It’s important to note that Taylor Swift is problematic. She has said and done problematic things — there’s no other word for it. She’s problematic. But with the release of Reputation, the media have begun scrutinizing and shaming her over every minute detail, which they do each time she steps back into the spotlight. It’s no surprise that she didn’t do any press for her latest album. She has become sick of the media circus, and so have we. It has gotten repetitive, and newspapers churn out disparaging headlines, as though they’re being mass produced in a factory.
I read an article published by The Guardian recently, which compared Swift’s refusal to voice her political beliefs with silent support of Donald Trump. Some of the comparisons were understandable — their supporters can be ravenous when defending their idols. Yet, there’s one problem with writing an article like this: it conflates a victim of sexual assault with a high profile misogynist who has been accused multiple times of sexual abuse and bragged about raping women.
It also conflates teenage girls with the alt-right and neo-nazis. That’s just wrong. By writing this, it’s implied that Swift is cultivating the support of the extreme right wing. But the more sinister undertone here is that we’re imposing our own misguided views of Swift onto a blank canvas. That’s what she is, because she rarely voices her opinions. Even when she does, they’re usually in contrast to the mantra of the right. She’s proclaimed herself to be a feminist; she’s even hinted at her support of the LGBTQ+ community.
Swift has made bad, un-informed decisions in her career — which have sometimes led to accusations of racism. That isn’t a reason to brand her a nazi sympathizer, though. It isn’t an excuse to attack her online, and it isn’t an invitation to stick your nose in and tell her how to manage her career. She’s already been slut-shamed and publicly humiliated, plus attacked by the media and public alike.
There’s a difference between challenging problematic behavior and harassing women for something men too often get a free pass for. We need to stop the latter and start practicing the former.