The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Two weeks after the re-release of her album Red, Taylor Swift is continuing to experience the public backlash she received for the majority of her 15-year career. Instead of focusing on her incredible lyrics or the effort it took to re-record an entire album, the question pervading social media was, “Well, who is it about?”
Swift is known for writing songs about her past relationships, and although she has never once confirmed who certain songs are about, her fanbase took to looking for clues in her lyrics. Red is presumed to be about actor Jake Gyllenhaal, who dated Swift in 2010 for a few months.
Red expresses many complex emotions: yearning, heartbreak, disappointment, infatuation and devotion. It tells the story of a young girl who fell for someone who didn’t love her as much as she thought. It’s been the soundtrack to my life, as well as the lives of many other Swifties, for almost a decade. While I, as a fan, sympathize with Swift’s experiences and praise her ability to capture feelings I’m unable to articulate, the general public paints Swift as an attacker who is determined to destroy her past lovers.
When Swift writes about her relationships, people perceive her to be obsessive, crazy and unable to move on. But, when other male artists like Shawn Mendes, Justin Bieber, or Harry Styles write about their love lives, nobody criticizes them. We sing along and praise them for their vulnerability. Sometimes, we even get upset at the women they’ve supposedly written about in their songs.
In my opinion, this is not an isolated issue that only affects Swift. Her experiences are a larger reflection of the misogyny that is embedded within our society. Before the rise of feminism, women were seen as inferior beings who didn’t deserve the same rights as men. Now that we are considered equals, we are still expected to discard the so-called “inferior” aspects of our femininity. We are criticized for, like Swift, having profound emotions and then choosing to express them.
So, no, Taylor Swift is not obsessed with her ex-boyfriends. She isn’t re-releasing her albums to ruin their careers. She is re-recording some of her best work so that she can own the rights to her own music. And that should be what’s celebrated.