Taylor Swift might be our new feminist hero and role model for American girls. Not because of her song lyrics or her fame, but because she wasn’t afraid to take on a corporate giant for the benefit of others.
Over the weekend superstar feminist celeb, Taylor Swift, wrote an open letter to Apple about its plan to not pay artists royalties during consumers’ 90-day-trial period of Apple’s new streaming service:
“These are not the complaints of a spoiled, petulant child. These are the echoed sentiments of every artist, writer and producer in my social circles who are afraid to speak up publicly because we admire and respect Apple so much. We simply do not respect this particular call.”
And what did this mega company do in response? They complied.
Swift has been the target of a lot of sexist comments about the number of men she has dated and then written songs about. As a beautiful blonde, she has had more than her fair share of comments questioning her intelligence. And she continues to be the subject of analysis by many people about her level of commitment to feminism. Is she a slut-shamer or empowering? Do her songs contain feminist messages or are they just pop culture fluff? But with her stance against Apple’s faulty (dare we say greedy?) idea of not paying artists, Swift cements herself as a feminist role model for my daughter’s generation.
With all the debate around “Lean In” the past few years, Swift shows how to do it. Yes, she has all the privilege of her celebrity and money, but the point is that she took a stand. She didn’t have to — she’d be financially fine even without those royalties, but the vast majority of musicians won’t be. Swift did not write an op-ed saying that the system needs change and that individual artists should stand up against Apple. Rather, she gathered up all her privilege and stood on it to call out Apple for all artists.
She may not be my daughter’s generation Norma Rae, but we shall see what the future holds for Swift. If she is able to bring Apple to its knees, who can stop her? Will Sir Richard Branson build her a shuttle to the Moon? Will she have her own media company a la Oprah? We know she already loves to give away things to her fans. “You get a student loan payment! And you get a student loan payment!”
And while I always thought the best thing about Swift was “Our Song,” the look on my daughter’s face when I told her about Swift vs. Apple wins out. By taking a stand, Swift not only ensured that artists, writers and producers will be paid, but she showed girls how to stand up for what you believe in, to respect your work and to demand that others value your work. Because of that, I hope my daughter never shakes her off.
Veronica Arreola writes the blog Viva la Feminista, where she tries to navigate and understand the intersection between feminism, motherhood and her Latinidad. You can follow her on Twitter @veronicaeye. To contact Veronica for an interview or to book her as a speaker, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.