Good 4 Women in the Music Industry


Sonia Bogomolova, Contributing Writer

Since the ancient Greek poet Sappho first put pen to paper, the court of public opinion has berated women’s lyrical self-expression, especially that of women in the music industry today. In fact, record-shattering successes did not stop Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo from becoming modern pariahs of this sexist criticism. Breaking barriers of age, gender, and musical genre, these two women have topped the charts throughout the past couple of years. They have also received a barrage of criticism from the media, solely for the crime of writing about their personal and honest experiences. 

When Rodrigo’s smash-hit debut single, “Driver’s License” was released, its ascension to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 did not come without obstacles. On one hand, Rodrigo became an instant sensation: she was invited to perform on Saturday Night Live and American Music Awards. She was also invited to speak at the White House. On the other hand, like many women in the music industry before her, Rodrigo was dismissed by the media and listeners alike, for “only writing about boys,” as a Teen Vogue article puts it. At the peak of receiving this negative online commentary, Rodrigo opened up to The Guardian: “I’m a teenage girl,” she said, “I write about stuff that I feel really intensely – and I feel heartbreak and longing really intensely – and I think that’s authentic and natural.” 

 While Rodrigo’s song “good 4 u” was breaking ceilings, the media and general public painted her as an overly emotional teenager, detracting from her unprecedented accomplishments. At the same time, male artists, such as Justin Bieber and Lewis Capaldi, received nearly universal praise and positive media responses to their similarly emotional love songs.

Prior to Rodrigo, Taylor Swift had held the trophy for being a long-standing victim of media hypocrisy. Beginning in 2014, tabloids have consistently ridiculed Swift because most of her songs are based on her relationships. During an interview with Elle Magazine about her album 1989, Swift addressed critics that claimed all her music was about past relationships. Swift said that those who say “she just writes about her ex-boyfriends,” take a very “sexist angle.” She added, “No one says that about Ed Sheeran. No one says that about Bruno Mars. They’re all writing songs about their exes, their current girlfriends, their love life, and no one raises the red flag there.”

  Despite all the hate that these women have faced, they still managed to keep going. In 2021, Swift won the Album of the Year  (AOTY) award for her album, folklore, becoming the first woman to win three AOTY awards. In 2022, Rodrigo earned three grammys, six grammy nominations, and the New Artist of the Year award. Nonetheless, I think these two women do not get enough credit due to society constantly undermining them, instead of acknowledging their achievements. Women are too often shamed for expressing themselves and their valid emotions. If the media shames young women for writing and singing about intense topics, they should hold men against the same standard.