Why is Taylor Swift being branded as anti-feminist?

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The world’s biggest music star has been facing some fan backlash of late, from those who think she might be using her power irresponsibly. Accusations of greed, wastefulness and even anti-feminism have been lobbed at the singer/songwriter. Here’s where it stands.

How is Swift seen as wasteful?

Ever since releasing her album The Tortured Poets Department on April 19, Swift has been dropping new editions on a regular basis, a practice not uncommon in the music business, but which she has embraced enthusiastically over her career.

In an interview with Billboard magazine in March about her own efforts to promote sustainability, singer Billie Eilish talked about how her newest album was made from recycled black vinyl, with shrink-wrap sourced from sugar cane. She then condemned the multiple-release practice.

“I can’t even express to you how wasteful it is,” she said. “It is right in front of our faces and people are just getting away with it left and right, and I find it really frustrating as somebody who really goes out of my way to be sustainable and do the best that I can and try to involve everybody in my team in being sustainable — and then it’s some of the biggest artists in the world making f–king 40 different vinyl packages that have a different unique thing just to get you to keep buying more. It’s so wasteful, and it’s irritating to me that we’re still at a point where you care that much about your numbers and you care that much about making money — and it’s all your favourite artists doing that sh-t.”

Eilish didn’t mention Swift by name, but “biggest artists in the world” and “your favourite artists” were taken by many fans as a dig at Swift. This even after Eilish took to social media to say she hadn’t been singling anyone out, and pointing out that she too releases multiple versions of the same album.

Billie Eilish took to Instagram to say she hadn’t been singling out anyone in her comments to Billboard. Photo by Instagram

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What about being called greedy?

This also has a conection to Eilish, who on May 17 released her new album, Hit Me Hard and Soft. Swift, perhaps smarting from Eilish’s earlier comments as per her fans, released three new editions of The Tortured Poets Department at the same time, potentially cutting into sales and/or awareness of Eilish’s album.

It was neither the first nor last time Swift has been accused of such tactics. Back in 2017, she was accused of choosing to release her entire discography on Spotify the same day that Katy Perry was releasing a new album. And just this month, British singer-songwriter Charli XCX’s album Brat was projected to reach No. 1 in the U.K. But then Swift was accused of releasing a half-dozen U.K.-only album variants at the same time, grabbing that title for herself.

Her sales techniques do smack of what some fans have branded as shamelessness. Last year, for instance, her album 1989 was released in several colours, but only one at a time and for a limited time, thus creating a sense of urgency and also denying fans the option of buying more than one at once and paying a single shipping charge.

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And anti-feminist?

This is a more general complaint among fans, given that many of Swift’s record release timing decisions seem to disproportionately affect fellow female artists.

Writing on HuffPost.com, contributor Ty Cole lamented: “I’m disappointed that Taylor Swift seemingly would try to block Charli XCX and Billie Eilish from achieving the top spot on the charts. Given Swift’s immense status in the music world, it feels unnecessary and somewhat selfish to use these tactics to keep rising to the top. She has already accomplished so much and has a massive fan base that ensures her success.”

He added: “You’d think Swift would be celebrating and embracing new talent, not trying to overshadow them. Her focus should be on enjoying her well-earned success and supporting emerging artists. By doing this, she could help foster a more inclusive and supportive music industry where everyone has a fair shot at the spotlight.”

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