Lady Gaga, Angry Moms and Sex Symbols, Oh My!

September 26, 2011 | Guest

By Guest Blogger Shannon McGuire

Being subscribed to Facebook pages that focus on feminism and women’s issues can lead to having some interesting articles on your News Feed. That’s what happened this morning when I was scanning through links on the Powered By Girl fan page. I came across a link to an article from the Huffington Post entitled “Parent Regrets: Why I Wish We Never Went to See Taylor Swift.” Now I’m not one of those types to use the Huffington Post as their only source of information, but I do respect Taylor Swift for her clean record and honest lyrics. This led me to read the article, which is one mom who thinks the young artist is teaching young girls nothing but to keep their mouths shut and behave.

After first arriving at the concert, Huffington Post writer Andrea Lampos was taken back at all the Cover Girl stands putting make-up on “young pubescent girls.” But after contributing that factor to advertising she brought her three kids into the show expecting to have a great time. Of course, when Taylor got on stage with her frilly dresses, sparkles, and hair flips, this mom had had enough…

I didn’t expect Taylor Swift to make any radical, edgy, feminist remarks, but I also didn’t expect Gidget meets the Little Mermaid. What an incredible platform for Swift to say something as simple as “Girls rock!” or something even crazier like “Love yourselves!”… [T]he flowing fairy dresses and saccharine monologues cover[ed] up Swift’s real power. Cover[ed] up girl power…

A mom went to a concert and was dissatisfied with the show…so what? Maybe Taylor Swift isn’t the best performer out there. But this is just an example of an attitude that is seeping through feminism.

…Better to have to explain the explicit sexuality of someone like Gaga and her “Born This Way” message than to have to undo the message of female    powerlessness — especially from an artist who is so fervently emulated by girls. If you have tickets already, perhaps you can prep your music lover. It’s sort of like a game of I Spy: look hard and look deeply for Swift’s voice. It’s there, just buried in the fluff… Speak Now tour? More like Speak softly and smile a lot.

Is it not empowering enough that Swift gets up in front of millions of people every year to sing her dreams and fears? She displays genuine confidence without having to dance provocatively or wear revealing clothing.

Andrea continued to berate her for being “princess-y” and powerless and saying she’s more detrimental to her daughter than Gaga. Now that’s just ridiculous. Apparently this writer forgets that Taylor’s lyrics are all about staying true to yourself. In the song “Fifteen,” Taylor sings of how her best friend “gave everything she had to a boy who changed his mind” and the pain it caused her. She warns her young listeners to have bigger dreams than investing their whole lives into a guy at such a young age. That message rings true to girls of all ages, even myself as a Junior at Florida State University.

This isn’t about preferring one artist or another — I personally sing along obnoxiously to both — but this is just one example of the contradictory views of female empowerment.  Gaga is an empowered woman with her explicit sexuality and Taylor is not because she is pretty, conventional and quiet.

Somehow wearing barely anything (or just raw cow) and being sexually explicit empowers women more than expressing one’s genuine voice through lyrics.

Fortunately, Taylor’s fans do not buy into that craziness. She has become one of the leading young artists in the world all while keeping her clothes on – something that should be admired. In the Fox News article “Wholesome Country Singer Taylor Swift Proof Sex Isn’t Only Way to Success” commentator Rachelle Friberg had this to say about Taylor:

Taylor is a prime example that young women do not need to use overt sex appeal to be successful. When so many stars are selling their sexuality as an attempt to garner fame, it is refreshing to see a young starlet of Swift’s caliber rise above the pressure of selling one’s body in order to sell records.

Amen, Sister!

Some polluted ideas have washed in with feminism – girls gain their voice and confidence by flaunting their bodies. We just have to be sure the truth does not get washed away in the tide.

Shannon McGuire is the President of the NeW Chapter at Florida State University.

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