During an appearance on French Canadian television show Tout le Monde en Parle on Sunday night, Swift displayed an impressive level of knowledge and interest on topics involving gender equality ranging from the portrayal of women in the media to Emma Watson's recent speech at the United Nations.
In the interview, Swift expressed frustration at the way female celebrities are presented in the media.
"I think when it comes to females in the media, you’ll see something that kind of upsets me, which is that females are pinned up against each other, more so than men," she told host Guy A. Lepage before a small studio audience in Montreal. "One thing I do believe as a feminist is that in order for us to have gender equality we have to stop making it a girl fight, and we have to stop being so interested in seeing girls trying to tear each other down. It has to be more about cheering each other on, as women."
Perhaps Swift can begin that supportive lady revolution herself by not going out of her way to allegedly criticize unnamed female artists with her music.
Swift also dismissed the criticisms leveled against Emma Watson after her United Nations speech. "I wish when I was 12 years old, I had been able to watch a video of my favorite actress explaining in such an intellectual, beautiful poignant way the definition of feminism," Swift said. "Because I would have understood it and then earlier on in my life I would have proudly claimed that I was a feminist."
The singer explained that being feminist isn't about being angry (although, let's be honest, sometimes it is) but rather about believing "that women and men should have equal rights and opportunities, and to say that you’re not a feminist means that you think that men should have more rights and opportunities than women."
"I just think that a lot of girls don’t know the definition and the fact that Emma got up and explained it, I think it’s an incredible thing and I am happy to live in a world where that happened," Swift noted of the HeforShe campaign.
Although it would have been refreshing to see Taylor Swift go a bit further — maybe address the way privilege has determined sportsmanship in the feminist movement or how the historical erasure of black voices has made collaboration between women more challenging — the star has only been an out and proud feminist for a couple of weeks now. Given that most of the dairy products in my fridge are older than Taylor Swift's feminist awakening, we can probably cut the celebrity some slack.
As an entertainer and not an academic, Taylor Swift's vision of feminism shouldn't have to be perfect for it be to be perfectly valid for her to share it. At the end of the day, if we send the message that a young woman has to be flawless before she's allowed to say anything, we're teaching girls to fear their own voice. And isn't that the very opposite of what feminism wants to accomplish?