The Politics of Taylor Swift
During Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential race, it became the norm for well-known celebrity women such as America Ferrera, Natalie Portman, and Beyonce to openly support and campaign for Clinton. These women were celebrated for publicly sharing their political opinions, for taking a stand against the threat of a Trump presidency and – through this – for taking a stand in favor of third-wave feminism. However, at the same time, many Clinton supporters began to notice that one woman in particular had yet to disclose who she would vote for come November.
This woman was Taylor Swift.
Of course, Swift is no stranger to controversy; any news of her public breakups and celebrity feuds is nearly as popular as her music. But the anger over her lack of political transparency was not easy to ignore. Before the election, critics were already concerned with Swift’s “fake” brand of feminism, which focused only on developing a so-called “girl squad”, instead of on important topics like intersectionality. These critiques only escalated when Swift urged Instagram followers to, “Go out and VOTE,” on Election Day but still refused to name who she was supporting. By January 2017, when Swift tweeted her support for the Women’s March on Washington but did not attend, even many fans were disappointed in Swift’s lack of active political engagement. It was following this negative press concerning the 2016 election – as well as drama surrounding the infamous Kanye West phone recording and her relationship with Tom Hiddleston – that Swift stepped out of the public eye. This past August, she finally made her comeback, releasing a new edgy single that very clearly seemed to say, “I don’t care what you think about me.”
Swift may no longer care about her reputation, but critics still very much care about her radio silence during last year’s presidential race. In fact, with her return to the spotlight, rumors that she had voted for Donald Trump began to run rampant. Though her friend RuPaul’s Drag Race judge Todrick Hall insists Swift has never spoken about supporting Trump, many still cannot easily forgive the pop star for not using her platform to support Clinton.
But if Swift cannot be forgiven, can we forgive Chris Pratt? Bruno Mars? Mark Wahlberg? These men never revealed who they would be voting for in the 2016 presidential election, nor supported the Women’s March. Yet, nearly a year after the election, they are not still faced with constant criticism for their choice to remain quiet. They are not assumed to be Trump supporters, nor are they expected to reveal all of their personal political stances to the public.
Is it because of Swift’s feminist persona – much of which was created by the media’s overzealous focus on her “girl squad” – that she is held to a much higher standard than these men? Possibly. But it’s also true that Swift is judged more harshly than her male counterparts for most things. It’s constantly said that she dates too many people, that she has too many friends (so they must all secretly hate each other). She isn’t talented, they say, because she only writes songs about love. And let’s not forget, she has the audacity to publicly defend herself and her reputation – and she should never, ever do that.
Of course, this doesn’t mean all criticisms of Swift are invalid. But there is a very good chance that the people who continue to criticize her for not openly supporting Clinton are the same people who are fine with Leo DiCaprio moving onto his latest model girlfriend, yet judge Swift anytime she’s spotted with a new significant other.
So, critique her all you want; but Swift, like all of us, has a right to privacy.
And her flaws, past relationships, or celebrity feuds don’t change that fact.