Culture

Feminists’ Bizarre Crusade Against Taylor Swift

(Reuters photo: Lucas Jackson)
They hate the pop princess for not opposing Trump.

Who said it: Benito Mussolini or Bustle? “Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”

Trick question: Mussolini said it, but today’s feminists think it. They’re Bussolinis. For feminists these days, no acceptable person can exist outside their state, which is a state of anti–Donald Trump rage.

Which naturally turns their thoughts to Taylor Swift.

Ms. Swift, who has just released her new album Reputation, is enraging feminists because she declines to take a stand on politics. Who can blame her? Republicans buy concert tickets too. Why alienate 63 million voters? Or perhaps — you may want to sit down for this shocker — this particular bubblegum-pop singer isn’t a particularly political person. More than 100 million Americans eligible to vote in 2016 demurred. Regardless of the identity of the person in the Oval Office, Swift may have noticed, life does to tend to go on more or less the same, although I will immediately issue a correction the moment America’s women are forced, as predicted for a year now, to wear Christian burkas.

Swift is in the absurd position of generating headlines by saying nothing: “Taylor Swift’s silence on politics generates speculation that she secretly voted for Trump,” read a New York Daily News headline two months ago. It’s instructive that the implication here is that it’s safe, normal, and routine for a celebrity to announce she’s backing Hillary Clinton, and equally instructive that it would be problematic to be one of the 63 million Trump voters.

Jezebel, which years ago called Swift, then 20, “a feminist’s nightmare” for singing songs about boys, this year suggested that Swift needs to “speak out against white supremacists” (some of whom seem to be almost as obsessed with Swift as Jezebel is). The Daily Beast’s Amy Zimmerman castigated Swift for not backing Hillary Clinton (“Taylor Swift wasn’t just not with her — she didn’t even know her”), tagged the pop star with using a “craven calculus to winning brownie points without offending [her] most offensive fans,” and said Swift, by not speaking out against the alt-right, stood at risk of “alienating all of [her] queer, trans, black, Latino, undocumented, Muslim, and indigenous fans.” Avoiding alienating anybody isn’t an option, apparently. You must alienate the right millions of people.

Though Swift sent a message of support to the Women’s March, whose organizing purpose was to publicly show disgust with Trump, she was denounced for not explicitly denouncing Trump.

A Bustle editor, Kadeen Griffiths, harrumphed that, although it’s nice that Swift calls herself a feminist, “one of the main problems with Swift’s feminism has always been that it’s self-serving and centered on white feminism” — yet Swift of course also isn’t allowed to use any idea that has ever been associated with any black person. A Buzzfeed headline insists, using a Trumpish formulation, that “many have called” Swift’s video for “Look What You Made Me Do” “an example of cultural appropriation — saying that Swift, a white artist, is co-opting black culture to sell records.”

Griffiths called out Swift for adherence to a heretical denomination of feminism: “using the word and the ideology to build up her brand and sell concert tickets without putting in the political work.” Though Swift sent a message of support to the Women’s March, whose organizing purpose was to publicly show disgust with Trump, she must be denounced for not explicitly denouncing Trump. Implied disapproval? Not enough.

Another Bustle writer, Rachel Simon, deplores Swift as a “fake feminist” and “too problematic for even some of her most diehard fans to defend,” citing along with Swift’s various silly tabloid feuds with other celebrities her “deafening silence during the 2016 election.” Your silence might be deafening when you’re credibly accused of serious misbehavior and you refuse to answer. But when you avoid a topic that makes everybody angry, your silence might more accurately be labeled soothing. And wise: Swift’s former competitor for the title of America’s pop princess, Katy Perry, has done herself no favors by turning overtly political: In angry-woke mode, her career is in sharp decline.

As Katie Yoder writes in the Washington Post: Shouldn’t feminists allow Swift simply to “be who she wishes”? Isn’t self-determination the goal? Instead, today’s feminists support only “women who agree with them — vocally, frequently and on demand.” Attempting to extract declarations of loyalty oaths doesn’t sound much like liberation. It sounds more like oppression. You do you, Tay-Tay. Continue to ignore the Bussolinis.

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