Swift slammed for missing Women's March

Despite branding herself a feminist, pop star Taylor Swift did not attend the Women's March in Washington, incurring the displeasure of her fans.
Despite branding herself a feminist, pop star Taylor Swift did not attend the Women's March in Washington, incurring the displeasure of her fans.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WASHINGTON • A backlash has started against pop star Taylor Swift, who did not attend the Women's March in Washington protesting United States President Donald Trump's controversial campaign and treatment of women, but tweeted her support.

She wrote last Saturday: "So much love, pride and respect for those who marched. I'm proud to be a woman today, and every day."

Over the weekend, publications rounded up the critical comments.

Buzzfeed: "Taylor Swift Didn't Go To The Women's March And People Are Mad". Cosmopolitan: "Taylor Swift Is Being Epically Dragged On Twitter By Her Fans". PopCrush: "Taylor Swift Faces Backlash Following Too Little, Too Late Women's March Support".

There are two elements to the criticism. The first is that Swift, 27, was silent about the divisive presidential campaign until Election Day, when she posted a picture of herself in line to vote, urging her 83 million Twitter followers to do the same. It is clear that many were interested in her views: "Who is Taylor Swift voting for?" was a popular Google search term last autumn.

She has always remained mum about her political leanings. "I don't talk about politics because it might influence other people. And I don't think I know enough yet in life to be telling people who to vote for," she told Time magazine in 2012.

Yet her wide-ranging influence is exactly why people wanted her to speak up this past election about Mr Trump's attitude towards women, given that she has become an outspoken advocate for feminism.

This leads to the second issue. She has fuelled her brand over the past several years as a feminist who encourages women to stick together. The beginning of her 1989 era (kick-started with her wildly successful 2014 album) was accompanied by a Rolling Stone profile, which noted that "earlier in her career, Swift deflected questions about feminism because she didn't want to alienate male fans. But these days, she's proud to identify herself as a feminist".

Since then, she has been known for leading a powerful "squad" of famous women, and frequently talks about how they empower one another.

Last year, she directed her Grammys acceptance speech, for Album of the Year, towards young women, urging them to stay focused when other people - in her case, rapper Kanye West - try to take credit for their success.

The long list of stars who participated in Women's Marches around the US and the world included Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, Ariana Grande, Amy Poehler, Lena Dunham and Demi Lovato. Celebrities including Madonna and Alicia Keys made speeches and performed in Washington.

For some, Swift's tweet about the march is another example of her co-opting feminism for her brand, but not taking action, or misunderstanding the concept altogether.

"As a fan of yours, this is some b******t. You do not get to pick and choose when feminism benefits you," one fan tweeted.

"Taylor should be going to the women's march. Ariana, Demi, Miley... so many others are going. I think Taylor should've gone. Sorry not sorry," another wrote.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2017, with the headline 'Swift slammed for missing Women's March'. Print Edition | Subscribe