We Heart: Taylor Swift’s Overdue Feminist Awakening

Screen shot 2014-08-25 at 6.13.17 PMThe growing club of feminist celebrities welcomed its latest member over the weekend when Taylor Swift, after years of side-stepping the label, came out as a feminist. In an interview with The Guardian, the country-pop singer put all doubts about her feminism to rest:

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. … Becoming friends with Lena [Dunham] … has made me realize that I’ve been taking a feminist stance without actually saying so.

There you have it folks, T. Swift finally embracing feminism with the help of Girls creator Dunham, who some consider a face of millennial feminism. Dunham applauded Swift, tweeting:

Screen shot 2014-08-25 at 5.56.21 PM

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Swift has garnered many an eye roll from feminists in the past for the virgin/whore dichotomies she employs in her songs and for her avoidant comments regarding feminism. When asked whether she was a feminist in a 2012 interview with The Daily Beast, she replied:

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.

She’s definitely come a long way, and her evolution in a social milieu where starlets balk at claiming feminism feels like a breath of fresh air. Though I would hold off on making her the new feminist “it” girl, there’s unmistakable value in a mainstream pop-culture icon coming to terms with the meaning of feminism. Swift has millions of fans, most of them young women, so for her to gave a tacit endorsement of the feminist  movement could encourage fans to explore the meaning of feminism for themselves.

Who knows what the next steps of T. Swift’s feminist awakening could be? Sampling lines from Gloria Steinem’s “If Men Could Menstruate” in a new single? Having Kathleen Hanna open for her next time she’s on tour? A feminist can only dream.

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Photo of Taylor Swift and Lena Dunham at the 2013 Grammys courtesy of Swift News via Creative Commons 2.0.



Anita Little is the associate editor at Ms. magazine. Follow her on Twitter.




  1. ummm this is kinda funny since Taylor slut shames in a lot of her songs. She gives impressionable young girls the idea that they aren’t complete without boyfriends, and that if the guy they like likes someone else, that girl is a whore and needs to be brought down. No feminist has those ideals.

  2. I am not impressed by a persin’s words, only their consistent choices. Taylor Swift has not made any choice that I am aware of that reflects the goal of securing humin rights for femels, domestic or international. Ms. Swift has plenty of opportunity to take feminist action in America, where, for example, too many colleges and universities are under federal investigation for alleged failed responses to sexual assault and rape of femels; then, the list continues from that point.

    Do the work, Ms. Swift, and then you gain my attention!

  3. I think if Taylor is willing to change her ways and start sticking up for people and demanding equality then she deserves a chance. She may have done some things in the past but if she tries to fix it then I’m willing to get over them.

  4. How could you not love Taylor, she took a shot of confidence found her self and wow so much respect.

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