Twitter, Taylor Swift, and The New Face of the Feminist Movement
On Tuesday I participated in the Take The Lead webinar, 3 Surprising Power Tools for Women To Accelerate Your Career. When Gloria Feldt, President and Co-Founder of Take The Lead and facilitator of the webinar, opened up for a Q&A session an interesting conversation started to happen in the chat box. One participant asked how to create what Feldt calls “Sister Movements” when there are no such women’s groups in you area. I decided to respond to this question via the chat box and advised this woman to get up-close and personal with Twitter.
As a young 20-something-year-old, I absolutely love Twitter. I explained to the group that Twitter can be an amazing tool for finding online activism, including quick and accessible advocacy campaigns. Don’t have any gender equality movements in your area? No problem. If you have access to a computer or smart device then you’re all set!
Women’s organizations and women’s movements have really utilized Twitter as a way to spread their messages and engage people in what they’re doing. As the Social Media Representative for Studio Samuel Foundation I even had a Direct Message conversation with iconic Eve Ensler. That’s the power of Twitter. You can interact and communicate with people who you otherwise may not have access to. Twitter makes it all possible.
I’d like to highlight a recent feminist Twitter phenomenon that has blown up in the past few days: @feministtswift. Co-Creator Clara Beyer, a senior at Brown University and founder of That Girl Mag, started this single purpose Twitter account in order to grapple with the fact that she’s a feminist but also loves listening to Taylor Swift. Beyer admits that “being a feminist Taylor Swift fan isn’t always easy.”
The @feministtswift Twitter account is dedicated to reworking original Taylor Swift song lyrics and transforming them into progressive messages that tear down accepted patriarchal norms.
I said "Leave" / But all I really want is you / To leave / Because the "no-means-yes" narrative undermines the value of consent
You cry / But you don’t tell anyone / Because women’s sadness is often trivialized / And men’s sadness is downright condemned
I guess you didn't care / And I guess I liked that / But now I reject the idea that apathetic men are sexy / Because I deserve respect
You’re on the phone with your girlfriend, she’s upset / She’s going off about something that you said /‘Cause you think rape jokes are funny
Clara and Kevin Carty, co-creators of @feministtswift “both believe in bringing more people into feminism and gender-critical conversations,” quoted 20-year old Carty. Carty highlights that “the easiest ways to do that are to engage them with things they’re already into in their daily lives.” In this case, pop music. If you take the critical analysis of pop music and combine it with the power of Twitter, what do you get? Progressive feminist action.
Instead of being defeated by sexist song lyrics, Beyer decided to Take The Lead by using Twitter to address Taylor Swift’s lyrics and highlight ways we internalize and perpetuate dangerous gender stereotypes.
He knelt to the ground and pulled out a ring and said / "Marry me Juliet / You can take my last name if you want, but if not I respect that"
When Beyer originally created the Twitter account it had around 20 followers, today it has 93,608. That’s 93,608 organizations and individuals that are now maybe looking at pop music lyrics in a different light. That’s powerful.
The Washington Post quoted Beyers saying she wishes “Taylor Swift would just have a big feminist enlightenment moment in her life. I could listen to her songs and feel so much more secure about what I was endorsing.” Beyer is holding celebrities with powerful voices and influence to a higher standard by pointing out that Swift “could be a poster child for feminism, if she wanted to. She could take everything she’s doing and say: ‘I’m a woman who is in charge of her life. I don’t let men in my life push me around.’ ” Maybe this Twitter account will inspire Swift and other influential female singers to send positive empowering messages to women and girls, instead of advocating for girl on girl violence, like so many of Taylor Swift’s current lyrics suggest.
Swift stated in an interview with the Daily Beast when asked if she was a feminist that “I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.” To this Beyer says, “I think not seeing things as boys versus girls is feminist.” And to Taylor Swift’s response I say that we should be teaching girls to work as hard as girls and then they can go far in life.
Beyer has started a movement. People are now creating their own feminist twists to Taylor Swift song lyrics and tweeting them to @feministtswift. And so my advice is this: Don’t be afraid of Twitter, but rather, embrace it. Use it. Change is only 140 characters away.
Interested in learning the tools you need to embrace a new relationship with power? Learn more about Take the Lead’s upcoming webinar Take The Lead Teaches: 9 Practical Leadership “Power Tools” For Women To Accelerate Your Career and register below.
About the Author
Kaitlin Rattiganis a recent graduate with an M.A. in International Peace and Conflict Resolution with a concentration in Gender and Peacebuilding. She is a firm believer in social media as an effective and meaningful tool to promote positive societal change. Never underestimate the power of 140 characters. Kaitlin is a voice for the Millennials, a constructive disruptionist, an advocate for women’s leadership, and is a believer in challenging and expanding the definitions of what it means to be a feminist. For gender-analytical fem-tastic commentary on current events, follow Kaitlin@KaitlinRattigan. Do you have an issue you want highlighted on The Movement Blog? Is there an area within women’s leadership that you feel passionate about and want to share with a wide audience? Feel free to send Kaitlin a DM or Tweet to@KaitlinRattiganwith the hashtag #Women2025 and let’s keep the conversation going and work together to propel women into their equal share of leadership positions by 2025.