An Open Letter to Taylor Swift

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Taylor Swift by David Shankbone 2010 NYC
Image by David Shankbone via Flickr/Creative Commons

Dear Taylor,

I wasn't going to write about this. By now it's old news that last month when interviewed by The Daily Beast you said you're not a feminist Actually, when asked if you considered yourself a feminist your exact words were: 
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.
Taylor, I understand where you're coming from. When I was your age I wouldn't call myself a feminist either. I would say things like, "I'll start calling myself a feminist when feminists stop bashing men."

Little did I know feminism isn't about bashing men. It's not about "guys versus girls" as you said. Feminism is the belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. Period. Sure, there may be some misguided women who disparage men in the name of feminism, but that is not the true spirit of the movement. 

In fact, feminism is helpful for men as well, because they too are harmed by sexism. Gender stereotypes tell men they can't show emotion, that they're only worth as much as their last paycheck, and that their physical strength is more important than their intellect.

My goal here isn't to convince you to identify as a feminist, but I want you to know that feminism is about creating a world where women can "work as hard as guys" and actually "go far in life." Perhaps you think a women's movement is no longer necessary since women can't legally be held back from pursuing any career to which they aspire. But we can't deny that women still aren't paid as much as their male counterparts. Women in leadership positions who are no-nonsense and assertive are often called a "bitch" while women who are nurturing to their employees are viewed as weak. And female politicians are frequently asked more about their wardrobes and families than their policies. I could go on and on, but my point is there is still work to be done. 


1 comment:

  1. I love that you wrote this. I didn't feel like I had limited opportunities or a pay differential as a woman living in New York, but I left Alabama in 2000 because I had limited opportunities as a woman in my job in media here. At the time, it was a boy's club in any management role at the newspaper where I worked. Coming back to Birmingham in 2011, there has been some progress but not nearly enough. For example, I see limited opportunities for female entrepreneurs to secure funding versus their male counterparts. With Alabama being the worst state in the country for pay differentials between the sexes, and Lilly Ledbetter being from right here in our state, it is a timely topic. I strongly believe our ranking as the #47 economy in the U.S. is tied to feminism. The most successful, profitable companies have diverse leadership. While we have that in a few companies in Birmingham, there aren't nearly enough. Until we decide to make that important as a society, I don't believe we'll progress at the rate that others who do have diverse leadership (race, gender, sexual orientation) do.