The reason that people—in particular 20-something women—seem to take issue with Swift, it seems, is that they feel she merely whines about boys, which they then construe as being “weak” and “anti-feminist,” since she’s a romantic and falls hard. (Hell, wasn’t Adele’s 21 all about a miserable break-up?) Plus, she dresses conservatively and, with her tousled blond tresses, lipstick, and squinty blue eyes, resembles a grown-up American Girls doll. Oh, and she deals mostly in country music—a genre that’s much maligned by indie snobs.
Unlike her female solo artist contemporaries—the Katy Perrys and Adeles of the world—Swift doesn’t sing about kissing girls and doesn’t chain-smoke or curse. She appears to be, on the surface, a paragon of chastity and virtue. But that doesn’t mean she isn’t a feminist. It’s all really a matter of audience. Swift’s target audience is 10- to 18-year-old girls. She’s a hell of a good role model for that age group. I attended a recent Swift show at the Ed Sullivan Theater in Manhattan and, at her stellar live performance, chops aside, by the looks of things the audience was comprised almost entirely of young, wholesome girls—either in groups, or with a parent in tow. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.