The bias towards womxn performers, especially BIPOC womxn, is not a new concept, but one that has seemed more prevalent the last few years. Although womxn are dominating the nominations for musical awards (despite the Grammy’s President previously telling womxn artists they needed to “step up” if they would like more representation at award’s shows), there is still a clear double standard in the way a woman’s success and talent is reported and perceived.
While this sexism faces all womxn in the music industry, one outspoken critic of the biased reporting towards women is Taylor Swift. Since the precipice of her music career, Taylor Swift has been diminished to her physical appearance and her relationships. Her music is branded as radio pop, with little appreciation for her lyricism or talent. The common perception of a “Swiftie”, or Taylor Swift superfan, is often an obsessed teenage girl, further emphasizing the notion that her music lacks depth or cultural relevance. While she may not dive into deeper issues about identification in her music, this is not a complaint as commonly projected onto male singers.
Given her seniority in the current music industry, Swift is aware of the caricature of a “pop drama queen” she has been diminished to. She reflects on this in her album Reputation and her more recent song “The Man”. If the lyrics are not enough to make the listener reflect on the flawed nature of the media and “stan culture”, the more-than-suggestive references in the song’s music video will do the trick.
The scrutiny towards womxn of color or LGBTQIA+ womxn is often even more harsh. Beyonce has often been under unjustified scrutiny for her performances of “Formation”, where (often white) critics have claimed that Beyonce’s condemning of police brutality in the performances are“too political”. Beyonce is an artist who has, and will continue to elevate and uplift Black voices. Calling this “too political” is simply a way to shut down the expression of a subject that may be uncomfortable for listeners to address.
There is no easy fix to this problem plaguing the music industry. This is not to say that personal action steps cannot be taken. Streaming your favorite artist’s music, sharing about their new projects online, and amplifying their music’s messages are all free ways to elevate womxn in the music industry. While a change is hopefully on its way, the most valuable option in the meantime is to support and elevate the voices of all womxn in the music community.