Haters: the Sticks & Stones, but We Rise Above

“Haters gonna hate, hate, hate,” but Taylor Swift is making headway for women of today’s generation. When Swift’s debut album released in 2006, she caught the attention of many young girls and women alike, who have become loyal followers. As Swift has grown as a woman and artist, there have been disputes about whether or not the pop-singer is endorsing women as weak, heart-broken cry babies, or revealing the strong side of women, standing up for the voices we all have inside of us—otherwise known to society as the vindictive, revenge-seeking ex (wait, what?). Even worse, with each new song describing her feelings, critics claim she’s scandalous as she dates yet another new man, as if women aren’t allowed to kiss frogs before they find their prince.

Curious that no matter the angle, a woman, Taylor Swift in this case, is seen as a lesser being in a situation where feelings are concerned. If she’s revealing the emotions of her heart, then she’s weak—whining about problems that people supposedly don’t care about. But if she’s strong, taking away what she’s learned from her experiences by sharing them with her listeners, then she’s vindictive, an adulteress villain in the social media for spreading “gossip” and “rumors.” Both male and females critics who misunderstand her message firmly believe her to be whiny, vindictive, or both. It’s no secret that commenters slander Taylor Swift for her success. Here we have a woman who is young, successful, brilliant, beautiful inside and out, and confident. She’s trying to inspire women to be open and honest about their feelings, yet haters only see a woman scorning her “many affairs.”

Luckily for women of this generation, Swift is ready to bite back at the critics and defend her position, and she does it with incredible talent and style. Taylor Swift’s new album, 1989, is full of as much spunk and daring as the singer herself. Swift is fighting not only for herself as a passionate woman, but the dating and emotional rights of women everywhere, when she sings and performs “Blank Space” and “Shake It Off.” These songs are directed at all the “haters” who have ogled, scandalized, and even demoralized Swift’s right to sing about heart break or to even date. A few months back on the Jules, Merrick & Sophie talk show, Taylor spoke out at the Hater public, stating:

You’re going to have people who are going to say, “Oh, you know, like, she just writes songs about her ex-boyfriends.” And I think frankly that’s a very sexist angle to take. No one says that about Ed Sheeran. No one says that about Bruno Mars. They’re all writing songs about their exes, their current girlfriends, their love life, and no one raises the red flag there.

Swift makes a valid point here. While many, if not every pop-singer or performer has sung breakup songs, Taylor Swift takes the brunt of heat for her songs. Is this honestly because she is a scornful monster, as critics make her out to be? Or do critics focus on the messages about the men whom they assume the songs are about? Or is there another reason people attack Swift for her breakup songs—say, her being a successful, desirable woman?

Taylor Swift owns her gender and right to date new people when she exaggeratedly played the scandalous and flirtatious role critics makes her out to be in her music video “Blank Space,” which was both brave and electrifying! Taylor Swift could have just kept her head down and said nothing in response to people’s claims; she could have just told tabloids that she didn’t appreciate the slander and that she hoped they would stop. Swift took her complaint one step further: she dedicated two songs and videos to telling the press and critics to take a hike, she knows who she is, and she’s happy with her lifestyle and choices. Her lyrics in “Shake It Off” cheerfully describe how Swift refuses to put stock in what others think of her—only Swift herself knows what she actually does in her relationships or her free time.

People gossip about Taylor Swift’s life and songs simply because they can. Listeners and critics alike take a great deal of stock in Swift’s life because Taylor is so successful and has been for many years. Taylor Swift is big news all day, every day. What is it about Swift’s music that has us all so enthralled? Could it be her honesty—honesty that each of us is too afraid to admit to the world the way Taylor Swift does? Or does the critique of her continued fame and success run deeper—is society just not prepared for a woman so successful that she’s released 5 studio albums since she was just 16-years-old? Regardless of why people talk, one fact remains: Taylor Swift is breaking ground and paving the way for other women to shine, too.

Lets take a moment to receive Taylor’s message: be true to yourself. Haters are going to talk. They are going to exaggerate the truth, distorting what’s real about you. Listen to Swift’s advice, and ignore the haters, and even prove them wrong. Only you can be true to yourself. Putting stock in other’s misgivings of you only makes them feel like they have power to hold over you. Never give someone that control; own who you are—you are someone special and talented in your own unique way.