Tag Archives: Women’s Issues

Signing up for the Taylor Swift Fan Club

Grenoble     I haven’t been a big Taylor Swift fan.  Even when she was country, she was poppy.  Now that she’s all pop, I can’t really keep up.  I know she sells a lot of music, and that she is often mentioned in the same breath as Beyonce, but who can tell from day to day.  Beyonce seemed to have some politics, but Taylor Swift had seemed all bubble gum and whatever.  Now, I may have to re-examine this whole thing given the fact that Swift has jumped into Tennessee – and therefore national — politics with her boots on and is kicking it.

If you were on the moon or just reading the front pages you may have missed this.  Swift came out of nowhere with an announcement that she was going to vote Democratic in the midterm elections.  At first it was just a bit of a blip on the screen coming from the right wing.  For some reason, many in the right-side media had just assumed Swift was a gun-toting, card-carrying “one of them.”  This out of nowhere Demo-thing caught them off guard, though there was no evidence that it was a betrayal, since Swift had never come out from behind the pomp and glitter and declared herself one way or another.

Turned out that was nothing.  She then clearly injected herself into the elections in Tennessee where this Pennsylvania girl now lives as a woman.  She didn’t pull any punches in her endorsement for the Senate seat to replace Bob Corker by opposing far right Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn by saying to her more than 100 million Instagram followers,

“Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me.  She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values.”

Then she dropped the microphone and according to Voter.org there was a record surge of more than 166,000 new registrants among young people 16 to 24 in 48 hours after her posting, including 6200 in Tennessee.

`Did she take a risk?  I doubt it.  Swift is smart.  She stood up to a stalker in court in Colorado and won.  She can afford to have a poll.  She kept within the lines by focusing on women’s issues in a time when women are hyper-aware, and given her history confronting stalkers her position on the Violence Against Women Act was something that no one could argue is not an issue where she was an expert.  Even her position on gay rights is solidly within the majoritarian views of Americans.  She wasn’t trying to be Jane Fonda in Vietnam or the Dixie Chicks on Iraq where some Americans could claim she had no business.  She was walking closely on her marks on the stage where she sings and that includes about women’s empowerment.

I’m not knocking her.  I’m just saying she knew what she was doing, and she did the right thing by speaking up and telling her public and the rest of us where she stood.

We need a lot more people like Taylor Swift standing up for what they believe, and not just counting followers, but actually proving they know when and where to lead them.



New Orleans   Like a good percentage of families gathered together for Thanksgiving around the United States, the #MeToo conversation about women’s reality and the experience of sexual harassment in societal and workplace interactions was a mandatory discussion topic. Included in the family were veterans of the hospitality industry as well as a big office-based insurance company and the director of a human relations department for a manufacturing operation with plants in two states.

The conversation wasn’t exactly a revelation except for the disturbing fact that it was almost mundane and assumed as par for the course by women in life and work. Stories of women talking together in the office about men to avoid, men to make sure were never alone with you in the elevator, men who were always too handsy. The standard operating procedure for years in the insurance office was just to bond together because no one believed that the human resources department would ever act. The best part of this story was a sort of justice done. He messed with a particular woman who was known in the office as standoffish and somewhat of what they called an “old maid” at the time, but in this case it was the wrong woman, and she immediately went to the HR department, and the creep was almost as immediately fired. The moral in some ways was mixed. The HR folks weren’t the heroes. It was more the right woman and the wrong man meant that her credibility was unquestionable.

Asking the service industry veterans about whether this attention and the #MeToo phenomena would really create change was more sobering. One immediately responded, “it may change things at the office, but nothing is changing on the ground.” Her head shook definitively. On the restaurant floors where tipping is still the muscle on skeletal paychecks, a certain level of flirting and almost sexualization in the workplace, is part of the business model. Her position was that there needed to be a complete societal change about how women and their roles and work are seen, and it was hard to see if that kind of movement was emerging from this moment.

The HR director chimed in later that as soon as the #MeToo trended she had sent a note to all employees in the company’s email system that they needed to report any instance of this kind inappropriate behavior immediately. Nothing has popped in her inbox yet, but at least she has communicated the no-excuse policy.

Meanwhile the list of the high and mighty who have fallen continues to take the headlines, but clearly women – and the men who care about them – in the trenches are battling at the barracks for change on the ground, so if this moment isn’t a movement, there may be a movement coming.