Taylor Swift’s The Man is gifting a new generation of feminists with the words to articulate the everyday sexism they are up against, and her new music video reflects that.
Taylor Swift’s The Man taps into the ongoing conversations of the #metoo era. The defiant feminist anthem calls out male privilege, blasts the patriarchy and exposes the double standards that still exist for women.
Admit it, you’ve daydreamed about what it would be like to be privy to the advantages many men get: more pay! More confidence! More promiscuity! Without the judgment! Ah, dare to dream, shall we?
Swift, on the other hand, no longer has to imagine such a utopia; in her new music video, released on YouTube, the singer transforms into a man. She enters an alternate reality where she is given the corner office, ‘manspreads’ all over the metro and is praised as the ‘world’s greatest dad’ for merely showing up.
Swift, the male version, is rude with reckless abandon and sleeps with whoever she wants, when she wants – without consequence, only lots and lots of high fives.
In true Swift-style, the four minute-long clip is peppered with Easter eggs: from the subtle nod to Leonardo DiCaprio’s model-laden yacht on the French Riviera to an on-court meltdown after losing a tennis match, which is undoubtedly a sly dig at the sexist reaction to Serena Williams throwing her racket at the US Open in 2018.
There is a graffiti wall with a sign banning scooters, a likely reference to her feud with her ex-label executive Scooter Braun, who she famously called out on Twitter for holding her music hostage and preventing her from performing her own songs at the American Music Awards. Braun denied her allegations.
In the documentary, Swift revealed she’d felt gagged for most of her career, from being a young country star and constantly being told to be a “nice girl” who “doesn’t force opinions on people” to feeling pressured to pursue perfection to appease society.
But as the artist is making crystal clear in her recent work, that has all changed now – it’s no more Mr Nice Swift – and her resistance has come at the perfect time.
Given the current climate, in which women’s rights are being reeled back to has-to-be-seen-to-be-believed levels, and rapists being convicted is still a surprise to most of us, it’s not hard to see why The Man has piqued our interest so much.
In doing so, Swift – as she has a knack of doing – has armed a new generation of feminists with the words they need to articulate the gender dynamics they are up against every day. By exposing these double-standards, she’s created a rallying cry.