"Personal Phone Calls From Like, TMZ, or the Washington Post or My Mom": An Interview With @FeministTSwift Creator Clara Beyer
This time a couple months ago, I was playing champagne flip cup with the rest of the staff of Brown University's arts and culture magazine, Post . We were celebrating our final issue of the year, making plans to get tattoos together, and slapping bags of wine. A glorious, youthful hoopla! Our Layout Editor, Clara Beyer, was live tweeting our ballyhoo and bumping the jams. She attempted to turn on Taylor Swift, as she always did, and we, as we always did, yelled, "NO," preferring Beyonce.
Little did I know that a few weeks later, Beyer's steadfast obsession with Swift's music would lead her to internet famedom. The talk of the Twitterverse and Taylorverse, Beyer's week-old @FeminstTSwift Twitter account is incredibly popular and incredibly funny. Beyer parodies Swift's lyrics by inserting feminist themes and principles into the pop star's songs, which usually revolve around heartache and almost always reinforce heteronormative gender roles.
Beyer filled me in on her exciting start to the summer and tried to explain why she always turns on Swift.
BUSTLE: Tell me what your life has been like since the "Feminist Taylor Swift" account was created.
CLARA BEYER: My life has been crazy. I'm interning at Her Campus this summer, and I've become a really bad intern because I'm always taking personal phone calls from like, TMZ or The Washington Post, or my mom. It's okay though. They're pretty understanding.
How often do you plan to Tweet from the account?
The first few days, I was tweeting from @feministtswift every hour. I use Tweetdeck so I can sit down, write a bunch of tweets, and schedule them to post throughout the day. Now it's down to once every two hours or so, because I'm terrified I'll run out of ideas.
What would you say to Taylor Swift if you had the chance to talk with her?
If I had the chance to talk to Taylor Swift, I'd want to ask her three things:
1. Why don't you consider yourself a feminist?
2. How do you get your bangs so perfect all the time?
3. Can we be best friends?
Where do you envision this Twitter account heading?
I don't know. I never imagined it would become such a phenomenon. I sort of thought maybe some people on the internet would find it funny. Now I'm just dreaming really big, because every time I think, "Oh, I could never get on The Ellen Show" or "Oh, I couldn't write a book" I can literally turn around and say "Crazier things have happened!" (I've been talking to myself a lot lately. People are beginning to worry.)
What's been the best and worst parts of the account's fame?
The best and worst part has been the response from the Twitter-verse. People have been so supportive and willing to engage. I got a tweet the other day that said "HAHA! Wow, @feministtswift is cracking me up, now! But also, kinda...need to stop and think, too..." and I was like "That is exactly what I want people to think!"
Then again, there are some mean people on the Internet, too. A lot of younger Taylor Swift fans think I'm attacking her, so they get really defensive. Some of them can be reasoned with (they calm down when they find out I'm a fellow fan at heart). Others not so much.
Have you had a lot of weird backlash?
The backlash has been minimal, besides the aforementioned angry Swifties on the internet, and they're a very small percentage of the account's followers. I got an angry email from a housewife/mother who told me that she didn't care about feminism and called me a bully, so that was pretty weird. But the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
Do you have any regrets so far, or would you change anything?
I would probably have spent more time photoshopping the twitter avatar if I knew that so many people were going to be asking me for a high-res copy... I was kind of banking on people only ever seeing it at 125x125. I'd also probably have plugged my own blog more often in my first interviews (go check out That Girl Magazine! It's the greatest college blog you'll ever read!). Other than that, no regrets. #YOLO, et cetera.
What's your favorite Tweet from the account? Mine is the one about being paid 22 cents under the dollar.
"You were Romeo / I was a scarlet letter / Because I've had like, 6 boyfriends / Which isn't even that many / Slut shaming is a real problem." I love this one because it's true to the @feministtswift form, and it also refers to Taylor Swift's life, and it also defends her using feminism. It's like, the perfect storm of @feministtswift.
Why do you like T. Swift? Why is she admirable? Is her lack of feminist-identity a fault?
Taylor Swift is awesome in so many ways. She's one of the biggest pop stars of our generation, yet it seems like she's really kept her head together. And her lyrics are genius (most of the time), and she writes them herself which is so impressive. And she's never let anybody else tell her who or what to be. Have I mentioned I'm a fan?
That said, I wish she would identify as a feminist. My theory is that she would be a great feminist, but she has a misinformed idea of what feminism means (as a lot of people do!). I mean, she basically told The Daily Beast that she wasn't a feminist and then described some of her feminist ideals in the same breath. I'd love to talk to her and like, have a feminism heart-to-heart. She's such a role model for so many people, so if she could show people that you can be a feminist and still like glitter and sparkly dresses, that would be awesome.
I'm not going to say her non-feminist self-identification is a huge flaw of hers though. As far as pop culture goes, "We Are Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together" is a lot more feminist than, say, Boyfriend. I think Ke$ha's probably the most feminist pop star out there right now, but her music isn't really my style.