A Woman's World in Music

Feminism

By definition, feminism is the belief in full social, economic and political equality for women. With that being said, feminism isn't meant to apply only to the male gaze upon women.

Feminism is also meant for women, amongst women. Women tend to be each other’s greatest enemies, whether it be on the basis of race, sex appeal, classism or even lifestyle. Uplifting women seems like an easy enough task to complete, but society falls short — by a lot. In today’s world, artists such as Ariana Grande, Megan Thee Stallion and Taylor Swift struggle to move past the constant critiques on their outfits, bodies, love life, race, sex appeal, lyrics and everything else from head to toe.

Unapologetic and fierce: Megan Thee Stallion & Cardi B

Megan Thee Stallion told the New York Times, “The issue is even more intense for Black women, who struggle against stereotypes and are seen as angry or threatening when we try to stand up for ourselves and our sisters. There’s not much room for passionate advocacy if you are a Black woman.” She was referencing her recent encounter with violence from musician Tory Lanez, who reportedly fired a gunshot that injured Megan's foot. After the violent event, Megan broke her silence to explain her point of view over an Instagram Live, but she was immediately painted as the stereotypical “angry Black woman.”

While all evidence, personal testimonials and direct confrontation were provided by Megan, the public, including both men and women, denied such an event ever happened, some even blaming Megan for her injury.

After the incident with Lanez, Megan recovered from her injury and has since had Billboard hits, such as the confidently lewd “WAP” featuring Cardi B. Beforehand, she even had the TikTok hit “Savage” remixed with Beyonce! Her musical talent and genuine character shine through all her haters as she continue to be herself through being a powerful example of a true feminist.

However, her hit song “WAP” featuring Cardi B was not an easy crowd-pleaser. Megan and Cardi B received an immense amount of backlash ranging from news media, priests, politicians and conservatives.

James P. Bradley, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate in California's 33rd District, criticized the song for its lyricism. He tweeted that Megan and Cardi B were examples of what happens when “children are raised without God and without a strong father figure.” He elaborated, “I feel sorry for future girls if this is their role model!”

Let's get one thing straight: “WAP” shook the table because nobody with big enough platforms like Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B had released a viral song so sexually liberating in the 21st century during a global pandemic. The song is not only catchy but has started viral dance trends and featured two major stars, and it’s different. Its lyrics are not only unapologetic and sexually liberating but are sung by two women of racially diverse backgrounds in the rap game.

Amongst the storm, the song still hailed golden reviews calling it “sex-positive triumph” while applauding both women for being “unruffled by respectability politics and slut-shaming.”

Both Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B have been mauled by critics since the beginning of their careers for their bodies, lyrics and dance moves. These types of critics stem from sexism and misogyny, and they do not support the ideals of feminism. Women should be able to wear whatever they want, express themselves sexually however they want and sing about whatever they want, however, they want.

Passionate lyrical geniuses: Ariana Grande & Taylor Swift

Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift have kept the music industry on its toes for nearly a decade. However, being in the limelight isn't always breaking the charts and earning platinum records. Both women have faced body shaming on major platforms, from not only their audiences but from even other major celebrities.

In 2015, Wendy Williams, host of The Wendy Williams Show, commented on Ariana Grande's appearance by saying, “She's 21. She'll forever look 12, and I don't mean that in a good way. It's nice to look younger than you are, but when you look too young and then you're short — she's only, like, 4'11". I don't look at her as, like, a woman.”

Taylor Swift addressed the various derogatory comments made about her in her documentary “Miss Americana.” Amongst many of the comments, the main topic seemed to be her weight and appearance. Some said, “She’s too skinny. It bothers me.” Swift remarked on how complex her journey in the spotlight with her weight and food has been over the years, ranging from the effects of magazine covers, fittings, paparazzi photos, tour stamina and tackling an eating disorder. She describes her complex relationship with body image as a “real shame/hate spiral.”

If that’s not enough turmoil, both pop stars face incredible backlash for something as personal as their love lives. Both women tend to be analyzed under a microscope, with ongoing counts of the number of public figures they’ve dated or have been engaged to for sexist commentary. Fellow women even slut-shame them for their public display of relationships. More intensely, some blame the deaths, failures and hardships of the artists' exes on them.

Women are resilient. Grande and Swift have both echoed their knowledge of the public's view of their romantic life and its opinions of their past partners. Both singers have responded by turning the critiques into hit songs. Swift's “Shake It Off” and Grande’s “Thank You, Next” echo the message of being comfortable, unapologetic and resilient to not only the heartbreak but to the critics.

Women in the music industry don’t have it easy. They’re put under a 24/7 microscope and are treated with double standards. They’re gaslit, criticized, racially profiled and body shamed. Even women tend to go up against them. These stars have the world in its entirety to tackle. Their resilience and basking in their truth are examples of feminism at its finest. What's left is the rest of the world to play its part in stopping the criticizing of women for being themselves, and to instead uplift them, no matter personal preferences.