Let’s state the obvious; Taylor Swift has taken over the music industry. She’s the highest paid musician of 2016, making more money than Beyonce, Jay-Z and Justin Bieber combined. Her last album, 1989, was the highest selling album of 2014, and she has over 83 million followers on Twitter. With that type of following, it’s amazing what kind of influence Swift has on popular culture.
Which is exactly what makes her brand of “feminism” so dangerous.
Taylor Swift is seen as a role model to young women around the world. Her image of the classic girl-next-door gives her a certain sense of innocence and normality that her fans relate to. A significant portion of that fan base being elementary and middle school age girls, who look up to Swift as a model in how they want to dress, what they want to do in life, and how they want to act. Swift recognizes the influence she has and claims it’s the reason behind her modest clothes and squeaky clean lyrics. But when it comes to selling her brand of feminism, Swift seems to pay no mind to the possible consequences of her public “girl squad.”
There are many reasons why Swift may have jumped on board with feminism. Maybe she had a change of heart (although recent contradictions could be used as arguments against that theory.) Maybe it was because of the culture shift over the past few years, where feminism went from the dirtiest ‘f-bomb’ in the English language to a widely accepted, or at least tolerated ideology. With the popularization of feminism in our modern culture, celebrities such as Swift jump on board something I like to call trendy feminism.
Trendy feminism isn’t feminism at all. It’s a blatant and often unapologetic form of opportunism that masquerades as feminism but is disingenuous and a falsehood. This is when celebrities cling to feminism for popularity rather than ideological reasons. An example of this is during the Women’s March when Swift decided to tweet out her support for the protest. But this was only after the march had become a trending topic on social media, and was the first time Swift ever supported anything anti-Trump.
So much love, pride, and respect for those who marched. I’m proud to be a woman today, and every day. #WomensMarch
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) January 21, 2017
This brand of fake feminism becomes uglier when it becomes a marketing tool. Celebrities, for marketing and photo opportunities, create their own ‘idealistic’ form of what they believe feminism should look like. Swift’s ‘girl squad’ is an example of this. The girl group consists overwhelmingly of thin, white girls, making it a false representation of feminism. If this is an example of inclusive ‘girl power’, then where is the diversity in race or any traces of body positivity?
There isn’t any because it’s not a genuine attempt to be inclusive and promote real feminism. It’s using a white washed version of feminism, so that it benefits them personally, with no thought in mind as to what damage it may do to the next generation of girls looking for a role model to empower them. It may make for a cute post on Instagram or Twitter, but as for promoting feminism, it’s exclusive at best, and toxic at worst.
When someone with the influence Taylor Swift has, says that this is how feminism is supposed to look and act like, that’s what it becomes in the public eye. This is how the public begins to perceive a very crucial movement.
As the public, we have to ignore trendy feminism and encourage those who participate in genuine feminism and promote the ideas we all stand for. When a celebrity blatantly uses feminism for attention, don’t give them that attention. Just like one would ignore a bully to get them to stop, ignore trendy feminism to put an end to it.
Feminism is too crucial a movement to be treated as something frivolous. Let’s continue to strive to educate and share ideas of inclusiveness, and make sure those values scream louder than trends.