The social critique being made through Taylor Swift’s song “The Man” argues that being a woman puts humans at a disadvantage from men. Swift alludes to issues of gender inequality through her lyrics in “The Man” by describing how her life would be better, easier, smoother, or filled with less judgment if she were a man. When analyzed, her lyrics are not subtle about presenting this theme but the way in which she delivers the message as well as the tune of the music creates a somewhat unbalanced message in my opinion.

Although the lyrics present the issue of gender inequality, it does not provide concrete ways in which this social issue can be addressed. Swift specifically argues that women are more judged, criticized, and name-called (labeled) than men. She does this in a somewhat subtle way through her lyrics as she does not directly say her message but goes around it through “I” statements. “I would be complex. I would be cool…I’d be a fearless leader. I’d be an alpha type” These lines come from the verus of “The Man” and provide the listener with a hint as to what social critiques Swift is making. All of these “I” statements are used to say that as a woman, Swift is often label as “complicated” not “complex”, “weird” not “cool”, a “follower” not a “fearless leader”, and a “wanna-be” not an “alpha type”.

The language is subtle but the intentionality or her language is overt. She is calling out gender inequality but not directly. Indirectly Swift is basically saying that if she were a man, her life and daily choices would be criticized much less. Since finding her voice to address the sexism within the music industry and in the world overall, she has found confidence in sharing her opinions on the matter with the public in unsubtle ways.

In the chorus of “The Man” Swift sings “I’m so sick of running as fast as I can, wondering if I’d get there quicker if I was a man” there is a directness and overt use of lyrics to share her argument to the unequal treatment of women. Her fed up attitude comes across in the first part of this line. Listeners can tell that she has clearly gone through many years of extreme public criticism because she directly states that she is sick of it all. She also says that through these many years of criticism she has been constantly running. Contextually listeners can learn that this running was from paparazzi, internet opinionists, and news outlets.

Listeners can also learn that a lot of the criticism Swift has gotten throughout her life has come from critics labeling her “jumping from guy to guy” or not being able to settle down. People have criticized her for supposedly dating too many guys in short periods of times. Swift subtly addresses this however through some of the lyrics to the first verse in “The Man”; “They’d say I played the field before I found someone to commit to. And that would be okay, for me to do…I’d be a bitch, not a baller”. Swift subtly addresses toxic masculinity in this line by alluding to the issue of how it generally is socially accepted for men to “play the field” (dating many different women) before finding the one person they want to commit to long-term. From her experience, Swift has been consistently criticized about how her “playing the field” is not accepted and this is why she feels strongly about this issue.

Although the social critiques Swift has within “The Man” are strong and ones I agree with, I think the genre in which the song is in and the delivery of her lyrics is an odd contrast to her message. The genre of “The Man” calls for an upbeat, dancy vibe to the music and presentation of the lyrics. Swift’s tone is joyful, presenting the message of “The Man” in a celebratory way. I find this a little odd. I think Taylor Swift as a whole and the message of this song, would be taken much more seriously by people who are not her obvious fan if “The Man” was not in the genre that it is. The song fits into the mood and theme of her album overall but in my opinion does not address her social critique in a mature way.

Swift does not offer any concrete solutions to her social critique. The song was most likely created with the intention to only present the social critique. Swift did not intend to give concrete solutions to facing gender inequality. She focuses most of her lyrics by just repeating that she is “so sick of running” and not by saying how to work toward a more equal treatment of women.