Recently, when Taylor Swift was asked the question, “Do you consider yourself a feminist?” she responded, “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.” In other words, “I think men and women are equal, but I’m not about to declare myself a feminist.” Although her response did not surprise me (sadly, plenty of women do not openly identify as feminists because they are either not informed of the actual meaning or are scared of the potential backlash), I couldn’t help but wonder how Swift has evolved since her first album, Taylor Swift, debuted in 2006.
Her answer might have been acceptable when she was 17, but now, as a 22 year-old woman, it seems that Swift has found a very comfortable home in her teenage days—and she’s not leaving it any time soon. Swift’s only noticeable and arguably only shift has been in genre. Last week at the CMA’s, Swift received a standing ovation after performing her song, “Begin Again,” but did not take any awards home like she had in previous years—Red has been criticized by country fans for sounding more pop than country. I can’t blame Swift for not identifying as a feminist. The slightest change in her music has already left some outraged.
But going from girl to woman is not analogous to going from country to pop. Swift’s songs, although groundbreaking and catchy at the same time, seem to follow a moneymaking formula. And formulas are just that—set in stone, incapable of changing. Often times, fans struggle to support their beloved artists at the first sign of change. They want that same sensation that left them still in their tracks and wanting more. In the case of Taylor Swift, the problem is more severe, for what makes her songs hits are their breezy girlish charm—their innocence. I’m not criticizing Swift at all. She’s obviously very smart and knows what she’s doing. Red sold 1.21 million copies in its first week. I’m more concerned with society’s inescapable pressure to remain the same. Let’s hope that her fans will let their golden girl grow—in content, in form, and as a feminist—and not succumb to the human impulse to fear change.
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