Pop Stars and Prejudice: How the media crosses the line

Molly B (Year 9), Chief Contributor

As we live in the 21st century, we’re exposed to the media and society’s opinions on LGBTQ+ and body positivity, but something that’s been debated forever has been gender equality and the balance between genders when it comes to working. However, with the rise of pop stars like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran, we notice the gender imbalance in the entertainment industry and how the actions of different celebrities can be perceived differently due to their gender.   


Starting with the Queen of Pop, Taylor Swift. She’s released a total of 10 albums and has toured all over the world. Over her time in the public eye, she’s had her fair share of hate. People state she makes cheesy songs that only revolve around guys and break-ups. However, when Ed Sheeran does the exact same thing, he gets called a genius. In interviews, Taylor Swift is constantly asked about her love life more than her career, in an interview for the Grammy’s in 2015 the interviewer said to Taylor, “You’re going to walk home with more than just a trophy tonight, I think lots of men” and Taylor quickly corrected the interviewer stating “I’m not going to walk home with any men tonight, I’m going to go hang out with my friends and then go home to the cats”.   

In 2019, Taylor released a song called “The Man”. 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.”  


Another big example of the gender imbalance in the media is the constant sexist comments made in interviews with Scarlett Johansson. As Scarlett Johansson plays Black Widow in the movie series, The Avengers, she happens to co-star alongside many male actors such as Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr, and Jeremy Renner. She gets asked unfair questions in interviews when compared to what male actors get asked. A few examples include an interview with Extratv where Scarlett Johansson, sitting next to co-star Jeremy Renner, was asked about what she wore underneath her Black Widow costume. Scarlett immediately shut down the question by saying “What is going on, since when did people start asking each other in interviews about their underwear?”. Since when is it okay to be asking those questions no matter what movie it is? The question had nothing to do with the movie and was totally out of line.   


Although women are often subjected to invasively personal questions, those who show any aspects of femininity, whether it be in the clothes they wear, their hair, or their personalities, are often also invaded in a similar fashion. Harry Styles is known for embracing his masculinity in a way that some interpret as androgyny, and he is an example of how some men may be subjected to the same interrogation as women. In an interview with Howard Stern in 2020, they were talking about the story behind Harry’s hit song “Adore You” where the interviewer said, considerably disrespectfully, that Harry’s song was about a girl Harry had a specific relationship with. Harry corrected Stern by saying “The song is written about the initial stages of infatuation with someone”, in an attempt to be polite.   


The unfortunate representation of gender imbalance in the entertainment industry consistently leads audiences to feel a sense of sympathy towards individuals and disgust towards society. Hopefully, as the media grows, they’ll become less involved in making celebrities feel uncomfortable and more involved in asking relevant questions about respectful things they’re expected to speak about.