It’s no secret that sexism and misogyny run rampant in the media, with a cyclical relationship between content and culture perpetuating harmful stereotypes and standards.
One woman whose public battle with the media has stood out to me is Taylor Swift. From the earliest stages of her career when she wore her hair curly and sang with a twang, she was forced to face interviewers, journalists, and small-minded trolls who demeaned her for everything under the sun. Whether it be the way she looked, her dating habits, or the way she portrayed herself to her audience, everyone had something to say. Most of the comments she received, of course, would never have been uttered if she were a man.
This sparked many chart-topping songs about her experiences, her most recent being “The Man,” which covers the very issue of men’s natural leg up on public image. The use of Taylor’s voice and platform to speak out against this issue has developed beyond that of her music and eventually spread to interviews, awards shows, and documentaries where she has taken control of the narrative and actively called out sexism. She shouldn’t have had to confront this issue– no woman should– but it’s drastically changed the way the general public discusses her and her work forever.
Taylor has become a powerful figure with an extended platform to represent strong women and the ability to support more causes close to her heart. She knows the cameras will be on her, so she says and does things that matter and give back. What is more powerful than squashing unfair biases and standards to use them as stepping stones to success? She’s now celebrated for the very things she always should have been lauded for. Her songs continue to top charts and her short films see tremendous public reception. Her role in public service is applauded. Her relationship with her fans is coveted. The world has finally realized that there’s nothing she can’t do.
It took over a decade of work for the stalemate between Taylor and the media to finally change, and not for lack of effort, sacrifice, and suffering on her part. In my opinion, one of the reasons it evolved was because the media finally agreed to humanize her.
This is the issue everywhere, in any issue involving women. When lawmakers, music executives, journalists, haters, and everyday consumers look down on and limit women’s words or actions, they aren’t allowing them the chance and choice to thrive and be treated as any other human.
Culture may be slowly changing for the better and our position today may be better than that of even 100 years ago, but that doesn’t mean the work is over– far from it, in fact. In the meantime, though, we should celebrate and look to the strong women who are breaking through the barriers the media perpetuates and finding their own way to shine. Taylor Swift may be one of them, but we are everywhere.