writing about her feelings from a vulnerable place is oversharing or whining.

To me, feminism is probably the most important movement that you could embrace, because it’s just basically another word for equality.


Taylor’s initial “coming out” was a bit rocky. Not long after first declaring her new consciousness, her “Shake It Off” video showed her in a variety of dance genres, including ballet, cheerleading, breakdancing, baton twirling and twerking. The twerking was seen as appropriating black culture.

Even feminists can, from time to time, use some education on cultural sensitivity. But as we grow it is more helpful, and generous, to educate rather than attack.

I welcome Ms. Swift’s growing consciousness.

This is part of a recurring series on feminist celebs.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on June 26, 2015, in feminism, sexism, women and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. Education is key to understanding mostly everything in life. Some things just came naturally, but feminism is not one of them.

    I think as a woman, I need to understand what “feminism” entails. There was a point where I thought this meant a woman is against a man, when in reality it means seeking for equality for women as it exists for men.

    Unfortunately, we still face inequality in many aspects such as not getting paid the same as men for the same exact title and role in the company.

    We have definitely have come a long way, and there are still ways to go.

  2. Sophia De Guia

    I had the same perception of feminism as Taylor in the past. Feminism is really not a large issue when you are younger. However, I think that with this generation, feminism is a growing culture amongst individuals of every age. Girls want to grow up strong and are no longer raised to think they have limitations because of their sex. It may not be blatant feminism that the youth preach, but just as Taylor, they have been valuing feminist viewpoints all along. It is a valuable thing that females these days may take for granted. Just reading about the history of women in the United States and the expectations of them through the years makes me thrilled about how, now, women are constantly proving themselves and maybe even outshining their counterparts. I still see inequality between men and women in the news especially in the workplace, and I hope that the world takes bigger leaps in closing the gap between the two genders. Women, however, should know that they shouldn’t lean on their gender as an excuse if they want to play the part of an equal to men.

    • Yeah. And another thing that’s difficult to overcome is the unconscious internalization that we have all done. Every now and then something happens that helps me to see some unconscious sexism that I have internalized. Which helps me to deal with it.

  3. Teresa Garcia

    Taylor Swift is one of my problematic favorites. Yes, while she claims to have embraced feminism in her life, it is from a very select perspective. Her white-privilege feminism fails to recognize the struggles of women of color, trans-women, and and disabled women. She rarely, if ever, acknowledges social issues, and chooses to instead use her “feminism” to boost her popularity. For example, her “girl-gang,” which was predominantly featured in the “Bad Blood” music video, is blasted all over social media, and even makes on stage appearances with her. While I do not deny that these are considerably strong female role models, they are very clearly being showcased to fuel her career and build her sales.

    I dislike that she cites Lena Dunham as a source for her feminist awakening, because Dunham is just as bad, if not worse. Dunham’s feminism is singular to privileged white women, a fact made evident by the lack of women of color on her popular show.

    Frankly, I find it increasingly more difficult to view Swift as a feminist, because, when it comes down to it, actions speak louder than words.

    • One of the hazards of declaring your feminism is that you “have to be perfect.”

      Or at least a lot of people think so.

      You have to have already overcome every single negative unconscious internalization.

      And if you don’t, you will be hated — by some people at least.

      That’s why I made this comment at the end of the post:

      “Even feminists can, from time to time, use some education on cultural sensitivity. But as we grow it is more helpful, and generous, to educate rather than attack.”

      Also, I don’t see how it boosts a career to say that you are feminist. Probably just the opposite. These days you have to be brave to call yourself a feminist.

      Is it more helpful to bash someone who has been brave enough to embrace feminism, Or to accept that we are human beings and not perfect and to generously work to educate where people aren’t perfect?

      Because of your experience you can see things that others cannot. And you can educate people — without a lot of negativity surrounding it.

      I would hope that we could be generous with each other, or everyone will be afraid to come out as a feminist.

      The more that famous celebrities do come out, The more likely that young women and men will embrace it, too.

  4. I think Miss Swift’s evolving opinion is valid and understandable. I admire her concession to the fact that she did not know much on the topic. Her honesty about the subject and her pursuit to learn more should is inspiring to me and should encourage others to do the same. I in fact do not know too much about the subject but I am motivated to learn more. I do not feel comfortable expressing too much on the subject because I am not experienced in the matter though I do feel a connection with Taylor’s quote, “…saying you’re a feminist is just saying that you hope women and men will have equal rights and equal opportunities”. I feel as if I have learned the basis of the meaning and I am excited to learn more. Her influence in pop culture and her connection with a young and young adult audience can help to spread a better understanding of the word and its power.

  5. I think that Taylor Swift is doing a great thing! People attack her for making songs about guys she has been with when all she’s really doing, is expressing her feelings. She stands up for women all around the world and let’s them know that you are allowed to have feelings and believe in the equality of women. I really enjoy how she took her fame and used it for the greater good of women. I have friends that range from adults to children who look up to her and listen to what she has to say. She is a great role model for teaching children what feminism and women equality is really all about. As a child, I could see how she could be afraid to be labeled as a feminist because she didn’t want to be disliked or have that decline her way to fame. It’s important to realize that it has been within her all along but it just took some time for her to come out and say it. She has always been about helping girls through by having her share her personal experiences with us.

  6. I actually like her through Ellie Goulding, who is one of my actual favorite female singers …and support her at Twitter at times… https://twitter.com/elliegoulding
    By the way I Think Taylor Swift I think one of the celebritries with more followers on Twitter…. https://twitter.com/taylorswift13 Number 59,621,811 at the moment. Imagine the power of her statements then, I hope she keeps it up!…. So good to know about this! … All my best wishes, dear Georgia!, Aquileana 😀

  7. Read about her a few days ago…you’ve summed up the views very well… 🙂

  8. Definitely love seeing her grow into her awareness and use her “powers” for the greater good!

  9. Go Taylor! I think for a long time people have thought “I am a feminist” = “I hate men”. I really think the tide is turning and men and women are realising feminism is about equality and has nothing to do with hating anyone.

  10. I was glad to see Taylor Swift’s learning more about what Feminism means. As for her “Shake it Off” video, I remember the controversy but certain comments particularly made me think. Several people broke down all dance sequences and how there were some ethnic diversity in all moments. As for the twerking, just like the rest of the video, Taylor was a klutz and didn’t fit in, being the awkward one. So overall, she was failing at all dances saved the last one, whether they had this or that culture attached to it. I wish I still had the link because the analysis was interesting.

    • Yeah I know that different people have different opinions as to whether the twerking was cultural appropriation. At the very least people could learn what cultural appropriation is because of the conversation.

  11. You have re-traced Ms Swift’s view very well. Good post.

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