She recently opened up about the "slut-shaming" she experienced early in her career.

By Allie Strickler
November 04, 2019

ICYMI, one of Taylor Swift's newest songs, "The Man", explores sexist double standards in the entertainment industry. In the lyrics, Swift considers whether she'd be a "fearless leader" or the "alpha type" if she were a man instead of a woman. Now, in a new interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music's Beats 1 radio show, Swift opened up about the sexism she endured early on in her career that inspired those lyrics: "When I was 23, people were making slideshows of my dating life and putting people in there that I'd sat next to at a party once and deciding that my songwriting was a trick rather than a skill and a craft," she told Lowe.

Once people deemed Swift a "serial dater," she said she felt like all of her accomplishments were reduced to a label. Meanwhile, the men she dated (even the famous ones) escaped such judgment—reflecting a double standard that many women outside the music industry can relate to as well. (Related: Taylor Swift Swears By This Supplement for Stress and Anxiety Relief)

Take Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas, for example: After winning two gold medals at the 2012 Olympics, people on social media criticized Douglas' hair for looking "unkempt" compared to other gymnasts. Four years later during the 2016 Olympics in Rio, people were still tweeting about Douglas' hair, rather than her third gold medal, while media coverage of Team USA's male gymnasts certainly didn't include any details about the athletes' aesthetic appearances.

Then there's the issue of equal pay that the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (USWNT) has been actively battling for years. Despite bringing in almost $20 million more revenue than the U.S. men's team in 2015, the USWNT members were paid only about a quarter of their male teammates' salaries that same year, according to a complaint filed at the time by the women's team to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency that enforces laws against workplace discrimination, per ESPN. The USWNT has since filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF), the sport's official governing body, and the lawsuit is still ongoing.

Of course, this wage gap permeates throughout countless industries. On average, working women in the U.S. earn $10,500 less per year than men, meaning women make only about 80 percent of men's earnings, according to the most recent Congressional report on the gender wage gap.

And as Swift pointed out in her Beats 1 interview, when women do fight for what they deserve or call out trivial, demeaning comments about their appearance (comments that would typically never be made about a man), people often judge them for speaking out at all. "I don't think people understand how easy it is to infer that someone who's a female artist or female in our industry is somehow doing something wrong by wanting love, wanting money, wanting success," she told Lowe. "Women are not allowed to want those things the same way men are allowed to want them." (Related: When Sexism Is Masked By a Compliment)

Systemic issues of sexism in the entertainment industry, sports, board rooms, and beyond won't be resolved overnight. But as Swift told Lowe, there are people working to dismantle internalized misogyny every day—like Jameela Jamil, for instance. "We're looking at the way we critique women's bodies," Swift told Lowe. "We have amazing women out there like Jameela Jamil saying, 'I'm not trying to spread body positivity. I'm trying to spread body neutrality where I can sit here and not think about what my body is looking like.'" (Related: This Woman Perfectly Explained the Difference Between Self-Love and Body Positivity)

As for sexism in the music industry, Swift shared her advice for up-and-coming female artists—advice that everyone can learn from: Never stop creating, even in the face of misogyny. "Do not let anything stop you from making art," she told Lowe. "Do not get so caught up in this that it stops you from making art, [even] if you need to make art about this. But never stop making things."

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