While accepting Billboard's first Woman of the Decade award Thursday night, pop star Taylor Swift went on a lengthy 15-minute diatribe against "toxic male privilege" in the music industry to a mixed reaction from the audience.
It's still a man's world in music, according to Swift
"As a female in this industry, some people will always have slight reservations about you," Swift said early on in her speech at Billboard's 14th annual Women in Music event. She added that critics will often wonder "whether you deserve to be there" or "whether your male producer or cowriter is the reason for your success."
"I saw that people love to explain away a woman's success in the music industry," the Grammy-winning artist, who turned 30 on Friday, argued.
Swift then spent several minutes explaining how female artists have it more difficult than male artists in the music industry because they are constantly needing to prove themselves.
She used herself as an example, citing several times critics found flaws in her music or her person and how she had to overcome.
Some criticism is reserved for female artists
"In the last 10 years, I have watched as women in this industry are criticized and measured up to each other and picked at," Swift said. "For their bodies, for their romantic lives, their fashion ..."
Then Swift turned the tables, suggesting that male artists don't experience the same personal criticism.
"Or have you ever heard someone say about a male artist, 'I really like his songs, but I don't know what it is, there's just something about him I don't like?'"
"No!" Swift exclaimed. "That criticism is reserved for [women]!"
Finally, while discussing her ongoing battle with record executive Scooter Braun over ownership of her master recordings, she blasted the "toxic male privilege" of many Braun defenders.
"The definition of the 'toxic male privilege' in our industry is people saying, 'but he's always been nice to me,' when I'm raising valid concerns about artists owning their rights to own their music," Swift asserted. "Of course he's nice to you. If you're in this room, he has something that he needs."
She waited for loud applause, but it never came
Video recording of the speech seems to show several moments at which Swift paused for applause but the audience remained mostly silent.
TMZ reported that the reaction to Taylor's speech seemed "mixed."
When she finished speaking about Scooter, she seemed to wait for applause, and it did not come immediately ... and when it did it was less than thunderous.
One female exec in the room said afterward, "The night was supposed to be about inspiration, but it turned into another, 'poor little Taylor Swift.' It's hard to watch someone who's had such incredible privilege ... to complain about their own personal issues."
You can watch the full speech here:
Taylor Swift Accepts Woman of the Decade Award | Women In Music youtu.be
The feud with Braun began in June after Swift discovered that Braun's Ithaca Holdings had obtained ownership of her master recordings. It had been announced that Braun's organization acquired Big Machine Label Group, the label that is home to Swift's first six albums, NBC New York says.
According to Swift, Braun never reached out to her prior to the purchase.
Braun has since pleaded on social media with Swift to meet and work out the situation, saying he and his family have received death threats.