Taylor Swift Explains Double Standard in Songwriting Opening Up an Important Conversation
Whether it was her BFF Lena Dunham's influence or someone else's, Taylor Swift's feminist awakening is one of the best things that has happened since the era of 1989's world domination began. I've always had a deep respect for Swift and the way she seamlessly navigates the music industry, making way more decisions herself than a lot of artists do. But if you've been paying any kind of attention to what the media's been saying about her in recent years, she's been constantly torn down for writing songs about love and heartbreak, and that's totally unfair. Taylor Swift has been forced to prove herself over and over again, and it's not because she's a bad artist — in a large part, it's because she's a woman.
The idea of cutting Swift down because she writes love songs has always seemed utterly ridiculous to me. That's mostly what music is, right? More songs are about love than anything else — how wonderful it is when it begins, and how deeply painful it can be when it ends. Taylor Swift did not invent this idea. People have been singing song about broken hearts as long as music and broken hearts have existed, and her male peers aren't questioned in quite the same way she is. Heartbroken girls are labeled as whiny in our society, while heartbroken guys are endearing and lovable. And it sucks.
In a new interview with Time, Swift points out that female artists have to prove themselves way more than men when it comes to their music, and she's exactly right. Swift has a hand in every song she releases — and she wrote her third album, Speak Now, completely on her own — but she still faces the same issues. It's not a new thing for people to question whether or not artists actually write their own music, but Swift is calling attention to the fact that the majority of the artists who are being questioned are female:
We all know it’s a feminist issue. My friend Ed [Sheeran], no one questions whether he writes everything. In the beginning, I liked to think that we were all on the same playing field. And then it became pretty obvious to me that when you have people sort of questioning the validity of a female songwriter, or making it seem like it’s somehow unacceptable to write songs about your real emotions—that it somehow makes you irrational and overemotional—seeing that over the years changed my view. It’s a little discouraging that females have to work so much harder to prove that they do their own things. I see Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea having to prove that they write their own raps or their own lyrics, and it makes me sad, because they shouldn’t have to justify it.
It's true. A rapper named Ransom has claimed he's responsible for writing Minaj's lyrics, despite the fact that Minaj has said countless times that her raps are all written by herself and herself only. And as for Iggy Azalea? Her legitimacy as a rapper has been questioned, too. I can't help but realize that there are way less news stories about accusations that Jay Z might not write his own stuff, too.
Swift is opening up a conversation that we've needed to have for years, and I hope it doesn't end until better equality is found in the music industry for women... and everywhere else, for that matter. In the meantime, my fingers are crossed that other influential artists begin to speak up for each other, and maybe, one day, this won't even be an issue.
Images: Getty Images