Queering Taylor Swift

So, Taylor Swift is generally pretty uninteresting to me because her music, her image, and her lyrics all shore up normative white heteropatriarchal gender roles. And, her songs may be OK, musically, they’re more meh than not. Although I would love to hear her write some amazingly catchy hook, I have yet to hear one from her. I mean, the part of me that’s invested in re-valuing the feminized popular wants TS to do something interesting. So, I guess what I want from TS is either/both (1) some really pleasurable music (i.e., catchy hooks) and/or (2) something worth thinking about in a careful and nuanced way.

There is one thing worthy of a little consideration: In her hit “You Belong with Me,” Swift basically argues that the “other girl” is too femme, and the reason why d00d belongs with the narrator is b/c she’s properly butch, or, just butch enough for a straight d00d. So, for example: (1) “She wears short skirts, I wear Tshirts”; (2) “I’m listening to the kind of music she doesn’t like”; (3) “She wears high heels, I wear sneakers”; etc. Interestingly, in the video, d00d doesn’t notice her until she appears as paragon of white femininity (I’m reminded of Richard Dyer’s reading of Mary Pickford…). Maybe she’s all the masculinity that straight d00d desires, but is afraid to desire in another male body. Ultimately, though, it shows how even women will devalue other women by associating some women with a de-valued femininity while at the same time appropriating for themselves a socially valued masculinity, thus asserting their (relatively) privileged position within patriarchy. Ultimately, the message in this video is “Girls Suck.” Instead of men bonding via misogyny, we have men and women bonding–and desiring one another–via the rejection of femininity.

Here’s the video: