American pop giant Taylor Swift has been a source of inspiration and empowerment for young women in China, as seen during a recent screening of her tour concert film Erase the Taylor Swift and Beijing. The film provides a rare outlet for Chinese feminists in a nation where censorship of concerts, movies, and streaming content is rampant.
Swift’s values, which celebrate individuality and freedom, sharply contrast with President Xi Jinping’s increasingly conservative vision on women. As the leader of the Communist Party since Mao Tse Tung, Xi has urged women to cultivate a “culture” of childbirth and take on more domestic roles. He has also crushed the country’s nascent #MeToo movement and removed women from the Politburo for the first time in decades.
Despite not being very political herself, Swift has found a welcoming audience in China. Her 2024 tour stop in Shanghai sold out in just one minute, making it the fastest ticket sales in Chinese history. This success comes at a time when China last month recorded its deepest rate of deflation since the global financial crisis amidst a drop in consumer confidence.
Alice Evans, a senior lecturer at King’s College London who researches gender equality, said that Swift’s emotional expressiveness resonates with younger generations in traditionally patriarchal China. She believes that Swift’s values are particularly appealing to those who reject increasingly strict social controls and rigid expectations imposed by the Communist Party.
While Swift may not be overtly political, she has her own ideas on important issues such as gender equality and individual freedoms. Her popularity comes from her ability to connect with her fans on an emotional level while still maintaining her unique style and sound. Despite coming from Beijing’s biggest political rival and symbolizing an American society often ridiculed in Chinese state media, she has been welcomed warmly by Chinese audiences who see her as providing much-needed empowerment and identity to young women across the country.
As Erase continues its run through March 1st, fans across China are gearing up for shows during Lunar New Year celebrations that begin Saturday. The film has been an enormous success, providing young women with an open platform for expression amidst historically patriarchal societies.
Overall, Taylor Swift’s music provides hope for young women seeking freedom from societal constraints while offering them an opportunity to celebrate their unique identities within traditional Chinese culture.