It would be painful to even imagine the music industry without the contributions of women, many of whom have long been subjected to systemic sexism, double-standards, subtle dismissing, and blatant injustices throughout their careers in music. This inequality has been brought to the spotlight in recent years, as movements such as Me Too and Times Up empowered women to tell their stories and make profound changes to protect others.
The following artists stood up for themselves and, in doing so, have set an example and blazed the trail for others to do the same. In taking a stance against misogyny and inequity, both female and male artists are working to shape the music industry into a more inclusive, safe place for all artists to create and thrive.
Taylor Swift fought sexism on multiple fronts
Taylor Swift has enjoyed successes that few in the music industry can touch. She was the first woman to win the GRAMMY for Album of the Year three times, and has been nominated in the category once again for evermore at the 64th GRAMMY Awards. Nevertheless, she has often been the target of sexism in her extraordinary career.
While Swift started in the music industry as a teenager, she noticed the sexism as she grew older and more successful. She was mercilessly critiqued for writing about her feelings and relationships, while male musicians who do the same thing were rarely challenged. In her early 20s, Swift said she was "slut shamed" for having a few relationships; others romantically linkedSwift to people whom she’d only sat next to at a party. What most upset her was realizing that they were reducing her songwriting to being a trick, rather than a skill and a craft.
Swift has fought back through words, actions and art, and received praise for her efforts from feminist icon Dolly Parton. She has also written open letters for other artists who are experiencing injustice — including publicly demanding that Apple Music pay the artists during the trial period of the platform. Apple Music ultimately did as she asked. Swift has also stood up for individual women in music, and they have done the same ultimately strengthening their collective power.
Taylor Swift’s voice is strong within her music, too. "The Man", a song on her album Lover, looks at how much differently the music industry and society would have treated her if she was a man. In Miss Americana, the acclaimed 2020 documentary on Taylor Swift, she discusses the double-standards for women in music, pointing out how female artists must reinvent and reimagine their image.