The Unimpeachable Taylor Swift

What our complicated relationship with the formerly-adored pop star says about us.

I remember tearing a close friend apart in 9th grade for listening to Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now.”

It was the fall of 2010, the record had just dropped, and without hearing a note, I decided that it was awful. The album art features a waxen Swift glancing at the observer, her purple dress dissipating into Jackson Pollock splatters. Glitter flows liberally. To my newly-out 14 year-old self, hating Speak Now was an easy way to gain distance from the pieces of gay culture I was least comfortable with. It was a two-pronged attack: I was wary of Swift’s femininity, but I was also reacting to some sense that the image she was spinning wasn’t authentically feminine (because obviously I would know, right?). Swift was, to me, such a one-dimensional figure that I could actually bifurcate my stance under the cover of her blankness. Depending on who was asking, I either hated her because she made music for girls, or I hated her because she was bad for women.

I live in Portland and write for a magazine. Nice!