2016 Needed 2018 Taylor Swift But She Couldn't Come to the Phone

Taylor Swift's Political Instagram: Just Another Picture To Burn

Dear Taylor, I have bought two albums off iTunes ever — and they are both authored by you. 

Most people wouldn't know that your name is the byline of each song in my musical library. Why? 

Because until you posted a sepia photo of yourself this weekend that read, "I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG" and "the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent," I've been embarrassed to like you.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I’m writing this post about the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th, in which I’ll be voting in the state of Tennessee. In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent. I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love. Running for Senate in the state of Tennessee is a woman named Marsha Blackburn. As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values. For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway. So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do. October 9th is the LAST DAY to register to vote in the state of TN. Go to vote.org and you can find all the info. Happy Voting!

A post shared by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

 

As loud as I blast "Delicate" on my bus ride to work, your political silence has been deafening.

I do appreciate how you share your life story, even if it makes the men in it uncomfortable. Your feminist activism reached a pleasing crescendo when DJ David Mueller grabbed you and you turned it into a rallying cry. Your testimony surrounding your own assault was brave. Your lyrics, self-assessment, and soulfulness are too.

The reason I keep listening to your songs, which are not nearly as musically or politically compelling as Lady Gaga's or Kesha's, is that your voice is so often vulnerable and relatable. 

I actually cherished you more when everyone was dragging you through the mud — when Kanye and the world tried to wrap you up as "that bitch." Because I am "that bitch." I speak up when it's not convenient. Hell, Reputation is my favorite album. Those songs, not tales of heartbroken girls on the bleachers, speak to me — the outrageous, outspoken pain in the ass who's not afraid to hold up a mirror to people and awaken them to their bullshit. 

But your Instagram post doesn't feel like justice delivered; it feels too little, too late. Where were you when Christine Blasey Ford was telling her story? How about when your friend Cara Delevingne accused Harvey Weinstein of preying on her with homophobic, lewd remarks? What justice were you pursuing when Donald Trump gloated that women are pushpins for his famous fingers? 

Your advocacy has always been all about Taylor. Even your proclamation of how you support marriage equality, women, people of color, and Tennessee Senate candidate Phil Bredesen doesn't feature a picture of the candidates you're advocating for, but an alluring photo of you.

This is not about you. You are not gay. You are not black. You are an ultra-rich popstar who rolls in Donald Trump's tax cuts so you can buy a ninth home. Girl, you own more than $84 million in property!

I don't know how much you donate to intersectional feminist causes — you've given to March for Our Lives, RAINNAfrican wildlife, and to numerous GoFundMe funds. But your public support is more valuable than whatever you're doing behind the scenes. It's easy for dissenters to burn their Nike sneakers, but I dare them to tear Reputation tour tickets out of their daughters' fingers and set them on fire. Outspoken TSwift is priceless.

Where was this Taylor in October 2016? Before we denied the first female presidential nominee the job she deserved (certainly more than the man who got it) and added two misogynist homophobes to the Supreme Court?

You got to pose as Person of the Year on Time in 2017, a coveted cover you already enjoyed four years earlier. Meanwhile, Rose McGowan, a rape survivor who was stalked by former Israeli intelligence agents in her efforts to bring Harvey Weinstein to justice, had her book tour canceled because someone yelled at her that she hadn't done enough for trans women in prisons. McGowan was doing the back-breaking work, but you got the glory.

Similarily, it seems opportunistic for you to come out as a progressive when your arch-nemesis Kanye is parading around in a MAGA hat. I'm all for you plotting against that misogynist maniac, but are you once again using a platform as a branding opportunity? I hate to be so cynical, but it's a sincere question.

Sadly, I know that you've been subjected to far too many op-eds like this one. Your Google search results look a lot like a crucifix, where you've been nailed down as a false feminist, white supremacist bootlicker, beacon of female-empowerment, and just about every other argument that could attract clicks.

The "Taylor Swift thinkpiece" has become a coming-of-age ceremony for writers, and get out the cake, because today is the day I become a journalist. Every journalist knows that an Instagram post is rarely enough for an article, and it's certainly not enough for an activist.

ARIEL SOBEL is an editorial assistant at The Advocate. You can read more about her at her website, but if you want to get really personal, check out her TEDx Talk.

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