Taylor Swift Gets Candid About Politics, Privilege, and How the Pop Industry Can Feel Like 'The Hunger Games'

Taylor Swift sat down with the Guardian for her first major U.K. interview in years, and over the course of the conversation, she opened up about pretty much everything fans have wanted to ask her over the last several years. Swift went into detail about her political views and why it took her so long to speak out about them; she explained why she’s been so protective of her relationship with actor Joe Alwyn; and she even shared her thoughts on the pop music industry and how it can feel like The Hunger Games sometimes.

During the interview, Swift focuses a lot on 2016—a rough year for her, during which she had some public feuds with Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, and Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. She had previously said in interviews that “an artist fails when they lose their self-awareness,” and she’s asked if she feels she’d made the same mistake during her career.

“I definitely think that sometimes you don’t realize how you’re being perceived,” she said. “Pop music can feel like it’s The Hunger Games, and like we’re gladiators. And you can really lose focus of the fact that that’s how it feels because that’s how a lot of stan [fan] Twitter and tabloids and blogs make it seem – the overanalyzing of everything makes it feel really intense.”

From there on, Swift launches into even more details about aspects of her career and her time in public view. The entire piece is full of nuance, and you can read it here. In the meantime, here’s what we learned about Swift:

Why she’s protective of her relationship with Joe Alywn:“I’ve learned that if I do [talk about the relationship], people think it’s up for discussion, and our relationship isn’t up for discussion,” she said. “If you and I were having a glass of wine right now, we’d be talking about it—but it’s just that it goes out into the world. That’s where the boundary is, and that’s where my life has become manageable. I really want to keep it feeling manageable.”

How she overcome one of her toughest years:“You can either stand there and let the wave crash into you, and you can try as hard as you can to fight something that’s more powerful and bigger than you… Or you can dive under the water, hold your breath, wait for it to pass and while you’re down there, try to learn something. Why was I in that part of the ocean? There were clearly signs that said: Rip tide! Undertow! Don’t swim! There are no lifeguards!”

“Why was I there? Why was I trusting people I trusted?” she said. “Why was I letting people into my life the way I was letting them in? What was I doing that caused this?”

What she’s learned about her own privilege:Swift said that she’s come to understand “a lot about how my privilege allowed me to not have to learn about white privilege. I didn’t know about it as a kid, and that is privilege itself, you know? And that’s something that I’m still trying to educate myself on every day. How can I see where people are coming from, and understand the pain that comes with the history of our world?”

Why she sued radio DJ David Mueller, who touched her ass at a meet-and–greet event.“Having dealt with a few of them, narcissists basically subscribe to a belief system that they should be able to do and say whatever the hell they want, whenever the hell they want to,” she said. “And if we—as anyone else in the world, but specifically women—react to that, well, we’re not allowed to. We’re not allowed to have a reaction to their actions.”

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