Kathleen Hanna Digs Taylor Swift And Thinks She’s A Feminist, World Implodes

kathleen hannaFeminist icon Kathleen Hanna is in Austin for SXSW this week. Not only is she there to promote a documentary about her entitled, The Punk Singer, but she’s there because everyone is there, including our own Jamie Peck, besides me. I am not bitter.

Hanna sat down with The Daily Beast to have a chat about feminism, punk, that time Courtney Love attacked her and, of all things, Taylor Swift. While the highlight in any Hanna interview, outside of the important stuff, will probably always be the Love episode (because, come on, it’s SO fucking Courtney Love to act like a lunatic without due cause), the most interesting part of this interview is her take on how Taylor Swift is actually a feminist. I’m serious. The feminist of feminists considers Swift a feminist, so now we have to wonder how many feminists agree or will be offended by being put in a feminist category that’s even remotely related to newly anointed feminist Swift. Did I use “feminist” in there a bit too much?

When asked about contemporary artists such as Swift who do not “self-identify” as a feminist, Hanna had this to tell The Daily Beast:

I’m totally into Taylor Swift I think she has super-clever lyrics, and I love that she writes her own music. Some of the themes she writes about are stuff I wish was there for me when I was in high school, and I’m so happy she really cares about her female fans. She’s not catering to a male audience and is writing music for other girls. I don’t care if she calls herself a feminist or not. There is something that she’s doing that feels feminist to me in that she really seems to have a lot of control over what her career is doing. She’s 23. People say she’s dating all these guys. Well, yeah, she’s a young person and is dating all these people ’cause that’s what you do when you’re young. John Mayer can fuck 84 people in one day and nobody calls him a slut. I think that’s the subtext of some of the things she’s said recently.

Say what?

I’m totally in agreement on the slut-shaming of women in comparison to how men are “allowed” to act, but there’s something that feels “feminist” to Hanna about what Swift is doing? Personally, I can’t grasp this. But then again, I was listening to Bikini Kill at the age of the majority of Swift’s demographic.

I don’t see Swift writing lyrics that are meant to point out the tyranny of the patriarch, or fighting against an industry and society that has made decisions for her based on her gender. She’s singing about “never getting back together” again with what’s-his-name and inflicting pain on the innocent men in her life! I kid! But seriously, I’m not catching any feminist waves from Swift and her cloying pop songs that make my teeth ache from invisible cotton candy at just the thought.

With this insight from such a feminist icon, should we reconsider how we define feminism? Or should we accept that feminism, like all things, evolves and expands, and means different things to different people?

(Also, it doesn’t look like Le Tigre is getting back together, but Julie Ruin is the shit, so all’s forgiven.)


Photo: Kill Rock Stars

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    • gemma

      i suddenly hate sx slightly less.

      • Amanda Chatel


      • gemma

        i defintley will, and will eat a taco for you to make missing sx less unbearable for you

      • Amanda Chatel

        Thank you, Gemma. <3

    • magpie23

      Consider listening to more Taylor Swift songs than just the ones played on the radio (which are my least favorite), or better yet – go to a concert. Her concerts are full of girls and women of all ages, all singing along together to the music they love. She doesn’t have to sing about feminism explicitly to be one – she’s out there, doing her thing, not giving a crap if other people call her mean. All this hatred towards her on feminist blogs is really surprising to me, because it began as soon as she wasn’t seen as being nice all the time. I hate the expectation that women have to be nice all the time, and the negative range of emotions are reserved for men. It’s not fair for Taylor to have to be all sugar and no spice.

      • http://poorgoop.com/ Samantha

        Exactly. (Takes giant breath because I can’t believe I’m about to defend Taylor Swift) I’m not a fan of Taylor Swift or her brand or the gigantic publicity machine she runs or that she can’t take a joke from Amy and Tina, but she’s a 23-year-old business woman in the business of making music for women. And her last music video about female friendships is actually really cool and the sort of empowerment her fanbase needs.

        Feminism doesn’t have to be about policing and patriarchy. Sometimes, it can be about women and bringing them together. And she’s young and part of a super sexist industry, so of course she’s still got room to learn and grow. Hooray for Kathleen Hanna for encouraging that.

      • Breezy

        Yes. Exactly what you just said. All of this.

    • Tania

      While I don’t think taking revenge on your ex-boyfriends is a good message to send to young women, I *do* think the idea that you shouldn’t get back together with someone who mistreated you is. But I don’t know any Taylor Swift songs, so I can’t speak from an educated place.

    • S.

      I haven’t listened to any of Taylor Swift’s music, but I am totally uncomfortable with how other women treat her.

      From what I gather from the interwebs, she writes songs about her exes and gently chides them at award show performances (by using a british accent), and that somehow indicates bad manners on her part? And we should be shocked and disgusted and make fun of her?

      It is fucking insane that she’s even called to account for this. Why is it such a bad thing to specifically reference a dude who maybe wasn’t very nice to her? Or several of them? I mean, she’s young and navigating relationships so why is she not allowed to call some dude out publicly?

    • Jade

      I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that feminism means different things to different people.

    • k

      I think your entire argument against Taylor Swift being a feminist seems to revolve around
      how you think she makes shitty, mainstream, overrated pop music:

      “But then again, I was listening to Bikini Kill at the age of the majority of Swift’s demographic.”

      As if listening to Bikini Kill makes you more intellectual and superior over those who used to listen to Swift as a kid?

      She’s one of the few female pop stars that can actually write about their lives and be successful for it, you’ve got to give her that at least.