Pop culture largely feels as though the Taylor Swift – Kanye West feud is an ancient story that has been exhausted for quite some time now. But honestly, it’s just the opposite. It represents the repetitive narrative of how females are hushed and then silenced because the world chooses to accept the voice of the oppressor. In this case, the oppressor is Kanye West, and his ill-chosen victim is none other than Taylor Swift; one of the most lauded and respected female musicians of this past decade.
For those who are uninformed about this high profile feud, it began in 2016 when Kanye West sought approval from Taylor Swift to include a profane lyric in his song “Famous” that would be featured in his up-and-coming album “The Life of Pablo.”
When the song was released in February 2016, Swift immediately claimed that she had not approved his word choice. Doing so sparked a subsequent reaction from West’s wife, Kim Kardashian, who posted a video to the internet of an edited version of a phone call in which Swift appeared to consent to the lyrics. With that, the vast majority took West’s side in “exposing” Swift as playing the role of a fake victim.
After the fact, Swift acknowledged that while this phone call took place, it never included her approval of the violating and scathing lyrics that West chose in the final version of his song, in which he credits himself for Swift’s fame.
Regardless, many individuals remained on West’s side, and in her newly released documentary “Miss Americana,” Swift re-examined what this polarization did to her as a female artist. Not only did it contribute to the crowd that already deemed Swift as a liar and fake victim, but it proved that few people wanted to actually pay attention to or consider the truth of a twisted narrative fueled by misogynistic voices.
But it is of the punishing workings of the universe, or may I say a delivery of karma, that the full and unedited version of their phone call was leaked online this past week, as reported by BBC News.
BBC reported that the “full 23-minute video of the West-Swift phone call appeared to vindicate Swift’s account,” and that it did. It validated all of Swift’s claims, supporting everything she has argued in the past four years.
Ever since the notorious feud began in 2016, little to no praise has rightly been returned to Swift and her widely respected reputation of being a transparent, vulnerable and honest storyteller. Swift is an individual who time and time again has delivered the compelling message that little girls should believe that they can, they are allowed to and that they will do anything, even in the face of misogyny.
For myself, it was the perfectly constructed lyrics of Swift’s songs that made me understand both the difficult and the celebratory aspects of this world at just 10 years old, and then into my adulthood.
Likewise, the musician Halsey credited Swift as one of the main figures who influenced her as a songwriter. In 2019, Digital Music News reported Halsey explaining that, “Taylor Swift is a huge reason why I always insisted to write my own music. I believed if she did it (in a way that made my teeth ache like cold water and my heart swell and my eyes leak) then I should too. Cause that’s how to make someone feel. To drag it from the pits of your heart. To offer it on a platter and say ‘take some, but take kindly.’”
We must look at how an individual and his wife perfectly depicted Swift as not only a false victim, but a ferocious liar, and how the world accepted this as true. We have to work to uphold the truth for the women of today, and of the future, so that we can promise there will not be a repetition of these narratives.
It’s a funny thing that, regardless of this feud, Swift remains at the peak level of her artistry– filling stadium tours, collecting awards and facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles, all while building an empire that fearlessly advocates for women, and multiple minority groups for that matter.
After all, West did not make this woman famous.