Illustration: Elise Gaeremynck
2 min lesetid

My favorite artist is Taylor Swift. Is there really something wrong with that?

Taylor Swift is one of my favorite artists. As a teenager, I loved the variety of stories and settings that her songs portrayed. The recent political implications of her work are also a reason why I have kept looking up to her. But I somehow never felt comfortable sharing my admiration for her. Simply bringing up the fact that I listen to her music repeatedly made me face reactions expressing the disappointment of my interlocutors.                                                                          

This disapproval in their reaction to my apparently “basic” musical tastes was often aroused by what most of Swift’s tracks are about: emotions experienced in relationships. This disapprobation felt as if I was told “how could a dedicated student like you find interest in such common, unworthy of intellectual reflection (and so traditionally feminine) topics”? The almost systematic discredit of Swift’s work that I experienced tacitly deems such topics unworthy of valuable discussion. But what if it is the opposite? What if exploring our emotions, as well as those of others in relationships is important to achieve an egalitarian society?                                                                        

The rehabilitation of emotions in a perspective of gender equality    

For centuries, women had to fight for the recognition of their intellectual abilities. The dichotomy between reason and emotions that came along with patriarchy confined women to the emotional sphere. Women were depicted as emotional beings in opposition to the rationality that would inherently characterize masculinity. These divisions depicted as natural; women’s judgment was considered unreliable if not nonexistent. Even nowadays, remains of this dichotomy characterize gendered social and cultural norms.  

The cultural representations contributing to women’s socialization expect them to overanalyze their feelings, to reflect on the impacts of their behavior on others and to change it if necessary. The expression of their emotional perceptions and the conclusions that can be drawn from them are discredited, simultaneously as the same behavior isn’t expected from men. Considering the consequences of this difference of socialization, including inequalitarian relationships, rehabilitating the importance of one’s feelings when it comes to relationships seems far from irrelevant. 

The writers’ virile stroll”

By revalorizing a traditionally feminine and discredited trait, exploring feelings experienced in interactions, Swift challenges the traditional archetype of the artist. The French author Alice Zeniter illustrates this praised model of art creator with the expression la balade virile des écrivains (the writers’ virile stroll). Marked by characteristics traditionally associated with masculinity, the artist whose work qualifies as art embodies rationality, adventure, and detachment from everyday life worries. These features were for a long time unattainable to women, who would create art inspired by domestic concerns, rich but in a denied way. 

Swift’s work defies this ideal of what the artist should embody by reassessing the relevance of “common” concerns. She is showing us that people can be both rational and emotional; successful and politically active as well as able to grow and change from relationships. Culture and tastes aren’t neutral or apolitical. By choosing what we value or not, we can re-enact social constructions that prevent us from valuing and benefiting from one another’s perspectives. The realization of equality can require broader changes and a requestioning of little things; like diminishing someone’s value because their musical tastes imply reflections about breakups and feelings.


Forrige artikkel

Vi skal nok dele mer fremover

Neste artikkel

Kan kunstig kunst være ekte?