I am a Taylor Swift fan. Fan as in I buy all her albums, turn up her songs on the radio, and would like very much to hug her. On Saturday night, at Lincoln Financial Field, I came about as close as I'm ever going to get.
I'm not really interested in the big debate around Taylor Swift's love life and whether or not she is a feminist and why she only writes about breakups and blah blah blah. I find the whole conversation pretty boring. I enjoy her music.
Anyway, many smart people have already written very nicely about why she sucks versus why she does not suck. As the Jezebel article points out, it doesn't matter whether or not she calls herself a feminist-- she sure acts like one, because she does whatever the hell she feels like, even if she ends up looking like an adolescent girl in the process. Oh wait, she IS an adolescent girl.
I am AM interested in Taylor Swift as an artist who repeatedly (and wisely) indulges her own creative obsessions. Example: rain and water. Specifically, making out in the rain. Homegirl can't stop writing about it. One time she decided to make it rain onstage while she was singing. Why? BECAUSE SHE WANTED TO. Respect.
The fact that people are parodying her her lyrics and using them as way of thinking about the world of ideas? An excellent sign that she's getting shit done.
Time won't fly / It's like I'm paralyzed by the patriarchal constraints / Enforced on women's sexualities
I wish I had had the good sense, between the ages of 17-22, to just let my obsessions rip like that.
Anyway, the best moments of the show were when she seemed to forget herself, dancing and screaming just like the kids who had come to see her perform.
What an awkward, sweaty little beast. I could just squeeze her.
I was also really impressed by Taylor Swift's awareness, in concert, of the (FIFTY THOUSAND) young girls who were there to see her. Her pre-song banter was geared, roughly, toward the 10-15 age group. She took the time to explain the ideas behind her songs in developmentally appropriate language, even delving a little bit into the concept of color as a metaphor for emotion.
Look at those tiny little hands reaching up. I cannot with the cuteness.
The whole haters-gonna-hate narrative made famous by her 2009 run-in with Kanye West is a huge part of the Taylor Swift brand, but I was pleased that she summed it up thusly for an audience of young women: "You can't change the way other people behave. You can only change your response to it". I know, right? Right?"
Whoever scripted those words, no matter how tired they may sound to some of us, the second sentence of that statement is true as hell. And it came out of Taylor Swift's mouth. And fifty thousand girls were listening.
Plus, you know that squealing, puppy-like enthusiasm that simultaneously delights us and breaks our hearts?
This was a pretty safe space for them to express it.
That squealing can make us feel uncomfortable. And vulnerable. Like a single beam of light refracted, we imagine all of the yearning and hypocrisy and acculturation and potential that such squealing contains, and we are terrified. We want to look away.
We don't write articles dismantling our own girls, trying to parse their vanity or their motives or the sexist syllogisms they unknowingly repeat. We love them, and want them to be loved. We stick with them. And part of that is witnessing, from all of the most terrifying angles, their desire to be larger than life.
And helping them try to understand that desire, and learn to control their reactions to it.
And helping them to learn how to admire someone without idolizing them.
And telling them, when the moment is right, to go ahead and let it rip.