As a lifelong feminist and an ardent Taylor Swift fan, I must object to Alexandra Brodsky’s column, “Not quite ‘Fearless’” (Feb. 2). Brodsky bemoans the “passive” and “helpless” Swift and argues that her female fans are “gladly buying standards that leave them passive and vulnerable.” But, taken as a whole, Swift’s music presents a picture of a woman who goes after what she wants.
Singing about a crush in “Hey Stephen,” she revels in her own power, gleefully singing that while many girls are chasing after him, she is the only one who could write him a song. In “You’re Not Sorry,” she emphatically tells her former lover, “You don’t have to call anymore / I won’t pick up the phone. / This is the last straw.” And in “Tell Me Why,” she cuts off an emotionally manipulative relationship: “I’m sick and tired of your attitude … You tell me that you want me and then cut me down.”
This is hardly the stuff of a passive, helpless woman waiting for her prince.
Indeed, though Brodsky expresses concern that “young girls’ romantic fantasies are shaped by the scripts of Swift’s,” she ignores the song that speaks most directly to them. In “Fifteen,” Swift counsels young women to remember, “In your life you’ll do things greater than / Dating the boy on the football team. / I didn’t know it at 15.” It’s a line made all the more poignant by Swift’s enormous, largely self-made success: Swift wrote or co-wrote every song on her album, won the 2010 Grammy Award for Album of the Year and is the top-selling digital artist of all time.
I, for one, see no need to set aside my feminism as I rock out to “Fearless.”
The writer is a 2007 graduate of Yale College and a first-year student at the Law School.