How Ed Sheeran Has Created a Career Fighting Gender Stereotypes

Ed Sheeran is not someone who most would classify as being anything besides red-haired and… well, Ed Sheeran. He is not the guy who fits the archetype of the popular male singer both in looks and in the subject manner of his songs. Unlike many other male singers, the women Ed Sheeran sings about aren’t objectified.. They have some sort of connection, and they are almost always going out for food. Never does Sheeran say that he does not care about their personality or solely their looks. To Sheeran,  they are human beings. This does not make him my new “feminist hero,” however; it just makes him a decent and complex human being.

Besides the outward feminist action of wearing an engagement ring, Ed Sheeran signals a shift in feminism in terms of how we look at equality. He not only champions equal rights for women, but he is also a man who  does not conform to society’s ideas of masculinity. While most men rarely talk about their feelings in public, Sheeran unabashedly writes and sings about his innermost feelings to the world, and he does not feel like he is less of a man for doing so. He doesn’t play the nice guy and expect something in return; he is actually a  nice guy who is fine with being a woman’s best friend and nothing else. Even Noel Gallagher, the whiny and ever-constant pessimistic mind behind “Wonderwall” (1995) can’t deny that that Ed Sheeran has a “heart of gold.”

While Ed Sheeran occasionally sings about some rather problematic emotions he has towards his former girlfriends or the new significant others of said girlfriends, he sings his emotions loudly. He doesn’t feel the need to create a narrative of sexual conquest rather than just singing about feeling wronged and broken.

Some may say that Ed Sheeran’s “nice guy act” is a form of toxic masculinity, and that he glorifies the women he sleeps with and feels scorned when they move on. I disagree with that because shaming Ed Sheeran for speaking his truth—a truth that we champion women for doing—is extremely toxic and, to be honest, anti-feminist.

In order to create a truly feminist society, we need to evaluate men and women equally. Ed Sheeran sings about feeling like a beta-male and giving himself fully to the object of his affection. If we want to call him a fraud for being that way—of conning us into believing that he is a decent person—then we have to reevaluate our priorities.

Songs like Sheeran’s “Don’t” (2014) present a woman in a not-so-positive light, but in these songs, he is someone who is going through a classic breakup. In “Don’t,” he and the subject of the song had chemistry, but things didn’t work out for Sheeran. He was cheated on, and he had a right to be angry. The fact of the matter is, Ed Sheeran is a male musician singing about his anger and pain in a way that doesn’t objectify women, and in today’s society, that is impressive. It shouldn’t be, but the bar is pretty low.

As the world slowly waits for self-proclaimed “nice guy” Ed Sheeran to snap, one must look at why people feel this way. There is definitely a double standard towards men like him who are seen as “pure”: People seem to think that they have an ulterior motive. Instead, we must examine Ed Sheeran the same way as we examine women. He is someone who is not afraid of letting his traditionally “feminine” emotions out, and he has had a successful career, so that should be seen as a big milestone for feminism.

Ed Sheeran may not be your classic “hottie”: He is a relatively short British redhead. What is important, though, is that he has created a career based on presenting feelings to the world instead of relying on sex appeal. The success of Ed Sheeran is a sign that feminism is perhaps moving in the right direction.