While Taylor Swift’s song “The Man” does not have any direct lineage to other songs, there are many songs that cover themes of sexism and the different treatment between men and women. One lineage I chose to explore was Dolly Parton’s “Working Girl” → Cher’s “Working Girl” → Beyonce’s “If I were a Boy” → and finally Taylor Swift’s “The Man”. 

Dolly Parton’s song “Working Girl” was released in 1980 off of her album “9 to 5 and Other Odd Jobs”. This country song embodies the sexism women experience in job industries just like Swift’s song. Parton’s song states:

Some find her to aggressive, she don’t know how to stop

Cause she’s the kind that don’t look down until it’s from the top

She’s elegant and stylish, French perfume and a fur

Designer clothes by Halston and Diane Von Furstenburg

And she’s a working girl

Parton’s verse here is very similar to this verse in “The Man”:

They’d say I hustled

Put in the work

They wouldn’t shake their heads and question how much of this I deserve

What I was wearing

If I was rude

Could all be separated from my good ideas and power moves?

Both artist’s are expressing what it is like to be over sexualized in the workplace. They are able to boldly express what it is like for women who have to deal with this overt sexism. Parton’s song is similar to Cher’s song which both share the title “Working Girl”. Cher’s pop song came out in 1987, seven years after the debut of Parton’s album mentioned previously. It also talks about being sexualized in the job industry and not being taken seriously due to your gender. In the 1980’s women really started entering the modern workforce and for Parton and Cher to be singing about the same issues Swift is singing about not only shows that there has not been much progress with the perception of women in the workforce, but also that Swift would not have this large of a platform to be able to release such a song as “The Man”.

The next song I chose in the lineage is Beyonce’s “If I were a Boy” which was released in 2008 and is categorized as a R&B/Soul, Dance/Electronic, and Pop song. While Beyonce’s song does not deal with sexism in the workforce it does try to switch perceptions between men and women. Swift stated that “The Man” “plays with perception. If I had made all the same choices, all the same mistakes, all the same accomplishments, how would it read?” (Swift, Genius). Beyonce is doing an extremely similar concept where she talks about how different and easier day to day life would be if she was a man. 

All four of these songs have a common theme of wanting to bring awareness to how sexism and misogyny affect women’s day to day life. The struggles they have to overcome that men may not think about since they do not have to go through the same issues. If it wasn’t for Parton, Cher, and Beyonce’s songs there may not have been such a stellar response to Swift’s feminist power anthem, “The Man”.