Taylor Swift Smashes Patriarchy

Back in 2011, the Ms. Blog interviewed Jessica Lawson, the mind behind the popular Feminist Hulk account on Twitter. By abusing the caps-lock button with The Hulk’s clunky diction, Lawson used this superhero identity to tweet about smashing stigmas and patriarchy, gaining nearly 70,000 followers as a result.

In 2012, we wrote about the Feminist Ryan Gosling blog that attached feminist captions to photographs of the actor and boasted more than 3,000,000 hits per month.

This year, a new (fake) pop-icon-turned-feminist hit cyberspace with similar success: Feminist Taylor Swift.

The real Taylor Swift isn’t exactly well-received by many feminists. Critics have pointed out that the young singer/songwriter has repeatedly dodged talking about women’s empowerment and might have some misconceptions when it comes to feminism and gender equality (namely that they are mutually exclusive). Her heternormative, boy-crazy lyrics also tend to pit women against each other in what seems like an endless competition for male attention.

But Twitter user @feministtswift is great news for those who might enjoy Taylor Swift but find her lyrics a little lacking in the feminism department. Taking the 23-year-old country-pop star’s catchy songs and linking them with commentary about privilege and body-policing, Feminist Taylor Swift quickly caught on and has become a goldmine of neatly-condensed feminist concerns. Some choice tweets address such important issues as rape culture …

… consent …

tweet2… sex education …

tweet4… and gendered double standards, to name a few.

Feminist Taylor Swift’s tweets are written by a Brown University student named Clara Beyer who runs That Girl Magazine, a publication about “surviving college, disregarding haters, eating ramen and doing your thing.” Beyer explains that she isn’t out to mock Swift, but is instead using pop music to spread positive (and amusing) messages about feminism. Both a self-proclaimed feminist and fan of T-Swift, she suggests @feministtswift is a method of reconciling these two seemingly contradictory sides of herself and feels that other Swifties can empathize. Says the blogger,

I’m not the only one who enjoys her music but feels uncomfortable with some of the messages.

It isn’t hard to find questionable content in mainstream music, but Beyer’s creation makes an important observation about the relationship between feminists and often troubling pop culture: It’s entirely possible to critique what we enjoy and still enjoy it. In fact, @feministtswift and other feminist memes show that engaging with our sometimes guilty indulgences in problematic media may be a good vehicle for raising awareness about feminism and gender issues.

Feminist Taylor Swift has produced more than 100 patriarchy-challenging tweets to 96,000 followers and counting. Beyer hopes the Twitter account’s growing fame will get enough attention to prompt a tweet from Swift herself.

Twitter screenshots from @feministtswift