By Sarah Knebel | Opinion Editor

Taylor Swift embracing her reputation as a ‘snake’ in her newest video. (Courtesy of Billboard)

Using her musical talent, quirkiness and love for vengeance, Taylor Swift has, once again, sent a strong and definite message to listeners with her new release, titled, “Look What You Made Me Do.”

Upbeat, catchy and full of youth, Swift’s songs are always easy to relate to. Since the launch of her musical-genius masterpiece, social media has erupted with multiple interpretations of the new song. In addition to bashing male dominance and promoting self-empowerment, Swift makes one thing very clear—she will no longer be portrayed as “non-confrontational” due to the expectations that have been created for women when it comes to standing up to dominant male figures.

Since the infamous Kanye West interruption in 2009 during the VMA’s,  Swift has received an endless amount of hate coming from the aggressive rapper. After that encounter, Kanye has taken advantage of Swift on multiple occasions. The rapper violated Swift by releasing his new album and portraying her as a sex figure without her consent. Furthermore, Kim Kardashian, West’s wife, jumped on board to assign Swift a spirit animal: a snake.

But that’s not all. Swift also just finished up a court case with a well-known radio host who Swift accused of her assaulting her during a meet and greet. Swift won the case.

Swift has had enough of the ruthless and immature bullying. Up until her release, she used social media to her advantage, posting photos of the slithering animal across multiple accounts. As a society increasingly connected to social media, people reacted appropriately. It was assumed that her next release was most definitely going to attack Kanye, his explicit behaviour, and possibly even address the radio host who felt he could get away with reaching up her skirt.

She begins her new single singing, “How you laugh when you lie, you said the gun was mine, isn’t cool, no, I don’t like you.” If it isn’t already clear enough, Swift is referencing the microphone that Kanye stole from her hands during her acceptance speech. Kanye used his aggression to intimidate Taylor and dictate who was more deserving. He was able to do so because he felt his powerful, male-dominant role in society gave him the upper hand. Due to his influence, Kanye’s actions were somewhat accepted by society. At time, many people excused and defended Kanye, which normalized the behavior and mistreatment of not only Swift, but  the treatment of all women who are victims of these types of misogynistic attacks.

She continues saying, “But I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time…,” and finishes the verse with, “I’ve got a list of names and yours is in red underlined, I check it once, then I check it twice.” Swift has a mind full of vengeance. From a feminist standpoint, this is the shifting point. Swift is stealing the light that Kanye had once shined upon himself, and facing it upon her. It is important to note that Swift is attempting to expose to society that Kanye will no longer be praised for his mistreatment of women while the women are expected to stand silent. Instead, it suggests that those who mistreat women should, in a way, “watch their backs,” for women are not as “silent” as they are perceived to be.

Swift does not show weakness, but acknowledges that she has shown it in the past. Towards the end of the song, she says, “I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, ‘cause she’s dead.” Interestingly enough, it can be assumed that Swift is referencing the phone conversation that was exposed between Kanye West and Taylor Swift.

When looking at it from the standpoint of gender in relation to power, Swift is shaking it up by expressing that her femininity does not define her mental strength. She takes control of male-dominance within this lyrical story by saying that the “Old Taylor” is no longer available for unruly treatment and manipulation by men. Swift gives her listeners a sneak peak into her new identity here, one that is resilient and focused on giving to those who have treated her wrongfully what they deserve.

Although “Look What You Made Me Do” is a song that is personal to Swift’s experiences, it can also be seen as yet another stepping stone towards a society that embodies women’s self-empowerment. Due to her influence on young women, Swift has the power to change the way that women view themselves, and also warn those who believe they can take advantage of women. Swift’s latest single brings forth the idea of confidence and empowerment for women, while also addressing  the need for accountability and severe consequences  for those who believe that women are objects of manipulation.

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