Yesterday I read an article that I disagreed with criticizing Taylor Swift’s “girl squad” and how it doesn’t advance women’s goals. I’m not even going to get started on the word choice of “Nazi Barbie” and “fascist blondes.” I think it goes without saying that those descriptors are inappropriate.
Once I got past the wording, I tried to see the logic. I will readily admit that I am huge Taylor Swift fan so it’s always difficult for me to accept the truth in scathing articles. There were definitely points I agreed with. I fully understood the perspective that girl squads have an opportunity to change culture especially in Hollywood. My issues lie elsewhere.
My first of the main problems with this is that it is not her friend group’s responsibility to be anything more than a group of friends. I understand that when a person becomes famous, they hold a lot of influence and they should use that influence for good. However, I don’t think that means that Taylor needs to center her friends around this. The author cites examples in pop culture of strong exemplary female friendships from TV shows. But they’re scripted. I think television is a useful medium but it is fictional. Real friendships stem from genuine connection and affection.
My second issue is this: who’s to say that they aren’t doing everything the author wants them to? How do you know they aren’t mentoring each other? No one puts that up on social media. My friendships with people are important and help me work through my life. My photos on Instagram are a split second moment of the time we spend together. They won’t necessarily reflect the deepest parts of the friendship. They don’t have to. The personal, private parts of friendship that make it rich are just that: personal and private.
The third fault I have with this article is the dismissal of Taylor’s squad as frivolous. Even though I don’t agree, why is it so bad to be frivolous? Why are photos of a group of women hugging and laughing “regressive”? Why is “silly” used as an admonishment? I read this past summer about how there aren’t any female minions because they’re silly and stupid. Initially, that might sound like a compliment but it’s actually harmful. The piece pointed out that while it’s good that women are presented as intelligent and serious, it’s dismissive to never portray them as funny or silly. So it’s okay that a group of women, ranging from young adults to mothers, are allowed to show the world that they’re having fun. It’s okay that they’re smiling and being goofy. It’s okay to show that they are more than whatever other image the media portrays them as.
I know that I am 20 and that when I’m in my late 60s I might feel differently. But as someone who looks up to Taylor Swift, I think her squad is doing a pretty awesome job of being #goals.