On Sunday, Swift posted a photo on Instagram with a caption explaining why she would be voting for Tennessee Democrats Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for the House of Representatives in the November midterm elections. Swift cited the protection of human rights, including the LGBTQ community, and support for the Violence Against Women Act as being among her top priorities in determining her vote. She implored her followers to know their values and research candidates before voting. “For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway,” Swift wrote.
Shortly after Swift’s post, conservative politicians, writers, and Trump administration advisors – who claim to vote in line with their values – did not think Swift should do the same. Instead, they used the opportunity to belittle the singer.
“So @taylorswift13 has every right to be political but it won’t impact election unless we allow 13 yr old girls to vote. Still with #MarshaBlackburn,” tweeted former Arkansas governor and conservative pundit Mike Huckabee. Swift has been working as a professional entertainer for over a decade now. Many of her fans are of or well over voting age. Bu, his comment is a rehash of a sexist trope that suggests that teen girls’ opinions are somehow inferior to the rest of the world, which is a lot like the age-old argument that bands from the Beatles to One Direction don’t matter because their fans are teen girls. Harry Styles said it best in a Rolling Stone interview last year: “How can you say young girls don't get it? They're our future. Our future doctors, lawyers, mothers, presidents, they kind of keep the world going.”
Conservative writer Charlie Kirk responded to Swift’s post by tweeting, “Before you endorse a candidate maybe you should learn something about the candidates. You have no idea what you are talking about. Marsha is a strong woman who will be the next US Senator from Tennessee.” Kirk later espoused on Fox & Friends that he thinks Swift had someone help her write the post. It’s a repeat of a refrain Swift has had to battle in music throughout her career. Ever since she took off as a successful artist, people have questioned if she writes her own songs, because, apparently, you can’t be as famous as Taylor Swift and be a talented songwriter. Her level of success doesn’t and shouldn’t negate her talent or ability to articulate her opinion, much less to research who is running in her state and write an Instagram caption about it.
Katrina Pierson, a senior Trump advisor also weighed in with her two cents. “So, over the weekend Taylor Swift announced that she doesn’t support women and endorsed a rich old white privileged man who supported the Kavanaugh SCOTUS confirmation instead? Weird and extremely tone deaf. #irony Please don’t shave your head next.” The only irony I’m detecting here is that Pierson, who works for a “rich old white privileged man” who nominated Kavanaugh in a process that couldn’t have been more unsupportive of women, thinks that the onus is on Taylor Swift to vote for a woman, Marsha Blackburn, even if she doesn’t share her values. It shows a lack of understanding of feminism. Feminism doesn’t mean voting for a woman just because she’s a woman. It means voting for someone who supports and believes in equality whether they are a man or a woman.
So, over the weekend Taylor Swift announced that she doesn’t support women and endorsed a rich old white privileged man who supported the Kavanaugh SCOTUS confirmation instead? Weird and extremely tone deaf. #irony Please don’t shave your head next 🙏 #twilightzone 🤷🏽♀️— Katrina Pierson (@KatrinaPierson) October 8, 2018
The condescension is unmissable. Because Swift doesn’t share their opinions, they attack her intelligence, attempt to turn her values around on her, and trivialize her fan base to suggest she doesn’t have any influence that matters which couldn’t be further from the truth. Taylor Swift has 112 million followers on Instagram and nearly 84 million on Twitter. Her influence is seemingly endless, and that kind of power can be intimidating. They don’t have to agree with her, but they definitely shouldn’t underestimate her.