Regardless of your musical taste and personal preferences, Taylor Swift’s Grammy acceptance speech was quintessential for all women interested in leadership.
In case you live under a rock or don’t follow popular culture at all, the Grammy Awards were held in the US this week. The usual suspects showed up dressed to impress for one of LA’s finest evenings. In a pre-Grammy attempt for attention, controversial narcissist/sexist/misogynist Kanye West announced he is financially broke and wants Mark Zuckerberg (of Facebook fame) to give him one billion dollars. Why? Because Kanye has awesome “ideas” and is “the greatest artist of all times” and a “Godlike genius” (his words not mine, obviously).
Please bear with me. We are getting to the leadership portion in a few sentences. First, I have to give you the back-story.
Everyone was a tad bit surprised when Kanye—who just released a new album and a new fashion collection—announced he is $52 million in debt. What surfaced from reviews by music critics about Kanye’s new album are the lyrics to his song Famous in which he says: “I feel like me and Taylor might still have s•x. Why? I made that b•tch famous.”
That would be enough to get anyone working a regular job fired.
Kanye has been making derogatory comments about Taylor Swift’s music since the famous incident in 2009 when he took the microphone and told a stunned audience at the MTV Video Music Awards that she didn’t deserve to win. Since then, Kanye has been badgering Taylor on a regular basis. He is now claiming his negative remarks gave Swift the attention and notoriety she needed to sell millions of albums and to be featured on the covers of more than 100 magazines.
With another Grammy under her belt, this feisty firecracker gave us something to remember. This time she said what she had to say with a powerful punch.
You see, when it comes to the women’s side of the story, we first face the “she had it coming” rhetoric. Is it even worthwhile to defend ourselves? Our mothers told us to take the high road. But really, where has this gotten us on the road to equality? The numbers are going backward AGAIN. The uptick is already reversing and we are sliding downward, again.
This is why Taylor Swift’s lesson in leadership is so important. If women like me open our mouths we are called radical feminists and women-haters. Plus, we get many not-so-nice comments on social media like, “I am surprised you even have a boyfriend” and much, much worse. (Check out one of my most controversial LinkedIn posts.)
Women must stand up for what is right. Equal opportunity and women leadership is right. We need the Jennifer Lawrence’s and the Taylor Swift’s and the Drew Barrymore’s to step up and speak out because they have huge reach and the next generation listens to them.
Taylor did it by the book. She spoke in broad terms and delivered a powerful motivational speech to the women who are victims of sexism. She stated that we need to believe in ourselves and keep going no matter what. And when we get to the top we better remember it was our hard work that got us there. You can hear her words here.
This and other types of bullying, sexism, and verbal abuse are not new in the celebrity world. Unfortunately, they are not new in the working class world, either.
When we reach our success, someone will always want to take credit for our success, suggest we slept our way to the top, or assume we otherwise exploited our feminine charm. They want to diminish our contributions in any way.
The message for us as women is clear. I have been talking about it for years and wrote about it in Happy Women Happy World. Make sure you support your sisters along the way because only together can we achieve equality and a 50-50 balance in leadership across all industries, including politics.
Truly, nobody makes it to the top alone. It takes a tribe, a village, and a lot of work. And when we treat other women right along the way, genuinely bond with them and make them feel a part of it, they will excitedly cheer us on with a roaring “You deserve this!”
Thank you, Taylor. You deserve this!