Taylor Swift‘s name comes up pretty high on the list of the most influential and breakthrough artists of the current generation. People of all ages and musical tastes recognize Taylor Swift, who is well-known not just for her number-one singles but also for her tenacity in the face of hardships.
Behind the glimmering surface of her success comes a tale of resilience, courage, and the difficult obstacles of misogyny she has overcome in her professional life. She has been on the receiving end of countless criticisms and stereotypes and has, more often than not, received hate for her songwriting and what she writes about. Here’s a deeper analysis of Taylor Swift and her experience with misogyny in the industry.
How Did Taylor Swift Rise To Fame?
Swift’s family relocated to Nashville when she was 14 years old so she could follow her aspirations for music. Insiders in the industry took notice of her amazing talent for capturing feelings and experiences in her music. Swift’s self-titled debut album in 2006 served as a showcase for her songwriting skills. It served as the starting point for her rapid rise.
Swift’s sincerity and connection to her audience set her apart. Young listeners connected with her music and found comfort and closeness in it. Her sophomore album “Fearless”, solidified her status as a rising star, and hits like “Tim McGraw” and “Teardrops on My Guitar” catapulted her into the public eye. As a result of the album’s enormous popularity, she received critical praise and a devoted fan base.
Even at that age, Swift wasn’t immune to criticism. Critics said that she doesn’t write her own songs, which apparently deduces her as an artist. She was eighteen then.
How many male artists do we know who write 100% of their own songs? Justin Bieber’s biggest hit, ‘Baby, was written by Christina Millian. Frank Sinatra had a batch of songwriters who wrote his songs for him. Elvis Presley has countless songs that he hasn’t written. But none of that stopped fans and critics from applauding the artist for the song. Has anyone ever discredited their hard work just by diminishing the fact that the song wasn’t written by them? Not that we’ve heard of.
What did Swift do then? She released her third album, Speak Now, which was completely written by her. Did that stop the criticism? Well, you know the answer.
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Is Taylor Swift Really A ‘Serial Dater’?
After the success of Speak Now, the next thing critics had to say about her was that she was a serial dater. Well, let’s get into that now.
Throughout her career, as of 2023, Taylor Swift has been rumored to have been with around 17 young men. These range from long-term relationships like Joe Alwyn’s to relationships that were never even confirmed, like Matty Healey’s. Is that a big number? Probably. Is it normal? Absolutely.
A certain pop star, who’s now married to a skincare mogul, has a girlfriend count close to thirty. Before you debate and say that half of these were just rumored flings and that he never actually dated any of them, I’d like to remind you that Taylor, too, has never publicly announced that she has dated seventeen men.
Most of these are rumored boyfriends. Maybe she met them once and wrote a song about them. Maybe they were pictured leaving a restaurant, and paparazzi captured them traveling in the same car. If an ex is defined as the number of men you’ve been seen with, won’t we all have a thick pad to recount how many exes we have? Athletes and musicians who have been unfaithful to their partners countless times are still celebrated.
Speaking about this very double standard, Swift has said: “I went out on a normal amount of dates in my early 20s, and I got absolutely slaughtered for it.” in an interview with Vogue. Despite the industry having countless people—men, more specifically—who are known to be serial daters, Take Pete Davidson, for example. Is there an article where people argue that Pete is not good at his profession just because he dates a lot of women? No. In a man’s case, it’ll be simply defined as having ‘rizz’.
“As soon as she takes off her clothes, there is nothing going on but a boy. She has a great face, but she is a little too fat.” is how Wendy Williams described Taylor Swift. Most women in the industry go through this- but that doesn’t make it any less horrible.
Do we ever sit down to discuss or compare a skinny male celebrity with one who has muscles? The ‘dad bod’ is a trending physique for men who are middle-aged and slightly chubby, and it’s loved by women everywhere. With male artists, people absolutely don’t have a problem with how they look.
If a man gains weight, it’s healthy. But if a woman gains weight, she’s fat and looks horrible. If a man is skinny, oh, he has a boy bod; he looks so young. If a woman is skinny, she looks like a man; she isn’t curvy.
Taylor Swift talked about this double standard in her documentary. She says “If you’re thin enough, then you don’t have that ass that everybody wants. But if you have enough weight on you to have an ass, your stomach isn’t flat enough. It’s all just f—ing impossible.”
She has also opened up about her eating disorders in the film.
Taylor Swift Only Writes About Boys
The internalized misogyny connected to the public’s dislike of Swift is far more ingrained. Many people think that because she was so well-liked by teenage girls from the start of her career, her music is ‘basic’ and only for teenagers. Who’s fault is it that they only choose to listen to Blank Space and Me! and immediately associate her with ‘annoying’ chirpy pop songs? Not hers, for sure.
Another argument that I have frequently encountered when you ask someone why don’t they like Taylor Swift is that ‘she writes about her exes a lot’. Is this something you would ever say to a man? How many people have said oh I like this male artist but he has too many songs about women I can’t listen to him. The answer would be: none.
Taylor Swift writes songs about her relationships with men, yes. But that is not the only thing she writes about. She’s also not the only artist to write about that. The majority of artists, literally all of them write about their past relationships and new relationships. Give the public a new song by a male artist for an ex he dated years ago, the public will eat that up. But if Taylor Swift does it, it’s unethical. Sure.
She has written songs about mental health. About her family, her friends, a young boy who lost his life to cancer, about her friend who lost his life to depression. But if the critics choose to only listen to We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together and call her out for writing about exes, it’s their fault.
Or maybe there’s a group of men out there who would rather listen to a misogynistic song featuring wax figures of naked celebrities while he sings about making Taylor Swift famous.
How Has Taylor Swift Reacted To Misogyny?
Plenty of times, Swift has spoken about the misogyny that the women in the industry have faced. The most notable, however, is her speech when she won Billboard’s Woman Of The Decade award. Here’s what she said:
“I saw that people love to explain away a woman’s success in the music industry. Have you ever heard someone say about a male artist, I really like his songs but I don’t know what it is, there’s just something about him I don’t like? No! That criticism is reserved for us!“
In her documentary ‘Miss Americana And The Heartbreak Prince’ she said: “The female artists have reinvented themselves 20 times more than the male artists. They have to or else you’re out of a job. Constantly having to reinvent, constantly finding new facets of yourself that people find to be shiny. Be new to us, be young to us, but only in a new way and only in the way we want.”
“And reinvent yourself, but only in a way that we find to be equally comforting but also a challenge for you. Live out a narrative that we find to be interesting enough to entertain us, but not so crazy that it makes us uncomfortable,” she added.
She has a song called The Man where she sings about how life would be if she were a man. The music video shows her playing a man and highlighting the double standards that exists for men and women.
In another interview, she said: “There’s a different vocabulary for men and women in the music industry… A man does something, it’s strategic. A woman does the same thing, it’s calculated. A man is allowed to react. A woman can only overreact.”
The conclusion is that for a woman of her level of success, there’s always going to be something that critics pick out. Because of course, a woman is not allowed to be perfect.
“She is talented, self-made, nice to everyone AND mega successful? There HAS to be something wrong about her.”
Anyone who has followed Swift through her career will understand the amount of hard work she has put in, constantly. Trying her best to work on whatever the critics criticise. Part of her Billboard speech says: “I decided I would be what they said I couldn’t be. I didn’t know then that soon enough people would decide on something else I wasn’t quite doing right, and then the circle would keep going on and on and rolling along and I would keep accommodating, over-correcting, in an effort to appease my critics.“
It’s hard for anyone to do no wrong, and the moment Taylor misses a step, the whole world is right there to sketch upon her debacle, lengthening it, making euphemisms out of it which makes you wonder where this crowd was when she was doing something great like going around visiting sick fans unpublicised or donating thousands of money without making a headline out of it.
Which makes me wonder if that probably is the price a woman has to pay to be the most successful person in a room. The pointing fingers never go down and the ugly headlines never end.
I’m so sick of running as fast as I can
Wondering if I’d get there quicker
If I was a man – Taylor Swift, The Man
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