Beyoncé’s “If i Were a Boy” trick gets recurring on Swift’s Lover, however to highlight sexist dual standards through regard come reputations quite than relationships.

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“The Man” is one of the many straightforwardly catchy song of Lover, and its message requirements no decoding. (Matt Sayles / Invision / AP)

When man Travolta mistook a drag queen that plays Taylor Swift for the really Taylor Swift in ~ the MTV video Music Awards, it created a hilariously apt revolve in Swift’s recent year of sex play. She’s to be hanging in windy with—and lobbying on instead of of—LGBTQ people, who difficulty traditional notions of guyhood and girldom. She performed in boxy business suits and short-styled hair. Most pointedly, her brand-new album, Lover, consists of a song called “The Man,” which imagines she being a popular music prince fairly than princess. “I’d it is in a do not be afraid leader / I’d it is in an alpha type,” Swift sings. “When anyone believes ya / What’s that like?”

“The Man” is among the most straightforwardly catchy songs of Lover, and its message requirements no decoding. Swift is partaking in a long pop-feminist tradition of pointing out dual standards through hypothetically swapping gender. Comparisons to Beyoncé’s “If ns Were a Boy” room inevitable. When it was released in 2008, the hit join a family tree of similarly themed songs consisting of Ciara’s “Like a Boy” and Bonnie tyler’s “If You to be a woman (And ns Was a Man).” In 1982, Julie Andrews played a festival pretending to it is in a man in the music comedy Victor/Victoria, and one of her numbers was titled “If ns Were a Man.” Swift’s new song recalls every one of these examples, however puts your underlying social pertains to in terms of celebrity image management.

Swift’s career until now has actually been bound increase with cultural clichés about womanhood—and more specifically, girlhood. She songs that heartbreak and longing, especially beforehand in her run, sleek up share characterizations of she gender and age: the cheerleader, the princess, the “careful daughter.” A 2008 hit, “Fifteen,” reiterated old-fashioned warnings come young women about keeping their virginity despite men pressuring them no to. “Dear John,” hinged on a damsel-like image: “The girl in the dress cried the whole means home.” later on depictions the grown-up romance took pleasure in the reality that she “red-lip standard thing”—a certain feminine ideal—fit with her James Dean–ish guy’s guy.


If she has actually capitalized top top womanhood—and ~ above how society thinks around women—she has likewise taken ~ above sexism. Despite it wasn’t till 2014 that she dubbed herself a feminist (she rejected the brand before), her magazine all along has struck male piggishness and also entitlement. Once a Denver radio hold allegedly groped her at a 2013 event, she do a point of connecting she legal battle against him with the larger cause of women’s autonomy—shortly prior to The New York Times’ Harvey Weinstein exposé inflamed the #MeToo movement. Currently “The Man” gives her her most explicit music statement on sexism.

Typically, as soon as pop divas imagine themselves as guys, the to do a point about relationships. Rally a playlist that songs v “If i Were a Boy”–type conceits, and you hear recurring tales of males manipulating females in the paper definition of romance, and you listen jealousy toward the sense of freedom that men are afforded. Beyoncé and also Ciara both fantasized that if they were men, they’d turn off your cellphone and act solitary when they were the end on the town. “I’ll obtain to recognize your family / get your girlfriend to fall in love v me / just happens every so easily,” cooed the Pussycat Dolls ~ above “If i Was a Man.” “And as soon as I had actually my way, I’d get up, acquire up and also walk away.”


Sometimes songs in this legacy glance up at the bigger social picture. The cabaret-ish 2002 tune “If ns Were a Man” native the Canadian singer Andrea Menard landing this strong couplet: “I’d it is in the man in mankind and the global he / I’d never ever go the end on a limb, because I’d be the tree.” other songs gender-swap in the surname of peace. The beloved Cowboy Junkies ballad “If You to be the Woman and I was the Man” has actually a man and woman dueting about accepting every other’s vulnerability. Bonnie Tyler’s likewise titled song, a juicy slice of ’80s ham, pleads, “A heart’s a heart and we do what us can.”

Swift has actually written plenty of tales about men messing with women’s feelings and facing no consequences. Yet she no really do tracks favor those anymore. On her past couple of albums, her love song were around finding refuge indigenous the ravages the fame, and her breakup song were about being torn apart through the same ravages. Yes a newfound feeling of equality in she romances—which is, perhaps, made possible by the strength afforded by her wealth and also success. Therefore it’s fitting the “The Man” departs native the guys-party-while-girlfriends-pine genre. Instead, it’s around her more recent muse: her reputation.


What Swift chafes versus isn’t that her sex has curtailed she life methods per se. It’s the it has actually shaped how civilization talk around her. Whereas she’s mocked for having dated lot of men, guys are considered “complex” and also “cool” for your “conquests,” she sings. This can seem prefer a typical complaint about “slut shaming,” however Swift’s version is specifically about fame: In the many memorable heat of the song, she states that the male tantamount of her would certainly be “like Leo in Saint-Tropez.” it’s a reference to Leonardo DiCaprio’s ever before revered habit of cavorting v models in the French Riviera.

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The second verse addresses twin standards once it comes to careers. If she were a man, “they’d say ns hustled, put in the work / They i will not ~ shake your heads and also question just how much that this ns deserve.” her manners and her appearance i will not ~ be as lot of an problem either. It’s a celebrity’s complaint—but additionally one familiar to ladies whose workplaces nothing involve arena concerts and awards shows.

Swift could take comfort in the irony basic “The Man,” i m sorry is that for whatever sexism she’s faced, Swift’s job has already been a showcase the overcoming dual standards. “I’m therefore sick of to run as rapid as I deserve to / wondering if I’d acquire there quicker if i was a man,” she sings, but her “running as fast as can” without doubt amounted come something nice speedy: It’s really hard to think of men who’ve had the impressive trajectory she has had in the past 12 years. You’d have to look to who such as Drake or Ed Sheeran, who prove Swift’s arguments about (in the former case) males being cheered for dating around and also (in the latter case) guys putting nil initiative into their self-presentation. If Swift’s song renders a familiar point, it’s tho a valid one. Exactly how many an ext times will certainly it must be made prior to it’s not?