Eva Timoney / Gavel Media

Old Music Friday: Taylor Swift's Feminist Anthem, 'The Man'

On Aug. 23, 2019, Taylor Swift released her long-awaited and highly anticipated album, Lover,after taking a two-year hiatus. Swift teased her new album with a social media campaign consisting of a series of photos with “Easter eggs” hidden throughout to represent clues about the album.

Many self-proclaimed “Swifties” have witnessed first-hand her transition from a shy and quiet country artist to a huge global pop sensation. Since the release of her first album in 2006, Swift has amassed a huge fan base perceived to consist of mainly teenage girls. The Swiftie community is incredibly loyal and passionate, having grown up with her over the last thirteen years. This fame has provided Swift with a huge platform that she uses to instill kindness and love in the young, impressionable teens that she so greatly influences.

Over thirteen years and 6 (now 7) albums, critics have one consistent critique: her work is whiny and too “breakup-centric." She has faced incredible backlash for her reputation, work ethic, and many other aspects of her life. Through all this, she persists. Despite the negativity, Swift has grown to become an incredible advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and an overall facilitator of kindness and acceptance. Many of the new tracks on Lover are about romantic interests, but tracks such as “ME!," “You Need To Calm Down,” and “The Man” are rooted in stronger emotional and political forces. These tracks promote kindness, acceptance, proper LGBTQ+ treatment, and feminism.

Upon first listen, Swift’s song “The Man” is an upbeat and fun track to sing in the car with your friends. However, upon closer inspection and listening, “The Man” reveals itself as a tribute to feminism that condemns many of the double standards facing women. Swift told Vogue she often wondered how she would be written and talked about if she were a man. She tells listeners the answer to this in the song’s first verse:  “I would be complex, I would be cool/ They’d say I played the field before I found someone to commit to/ and that would be okay for me to do.” If you’re a Swiftie yourself, then you know that Taylor has often been looked down upon for “having a new boyfriend every week” or being “boy-crazed.” This first verse directly combats the fact that women who play the field are seen as promiscuous or easy, yet the same behavior in men is accepted and even praised.

Many of the lyrics ring true for her female-dominated fan base. The chorus of the song comes out strong as Swift sings “I’m so sick of running as fast as I can/ Wondering if I’d get there quicker if I was a man/ I’m so sick of them coming at me again/ ‘Cause if I was a man, then I’d be the man.” Female listeners can surely relate to this on a deep level, feeling constantly overwhelmed by societal demands and pressures of what it means to be a “woman.”

The intense environment of the red-carpet lifestyle leaves many female artists feeling judged, degraded, and unsettled. Many of Swift’s main critiques have often questioned if she deserves all this fame and praise. Swift tackles this notion in the second verse of the song: “They’d say I hustled, put in the work/ They wouldn’t shake their heads and question how much of this I deserve/ What I was wearing, if I was rude/ Could all be separated from my good ideas and power moves.” The lyrics call out the double standard that women are “rude” when being direct, while men are conversely viewed as “powerful” and “confident.”

Making a social statement as an artist is a risky business because you can’t please everyone. However, in the long run, it is worth it and many Swifties remain loyal. While Taylor will always remain the OG of breakup songs, it is refreshing to see her and other artists using their platform to promote meaningful topics.

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