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Exposing Gender Double Standards: TikTok’s “The Man” Trend

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

TikTok has once again created a clever trend out of a brilliant Taylor Swift song! This time, though, instead of pining over unrequited love in the shower or showing off green eyes, this trend elicits the help of Swift’s feminist anthem, “The Man,” to point out glaring misogynistic disparities in society. 

As International Women’s Day recently passed, I feel that it’s important to pay homage to Swift (one of my favorite women) while attracting attention to pressing female issues — ones that should have been resolved decades (if not centuries) ago.

Swift has experienced her fair share of misogynistic double standards in her career and personal life. She addresses this through her song "The Man," which is featured on her 2019 album Lover. The song’s 2020 music video, featuring Swift in a full male-makeover transformation, helped the song gain even more traction. 

The trend incorporates Swift’s versatile and relatable lyrics, “I’m so sick of running as fast as I can, wondering if I’d get there quicker if I was a man.” The song’s timeless message found itself at the center of the feminist TikTok trend, spearheaded by users like @linds.shelton. Other women were quick to add their own personal and observed experiences to the discourse.

First, user @annalie__ retells a recent conversation with a man about one of her favorite subjects: Spider-Man. Her experience echoes those of many other young women whose hobbies and passions are invalidated by men who cannot fathom women having interests outside of their misogynist gendered expectations. Men, like the one she mentions, demean women by interrogating them when they like something considered masculine. This patronization trivializes female interests by expecting them to prove themselves over and over again.

The next double standard is pointed out by user @dem._.ho in her video about fans. She points out the stark comparison in perceptions of sports fans and young “fangirls.” Sports fans—grown men who dress up, act barbaric, and cause fights—are perceived as “passionate” or “excited.” In contrast, young female fans who attend concerts are labeled “obsessive” or “crazy.” The praise of these men’s behavior and belittlement of women’s excitement demonstrates yet again how men try to invalidate young women’s hobbies and passions.

Just like sports fans, misogyny seeps into the sports themselves. User @linds.shelton calls out a clearly visible difference: sports uniforms. The photos speak for themselves: the baggy shorts and tank tops of men’s track and field uniforms compared to the sports bras and spandex of women’s track and field uniforms visibly communicate the male gaze's pervasive influence.

Last but not least, user @linds.shelton again uses “The Man” to compare two celebrities’ separate public mental breakdowns: Britney Spears and Kanye West. Spears, who was dealing with extreme struggles, was bombarded with hatred, deemed psychotic, and placed into conservatorship. On the other hand, West’s recent breakdown, which has threatened the privacy and safety of his ex-wife and children, has been deemed a “tragedy,” shedding light on support for those struggling with mental health issues. Although he absolutely does deserve support, his outbursts would not be tolerated and coddled in the same way if he were a woman. 

Though it may take more than Taylor Swift and TikTok for these biases to be truly acknowledged, we must keep fueling the fire so that young women can enjoy themselves without chastisement, play sports without sexualization, and simply exist without others’ unwarranted speculation. 

Remember that you don’t need to be a man to be “The Man” — and remember to stream Swift’s music (Taylor’s Version, of course).

Eva is a second-year Communication major at UC Santa Barbara, where she writes about anything and everything she feels is exciting, fascinating, or entertaining. When she isn't writing for Her Campus, she is usually overthinking, working on one of her projects, or listening to Taylor Swift.
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