Taylor Swift on Motherhood and Abortion
Full disclosure. Taylor Swift has been among my Spotify most-played artists for two years running. That’s not an easy admission for a 48-year-old man to make, but I’ve been something of a pop junkie since No Jacket Required—and Taylor Swift has a remarkable knack for crafting tunes that insist on being played again and again. I am not alone, of course. Taylor Swift was Spotify’s most-played artist in 2023 and Time magazine’s Person of the Year. And now, thanks to her well-publicized relationship with the younger Kelce bro (Mr. Pfizer, as Aaron Rodgers calls him), Taylor Swift is in very real jeopardy of overshadowing America’s most spectacular spectacle. All of which makes this a perfect time to piggyback her cultural takeover.
Taylor Swift has now been a next-level star for half her life—and though we still think of her as young, she’s no longer the curly-haired teenager America fell in love with. Swift turns 35 this year, which is not nothing. In fact, it’s almost middle-aged. And biology is undefeated. For women, fertility begins to fall off in their late twenties. By 35, it’s rapidly heading off a cliff. When Swift was asked by a German interviewer on the eve of her 30th birthday whether she hoped to be a mother someday, she was predictably perturbed. I say “predictably” because its become status quo for young female stars to be offended by such queries. "I don't really think men are asked that question when they turn 30,” Taylor quipped, “so I'm not going to answer that now.” Her non-answer mirrored that offered by Margot Robbie, Saoirse Ronan, and countless others.
The problem with complaining that men aren’t asked this same question is that there’s a perfectly rational reason why men aren’t asked this question. Two, in fact. First, men aren’t up against a biological clock when it comes to having children. Women certainly are. Second, having children is less important to the average man that it is to the average woman. Call that a social construct if you wish, but there’s no compelling evidence to support such a claim. Women and men are simply different—socially and biologically. We can try to deny and eliminate these differences—which we’re certainly attempting, but such efforts tend only to make things worse in the end. Over the last year, Jordan Peterson has been doing his darnedest to draw attention to a stark new reality:
50% of 30 year old women are childless. Half of those will never have a child. 90% of those will suffer that fate involuntarily.
According to the latest data, half of all 30-year-old women are now childless, and half of those will never have children—which is something 90% of them will come to regret. Call them the involuntarily childless who were coached at every turn to prioritize career over family, who were programmed to believe that men had the lives they wanted, and were assured there’d be plenty of time to have kids down the road—should they ever want to. But for the aforementioned 90%, all of that turned out to be a lie. Because once that window closes, there’s nothing you can do to open it again—no matter how rich and famous you are.
That’s not to say Taylor Swift will never have children. I hope she does, but the odds are now firmly against her. In this respect, Swift has become a proxy for rich young women across the globe. Women who are no longer marrying and no longer having kids. Swift explained it this way in her 2020 documentary, Miss Americana: "There's a part of me that feels like I'm 57 years old but then there's a part of me that's like definitely not ready to have kids, definitely not ready for all this grown up stuff.” She is right about one thing. Most people don’t grow up until they have a child. There are exceptions, of course. That fellow from Nazareth comes to mind, but in the main, people without children don’t know what it is to truly care about another person more than they care about themselves. Having children is an intrinsically humbling affair. And for the first time in human history, the bearing of children is now being consciously and unconsciously rejected. Alex Berenson reports:
In the face of [an] unprecedented bounty of knowledge, health, and abundance, more and more humans have responded by — refusing our most basic biological drive and failing to have children… Birthrates have been below [replacement level] in many wealthy countries for decades. You are probably aware of the baby bust. But you may not know how bad it has gotten… Women in Asian countries like South Korea and Taiwan are now expected to have fewer than 1 child on average. Men do not have children (despite what the [left now tells us]), so you don’t need a degree in statistics to figure out that birthrate translates into demographic catastrophe.
Berenson calls this development both an “individual tragedy” and “societal failure on an unprecedented scale”—something for which “nothing less than the future of humanity is at stake.” Some people insist that if America would just tilt more socialist (free child care, free health care, universal income, etc.) more people would get back to having children, but the dearth of babies is actually worse in the countries that have implemented such programs. What is the cause, then?! There is no obvious answer, says Berenson, but he identified one potential culprit last week—referring to the work of John Burn-Murdoch, chief data reporter for the Financial Times. Burn-Murdoch’s January 26 report, “A new global gender divide is emerging,” reveals the following:
In countries on every continent, an ideological gap has opened up between young men and women. Tens of millions of people who occupy the same cities, workplaces, classrooms and even homes no longer see eye-to-eye. In the US, Gallup data shows that after decades where the sexes were each spread roughly equally across liberal and conservative world views, women aged 18 to 30 are now 30 percentage points more liberal than their male contemporaries. That gap took just six years to open up. Germany also now shows a 30-point gap between increasingly conservative young men and progressive female contemporaries, and in the UK the gap is 25 points.
Why could this be taking such a toll on fertility rates? The problem is twofold. First, the fact that young men and women have become so politically polarized makes them far less likely to marry and have children. Currently, fewer than four percent of American marriages cross the political aisle—which means there aren’t anywhere near enough potential husbands for liberal women, nor anywhere near enough potential wives for conservative men. The second problem is that over the last 30 years, social liberalism has become a predictor for significantly fewer children, and as Berenson points out, “(it is) women, not men, (who) ultimately control the decision to have kids.” So if you have a preponderance of young, liberal women, who aren’t much interested in marriage, and find it increasingly difficult to find a like-minded man, and who don’t particularly want kids, the quandary we find ourselves in suddenly starts to make sense.
On this front, it’s fair to wonder whether Taylor Swift is more influence-er or influence-ee. In other words, is she driving this cultural trend—convincing her predominately female fanbase to forsake marriage, children, and biblical morality—or is she, like them, simply being swept along for the ride? I suspect it’s more the latter than the former. Pop stars, after all, can only afford to veer so far out of their lane. Like politicians, they must keep their proverbial finger to the wind. That’s part of the gig after all, making music for the masses—which makes them more trend followers than trend setters. But none of that changes the fact that untold millions of girls and young women idolize Taylor Swift—which is why so many companies pay through the nose for her to sell their products and why the Democrats have—according to Forbes—pinned Joe Biden’s reelection hopes on two things: Taylor Swift and abortion.
The question then becomes, does the “young” and vibrant Taylor Swift have enough juice to prop up the old and doddering Joe Biden? And does she even want to? Swift’s 2020 Biden endorsement was built on the assertion that he would heal and unify the country. But has he?Has the Biden/Harris ticket “ma(d)e things better” as Swift assured us it would? That’s a rhetorical question, of course. Theirs has been the most unpopular presidency in any of our lifetimes. So bad, in fact, that they may have done the unthinkable—driven the nation back to Donald Trump. What then will Taylor do in 2024? Perhaps she’s intuited that Joe Biden is a sinking ship (how could she not?!), or perhaps she knows something we don’t. There’s certainly a sense in which Taylor Swift is now bigger than the (Big) Machine that made her, but that doesn’t mean she’s untouchable. Just imagine if her endorsement had gone the other way in 2020. Her corporate backers would have dropped like flies, and the media which normally fawns all over her would have made their treatment of J.K. Rowling seem benign by comparison. At the end of the day, Taylor Swift knows who butters her bread.
For the whole of her career, one of the things that has made Swift so exceedingly likable is her willingness to laugh at herself (as perfectly encapsulated in the music video for 2014’s “Shake it Off”), but none of that self-effacing charm is evident in her political posturing. After more than a decade of Michael Jordan-esque non engagement, Swift explains her sudden partisanshipthis way: My moral compass tells me what to do. I know I’m right, and I don’t care about the repercussions. But because Swift came out on the left, there really weren’t any repercussions. She’s only become more adored in the interim. For better or worse, those on the right are terrible at holding a grudge. If we like your product, we’ll do our best to overlook your politics. Not so on the left. Which is why if you’re going to pick a side in the culture war, it’s far safer to side with the progressives. Not only do they control the institutions of power, but their retribution is far more Swift—and permanent.
Taylor Swift may not have photographed herself licking an abortion cake, like Miley Cyrus, or forbid abortion-opponents from listening to her music, like Pink, but in some ways, Swift’s abortion support is even more dangerous. For the simple fact that it’s more “mainstream” and thereby seems more innocuous. When the Supreme Court finally conceded that there is no right to baby killing hidden in the Constitution—and rightly revoked Roe v. Wade, Swift responded with the following tweet:
I’m absolutely terrified that this is where we are - that after so many decades of people fighting for women’s rights to their own bodies, today’s decision has stripped us of that.
Not surprisingly, there is no mention of abortion—which is already an abstract and clinical term. But even that, apparently, is too precise a moniker. Instead, Swift employs the damnable euphemism “women’s rights”—which is no accident. She’s almost certainly counting on the fact that many of her followers—maybe even most—will read her tweet without realizing what she’s actually espousing. If Swift were being more honest, she would have said something closer to this:
I’m absolutely terrified that this is where we are - that after so many decades of fighting for the right to poison, starve, and dismember the smallest and most vulnerable members of the human community, today’s decision has stripped us of that.
For those who took the time to read the one-page statement attached to Swift’s tweet, a statement by Michelle Obama, they would have at least seen the word abortion. Once. But mostly they’d just encounter the same vacuous lecturing and the same empty threats. “I am heartbroken,” the former First Lady wrote, “for people around this country who just lost the fundamental right to make informed decisions about their own bodies.” Never mind that killing your offspring is not a fundamental right, that the women who do it are often grossly uninformed, and that the body which is killed is not the woman’s. Michelle Obama warned of the “devastating consequences” that would assuredly follow this decision, including women “losing their lives getting illegal abortions” and the mass abandonment of unwanted babies. Nearly two years in, a disappointed press corps still hasn’t been able to dig up any such stories.
Billboard put Taylor Swift’s 2023 earnings at north of $1.8 billion. And yet Swift operates under the assumption that she’s being kept down by the man. Though I’m generally of the opinion that pop music is best enjoyed by not paying too much attention to the lyrics, it may behoove us to take a look at Swift’s central message in “The Man.” From start to finish, it is a song of complaint. “I’m so sick of running as fast as I can,” she declares in the chorus, “Wondering if I'd get there quicker if I was a man.” And the implication, based on her list of grievances is that, yes, she would. Taylor Swift would be more successful, more popular, and more accepted if she were only a dude. But is that really true? Couldn’t Ed Sheeran just as easily make the opposite case? Wouldn’t he be even more popular if he were, say, a tall and beautiful, blue-eyed, blonde-haired woman—rather than a short, somewhat goofy-looking guy? Swift’s Person of the Year tribute, in Time magazine, describes her as the “main character of the world”—“the last monoculture left in our (otherwise) stratified [lives].” That being the case, what has Taylor’s sex actually cost her?
Like so many of her generation, Swift has blithely accepted the assertion that 1) the structure of society is fundamentally oppressive to women, and 2) there are no fundamental differences between men and women. “What has existed since the dawn of time?” Taylor asks. “A patriarchal society”—fueled by the pursuit of money. In that sense, Taylor has become what she purportedly despises, though she casts a noble spin on it. Since “feminine ideas (are) becoming lucrative,” she suggests, “more female art will get made”—which she calls “extremely heartening.” To men who make hoards of money, Swift assigns the most sinister motives, but when women do the same, she calls it a beautiful thing. Even more ironic is the fact that Taylor Swift clearly adores her own father, the patriarch of her family—broken though it be. The hand-made all-access pass she gave him (Dad of Headliner) prior to the Eras tour is a truly heartening piece of feminine art. Taylor doesn’t seem to begrudge him all the money he made as a stockbroker, probably because she recognizes that it wasn’t really about the money. It was about providing sustenance and opportunity for his family. And if that’s the motivation driving her own father, why not assume that that’s the motivation driving most fathers? Why has patriarchy become a dirty word? I shiver to think where society would be without it.
Taylor Swift counts herself a victim for the mere fact that she’s a woman, but that’s never been where the line of demarcation is drawn. The division between privilege and want, between the haves and the have-nots, is not about race or sex. It’s about money, education, and family. Taylor Swift was a person of privilege long before she ever picked up a guitar, and it had nothing to do with the color of her skin. What was her privilege? She was born in America. In the 1980’s. To two parents—who had the financial wherewithal to move to Nashville in the service of their daughter’s aspiring career. On top of all that, Taylor Swift has tremendous genes and tremendous talent. But note that these are virtually the same privileges enjoyed by Beyoncé—along with Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston before her. You see, being black or being a woman in 21st century America—or even 20th century America—does not prevent you from becoming a global superstar. Inequality exists, but it’s not where we're told it is. All Americans have the same opportunities in theory. But in practice, we’re each born with wildly different talents and abilities—and no amount of social tinkering can change that.
At one point in the Time feature, author Sam Lansky tells Swift that her Eras tour reminded him of a favorite meme: “Do not kill the part of you that is cringe—kill the part of you that cringes.” Taylor’s response: “Yes!” What does that mean, exactly? It essentially translates to this: Do not kill the part of you that is embarrassing—kill the part of you that gets embarrassed. There’s some wisdom in that to be sure, but also a danger. Namely this. Some of the things we’re embarrassed by are truly shameful and should not be tolerated or endured. We should be humiliated by that which is repugnant. I would suggest that a plurality of young women today are cringing at the wrong things. They’re cringing at marriage, babies, and Donald Trump when they should be cringing at abortion, the trans’ing of kids, and the dystopian tyranny of the globalist gatekeepers. Lansky salutes Taylor Swift for what he calls “radical self-acceptance,” but how is that a virtue? Yes, we should accept those intrinsic attributes that cannot be changed, but shouldn’t we be constantly working to improve those that can? Think of it as radical self-improvement.
Over the past 17 years, Taylor Swift has evolved from the country-singing girl next door to a somewhat foul-mouthed purveyor of casual sex—and leftist ideology. But is she happier, I wonder, for the exchange? If the last few months are any indication, this Sunday night almost half of America will tune it to witness Taylor Swift in an Allegiant Stadium luxury box—jumping around and shouting like a giddy schoolgirl. Call it feigned if you want, but it’s actually a charming look. Not because she’s out there “celebrating her man”—though that may be part of it—but because she's losing herself in those moments to a more spontaneous, transcendent, and communal joy. My advice to Taylor Swift is this. Marry Travis Kelce. Have children early and often. Throw yourself whole hog into family life and discover the beauty of, for once, not being at the center of your world. To borrow from her own metaphor, collect the horcruxes and infinity stones. Listen to the voice of Gandalf. Seize upon the adventure, but don’t consider the having and prioritizing of children a betrayal of your feminist chops. Recognize motherhood for what it is—the ultimate superpower upon which all of humanity depends.