Opinion | Taylor Swift’s critics focus on wrong issues

Singer+Taylor+Swift+attends+the+2022+Toronto+International+Film+Festival+on+Sept.+9.

Photo courtesy of Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images/TNS

Singer Taylor Swift attends the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 9.

By Anushka Agashe, Columnist

Trigger warning: This column discusses sexual assault

Since Taylor Swift entered the limelight over 15 years ago, her rise to superstardom has also resulted in countless criticisms about her music, her dating history and herself as both a person and a brand. 

These criticisms reached a fever pitch during her “1989” era between 2013 and 2016. However, as she’s made a resurgence in the public consciousness since releasing “folklore” in 2020, those criticisms are back as well.

While diehard Swifties might disagree, Taylor Swift is not above criticism. 

In fact, she should be held accountable for many of her actions over the years. However, by focusing on the wrong issues, her critics weaken their credibility and often reduce their points to misogynistic judgments.

For example, many of the complaints against Swift revolve around the men in her life. Whether it’s claiming that she’s had too many boyfriends, that all her songs are written to put exes who have wronged her on blast or that at a certain point she must be the problem, these criticisms have followed her for years. Yet, male singers of a similar caliber never seem to face similar judgment. 

So what if she had multiple boyfriends when she was young and perhaps the most famous pop star in America? So what if she wrote about love and heartbreak, topics that most other singers, male and female, sing about? These criticisms are mainly baseless and perpetuate a strong double standard.

As she’s grown in popularity and influence, Taylor Swift quickly calls out those she feels have wronged her. 

Sometimes, this can be a way to fight back against the misogyny that has affected her through the years. One such example is when she sued a radio DJ for sexual assault and sought $1 in reparations in order to encourage other victims to come forward. 

More recently, she has also begun to directly address the slut-shaming comments. When Netflix’s show Ginny & Georgia made a dig at her dating history, she called Netflix out for their “lazy, deeply sexist joke” in a tweet.

Given these instances, though, Swift’s silence with regard to some of the people she has chosen to work with is telling. 

For example, earlier this year, Swift announced that she would be writing and performing an original song for the movie “Where the Crawdads Sing.” However, people familiar with the history of the novel the film is based on were quick to speak up about the author Delia Owens’ problematic history. 

Owens is currently wanted for questioning in Zambia for the murder of a poacher that her then-husband and stepson might have been responsible for. Given her possible involvement in a murder and its parallels with the plot of “Where the Crawdads Sing,” Taylor Swift attaching her name and considerable influence to the project seems purposefully ignorant.

Similarly, Swift starred in director David O. Russell’s new film “Amsterdam” earlier this year. A quick Google search reveals his abusive tendencies towards actors on set. Worse yet, he has publicly admitted to inappropriately touching his niece and then victim-blaming her. 

Choosing to associate with him should come with backlash for anyone, but Taylor Swift’s self-proclaimed feminism and past experiences with sexual assault make this choice inexcusable.

Calling out these hypocritical and harmful actions should be a focus for Taylor Swift critics and fans alike. Yet, she seems to have escaped meaningful criticism in ways that aren’t true of some of the shallow judgments she’s faced in the past.

Taylor Swift’s voice holds tremendous power. When she declared her support for Jim Cooper and Phil Bredesen, both Democratic Congressional candidates in her home state of Tennessee, 160,000 people went to the polls as a result. 

However, her misdirecting that influence or withholding it entirely from other issues is a much more powerful reason for criticism than the number of boyfriends she’s had or the music she writes about them.

 

Anushka is a sophomore in Engineering.

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