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Double Standards? Sam Smith, Taylor Swift and Ex-Inspiration

So I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Sam Smith did quite well at the Grammys the other week (where have you been, if not?). When he went up to collect his fourth award of the evening, Record of the Year, he took a moment to thank the man that had broken his heart and inspired his debut album ‘In the Lonely Hour’.

Whilst I am over the moon that Sam can blatantly express his feelings towards a man and be wholeheartedly accepted for it, both here and across the pond, the comparisons that have been circulating between the positive reaction to Sam’s speech and that of Taylor Swift’s speech at the VMAs back in 2013 make me rather uncomfortable.

When accepting the award for Best Female Video for ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’, Taylor made almost the exact same speech as Sam:  ‘I also want to thank the person who inspired this song, because now I’ve got one of these’.

Of course, everyone jumped on this, as she was apparently talking about 1D’s Harry Styles; just take the Daily Mail article about the subject, which opens with the line ‘she can’t help but take digs at her ex Harry Styles at nearly every awards show.’ The Directioners, well-known Swift-haters since the brief relationship between the two pop stars, quickly expressed their opinion, which was to be expected:

But the media also took this angle (not just the Daily Mail) and opinions similar to the comments above were found all over the internet:


The reaction Sam Smith got for thanking the man that inspired his record, however, looked as follows. See if you can spot the difference:

Yep, very little negativity, but overwhelming praise. Basically, Taylor Swift is a whiney bunny boiler who can only write songs about ex-boyfriends, but Sam Smith is an inspirational young man turning his heartbreak into beautiful art. This is just yet another example of double standards the media holds towards men and women within the music industry. There is a definite trend in vilifying women for writing about exes, especially when they’re taking an ‘I don’t need you’ stance, like Taylor very often is with tunes like We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.

And, of course, there is the double standard that says scantily-clad female dancers in videos by male artists (think Blurred Lines) are normal and socially acceptable, but as soon as a female artist gets on stage or dances in a video wearing a sexy outfit (like, say, Miley Cyrus or Beyonce), she is inappropriate and labelled a slut. I think the fact that ‘Blurred Lines’ was the biggest hit of summer 2013, and the parody ‘Defined Lines’ that depicted topless, submissive men being dominated by women was removed from Youtube sums this attitude up pretty perfectly.


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Edited by Amelia Bauer-Madden

Current third year English and History student, with a love of music, and lots of opinions. 
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