Ann Wilson Of Heart In Defense Of Taylor Swift, ‘Equality,’ ‘Rage,’ And Women In The Music Industry

Theo Wargo / Frazer HarrisonGetty Images

Ann Wilson of the classic rock band Heart expressed solidarity with Taylor Swift over Taylor’s recent lawsuit against a man who groped her. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Ann sounded off about a woman’s right to be respected in the course of her daily work as a musician.

Ann Wilson spoke of her own situation as well as Taylor Swift’s when she told Rolling Stone it all amounted to the right of a musician to be respected. It isn’t about gender, it’s about the right of any human being not to be exploited, groped, or molested.

“We have to redefine that which we haven’t even touched. This is not a gender problem. It’s a power issue. It’s a problem of respect. When we are able to strip off the gender thing, then we’ll get somewhere.”

Still, Taylor Swift, just as Ann Wilson before her, uses the resentment stemming from that type of disrespect as fuel for her music. That inner rage comes out clearly in Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do,” as it did in Heart’s “Barracuda.”

Taylor Swift is coming along decades after Ann and Nancy Wilson formed Heart. The genre is different and the voice is different, but the rage is still there. Taylor Swift and Ann Wilson express nothing but contempt in both “Barracuda” and “Look What You Made Me Do.”

Many people are uncomfortable with Taylor Swift’s controlled rage. Vox said Taylor Swift had two distinct identities. The writer seems to find it strange a strong woman could expect both intimacy and control, or both power and love.

“Swift’s celebrity image has been caught in a tug-of-war between intimacy and control, one characterized by two distinct identities: Taylor Swift, nerdy teen, and girl next door… and Taylor Swift, micromanaging CEO of a billion-dollar business whose marquee product is her own public image.”

Taylor Swift and Ann Wilson both expressed a full range of emotions in their songs, just as men’s songs express a variety of emotions. Why should women’s music avoid powerful and angry lyrics? The writer for Vox felt Taylor Swift “clashes” with herself.

“Both sides are fundamental to Swift’s appeal — but they are also antithetical to each other. When the two sides of her persona clash, they cancel each other out, resulting in a Swift backlash like the one that’s formed heading into Reputation.

Ann Wilson expressed her solidarity with Taylor Swift as well as her admiration, telling Rolling Stone Taylor is “putting herself on the line” and “making a point.”

“Look at someone like Taylor Swift and what she’s gone through. She put herself on the line about this guy groping her and took it all the way to court. There was a lot of eye-rolling about that, but she’s making a point.”

Taylor Swift is “making a point” as Ann Wilson says, but a point is all Taylor is making. Taylor is only asking for $1 in the lawsuit, according to Vox. It isn’t about money, it is about gaining respect for women.

Ann Wilson continued to discuss Taylor Swift’s claim against the defendant in her court case.

“Somebody thinks that they have the right to come around at a meet and greet, reach up her skirt and grab Taylor Swift’s a**. And that it was OK. He can go and brag about it in a bar.”

Taylor Swift has been taking criticism from other women. According to the Herald Sun, it is because of her reluctance to join in with the feminist movement and other social and political alignments.

Taylor Swift isn’t attaching herself to a movement like #MeToo, or the feminist movement. She’s acting on her own, and Ann Wilson supports that.

Ann Wilson says she doesn’t identify with some of the new aspects of feminism, as compared to the women’s equality movement of the 1970s. As Ann Wilson told Rolling Stone, all Gloria Steinem ever wanted was to be treated fairly. Perhaps that’s all Taylor Swift wants as well. Wilson told Rolling Stone she’s not a man hater.

“I’m into true equality of the genders. I don’t harbor any anti-male feeling in my heart. I know that the mothers of feminism, including Gloria [Steinem], never wanted to be anything except 50-50.”

Heart with Ann and Nancy Wilson Then and Now
Heart with Ann and Nancy WilsonFeatured image credit: Kevin WinterGetty Images

Still, Ann Wilson confides candidly to Rolling Stone, her hit song Barracuda was written out of “true rage” at a promoter who implied as an ad gimmick that Ann and Nancy Wilson were not only sisters but lovers.

“For [this promoter] to imagine us together in an incestuous lesbian relationship – the sleaze factor really dawned on me in that moment. Those lyrics were written by my true nature, in true rage. I hope that that song will come in handy now when women are thinking about what they want to do and not do.”

Taylor Swift is quoted in the Herald Sun explaining why she does not engage in any public discussion of social or political issues. Swift says “I don’t know enough yet in life” to advise others on these kinds of issues.

“I’m not going to sit here and go into my political views ’cause that’s not what I chose to do. I chose to do music. I try to keep myself as educated and informed as possible. But I don’t talk about politics because it might influence other people.”

Ann Wilson and Taylor Swift are musicians, and they express themselves through music. Both have made a powerful statement. Taylor Swift’s new album is powerful, even though she, unlike Ann Wilson, doesn’t have Nancy Wilson’s powerful guitar music to back her.

Taylor Swift is not alone in being disrespected, and Ann Wilson makes a valid point. It isn’t a gender issue. Men can be touched inappropriately as well. It is a matter of respect and treating others decently.

Taylor Swift and Ann Wilson only want to be treated fairly and to be respected as the talented musicians they are.