Taylor Swift. Country star turned pop star, songwriter and sometimes-actress. We have seen her grow, fall and pick up the pieces to start once again with what once hurt her. Her music focuses on her own experiences and has gotten an aim for a younger female demographic at the beginning of her career but as her evolution took place, self-empowerment, heartbreak and youth were the main turn that brought in more people. Like many others, Taylor has fallen victim to the industry and online attacks as well which she ventures into in her Miss Americana documentary.
Even with that going on, she always stayed true to herself and kept a close connection to her fans, often having closer interactions than many other artists as she used social media to seek out those people.
Struggling in a misogynistic industry
Ever since she took a step into the spotlight from the change of country to pop music, Taylor’s private life was put on blast. Her dating life, how people were trying to figure out which song belonged to which ex whilst painting the picture of her being the villain for exposing her intimate relations. The media set her out to be hated, an unspoken slut-shaming as well as shutting down her powerful stance. A woman who freely dates whoever she pleases and writes about her experiences should be hated for doing so, cringe, unladylike, bratty. Her love life became the reason for many attacks on her character on and offline.
Whilst some suffered the effects of internalized misogyny which the media forced upon us, how being different from others which leaned more towards traditionally feminine things, music, artists, it seemed as basic. And how being the cool person by hating such people and things would make the male gaze interested in us. And Taylor was the victim of this transition.
In an interview with Ellen Degeneres, we see her clear discomfort at the hostess’ questions and rude remarks towards the forcefulness of her tone. Yet, the audience cheered for this behavior to keep on going, putting Taylor on the spot but she didn’t give in. A different view of the situation is, whilst her entire romantic life is out there for everyone to see, Taylor has respect for her privacy and others’, not making any comments on who the song is about or speaking up about her relationships, creating this contrasts between what the public painted her as and what she really was and still is like.
The year is 2009 and the VMA’s are on. Taylor Swift wins the Best Female Music Video award with You Belong with Me and something happens mid her speech.
Kanye steps in, interrupting her and begins a years-long feud between the two, humiliating her in front of an international audience, diminishing her accomplishment by making a remark which could be taken as if she wasn’t worthy enough of such an award.
Her girlfriends’ squad is another of the issues she has had to deal with when it comes to the public, putting up women against women in a fight for who stays on top or in this case if they are worthy of being part of the squad. While others focus on the non-existing subliminal message that Taylor was portraying, such as Demi Lovato wrongfully calling her out on a 2016 interview for showing the public a false portrayal of a regular body, diving into body shaming Taylor’s squad.
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West took a jab at her, almost ending her career as Kim released a snippet of their phone conversation where Taylor seemingly agrees to the use of her name in Kanye’s song Famous and using her image on the music video. And Taylor was once again, hated by the public, called a liar and later on a snake which started the meme of filling her social media with the snake emoji. After four years of harassment to her family, herself and her fans, the truth finally came out, showing her innocence and how the narrative has always been set to make her fail.
Still, she never let this situation defeat her, rather she turned things around by using this as a Segway towards speaking up about Bullying and not letting others take credit for your achievements as well as her new Reputation (2017) era which focuses on not caring what the public says and changing the true narrative to make her look like the villain.
And now, in the present day (2021) she is still fighting to keep her spot within the industry as she rerecords her entire discography to be the true owner of the rights for them (Taylor’s version) as her old record label was sold in 2018 to Scooter Braun, giving him the right for all of her songs as well as the licensing fees.
Now having released Red (Taylor’s Version) she is one step further towards taking back what’s rightfully hers.
Empowering the masses
It hasn’t been an easy road for Taylor Swift, the harassment, hatred and narratives made around her have pathed the way for her fall but from her true nature and actions, she has been able to have a never-ending growth. Standing up for those who are under attack and calling out injustice when it comes to women in the industry as well as how there remain outdated misogynistic beliefs within the industry as well as the imbalance when it comes to seeing men and women, always setting up higher expectations for women, ready to make them fall if they don’t fall within some unspoken guidelines which do not apply to men.
Her voice has always focused on self-empowerment, staying true to herself no matter what comes her way. Showing how it is not wrong to fantasies and speak about love and personal truth. Never putting women against women but rather, be one to help others alike as we’ve seen with Nicki Minaj’s super bass how Taylor tweeted about this and helped Nicki aim towards a much larger audience.
There still remain issues within victim-blaming when it comes to women and of course, women in the industry, how we have put them up against one another rather than support each individually, we have made false accusations and wrong judgements towards them, and not only these public figures but as we progress as a society and learn from mistakes which we made altogether in the past, we have been able to take a step forward and as starting to support what Taylor Swift stands for might not seem like a big step as many are on her side of the narrative, a few years ago, this wouldn’t have been the popular vote.