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Taylor Swift’s new song resonates with working women — ‘I cry a lot but I am so productive, it’s an art’

Taylor Swift accepts the Best Pop Vocal Album award for “Midnights” onstage during the 66th Grammy Awards at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Feb. 4, 2024.
Kevin Mazur | Getty Images

When Taylor Swift on April 19 surprised the world with “The Tortured Poets Department,” a double album complete with 31 self-composed songs, there was one line on “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart” that hit home with her — mostly female — listeners: “I cry a lot, but I am so productive, it’s an art.”

As of April 25, more than 98,000 short-form video posts on TikTok featured the lyric along with a glimpse of the user’s daily grind.

“It resonates with both millennials and Gen Zers, which I think indicates that Gen Z is feeling the same ‘girl-boss’ pressures that millennials famously grew up with,” said Casey Lewis, a social media trend forecaster.

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There’s a reason so many working women, regardless of age, can relate to the 14-time Grammy winner’s lyrics, according to Eve Rodsky, the author of “Fair Play” and an expert in domestic labor and partnership equity.

“We have been gaslighted to believe that having it all means doing it all,” she said. “The good news is that people like Taylor are calling this out.”

‘Maximize every minute’: pressures Taylor sings about

Women are steadily working more, but they continue to pick up a heavier load when it comes to household chores and caregiving responsibilities, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey and analysis of government data.

“I’m a millennial and I grew up like I needed to maximize every minute of the day,” Lewis said. “It’s interesting to see [Taylor] sing about those pressures.”

In February 2024, the labor force participation rate for women between the ages of 25 and 54 hit 77.7%, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s just shy of the June 2023 peak of 77.8%.

And yet, even in cases where women are now breadwinners, the division of labor at home has barely budged, the Pew report found.

“We are expected to wear many hats and achieve the same benchmarks at work, but often without the care infrastructure, employer support, or equitable division of labor in the home to make it happen,” said Heather Boneparth, co-author of The Joint Account, a money newsletter for couples. 

“But we also live in an environment of layoffs and rising costs, so not being productive isn’t really an option,” she added.

We have been gaslighted to believe that having it all means doing it all. The good news is that people like Taylor are calling this out.
Eve Rodsky
author of “Fair Play”

Working women are shouldering more burdens

Members of Gen Z and millennials are the first two generations that grew up alongside the internet, making them uniquely exposed to, and aware of, what’s going on in the economy, experts say.

“Part of that is thanks to the platform TikTok. Even though you’re not reading the news, you’re still seeing how the economy is impacting peers. It gives you a peek into many different worlds,” Lewis said.

At the same time, stress levels for working women have increased with long working hours, contributing to poor mental health, according to Deloitte’s most recent Women at Work report published this year.

Women are shouldering most of the responsibility for child care, domestic tasks, and, increasingly, care for aging parents — even if they’re the primary earner, the Deloitte report found.

This year, half of women who live with a partner and have children at home bear the most responsibility for child care, up from 46% last year. At the same time, 37% of women said they feel like they have to prioritize their partner’s career over their own — another increase from 2023 — in part because their partner earns more but also due to societal or cultural expectations.

“That’s going in the wrong direction,” said Deloitte’s Global Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Emma Codd, who is also a working mother.

“We need to be able to talk about it,” Codd said, and Taylor Swift’s new track is a good motivator, she added.

Correction: An earlier version of this story inaccurately characterized the labor force participation rate among women aged 25 to 54 in June 2023.

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