This piece was originally published on February 27th, 2016 at Slant News
Taylor Swift won the Album of the Year Award at the 58th annual GRAMMYs, making her the first woman to win the category twice.
During her speech, she raved about girl power, threw shade at Kanye West, and said other things we have come to expect from a Taylor Swift speech.
While Swift attempted to turn her win into a great feminist moment, Janet Mock — author and advocate — found the flaw in Swift’s logic. She was surrounded by a sea of men in her production team.
— Janet Mock (@janetmock) February 16, 2016
While others later pointed out Imogen Heap was one of Swift’s producers, it still does not address the more significant issue at hand; Swift isn’t using her fame and power to uplift other women in various aspects and realms of the industry.
Although she is no Beyoncé, T-Swift does have the clout, presence, and ability to implement certain changes to see women advance in the music industry. Taylor Swift has the ability to make a real feminist stand by hiring multiple women to be producers, director and choreographers — not just faces appearing as cameos in a song that is the antithesis of girl power and feminism.
Yes, it’s nice to see her social media accounts flooded with images of her girl squad, but what is she doing outside of posting those images? Where is the employment for various women directors and producers trying to get their foot in the door and get their big break? Why isn’t Swift shining a light on them?
There is an actual sense of power Swift carries with her and her brand. Of course, it is difficult to navigate a white, patriarchal, misogynist, and sexist field, but it can be done with the right motivation.
This isn’t to take away from Swift having a few men of color on stage with her, because intersectionality is essential, and she is still upholding patriarchal standards when she opts to continue to employ mostly men.
Girl power and true feminism would be having an equal amount of men and women on stage and behind the scenes along her journey to the top. These actions would disrupt the cultural norms that have been set up in the industry. They would allow money to be distributed to women evenly in the economy. They would give girls the occasion to see themselves in roles they have historically been absent from, creating a new generation of empowered women.
Instead of doing those things, Swift continues to pay lip service and fall back on historical practices. Just as we have seen in past years, women are fine as models and voiceless pieces. Their work and capabilities are undervalued and overlooked. That does not send the message of girl power to the countless young girls looking up to Swift. She is continuing to perpetuate the belief that when men are allowed to have certain jobs that women aren’t occupying, it is because they are the best of the best, meaning that women lack the same skills and they are not the best of the best.
So while it is nice Swift had a moment to highlight her individual achievements and individual accomplishments, it was no feminist victory. In order to see a true change, the collective needs to be brought in on this journey. Unfortunately, Swift’s brand of feminism doesn’t allow for such advances, and that is one of the saddest versions of girl power I have been subjected to.
Cover photo: Kevin Winter/Getty