Closing The Gap

Taylor Swift says this was the moment she noticed sexism in the music industry

Singer/songwriter Taylor Swift attends the 2018 Billboard Music Awards 2018 at the MGM Grand Resort International on May 20, 2018, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Lisa O'Connor | AFP | Getty Images

Taylor Swift is one of the most successful artists in the world, but even she admits she's still had to deal with sexism in the music industry.

In an interview for Vogue's September issue, Swift said she didn't notice unfair treatment when she started her music career as a teenager.

"I would hear people talk about sexism in the music industry, and I'd be like, I don't see it. I don't understand," she said. "Then I realized that was because I was a kid. Men in the industry saw me as a kid. I was a lanky, scrawny, overexcited young girl who reminded them more of their little niece or their daughter than a successful woman in business or a colleague."

Swift released her self-titled debut album in 2006 when she was just 16 years old. But she noticed changing attitudes toward her success as she got older.

"It's fine to infantilize a girl's success and say, How cute that she's having some hit songs," Swift said. "But the second it becomes formidable? As soon as I started playing stadiums — when I started to look like a woman — that wasn't as cool anymore." Her international Reputation Stadium Tour in 2018 sold 2.8 million tickets and earned $345.7 million, according to Pollstar.

Research backs up Swift's perceptions of successful women, and it's not just limited to celebrities. A 2015 study found that men in the workplace feel more threatened by female managers than male bosses, and, in turn, act more aggressively. Nearly one third of women reported that they needed to provide more evidence of their competence compared to others, while just 16% of felt the same way, according to LeanIn.Org and McKinsey's 2018 Women in Workplace survey. Twenty percent of women also said they've been mistaken for someone at a lower professional level, compared to 10% of men.

Swift also called out the double standards for men and women writing songs about love. She says she's been judged for using her relationships — often with other celebrities — as inspiration for her songs. Swift countered these criticisms, saying, "Find me a time when they say that about a male artist: Be careful, girl, he'll use his experience with you to get —God forbid — inspiration to make art."

Swift's seventh studio album "Lover" will be released on August 23. A new song, "The Man," touches on similar feminist themes. In the song, Swift imagines how society would view her if she were a man. She revealed a preview of the lyrics in the Vogue interview: "I'd be a fearless leader. I'd be an alpha type. When everyone believes ya: What's that like?"

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