Taylor Swift’s new album, 1989, has just been released. This means you can now start placing bets as to how many news outlets will post articles guessing which ex each song is about. I could write an entire article just about the intrusiveness of the media and how we seem to think celebrities have forfeited any right to privacy. But today, I’m writing about how the media places Swift and her songwriting abilities under scrutiny because she’s a woman.
In an interview on the Australian radio show Jules Merrick & Sophie, Taylor Swift responded to questions about how she feels when people say she only writes about boyfriends. In the interview (below) she replies:
“Frankly, I think that’s a very sexist angle to take. No one says that about Ed Sheeran. No one says that about Bruno Mars. They're all writing songs about their exes, their current girlfriends, their love life and no one raises a red flag there.”
And she’s absolutely right.
When Ed Sheeran sings about his ex-girlfriend, he's expressing himself by writing about his life. But when Taylor Swift does the same, it’s shallow and men shouldn’t date her because she’s just going to write a song about him. Swift writing honestly about her love life somehow makes her a villain, the crazy ex who men fear. Or, as she puts it herself in her recent single, “Shake it Off”: “I go on too many dates/But I can't make 'em stay/At least that's what people say.”
The general consensus entertainment “news” sites is that Taylor Swift has dated 13 guys in the last six years. Note the word “dated” here, because “dating” in TMZ-speak could mean anything from “one dance together at a nightclub” to “serious relationship.” Okay, 13 guys, six years….that’s about two romantic encounters a year. How is that a lot? And yet, magazines have labeled her a serial dater. Headlines say she needs to work on her love life and devote entire photo galleries to her dating history. (Galleries I had to click through for this article, a half hour of my life I’m never getting back.) Comedy Central recently tweeted “Taylor Swift's new album is called 1989, which is the number of breakups she's had.” While I do think this ridicule is partly due to the fame of both Swift and the men she dates, a larger factor is probably sexism. A man who dates many women is a stud. But a woman who dates a lot is a slut.
Taylor Swift has also said in a recent Rolling Stone interview that she hasn’t been on a date in 18 months. She’s decided to avoid the media horror that comes along with being seen with a guy in public. Despite not having been on a date in over a year, she’s managed to write 13 songs for 1989. . .so maybe she doesn’t only write about exes.
But so what if she does? So what if she only writes love songs and dates every man in Hollywood? Taylor Swift is a victim of the double standards of society. If a man wrote only love songs and dated a lot, we wouldn’t say a word. Half the songs on the radio are love songs. It’s a popular theme. Taylor Swift is certainly not the only singer taking inspiration from past relationships.
Of course, the haters gonna hate, but it would be nice to see them hate with a little less sexism. Maybe with more female celebrities like Taylor Swift, Emma Watson, and Beyoncé proudly declaring themselves feminists and fighting back against double standard we could start to see a change in attitude towards women and dating. Until then, my advice is to just shake it off.