— billboard (@billboard) November 22, 2021
“You don’t need to save me, but would you run away with me?” ~ Taylor Swift, “Call It What You Want”
In the midst of “Red (Taylor’s Version)” making shockwaves, and Taylor’s deeply personal, heart-wrenching ballad, “All Too Well” becoming the longest number one hit of all time at 10 minutes and 13 seconds (dislodging the iconic “American Pie” right before it’s been 50 years), as a longtime Swiftie, I’ve been thinking a lot about our heroine, our American Girl.
Watching Tay Tay come of age in the spotlight has been brutal and poignant. Observing that Taylor couldn’t make it to the top of the male-dominated music industry as a genius artist and a brilliant businesswoman without feminism was provocative and telling—but not shocking.
A song with the lyrics “f*ck the patriarchy” is currently sitting at number one in the United States. The same United States that won’t elect a woman president. Yeah, those states. Our former president won the presidency by enforcing the notion that women are sex objects for grabbing, not people—or leaders.
Taylor Swift was a hopeful millennial who thought she had the world at her feet, but instead was repeatedly tested with each rise in success, influence, and power she achieved. She entered the industry young and she embodied the “good girl” with good girl dreams, habits, and feelings. Then, we watched her become a young woman, and now a grown woman—and she has remained vulnerable and transparent for us the whole time.
We’ve collectively experienced, through Taylor Swift, what it’s like to be female and fighting the American, sexist, and misogynistic patriarchy in order to simply reach your full potential. Does American patriarchy test Taylor, or does Taylor test American patriarchy? I think it’s both. I watch riveted, year after year, with popcorn in my hand.
Throughout Taylor’s entire catalogue, there have been songs on every album that hit me right in the f*ckgirl heart.
Her entire career has been a journey away from “good girl” and into her expansive self. I salute her resilience, her creativity, her boldness, her conviction, and her beauty. I especially salute her loyalty to her deepest desires, which blossomed under such harsh and unforgiving, manufactured scrutiny.
It would seem that the more Taylor gets punished for any kind of f*ckgirl behavior, the more she embraces it, and the more she attacks and dismantles the f*ckgirl stigma.
Here are 10 times Taylor felt like a mindful f*ckgirl to me. The struggle is real—and it’s really f*cking pretty too:
1. “Mean” (2010):
“Someday, I’ll be living in a big ol city, and all you’re ever gonna be is mean.”
Isn’t it funny how nobody ever says, well, “Part of the reason she’s a f*ckgirl is that guys act so mean and abusive?” What else are women with standards and ironclad self-respect supposed to do? They’re not going to stay in toxicity and cling to a dude who will only erode them.
2. “I Bet You Think About Me” (2014):
“Do you have all the space that you need? I don’t have to be your shrink to know that you’ll never be happy, and I bet that you think about me.”
Shout-out to any woman who has had a man repeatedly chase her because she is his fire, his fantasy, his bliss—but he won’t leave his comfort zone or his mediocrity because his ego won’t allow him to.
I’ve gotten fed up with men who won’t leave me alone but continually choose the safe life or the same boring girl over and over—who they continually complain about to me. How do I handle this? I say, “Don’t. Block me. Delete my number. You made your choice. Live with it.” I’m so used to being cutthroat when I’m not getting the treatment I want that it lands me where I want to be, faster: happy.
3. “Bank Space” (2014):
“Got a long list of ex-lovers
They’ll tell you I’m insane
I’ve got a blank space, baby
And I’ll write your name.”
I’ve had f*ckboys tell me I’m insane and it’s always when I’m putting my self-worth first. Then, they apologize—in the same conversation. My response? I don’t have a mental illness. Strong, female self-worth is really hard for some men to wrap their brains and behavior around. They aren’t used to your ridiculously high standards (which should be considered normal)—he really thinks you’re out of your mind and in a padded room with teddy bears if you choose yourself over his very special manipulative, half-love. He can’t conceive of treating a woman that well.
You can “make a bad guy good for a weekend,” but not a lifetime.
4. “Shake It Off” (2014):
“I go on too many dates, but I can’t make them stay—at least that’s what people say.”
I honestly do not care what people say—I’d rather be the one having fun than the person remarking on the fun being had.
5. “Dress” (2017):
“Carve your name into my bed post, cuz I don’t want you like a best friend
Only bought this dress so you could take it off.”
Yup, I did not wear this dress up for my waitress. I can’t wait to get you home and throw you against the wall, and I don’t care if you stay or you’re another notch on my bed post—I just want you. Tonight or for forever? I’m not thinking that far out.
6. “Delicate” (2017):
“My reputation’s never been worse, so you must like me for me.”
I’m counting on you to make up your mind about me, not anyone else to make up your mind for you—because I think you’re smart enough to decide your own opinion of me.
7. “Look What You Made Me Do” (2017):
“I’m sorry but the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, cuz she’s dead.”
There comes a point in every woman’s life when she must let go of her inner “good girl” and embrace her inner f*ckgirl. Just let that sad, weak b*tch go and start thriving, stronger than ever, like Ms. Swift did.
8. “Lover” (2019):
“Take me out and take me home, you’re my my, my, my lover.”
Because there’s nothing like having a lover who knows you, who you can return to again and again.
9. “The Man” (2019):
“I would be complex, I would be cool. They’d say I played the field before I found someone to commit to.”
Do women play the field too? Word. Accept it…like, yesterday.
10. “Death by a Thousand Cuts (Live from Paris)” (2020):
“My heart, my hips, my body, my love
Trying to find a part of me you didn’t touch
Gave up on me like I was a bad drug.”
You know, whether we give our body, or our heart, or both—we feel every cut, big and small, dull and sharp. I don’t know about you, but when a guy gives up on me, I’m no longer attracted to him because my feelings are tied to my self-worth—not to him. This is why it’s so easy to move on to someone new. The more self-worth you have, the easier it is to move on and give yourself the gift of a partner who treats you better than the ones who came before.
Thank you, Taylor.