Taylor Swift: Breakup Artist or a Record Breaker?


Taylor Swift continues to overcome the challenges that women face in the music industry. photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Addison Nutt, Reporter

When you think of the singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Maybe it’s hit songs like “22”, or “You Belong With Me”. But for most people, it was her past relationships and how she “only writes breakup songs”.

Others think of the 2009 MTV Music Video Awards, where singer Kanye West ran up on stage to tell 19-year-old Taylor Swift that she didn’t deserve her award.

 Then following that event, Kanye West continued to vocalize extremely sexual remarks towards Taylor Swift, with lyrics in his song “Famous”, where West made a derogatory comment.

“I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex. Why? I made that *@#!* famous,” West said.

When I first found this out I was extremely confused. Why was it that when people think of Taylor Swift, a multi-millionaire record-breaking hard-working woman, people can only think of the men of her past?

Since the beginning of the music industry, women have been grossly abused, sexualized, underrepresented and stolen from. A survey issued by Be The Change identified that the main challenges for women in the music industry are sexual harassment, followed up by misogyny, male dominance, and women finding it harder to gain recognition than men.

Taylor Swift is a prime example of someone who faced all of these challenges and fought back, not just for herself but for every woman in and outside of the industry.

In 2013, Taylor Swift was taking a picture with David Mueller. In this photo, you can see the exact moment when Mueller put his hand under Swift’s skirt. 

Swift took this incident to the radio where Mueller had worked at the time. Mueller was then fired, causing him to file a defamation lawsuit against Swift. 

Despite there being seven witnesses and a photo of the incident, there were many people that refused to believe her. 

“You can ask me a million questions about it and I’m never going to say anything different,” Swift said.

In the end, Taylor Swift won the case. She then pledged to donate to organizations that help defend sexual assault victims with the hope to help those whose voices need to be heard. 

Exactly a year after Swift had won the case, she performed at a sold-out stadium in Tampa, Florida. This is where she opened up about the case to her fans and sang a song she wrote titled “Clean”. 

Lyrics from the song represented exactly how Swift and thousands of other sexual assault victims handle the process of healing after an assault. 

“Rain came down pouring down when I was drowning. That’s when I could finally breathe. In the morning gone was any trace of you. I think I am finally clean.” 

The criticisms and misogyny did not stop for Swift there. She is still compared to and overshadowed by men constantly. On August 23, 2019, Swift released an album titled “Lover”. On this album is a song titled “The Man”.

In “The Man” Swift gives specific examples of the misogyny that she has faced while being in the music industry and how those situations would’ve gone differently if she were a man.

“They’d say I played the field before I found someone to commit to,” Swift said. “What I was wearing if I was rude could all be separated by my good ideas and power moves. If I was out flashing my dollars I’d be a @#*#! not a baller.” 

In the song, Swift says that if she were a man she would be celebrated for all of the things that she has been ridiculed for.

“I’m so sick of running as fast as I can, wondering if I’d get there quicker if I was a man. And I’m so sick of them coming at me again, ’cause if I was a man then I’d be the man.”

The Man is a perfect example of exactly what it is like to be a woman in the music industry and how impossible it is to do tasks that seem so simple for men like climbing to the top, being rewarded for the number of romantic partners they have, or meeting the beauty standards. 

    “It’s in the music industry and the movie industry,” Meg Zumwalt (‘23) said. “A lot of women worry about not making it in the industry because of their looks, but you don’t hear that with men. As long as guys have the personality, then they can make it big.”  

Though Taylor Swift has had to go through extreme amounts of misogyny and judgment, this is only a fraction of the experience of what it is like for women in the music industry. There is so much below the surface. But Taylor Swift is one of the most powerful resilient women in the industry, she continues to break records and be there for her fans despite the amount sexism she has faced.