This send-up of patriarchy relates to Taylor Swift struggles as a woman in the music business. Over pulsing, stabbing synths, the songstress wages war against the double standards she faces as a female artist.
Swift kicks off the song by ripping into the media's double standards about men and women writing about their love life.They'd say I played the field before I found someone to commit to
And that would be okay for me to do
Later, she imagines being in a position of power. Nobody pays attention when the alpha male leader is rude.They'd say I hustled, put in the work
They wouldn't shake their heads and question how much of this I deserve
During the pre-chorus, Swift compares the way the media outlets call out her various dates with their lack of interest in Leonardo DiCaprio's love life.And they would toast to me, oh, let the players play
I'd be just like Leo in Saint Tropez
Swift previously sang about "players gonna play" on her 2014 hit single "Shake It Off
," which this lyric seems to reference.
Swift revealed to Vogue
the song was written with the concept of how her career would play out if she were a man. "If I had made all the same choices, all the same mistakes, all the same accomplishments, how would it read?" she explained.
Swift co-wrote and co-produced the synthetic dance track with Joel Little. The New Zealand producer contributed towards three other tracks on Lover
, including the singles "You Need To Calm Down
" and "Me!
In a Spotify storyline, Swift explained: "This is a song that I've been wanting to write for a very long time in my career, but I could never figure out exactly how to phrase it. I've wondered several times, 'If I had been a man instead of a woman and I lived my life exactly the same way, what would people have said about me?' It's about perception. It's not, 'What would I do if I were a man?' It's about how I would be seen if I did exactly the same stuff. This is when I finally got an idea of how to approach this song."
The video sees an unrecognisable Swift playing the part of an obnoxious businessman, "Tyler Swift." We see the belligerent boss rudely inconveniencing the people around him as he manspreads on the subway train while smoking a cigar. The clip also skewers the concept of male fragility, when the corporate titan loses his temper at a women's charity tennis tournament.
At the end of the clip, Swift plays a director who tells her own character, voiced by Dwayne Johnson, to be "sexier and more likable."
The singer's father. Scott, appears briefly as a tennis umpire. There are also cameos from social media influencers Loren Gray and Dominic Toliver, and actress Jayden Bartels.
The video was directed by Swift herself, making it her official solo directorial debut.
Swift looks totally different in the video following her male makeover. According to the singer, the entire makeup transformation process took four to six hours every day before the shoot.
The Minister for Women and Equalities, Liz Truss, quoted the song in the British Parliament. During her speech at the Women's Day Debate in the House of Commons on March 5, 2020, Truss said: "So that, in the words of the brilliant Taylor Swift, in her new song, women aren't left running as fast as they can wondering if they'd get there quicker if they were a man."
Swift added another MTV Video Music Award to her trophy case when this won for Best Direction at the 2020 ceremony.