Behind the Meaning of “mad woman” by Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift has many songs that stand to bolster her fellow women, but “mad woman” feels like the staunchest effort in that vein. Revisit the meaning behind this seething track, below.

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Behind the Meaning

What did you think I’d say to that?
Does a scorpion sting when fighting back?
They strike to kill and you know I will
You know I will

“mad woman” sees Swift act as an emblem of women scorned everywhere. She plays the part of a woman primed to fight back against those who are trying to put her down. Does a scorpion sting when fighting back, she sings.

Throughout her career, Swift has been painted as a “mad woman.” She often sings about her past relationships, which the opposition labels as spiteful and victimizing. That fact is not lost on Swift, but instead of running away from those labels, she wears them with pride–which then allows every other “mad woman” to be able to wear their emotions without fear.

And there’s nothin’ like a mad woman
What a shame she went mad
No one likes a mad woman
You made her like that

In the chorus, she gets even more specific. Even though many people have called her out for airing her grievances, she tells them, “Don’t give me any grievances to air.” No one likes a mad woman / You made her like that, she sings.

And women like hunting witches too
Doing your dirtiest work for you
It’s obvious that wanting me dead
Has really brought you two together

But, it’s not just men that Swift is aiming at. Later in the song, she calls out women who decide to take up arms against other women. Women like hunting witches too / Doing your dirtiest work for you, she sings.

Overall, this song sees Swift try to take back her own story. She’s accepted her public perception, but she refuses to wear it as a bad thing. It’s a stunning bout of lyricism from a woman who is never afraid to share her dark sides.

(Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

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