An Overview of the Empowering Ideas in Reputation

In the past, Taylor Swift has been criticized for being a “bad feminist,” but her latest album, reputation, contains many empowering sentiments, and it reflects personal growth. There have been countless claims made against her throughout her career. There is no such thing as a “perfect feminist,” and as a society, we should stop vilifying women for not being perfect.

Additionally, Taylor has continuously demonstrated her openness to growth as her personality and music has evolved over the years. Since the “old Taylor” is dead anyway, I am just going to focus on the present and dig deep into the content of reputation.

To put it simply, Taylor’s new album is unapologetic. She basically declares that she does not care what people think of her, an issue that many women face. In the prologue to reputation, she discusses how her life has been displayed to the public for over a decade, and many people only know the version of her that they see in the media.

In the last line of the prologue, she says, “There will be no further explanation. There will just be reputation.” Taylor has tried to defend herself in the past, but now she states that she will no longer explain herself. This idea rings true with many women who are tired of defending their actions and justifying themselves.

Going through the most empowering songs chronologically, “Endgame,” the second song on the album, is Taylor’s first explicit reference to her bad reputation. A key lyric is “Big reputation, big reputation / Ooh, you and me, we got big reputations, ah / And you heard about me, ooh / I got some big enemies (yah).” Taylor admits she has a big reputation but does not apologize for it. Instead, she accepts it.

In the next song, “I Did Something Bad,” the new badass Taylor really comes out. The most powerful lyrics in this bop are, “If a man talks shit, then I owe him nothing / I don't regret it one bit, 'cause he had it comin',” and, “But if he drops my name, then I owe him nothing / And if he spends my change, then he had it coming.” She discusses the important feminist ideas of not owing anything to men and men getting justice for their actions. Furthermore, she is purely unapologetic for her “bad” actions, which is inspiring.

“Look What You Made Me Do” was the first song released off of reputation, and it kicked off the new era of Taylor Swift. The entire song is full of feminist ideas and lyrics, too many to choose from to specifically evaluate. It signifies the separation of herself from her public persona, and includes the recurring ideas of karma and not caring what others think.

The music video for this single really emphasizes the symbolism of the song, as she includes all of her past selves. She was constantly ridiculed for being fake, crazy, money-driven, a snake,  etc. throughout her career. But as the song highlights, she does not care about those accusations.

“Dress” is Taylor’s most sexual song to date. The most noteworthy lyric is “Only bought this dress so you could take it off.” She abandons the innocence she tried to emulate in the past and asserts herself as a woman. With the new ideas expressed in this song, she serves as a role model for girls in a different way by showing that it is perfectly okay and natural to be comfortable with your sexuality.

“This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” is not only assertive but also touches upon ideas of forgiveness and how they relate to empowerment. In the song, Taylor says, “And here's to you / ‘Cause forgiveness is a nice thing to do / Haha, I can't even say it with a straight face.” She jokingly mentions forgiveness but is not serious. This teaches her listeners that the act of continually forgiving someone can be detrimental to yourself. Forgiveness must be earned and it is important to know when you deserve better. This lesson can help women feel more empowered in life.

In “Call It What You Want” and various other songs on the album, Taylor shares her newfound happiness and love life. This brings up an important, feminist idea. A fitting lyric is “‘You don't need to save me / But would you run away with me?’” Her “baby” does not own her and does not need to be the Prince Charming/Romeo character she referenced in her earlier albums. Instead, he is an equal partner to her. She can be in love but still be a strong woman.

 

There are too many empowering ideas and lessons in reputation to count. The album is simply inspiring. Taylor has grown exponentially stronger as a woman in our society and as a musical artist, and her album motivates women to be stronger too. Her reputation precedes her, but the album proves that she is so much more.

 

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