The Success and Sexism Surrounding Taylor Swift

After winning Album of the Year for the third time at the 2021 Grammys, Taylor Swift has achieved a new feat never before attained by a woman, and only seen by the likes of Stevie Wonder and Frank Sinatra. The quarantine-era album “folklore” not only earned her another Album of the Year, but also made her the first artist to simultaneously hold No. 1 on Billboard 200 and Hot 100, set the record for most streams by a female artist in a single day on Spotify, and had the most successful debut of any album in 2020. 

While these accomplishments do not even begin to summarize the legacy of her career, Swift’s two 2020 albums, the latter being “evermore,” signal a change as an artist as she transitions into an alternative folk genre while still paying homage to her country pop roots in some songs. Whatever the genre may be, two things remain the same in her career: the undeniable success and the blatant sexism. 

Swift recently made comments of her continuous exposure to sexism, specifically when it comes to criticism about the content of her songs. This came to light when she tweeted a response to a quote from the new Netflix show “Ginny and Georgia,” which utilized the popstar as the punchline of a joke, saying “You go through men faster than Taylor Swift.” This comment was met with a response from Swift herself via Twitter as she pointed out that the joke is sexist and overplayed. This is a residual effect of over a decade of reporters asking her whether she will be taking a man home after an award show, critics asserting her only claim to fame is her failed love life, and, of course, the infamous moment at the VMAs with Kanye West.

There has also been speculation that Swift actually never wrote any of her own music at all in the midst of her legal battles with Scooter Braun and Big Machine Label over custody of her music. The passing along of her label without consultation of Swift has become a point of contention in the music industry and fans alike, but she points out the idea that her music was not her own product is something that would never be asked of a man. Placing her talent in position to be questioned if legitimate at all is a byproduct of the idea that a female songwriter not only needs help from professional male musicians, but simply cannot contribute anything at all.

As Swift goes on to re-record her past albums so she owns her work, there is no doubt that success will continue to follow her. Unfortunately, being a successful woman right now means being a woman facing sexism.