Women are not “Out Of The Woods” with internalized misogyny

Casey Braff

At 11-years-old during the peak of my Taylor Swift obsession, I went to her 1989 World Tour. A few years later, I entered middle school, where most people disliked Swift and bought into the narrative that her music was “girly.” When she released her albums “reputation” and “Lover,” I didn’t listen to a single song despite once being an avid Swift fan. But when “folklore” came out last summer, I decided to give it a listen and found the album phenomenal. 

I decided to listen to the albums I had missed. I became obsessed with her music; I know the meaning behind every hidden message in her albums and keep rankings of all her songs in my Notes app. I finally realized it was my own internalized misogyny, not a lack of talent from Swift, that made me dislike her music during middle school.

My experience was not unique; junior Claire McKechnie, a Swift fan since kindergarten, went through the same thing.

“When I got to middle school, I developed a really odd and, in some ways, forced perception of Taylor Swift. A lot of people around me stopped listening to her music and criticized her songs and success by saying, ‘Taylor Swift is only what girls listened to,’” McKechnie said. “That sexist mindset that everyone else had caused me to discontinue my obsession with her music. I now realize that none of that would’ve happened to a male artist. There would never be a male artist in a position where people didn’t listen to him because he was a man.” 

Some believe that Kanye West “made Swift famous” after he infamously upstaged her at the 2009 Video Music Awards, claiming Beyoncé should have won the award Swift just received. In 2016, after Swift and West had made amends, he called her and asked to use the line “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why? I made that b***h famous” in a song he was writing. Swift denied him permission to call her “that b***h”, but Kim Kardashian, West’s wife, released doctored footage making it seem like she did give him permission, leading to mainstream media turning against her.

Illustration by Kalyn Dawes

On The View, female talk show hosts said she was just trying to play the victim to gain support. Headlines read “Taylor Swift Isn’t Like Other Celebrities, She’s Worse” (Vice) and “How Taylor Swift Played The Victim For A Decade And Made Her Entire Career” (Buzzfeed).

 The women publicly saying nasty things about Swift, such as the writer of the Buzzfeed article, just shows how deeply ingrained misogyny is in our society, as women bring each other down for no reason. As Swift once said, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” 

Regardless, Swift is an incredibly successful and talented artist. Having sold over 200 million records, Swift is the 14th most streamed artist on Spotify. On March 14th, she won Album of the Year at the Grammys for “folklore,” making history as the first woman to win in that category three times.

Netflix is responsible for the most recent incident of sexism towards Swift. On their show “Ginny and Georgia,” the main character made a sexist joke, saying, “You go through men faster than Taylor Swift.” This showcases a repeated pattern of unwarranted sexism from the media: using Swift’s love life as a punchline.

Swift then tweeted, “Hey Ginny & Georgia, 2010 called, and it wants its lazy, deeply sexist joke back. How about we stop degrading hard-working women by defining this horse s**t as FuNnY…Happy Women’s History Month, I guess.”

Some believe that Swift warrants these criticisms and comments about her dating life because she writes songs about love. As a celebrity who writes most of her songs about breakups and relationships, criticism is inevitable. Male artists, however, receive minimal backlash for the same type of music, highlighting the misogyny Swift encounters. Shawn Mendes, Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber have not been criticized because they wrote about love or dated many women. Swift said in an 2015 interview with Maxim, “A man writing about his feelings from a vulnerable place is brave; a woman writing about her feelings from a vulnerable place is oversharing or whining. Misogyny is ingrained in people from the time they are born.” 

Many young girls, including myself, have gone through the experience of not liking pink or not wanting to be girly because of internalized misogyny. No matter your gender identity, if you don’t like Taylor Swift, ask yourself why. Is it because she makes bad music or because of your perception of her? 

Take it from Taylor, as she sings in “The Man:” “I’m so sick of running as fast 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.”