Taylor Swift versus the Victim Narrative

Why is the narrative around Taylor Swift always that she’s playing the victim? The 31-year-old singer has been on the top of everyones’ minds lately.

In July 2020, Swift released her eighth studio album Folklore, followed by a second surprise album five months later titled, Evermore. At the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, Swift won Album of the Year for Folklore, written during quarantine and produced virtually by Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff.

These are only a few of her recent victories in her 15+ year career. But it hasn’t been an easy journey for the Nashville country-singer-turned-pop-star. Throughout her career, Swift has had a tumultuous relationship with the media, spurred on by Kayne West and her propensity for writing songs about her long list of ex-lovers (Joe Jonas, John Mayer, Harry Styles, Calvin Harris to name a few.) 

At the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, Kanye infamously stole the mic from her onstage while accepting Best Female Video for “You Belong With Me.” That moment rocketed Taylor Swift from rising star to household name, and ever since, the media has criticized Swift for playing a victim.

In this episode, we examine the major events in her career and how the media has reported on them to answer the question: Is Taylor Swift really a victim?

Key events in the history of Taylor Swift that we discuss include:

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Want to talk more? Find us: @name3songs | @sara_feigin | @jenna_million

If you enjoyed the episode, you can hear more thoughts on Taylor Swift in past episodes: The Most Criticized Women in Pop featuring writer Lesley Chow and Misogyny in Pop Music: The Nice Guys and the Pick Me Girls

This is a music commentary podcast based on pre-existing knowledge and facts cited below.

Sources for Taylor Swift vs The Victim Narrative

Billboard Woman of the Decade Taylor Swift: ‘I Do Want My Music to Live On’ (Billboard, Jason Lipshuhtz, 2019)

Folklore Review (Pitchfork by Jillian Mapes, 2020)

The Rolling Stone Interview: Taylor Swift (Rolling Stone by Brian Hiatt, 2019)

Every Time Taylor Swift Perfectly Shut Down A Sexist Interview Question (Elle by Sukriti Wahi, March 2021)

Ten Years of Taylor Swift: How the Pop Star Went from Sweetheart to Snake (and Back Again?) (The Ringer, Kate Knibbs, 2019)

Taylor Swift is the 21st Century’s Most Disorienting Pop Star (NPR, Leah Donnella, 2018)

How Taylor Swift Played the Victim for a Decade and Made Her Entire Career (Buzzfeed, Ellie Woodward, 2017)

A Timeline of Taylor Swift’s Generosity (Billboard, Rania Aniftos, 2021)

Taylor Swift Makes ‘Generous’ Donation to Joyful Heart Foundation for Survivors of Sexual Assault (Billboard, Gil Kaufman, 2017)

Kim, There’s People That Are Dying: The Taylor Swift/Kanye West/Kim Kardashian feud has returned at the worst possible time  (Rolling Stone, Brittany Spanos, 2020)

Is Taylor Swift a “Silence Breaker”? The case for and against her place on Time’s cover. (Vox, Constance Grady, 2017)

Taylor Swift: Apple Crusader, #GirlSquad Captain, and the Most Influential 25-Year-Old in America (Vanity Fair, Josh Duboff, 2015)

Taylor Swift on Sexism, Scrutiny and Standing Up for Herself (Vogue, Abby Aguirre, 2019)

Taylor Swift’s New Record Deal Affects Thousands of Other Musicians (Rolling Stone, Amy X. Wang, 2018)

Taylor Swift vs. Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta: What the Hell Happened? (Rolling Stone, Brittany Spanos, 2019)

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