The Vagenda

Why Do You Really Hate Taylor Swift?


You know what I think would be interesting?

Giving lots of people a piece of paper with ‘Taylor Swift’ written in the middle and an instruction to complete five minutes of automatic writing. Would anyone care to place bets regarding how many times ‘crazy ex-girlfriend’ is written? Or perhaps – horror of horrors – ‘teen girl music’?

You see, the media has a strange problem with our Taylor – and that means that a lot of people outside the media end up having one, too. If the endless articles about why she’s the fourth horse of the musical apocalypse had any serious grounding, I’d be inclined to listen to them. I mean, for starters, Swiftie has written some pretty problematic lyrics (Better Than Revenge, anyone?) which a lot of us could go to town on. But the media’s coverage of Swift ignores this (perfectly legitimate) criticism and instead attacks her for usually one of two reasons (or both, if they’re feeling generous): she is the ‘crazy ex-girlfriend’ songwriter, the songwriter for teen girls, the cutesy little emotional button who writes candidly about her relationships and often hilariously throws her exes to the dogs through the medium of song.

If you don’t believe me that the media like to create a strange Taylor-Swift shaped monster possessing the key qualities of ‘crazy’, ‘manipulative’ and ‘obsessive’, often inciting reader comments with more colourful language, then just go ahead and click on the links above. But a creative person with a guitar writing about love shouldn’t exactly be something to write home (or to Richard Littlejohn) about. Why is it that Taylor creates such a ruckus? Could it be time to sound out the SEXISM KLAXON?

Perhaps you don’t need to be told that female confessional writing, like Taylor Swift’s, is all too often seen as self-indulgent and unimportant – while men do exactly the same thing and it’s ‘profound’ and ‘poetic’. For further proof of this happening since, like, forever, I feel like now is a good point to mention I’ve heard so many criticisms of Sylvia Plath and Courtney Love for this very same reason – while their male counterparts (and often their boyfriends) are hailed as workers of genius. They’re not crazy, manipulative and obsessive; they’re deep, troubled and expressive. They’re certainly not ‘just prisoners of their hormones’.

Which brings us to the issue of teenage girls. Taylor Swift writes songs about heartbreak, falling in love – let’s face it, issues that are appealing to teen girls everywhere (as well as the rest of the population, no doubt.) Pop songs are popular for one of two reasons: because they’re catchy, or because people identify with them. TS has managed both. Go figure.

So why are the media so hell-bent in this case on shaming not only the artist who creates these songs, but also her fan base for liking them? Like, really? Are the media really shaming teen girls for crying at a Taylor Swift show? Do we actually live in a society that tells teenage girls the music they identify with isn’t important? Do we seriously live in a place that dismisses and mocks a female artist for vocalising her emotions? I can’t even begin to count the amount of times I’ve heard the word ‘fangirling’ in a negative context, or people dismissively describing something Swift-esque as ‘teen girl central’ – as if something associated with teen girls is automatically unworthy of our attention. In fact, more often times than I can count, ‘teen girl’ is seen as synonymous with ‘worthless’. And I am really, really not okay with this.

The fact of the matter is that teen girls are subject to a whole range of criticisms and negative stereotyping, a unique shit-stirring cauldron of ageism and sexism – and, since teen girls are (broadly speaking) a large proportion of her fan base, Taylor Swift is subject to these too. Ergo, she is constantly punished for it.

Put simply, music for teen girls (if there’s such a thing as music being solely for teen girls) is seen as unimportant and insignificant because the tastes, thoughts and interests of teen girls are undervalued and mocked. If anyone else would like to join me on a life-long project to defend teenage girls from the never-ending waves of unfair criticism, feel free to drop me an email (and I am available for parties.)

But one of my favourite things about Taylor Swift is that she’s so aware of these illegitimate criticisms of her and deliberately plays up to them: whether it’s saying ‘That’s a little fast – and I’m saying that’ to her friend about a couple’s trip to Italy, or a witty ‘Whenever a man shows emotion, I appear’, she knows how the media sees her, plays up to it and dismantles the criticisms by making fun of herself. Despite all articles to the contrary, Taylor Swift is a smart woman. And a pretty hella funny one at that.

Girls are socially conditioned to keep quiet about the things that irritate us, for fear of seeming ‘irrational’, ’hormonal’, or ‘bitchy’. Because of this, Swift is so important. We are taught explicitly to suppress our true feelings so as not to appear crazy. We are taught implicitly that those feelings aren’t valuable or important or worthy of mainstream expression. But hey, Swift isn’t afraid of seeming ‘crazy’. She says what she means, with unflinching candour. She gives zero fucks.

When criticisms of pop culture are legitimate – and there are plenty of them – then it’s important to discuss them. You might hate her problematic lyrics in her earlier work. Everyone has different tastes and, of course, you might just not like her sweet, sweet melodious music, which is totally fine. But for ages, I wouldn’t even admit my love of Taylor Swift to myself – never mind my peers – because of these criticisms of her. Why? I’m talking sexist bullshit here.

So, to all the haters out there: I suggest you take a good hard look at yourself and wonder what really makes you hate Taylor so damn much.


43 thoughts on “Why Do You Really Hate Taylor Swift?

  1. YES! I am a huge Swiftie fan, and I cannot believe how vehemently she is hated for writing about relationships. Like, um, isn’t that what every song ever is about anyway?

    Sure there’s problems with slut-shaming (You Belong With Me) and whatever, but that’s never discussed.

  2. I think also the way the media represents her is because of how incredibly and hugely successful she is. They don’t know what to do with that – so they belittle her – and never give her any credit for her success. Also I think the ‘emotional’ girl thing is the one thing she gave the media – it’s all they’ve got to go on about – so they go and on. And on.

  3. Personally, I can’t stand Taylor Swift because her songs are that dreaded combination of insipidly irritating and “stuck-in-your-head-for-two-weeks” catchy. I’ll admit I may have got a bit vehement against her in the past because there was a time when it felt like I couldn’t go anywhere without hearing her stuff. That said, I don’t really understand the continued hate – if you don’t like her, ignore her. Same for Justin Bieber etc.

    Mind you, I really dislike that 11 out of every 10 pop songs seems to be about love anyway. Bring on the power metal: dragons! epic battles! Tolkien! GLORY! That’s the stuff that appealed to me as a teenage girl (and still does as a grown woman).

    Ahem. Sorry, got side-tracked there.

  4. I’ve liked her for a while now, and I’m just unholy aged (34). Her stuff is young, sure, but so is she. I remember feeling just that way before I got older and got my proverbial junk together (somewhere in the neighborhood of 30). And the girl writes her own music, and that’s getting progressively rare on its own. Yes, her lyrics at times are cringey. Yes, sometimes I wish she would maybe not be quiiiiiiite so open about her past loves. But that’s her prerogative, and she’s not doing a thing different than a lot of us did at her age. She’s just much more successful at it, and good for her. She seems to have a good sense of humor about herself, and while the constant “OMG, Really??” at awards shows can get tedious, I don’t mind her or her music on the whole.

  5. I agree that it is unfair that women singing and writing about relationships are seen as manipulative crazy bitches but a guy who does it is deep and brooding and oh-so-awesomely sexy.

    Ok this is why I dislike her: everyone from Time Magazine to Billboard hails her as a gem of a songwriter, some kind of lyrical genius who has re-interpreted and reinvented songwriting as it is. I understand she started as a teenager and has a strong teen-girl fanbase, and relationships serve as inspiration…but her songs aren’t exactly poetry- Tavi Gevinson’s tweets are probably more intelligent. You are putting Swift in the same “confessional” box as Courtney Love + Sylvia Plath: why? They are miles apart!

    Swift, at age 23: We/are never, ever,ever/getting back together
    Love, at age 34-ish: Oh make me over/I’m all I wanna be/a walking study/in demonology

    Agreed, they are from different generations, each writing for a different audience. But at 23, I think Swift can come up with something better than we are nevereverever getting back together. She is smart and knows her fanbase well enough to keep feeding them catchy tunes coupled with crappy lyrics.

    Now I think I dislike her because intelligent people like you are wasting so much space on her.

  6. I totally agree with the above comment. I’m just not sure she would be hailed as quite the genius without her looks but that’s a problem I have with society, not her.

  7. I agree. I’m not a super Swift fan, but I don’t dislike her one bit. I like a few of her songs and think she seems like a sweet gal and I never have understood all the hounding. And I can’t help but think she may even be making a similar point in her song, “Mean.” Because haters gonna hate and you should go on being yourself and loving your life anyway, just let em hate and do your thing.

  8. As Mum to a 13 year old I’ve heard A LOT of her music. Kudos to her for successfully writing some admittedly good songs from such a young age. What I find irritating about her is that in her 20′s she doesn’t seem to be maturing as a writer – what was cute and sassy at 15 is a bit twee after you hit your 20′s.

  9. So glad someone has finally said this! I love taylor swift but rarely admit it because shes seen as 1: soft, teenage girl music 2: anti-feminist because she is always singing about love 3: crazy, obsessive, if you listen to her you need to get a life. But the fact is that she scares people because she is not afraid to sing about what she is feeling, be it love or otherwise (as she has some great non love related songs) so thank you thank you THANK YOU.

  10. I absolutely agree, there is a level of disgust and derision directed towards teenage girls that is clearly misogynist. It’s all about putting girls back in their place as they grow more powerful because they’re growing up.

  11. My automatic writing would probably consist of “I have only seen her name occasionally on the internet, know nothing about her and have no interest in her” and then a whole lot of stuff not about her.

    (Obvious question “Why am I writing this comment” – because the clickbaity headline about hating her. Sorry, nope, I don’t.)

  12. It’s all well and good taking a lyric one of her songs that isn’t really, well, ‘deep’ (and a song in which she is clearly making fun of both hipsters and herself that is totally meant as a fun, karaoke song, which also, by the way, doesn’t have bad lyrics per se- they’re just not ‘poetic’), and comparing it to a great, poetic Courtney Love lyric. But, one, Taylor Swift is primarily an album artist. So if and when you listen to her to analyse how good she is, you should probably listen to an entire album. More importantly, look at other gems such as ‘All we are is skin and bone, trained to get along/ forever going with the flow, but you’re friction’ or ‘You call me up again just to break me like a promise/ so casually cruel in the name of being honest’ or even one that she wrote at 14 ‘I guess it’s true that love was all you wanted, ’cause you’re giving it away like it’s extra change/ Hoping it will end up in his pocket, but he leaves you out like a penny in the rain. Oh, cause it’s not his price to pay,’ And when someone says ‘songwriter’, they’re not saying ‘lyricist’, they’re talking about the entire song structure. Even if you don’t think she’s good with words, I don’t think you’ll question her melodies and each song as a whole? Literally every one of her songs is catchy, even the slow ones! And the main thing about a good songwriter is how they connect to an audience, which, I’d say, she has down pat (Let’s take WANEGBT again – that song echoes what so many people with on-off relationships want to say to their exes. So it’s about relatability, you know?). Anyway, ultimately to each to their own, and sorry for the long comment. :)

  13. Oh hey, also, you should probably read Tavi Gevinson’s articles on her. It may help you understand why people hail her as a songwriting savant.

  14. Unfortunately it’s not just T Swift, pretty much anything which any amount of teenage girls enjoy is immediately shameful and inferior.
    As a young teen I myself felt ashamed of the things I enjoyed, I’m glad that now I have the confidence to be proud of what I enjoy (swifty included in that). But I find it so sad that young girls are being made to feel ashamed for the music/books/films/sports etc that they enjoy. Teen boys’ interests are not belittled in the same way.

  15. I really love Taylor swifts old music and some of the new ones but my grandma hares her she sates she is ugly I showed her a pic of when she was 15 and she sates her hair is a wig then I showed her a song of when she was 15 she said she sings bad then I showed her a latest song and she said she sings even worse

  16. I don’t get the over-the-top hate for Taylor Swift. Her dating life is greatly exaggerated and why should it matter anyway? We’re so eager to lash out at people and tear them down. There are artists I don’t care for but I don’t go around spreading hate and negativity. It’s pointless and not worth it. I ignore them and get on with my life.

  17. I think Taylor Swift is actually a feminist icon, she seems to be one of the only people who is refsuing the succumb to the one size fits all overly sexualised blow up doll type performer that dominates the music industry right now. She gets a lot a snidiness and a lot of eye rolling, I think in large part because she is quite unapologetic about targeting the young female experience, I think a lot of the male audience that are so used to being the main focus of every artist and every performance probably resent her for that…’what about us?!?!? how dare you not be performing for us!?!?!?’

  18. I’ve always felt like I couldn’t really relate to most female music artists, they do all seem really samey, and present a very narrow vision of femininity, usually very very sexy, open and flaunting their sexuality, somewhat aggressive, into partying, drinking, going wild, etc etc. That’s all fine and great and more power to them, but I really have never been able to relate to that.
    I’m quite quiet, introverted, I don’t like flaunting my sexuality, I’m not in to partying, I’m not particularly ‘fierce’, I like to stay home with my family, I like to bake and pick apart old relationships and curl up with a book, etc…I feel like a lot of these traits are looked down upon, sneered at, maybe because they are seen as ‘traditionally feminine’ and therefore ‘lesser’, I often find myself apologetic for the way that I am, but I can’t help it, that’s what I like and that’s who I am.
    I totally understand why someone might find Taylor Swift irritating and twee, but I think it’s because she’s speaking to people like me, I feel like I can relate to her in a way I couldn’t relate to anybody before her, I like that she’s who she is and doesn’t care what anyone thinks, she doesn’t think she is ‘lesser’ or ‘pathetic’ despite the eye rolling and people constantly calling her a crazy whiny ex girlfriend.
    She makes me feel like I shouldn’t be ashamed of the way I am, I can be into baking and crying over ex boyfriends and also be a strident feminist and I too can not give two hoots if anyone disagrees.

  19. I also wonder if Taylor Swift did start rolling around in her underwear the media would all back off a bit…status quo restored.

  20. I personally don’t like her because of her song and what their about. I understand everyone need their break up songs but I honestly think she uses them against her ex-boyfriends.

  21. See I see an asexual childish Narcissist who stalks men and when they dump her she acts like a 14 yr old and writes about it for revenge.

    Shes an adult who is still acting like a 14 yr old singing into her hairbrush in her bedroom mirror. Shes still having slumber parties for gods sake!

    There is an old saying like, “one divorce is mutual, two divorces is questionable, but a third divorce ITS YOU” …
    All these men shes dated and none stick with her?

    Something is weird about her.

  22. I guess that makes sense. Liars lie! Lovers love! Haters hate! I think it’s funny how people don’t see the obvious. Oh! I must be a thinker!

  23. I don’t like how she said her preferred man would be in control of her much of the time. Really bugs me

  24. I don’t think it’s necessarily the fact that Swift’s music appeals to teenage girls and talks about things like love and heartbreak that make people despise her music and, unfortunately, her personally. I think it has more to do with the fact that there’s a great deal of insincerity with her music, even though the media does (or did) treat her like some rare forest pixie.
    Nobody can deny that Taylor Swift is remarkably talented; this, to me, is not at issue. What is at issue, however, is the amount of s**t shaming that she evinces in her lyrics (she wears short skirts, I wear T-shirts, she’s no saint and she’s not what you think). Many of her songs imply that the girl who is with the guy she wants is a s**t and doesn’t deserve it. She dresses in white for her videos to highlight this innocent virginal persona, but let’s be real for a moment. Nice girls from down the street don’t become wildly successful in the popular music industry. It’s a dog-eat-dog world there, and Swift is clearly a shrewd and calculating businesswoman as well as a talented songwriter. However, this ‘nice girl from the street’ image is likely a facade. And fine, it’s show business, people can’t act like cold calculating businesswomen and have their fans adore them. However, given her serial monogamy and how each breakup seems to be a springboard for her next hit, one can question her motivations for same, not to mention the nastiness with which she debases her female “opponents”.
    I’m a man, so I suppose I don’t have much of a say when it comes to feminism. But I can think of nothing less feminist than women not sticking together, or a woman painting herself in virginal white while lashing out at other women for their supposed loose morals, or a woman encouraging other women to spend their time only mooning and moping over boys. What I think angers people with Taylor Swift is the insincerity of her down-home friendly fragile pixie persona, when in fact she must have stepped on a number of throats to get where she got.

  25. Taylor Swift hummm…
    she thinks too much about herself, what is the big deal miss
    thing!!!?? Under a sweet personality “Cover” lay a very pretentious young woman, no reason really, you are just a singer that’s it… you take yourself way too seriously! Humble up, and be real, which will be very hard, you fabricated an image of yourself, like a lot of artists, who is sooo fake.

  26. I just recently realized that I now officially hate Taylor Swift. I’ve been wondering why, after the Spotify issue, I couldn’t understand her “artistic” reasons of removing her music from any website (even YouTube), except of course, if it was guided towards her own sole benefit. I’m not quite sure if she’s trying to start a new trend among musicians, or if she just wants to stand out being the only “special” artist Spotify has recently cared about. But one thing’s for sure, she doesn’t want us listening to her songs unpaid. And that’s rather selfish, when even Jason Mraz approves of free online sharing of his music. She’s rich already, quite overrated IMO, and an award-winning artist FFS, yet she still wants more for herself and less for us. Also, #hatersgonnahate but I’m not that kind of hater. I like (some of) her music but I don’t like how she is now and how fanatic her “Swifties” are. I don’t like how the phrase “haters gonna hate” is misunderstood and is now frequently used as an excuse not to acknowledge one’s own mistakes. All the other reasons are already stated in some comments.
    I’m new about this hating thing. I don’t want to hate her actually, I just don’t like her that much now. I wanted to know the actual reasons of the other haters too, that’s why I’m reading this article hoping it will help me rationalize my emotions. Somehow, it made me go from hater to I-dont-liker. And adding the fact that she’s no longer on music-sharing sites and her songs on YouTube are now only on her Vevo channel (copyrighted songs on other videos got taken down), I wouldn’t be hearing from her much, so probably I’d just become indifferent in the end.

  27. Truly, I am not a huge fan of Taylor Swift. However, that is nothing to do with her, and simply to do with my lack of interest in Pop music, therefore, I do not care much for the songs Taylor writes about. Really though, I have true respect for her in a lot of aspects and even though I am not a fan, I do not understand the complete and utter hate she receives.

  28. i can’t stand Taylor Swift. I’ll be thrilled when her hype ends. She’s not even attractive, just a tall lanky less than average figurehead bean pole. She’s fake acting. She stands with her mouth open, a surprised look on her face, and begins every adult conversation with OMG. How ridiculous is that?!?! I don’t like her looks, her lyrics, or her pretentious behavior.
    Get a clue girl! Stop acting! Put on some weight! Join the real world! Stop with the “Oh my gosh! What a surprise!” routine. Be human, instead of robotic.

  29. I am such a swifty. I don’t get why everyone is anti- swift. Her songs are all catchy and meaningfull. It takes huge talent to put an experience or feeling into a song, and she has been doing it for years. She is my Idol. Long live Taylor.

  30. Taylor Swift and feminism…. such a waste of time, talking about serious issues centering around Taylor Swift…. cos’ she is the person you just cannot take seriously.
    From a musical perspective, her music has been the same right from “Tear drops on my guitar”. Mediocre, monotonous and frankly kind of boring. Those who love pop and Top 40 obviously love her, but for anyone seeking for a little depth in music, Taylor is like an anathema. I’m not talking about just the lyrics (yes, every song is about LOVE and BREAKUPS.. boo hoo.. let’s move on already) but the mark of a genius is how you can express the same beaten-to-death emotion is a beautiful, creative and novel manner. That’s why a classic and alt-rock girl like me actually liked Lady Gaga (You and I was a great song). Of course, music is a matter of taste and varied from person to person, but all Swift is, is a hit making machine, churning out the same, boring melodies, same lyrics, same contrived emotional “depth” for the past ten years (has it been ten? :-/). Even Miley managed struck a chord with Wrecking Ball, which Taylor has not done in ages. 1989, is a like such a transparent PR move to move from her “signature country-pop” to more mainstream electronic infused pop, and it just SUCKS. Blank Space is like she is high on narcissism.
    And before I become the asshole that doesn’t allow women to express their feelings, I hate when men are whiny too. Cliched break up and love songs are annoying regardless of the gender of the singer/songwriter. Blurred lines was such a dud but it was a hit anyway. Sam Smith is too whiny for my taste (I only started liking his songs after watching the covers on K Pop Stars, a Korean TV show).
    A think a musician should be judged by the quality of music they put out rather than what they are in their personal life. In that perspective, when you have great artists, even in the pop scene, like Lorde or Sia (Elastic Heart, now that’s a powerful song), Taylor Swift just sucks. So do One Direction, Justin Beiber, Meghan Trainor, Selena Gomez etc but kids are going to buy this crap anyway…. so ultimately, it doesn’t make a difference.

  31. She is overrated underdeveloped over praised
    monopolizes the music world with stupid drivel
    Followed by sheeple who have never listened to Real music
    A phony studio product
    MAX MARTIN is the genius here
    She is Machievelen

  32. There’s a few reasons why I hate her. There’s the slut-shaming, the using her exes as song fodder…pretty sure the only relationship song she has where she doesn’t blame the guy or another woman is the one that was about Taylor Lautner, and came out at the height of his popularity…the fact that she seems very insincere to me, the fact that her fans love to attack anyone who dares to dislike her…I said once on Tumblr that I don’t like her, and I’ve been getting anonymous hate mail ever since, and her fans threatened to burn down the shop of these two girls who made a shirt that referenced her exes for their friend to wear to one of her concerts(they’re an online company, though, so clearly that didn’t work), and she condones it and thanks them for ‘having her back’ whenever they bully and harass people, while claiming to be against bullying.

  33. I don’t ‘hate’ Taylor I just personally don’t like her music, at all. She seems like a nice girl and roll model, but I just can’t stand her stuff.

  34. She cannot sing worth a damn.
    Her lyrics are juvenile and her literary references are painfully inaccurate.
    All she does is write songs about boys and heartbreak and girly things then has the nerve to complain about media and industry misogyny.
    She copywrites common phrases because she put it in a song so God forbid someone else use it.
    She is a feminist who doesn’t truly understand feminism or what is actually an attack against women and just an attack against her.
    Drama mama.

  35. I just don’t like her. Because she used country music as a spring board and then swiftly abandoned it to break into pop music. What’s worse is that the media propped her up on a pedestal before she was even that popular and propelled her to this stardom. All the while she was making pop music and bagging awards for country music anyway. It felt like she was neatly placed there at the top to an outsider of country music who was getting into it, and a person who dislikes pop music.

    Fast forward to now and she’s blown up like this, country music a forgotten thing on the shelf. Plus her music isn’t aimed at me anyways.

    To me it just feels like she was put there and fawned over until she became a thing. That’s how it feels to me.