This Man Questioned If Taylor Swift Was A Good Role Model For Girls

The Backlash Was Real
Taylor Swift

I play the Taylor Swift song ‘The Man’ all the time when I’m in the car with the kids. I love it. They love it. We sing it loud and proud. As a mum of tween girls, I want them to know that we’re more than a hundred years away from closing the global gender gap (if you want specifics, it’s 136 years according to the world economic forum).  

That’s a really long time and patience has never been a strength of mine.  

If I was a man, I’d be paid more, I’d be less likely to experience sexual violence and I’d be more likely to be promoted (McKinsey found that only 79 women are promoted to manager for every 100 men). There’s so much more, of course, but you get the point. If I was a man, life would be easier.  

The reason I bring up Taylor is because this week, an American writer by the name of John MacGhlionn decided to write an opinion piece for Newsweek. After listing Taylor’s many accolades and economic contributions, he posed a question: ‘is she a good role model for young girls in the US and beyond?’  

“Numerous pieces have been written explaining why she is; I would like to offer some pushback,” he wrote. 

Would you John? Really?  

I’m just wondering what motivates a middle-aged white male to think he’s the person to comment on suitable role models for young girls.  

“Should we encourage young girls to see the “Swift standard” as the norm, something to aspire to? Or should we be promoting something a little more, shall we say, wholesome?” he asks. John, define wholesome?  

Firstly, Taylor’s dating history is none of John’s business, nor does it undermine her status as a role model. Male celebrities frequently date multiple partners without facing similar scrutiny (hello Leonardo Dicaprio). The sexist notion that women’s worth is tied to their relationships is seriously outdated.  

Get with the times, John.

Also, I’ll be telling my girls to play the field when they start dating. Variety is the spice of life and you know, YOLO. I don’t think John would approve of my parenting.  

He argued that Swift’s personal life choices might not set the best example. I’m wondering if John’s idea of a successful and influential woman is based on Mad Men rather than The Eras Tour?  
As American speaker and author Shannon Watts aptly put it, “For some bizarre reason, @newsweek made the decision to publish the misogynistic ‘arguments’ of a male opinion editorialist about why Taylor Swift allegedly isn’t fit to be a role model for girls and women.” 

She writes: “I’m sharing this (and not the link) because sunlight is the best disinfectant. Let Newsweek know what you think about this sexist and dangerous rhetoric.”  

Actor Amy Schumer replied: “Newsweek has written vile dangerous articles about me this year as well.”  

I’m just stuck on why a man would think it’s his job to criticise someone who has transformed economies. Someone who young girls admire so much. As Watts pointed out, “Travis Kelce is also 34, wealthy, unmarried and childless, but there’s no accusation that he’s a bad role model.” She’s right. No one is talking about that. John didn’t mention Travis.

“Too many men feel threatened or emasculated by women like Taylor who are independent and make their own decisions and money—and refuse to adhere to societal norms from 1952,” says Watts.  

Is it that shocking that a woman would be unmarried and childless at 34? (I wonder if John knows that the oldest recorded mother to date to conceive was 74 years – he might want to do some more research).

Does that really deem her less of a role model?

Poor John presented a very narrow definition of womanhood that is both regressive and irrelevant and overlooked a rather huge fact – Swift is an empowering cultural icon. 

He writes: “A role model, by definition, is someone worthy of imitation. While Swift’s musical talent and business acumen are certainly admirable, even laudable, we must ask if her personal life choices are ones we want our sisters and daughters to emulate. This might sound like pearl-clutching preaching, but it’s a concern rooted in sound reasoning.” 

No John, it’s not.  

The thing is, I have some experience here, John. I have two young girls and Taylor is their version of the Spice Girls. Just like Victoria, Melanie, Emma, Geri and Mel – who were my teen heroes – she shouts loudly about self-empowerment, authenticity, and resilience. She tells us to embrace our individuality, pursue our dreams, and stand up for our beliefs. Most of all, she’s fostering a generation of confident, empowered young women.  

Given old John has now had to protect his account on X, he might reconsider what he writes about for his next opinion piece.  

Author Glennon Doyle perfect captured what we’re all thinking: “I’ll give this to them: these dime a dozen pontificating dudes never miss a chance to just shut the hell uppppppp.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of shaking off misogynistic men criticising successful women.  

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