05/02/2013 01:51 pm ET Updated Jul 02, 2013

Sexism, Feminism and Taylor Swift


It appears that everyone hates Taylor Swift. Often, this is rationalized because she dates too many boys, writes songs about them and is supposedly "anti-feminist." There are so many things wrong with this that I don't even know where to begin.

Disliking Swift because of her dating habits is all kinds of awful. No one deserves to be looked down upon for who and how often they choose to date, not Swift and not that girl in your chemistry class. Furthermore, Swift hasn't even been with very many guys: the last time I checked, there have been six of them since 2008. Six! In five years! That doesn't sound bad to me; I know girls who've dated more than that in high school alone, and there is nothing wrong with that. Harry Styles, who Swift dated from October to January, has been linked to at least seven girls in the three years he's been in the spotlight, and no one is calling him a slut or a whore because when guys date multiple girls they're a "player" or a "stud." This may not seem like a big deal, but it perpetuates the idea that girls do not deserve the same respect as boys.

And then there are Swift's songs, primarily about relationships, breakups and falling in love.

Why is this considered bad? Other artists write about love, and it's hardly surprising: love is a powerful emotion. People say that her songs are immature because she always blames the boy, but are you really going to tell me that during your last breakup, you said to yourself, "This was MY fault"? You probably didn't, because it is a natural reaction to blame the other person. And for those of you who claim that Swift is stuck at age 14, she was 14 when she began her career, and middle and high school students remain her largest audience. Writing to her audience is an intelligent thing to do and a big part of the reason she has remained so successful.

The anti-feminism argument is another issue entirely. Swift is a perfect model of a feminist: she's one of the most successful artists in history in an industry in which it is notoriously difficult to find success. When her album Red came out in October, it had opening sales of 1.2 million, the highest recorded in a decade. She is the only female artist to have had two opening weeks with more than a million album sales each. Over her career spanning seven years, she has sold over 26 million albums and 75 million song downloads. Plus, she writes or co-writes all of her songs. She has worked for her success.

The whole point of feminism is that women should be able to make choices about their lives without an centuries-old stigma hanging over them. If Swift wants to write songs about love and date six boys in five years and has an idea that she will one day fall in love with a boy and they will live happily ever after, why is this a bad thing? She should be able to make these choices without facing criticism from an inherently sexist society that still does not have a lot of respect for women.

Whether you like Swift or not, this is something we should be paying attention to. Disliking Swift because she dates "too many boys" may not seem like a big deal, but this kind of sexism is the same sexism shown in the Steubenville, Ohio rape case, where an intoxicated 16-year-old girl was raped, photographed nude and assaulted. When the teen football players were found guilty, CNN broadcaster Poppy Harlow said it was "incredibly difficult" to watch as their lives "fell apart," even though these boys committed a horrible crime that probably will haunt this girl for the rest of her life.

So, if you dislike Swift because her music's not your thing or you think her voice is thin, by all means, continue. But if you dislike her for any of the reasons mentioned above, I encourage you to reconsider your ideals.