Taylor Swift is gaining a bad reputation.
No, not her latest album. “Reputation” sold 700,000 copies in its first day, further cementing Swift as one of the most influential women in music.
The problem is Swift has a reputation as the role model for young women nationwide, but she refuses to take stances on important issues.
She publicly adopted feminism in 2014 after meeting “Girls” writer Lena Dunham, but Swift has not publicly supported traditional feminist issues like Planned Parenthood or the Equal Rights Amendment. She’s a loud advocate for women, yet refused to speak out when fans were upset at Donald Trump’s demeanor toward women. Other female artists like Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj have been involved in feuds with Swift for years.
Suddenly in 2017, it’s surprisingly easy to find a reason to dislike Swift.
But wait — let’s unpack the box she keeps herself in. Why is it suddenly popular to dislike Swift?
The truth is, it’s not all of a sudden. And it’s not just Swift either.
Internalized misogyny is defined as “the hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women,” by women. It’s a product of our culture, most obvious in the realm of celebrities.
Celebrities’ careers are constantly in the public eye. Any misspoken sentence or mistake they make is immediately recognizable in the lifestyle section of any major newspaper.
Female celebrities are especially criticized for any beliefs the public deems undesirable — it’s more important that they’re likeable enough. For instance, many people who accused Swift of voting for Trump are the same ones going so far as to claim she supports white supremacy. Yet this claim is based on nothing. We can be upset at her lack of comment, but she has the same right as anyone else to keep her political preferences to herself.
More white women voted for Trump than Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. To many women, Clinton just wasn’t “charismatic” or “likeable enough” to be president.
The reality TV-like nature of celebrity culture reinforces the importance of that likeability to the public. People make fun of serious issues that have major impacts on a woman’s career.
Take Kim Kardashian. She was bound, gagged and robbed at gunpoint in her Paris hotel room. She easily could’ve been raped or killed. Yet a costume company released their bound and gagged “robbery victim” Halloween attire in a stunning display of insensitivity.
In some cases, this overexposure forces women to temporarily back away from their careers over the slightest missteps.
Megyn Kelly left a very successful Fox News job in part because of Trump’s comments about her and because of Bill O’Reilly’s casual attitude toward sexual harassment. Her new show “Megyn Kelly: Today,” hit an all-time low in ratings in October.
Tomi Lahren, no matter how much we disagree with everything she stands for, was fired from her show on TheBlaze for saying, “I can’t sit here and be a hypocrite and say I’m for limited government, but I think the government should decide what women do with their bodies.” She has since been hired as a backup contributor for Fox News.
How much you like either of these women shouldn’t matter. A man in a similar situation might’ve been put on paid leave at most.
Internalized misogyny exists just as prominently on Lehigh’s campus. Women offer unconditional support to each other on their way to top positions, but they often realize once they get there that they have a choice between likeability and leadership. Too much of either and the gossip begins.
There’s a difference between being a leader who’s likeable and being a leader who is effective. There’s a difference between seeming “bitchy” and doing your job.
There’s a difference between following the public narrative and standing up for what you believe in. What Swift chooses to do is up to her.