A Reflection on the Competition Among Female Musicians

Woman holding a microphone.

Photo taken from Pexels 

Why are women in the music industry so often pitted against each other?

In Taylor Swift’s 2019 song ‘You Need To Calm Down,’ she sings, “And we see you over there on the internet. Comparing all the girls who are killing it.” 

This lyric addresses the tendency of the media to pit successful women against each other. There have been countless debates over the years over which female artist is “the best.” A prime example of this is the “competition” between Taylor Swift and Beyoncé. 

Taylor Swift and Beyoncé are both wildly successful artists with dedicated, enthusiastic fans. For years, there has been a constructed rivalry between them, with fans arguing about who is the better artist. However, the two artists do not have an actual rivalry, in fact, they seem to respect and support each other. 

Swift and Beyoncé are very different artists who create unique music. There is no reason that they should be pitted against each other because they are not competing with one another. 

Twitter user Exquisite Armantè expressed her opinion about this. 

“Y’all keep comparing Beyoncé and Taylor I’m gonna start comparing Ed Sheeran and Usher so y’all hear how dumb you sound, ” Armante said. 

The only thing that Swift and Beyoncé have in common is the fact that they are both successful women. Even in 2023, society still cannot handle successful women without comparing them to each other. Female artists have to be at the top of their game, and even when they are, they are criticized. 

Swift and Beyoncé both went on elaborate, record-breaking tours this year which boosted local economies across the world. They created extensive theatrical performances for their fans, which were very well received. Despite their enormous success, they are still compared to each other. 

Instead of simply acknowledging the success of both artists, fans fight over who put on a better show and who is the better artist overall. Swift and Beyoncé are portrayed as rivals fighting for the top spot as female entertainers. 

Male musicians do not have to deal with the same scrutiny. As Armantè said, people do not compare male artists like Ed Sheeran and Usher to each other because they are not doing the same thing. 

So why is there so much emphasis on whether Taylor Swift or Beyoncé is the better artist? 

The answer to this question is multifaceted, relating to issues of both misogyny and racism. 

According to Music Professor, Bonnie Gordon, society pits successful women against each other in an attempt to exert control over them. In an interview with The Cavalier Daily, Gordon expanded on this idea. 

“I think people don’t like powerful women — it’s a way to take them down, you can see this in politics and in literature,” Gordon said. 

People have a hard time seeing women be successful, so they compare them with each other in order to take back some control over them. This places women at a higher standard for success – they have to be the best at whatever it is they are doing. 

While it is driven by misogyny, the competition between Swift and Beyoncé is also rooted in racism. As a woman of color, Beyoncé is held to an even higher standard. She has had to work even harder to prove herself to a society that is holding onto racist and sexist prejudices. Even though she and Swift are both talented in their different genres, they are compared to each other. Women of color continuously have to work harder to be seen at the same level as their white peers. 

This happens time and time again, with young, talented artists being held to a higher standard because of their race and gender.  

This problem is far too common in modern society – women should be allowed to be successful without the level of scrutiny that they face. Male artists do not experience anything close to what female artists do because successful men are not a threat. Successful women, on the other hand, are a threat to the patriarchy that still has its claws in most areas of society.