The song is a big middle finger to double-standards – for all the times’ people have berated Taylor for *daring* to have a love life, but applaud men in the same position for living their best lives.
It’s an anthem, articulating what all successful women feel – that no matter what we do, we’ll never be given a break, because women are expected to work ten times as hard, whilst being gracious and sitting pretty, all whilst appeasing the men around us and not damaging their egos.
Taylor has directed her latest video, that premiered today, for ‘The Man’, joining the ranks of Missy Elliot, JLo, and Mariah Carey who’ve all turned their multi-talented hands to directing in the past. The song, which has been a fan favourite since the release of Lover, starts powerfully: “I would be complex, I would be cool.
They’d say I played the field before I found someone to commit to. And that would be okay For me to do. Every conquest I had made, would make me more of a boss to you. I’d be a fearless leader. I’d be an alpha type When everyone believes ya, what’s that like?”
In the video, we see The Man go through life behaving badly, doing the bare minimum, and getting patted on the back for it – there’s a particularly poignant part, where he’s seen simply holding his daughter, and is then given a ‘Best Dad in the world’ award. He manspreads on the subway, parties with models in bikinis on a yacht, goes to a strip club, pees in public. And nobody bats an eyelid.
Then the tables turn, at the end of the video, the camera cuts and it turns out Taylor is directing the video. She asks The Man ‘could you try to be sexier, maybe more likable this time?’. After this scene, the video reveals Taylor is playing the man (with the help of Dwanye Johnson’s voice).
The fact Taylor has directed this video is a small part of the bigger journey she’s embarked on lately – she’s refusing to let someone else control her narrative. From the release of Miss Americana, where we saw Taylor as her true self, to her battle against Scooter Braun stealing her music – Taylor’s had enough of The Man. So much so, that she’s decided to become The Man.
Taylor being Taylor, the video is laced with hidden meanings. At one point, when The Man is peeing on a wall, all her album names are spray-painted next to a missing poster sign, which is next to a ban Scooters sign. Which is next to KARMA spray-painted in massive words. She’s clearly saying, my music is mine, and no man will be allowed to manipulate me again.
There are also some very apt references to the film ‘ The Wolf of Wall Street’ – a film that is basically just about the privileged white, rich men have. And one reference, for the beady-eyed, where she shows the double standards Serena Williams faced – women are constantly told they’re overreacting, and that any display of emotion is weak. Men? Men are allowed to punch walls, swear, and shout when things don’t go that way. And what does that get called? Passion.
Bravo Taylor Swift, good luck to anyone who tries to silence you again.