In the heart of Asia, a young female audience gathered for a rare outlet to express their rejection of increasingly strict social controls and rigid expectations. The American pop giant Taylor Swift filled theaters throughout the nation with her message of gender equality, providing a platform for open and brave expression in a historically patriarchal society.
The values celebrated in the program sharply contrasted with President Xi Jinping’s conservative vision on women. Faced with a shrinking population, China’s most powerful leader since Mao Tse Tung urged women to cultivate a “culture” of childbirth and take on a more domestic role. His administration crushed the country’s nascent #MeToo movement and in 2022 removed women from the Politburo for the first time in decades.
Alice Evans, a senior lecturer at King’s College London who researches gender equality, said Swift is “extremely emotionally expressive,” which resonates with a younger, more gender-aware generation in traditionally patriarchal China. Swift, an American billionaire in her 30s, bypassed the world’s second-largest economy on her highest-grossing music tour, one that gave $5.4 billion to the US economy. Despite not being very political, she has found a welcoming audience in China, with tickets selling out within seconds at her Shanghai stop during her 2024 tour.
As Erase continues its run through March 1st, Swift fans across China are gearing up to attend shows during Lunar New Year celebrations that begin Saturday. The film has been successful in providing an outlet for Chinese feminists in a nation where censorship has increased for concerts, movies, and streaming content. Even though Swift comes from Beijing’s biggest political rival and is often ridiculed in Chinese state media as an American symbol of Western society, she has been welcomed warmly by fans who see her as empowering them to challenge societal norms and find their identity within them