(In These Times) — In 2009, I wrote a blog post for Bitch Media detailing why I did not think Taylor Swift’s music was feminist. I was subsequently informed, for several years running, that I was an “idiot.” In a writing career studded with opinions on rape, abortion and the shortcomings of various politicians, that post remains one of my most controversial. Which is to say: Some people have a lot invested in this particular pop star.
Taylor Swift started out as a country prodigy, tapped at age 14 to work with various practiced songwriters. (Despite Swift’s reputation as an emotionally acute singer-songwriter, all of her albums except Speak Now, her fourth, have employed industry veterans to co-write her work.) A romance with Jonas Brothers heartthrob Joe—followed by a few spiteful songs and YouTube videos that seemed to be about the breakup—turned her into a household name. She’s now a 22-year-old megastar with a cult of devout fans and five albums under her belt. Her latest, Red, has had the best-selling first week of any album since 2002.