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“You’re always going to have people going did she write her own songs talking about your personal life talking about your dating life there’s a different vocabulary for men and women in the music industry”

That was 32 year old pop super star, Taylor Swift, talking about her frustration with being a woman in the music industry. She entered the music industry at just 14 years old. She started her music career as a country singer and then in 2012 switched to pop. Throughout her career she has dealt with sexist commentary on her dating and professional life. This translates into many inspirations for Swift’s songs. Specifically her song, “The Man” which was on her seventh studio album released in August of 2019. In this song Swift touches upon her frustration with the sexist treatment she has endured, especially the difference of treatment between her and her male counterparts in the music industry. 

Taylor Swift entered the spotlight as a young girl and has dealt with the effects of growing up with sexist commentary on her dating and professional life. This translates into many inspirations for Swift’s songs. Specifically her song, “The Man” that was on her seventh studio album released in August of 2019, touches upon Swift’s frustration with the sexist treatment she has endured, especially the difference of treatment between her and her male counterparts.

See more of Taylor Swift commenting on the sexism ingrained in the music industry here:

In her song Swift explains the double standard for men and women in the music industry. This is an issue that presents itself not only in the music industry but in every professional industry. According to Forbes, “just 14.18% of the 12,040 writers represented by U.K. publishers are women, while female artists make up almost 20% of the rosters of acts signed to labels.” This supports Swift’s argument in her song and that she makes publicly that women are treated less than men in the music industry. 

And I saw that as a female in this industry, some people will always have slight reservations about you. Whether you deserve to be there, whether your male producer or co-writer is the reason for your success , or whether it was a savvy record label.”




In Taylor Swift’s speech when she won Billboard’s Woman of the Decade Award she discusses the same themes of sexism that are prevalent in “The Man”. She speaks about what she has witnessed and experienced in the music industry and how this has affected her as not only a female artist but also how it has affected her mental health. 

“I saw that people love to explain away a woman’s success in the music industry, and I saw something in me change due to this realization. This was the decade when I became a mirror for my detractors.” 

This criticism from her detractors is not the only thing that has helped evolve Swift into who she is today. In 2017 when she won her sexual assault trial against DJ David Mueller and ordered him to pay her a symbolic amount of $1. This was a big step in Swift’s career as she had never spoken out politically and was not known for being in any drama. This case helped other women everywhere feel encouraged to speak out. Swift’s ability to lead by example has contributed to the feminist movement and impacted young women everywhere. Time wrote that Swift’s “clear-eyed testimony marked one of several major milestones in the conversation around sexual harassment this year.” In the weekend following the trial, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) reported a 35% percent increase for its national hotline. RAINN’s president, Scott Berkowitz, told ABC News that Swift’s case was “a great demonstration to other victims that there is strength in coming forward and pursing justice.”

“Taylor Swift the singer she goes to court today. Against a former radio DJ she said once groped her.” Swift says this picture shows the moment Mueller inappropriately grabbed her. Putting his hand up her skirt.” (News Reporters)

“You walk into a court room and then there’s this person sitting in a swivel chair staring at you like you did something to him. the first thing they say to you in court is why didn’t you scream? why didn’t you react quicker why didn’t you stand further away from him? Then he has a lawyer get up and just lie. There were seven people who saw him do this and we had a photo of it happening.  I was so angry. I was so angry that I had to be there. I was so angry that this happens to women. I was angry that people are paid to antagonize victims. You don’t feel a sense of any victory when you win because the process is so dehumanizing. This is with seven witnesses and a photo what happens when you get raped and it’s your word against his.” (Taylor Swift)

By shedding light on what this process is like for women in her Netflix Documentary, Miss Americana, it helps raise awareness for sexual assault victims everywhere. Taylor Swift is helping better this horrible process through all her artistic work including The Man and the music video that she directed herself for the song. 

Swift’s music videos have been known to go viral gaining millions of views. Her music video for “The Man” is no different with seventy-one million views on YouTube. In this music video it is interesting to notice the different ways it highlights how differently men move through everyday life versus women. It stars Taylor Swift disguised as a man named “Tyler Swift” who exemplifies all alpha male qualities that perpetuate toxic masculinity and sexist ideals. The opening scene resembles scenes from the movie, The Wolf of Wall Street which connects with her lyrics “I’d be just like Leo / in Saint-Tropez”. These lyrics reference Leonardo DiCaprio who in real life is known to be a serial monogamist who strictly dates models under the age of 25. The character he portrays in The Wolf of Wall Street is Jordan Belfort, a power hungry stockbroker who is committing fraud. By Taylor drawing parallels to her male character “Tyler Swift” with Belfort it shows how little punishment men receive from their negative actions in the workforce. The music video portrays the privileges men receive based upon their gender. In the movie Leo’s character is never subjected to accusations of being bossy, emotional or hysterical. Whereas a mega pop-star like Swift receives these same sexist insults every day. Swift is bringing awareness to the mistreatment of women in the workforce through her music video. 

Watch Taylor Swift’s official music video for “The Man’ below:

Another memorable quote from Swift’s award speech is: “And now I realize that this is just what happens to a woman in music if she achieves success or power beyond people’s comfort level. I now have come to expect that with good news comes some sort of pushback. But I didn’t know that then.” This continues to reinforce the point that people need to pay attention to the sexism occurring in the music industry through Swift’s personal narrative. She goes on to describe a perfect timeline of the way the media has criticized her throughout her career;

They’re saying I’m dating too much in my 20s? Okay, I’ll stop, I’ll just be single. For years. Now they’re saying my album Red is filled with too many breakup songs? Okay, okay, I’ll make one about moving to New York and deciding that really my life is more fun with just my friends. Oh, they’re saying my music is changing too much for me to stay in country music? All right. Okay, here’s an entire genre shift and a pop album called 1989.”

Swift’s ability to convey through her music and social platform these struggles women deal with everyday has caused immense progress in the feminist movement. Taylor Swift and her song The Man have helped women feel seen and heard.

If you’d like to learn more about sexism in the workforce or professional industries here are some helpful resources: