Gaslight, Gatekeep, Girlboss: Taylor Swift Edition


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Taylor Swift Speak Now Tour Hots Sydney, Australia

Gaslight, Gatekeep, Girlboss. A play on the saying “Live Laugh Love,” the alliterative meme swept the internet in 2021. TikTok users and Twitter posters alike began using the words “gaslight,” “gatekeep,” and “girlboss” to describe obscure niches from room decor to different Spiderman franchises to Taylor Swift albums (in case you’re wondering, folklore is gaslight, Reputation is gatekeep, and Lover is girlboss).

“The phrase is used to mock the stereotypical sentiments of the typical ‘empowered feminist,’ with each term holding a negative connotation in reference to female empowerment,” wrote Know Your Meme.

But let’s break down the three g’s even further. Gaslighting is a form of manipulation in which one person or group makes another question their own reality. Gatekeeping is “when someone takes it upon themselves to decide who does or does not have access or rights to a community or identity,” according to Urban Dictionary. For instance, if someone says they are a Taylor Swift fan, and another claims that they can’t be a Taylor Swift fan unless they know the lyrics to every song. Finally, “girlboss” is a somewhat controversial term that often describes toxic, powerful, white-feminist female CEOs. The “girlboss” feels like she has overcome sexism by climbing up the power-ladder. 

While the meme seemingly makes light of gaslighting, gatekeeping, and girlbossing, In The Know argues that the meme is actually doing some real good, making it easier to identify issues of gaslighting, and destigmatizing calling out gaslighting, gatekeeping, and girlbossing.

So now that we have all that down, I’ve decided to do my own Gaslight Gatekeep Girlboss sorting of Taylor Swift songs. The inspiration for this comes from @moonybug on Tik Tok, and while I did agree with many of her categorizations, I made some changes based on my own opinion. Please note that not every Taylor Swift song is included, as some fit none of the categories, or fit too many categories. Without further ado, let us begin.


These are Taylor Swift songs where she creates a narrative that may or may not be true from the other, typically male, side of the story. Some key quintessential gaslight songs include “betty,” which is a song from the teenage boy’s perspective, trying to convince his girlfriend to take him back after he cheated on her. He claims “I’m only seventeen, I don’t know anything, but I know I missed you.” There’s also “I Bet You Think About Me,” which is gaslighting the other person into believing that the speaker is on their mind all the time. In “Better Than Revenge,” the speaker paints herself as a victim to another girl who stole her boyfriend. The entirety of “You Belong With Me” is gaslighting her love into thinking that he belongs with her. Finally, in “Getaway Car,” the speaker paints a narrative towards her ex-lover about why their relationship didn’t work, stating that she used him as a getaway car from her old relationship, but she “didn’t mean it” and he “didn’t see it.” Some other Taylor Swift songs that I classify as Gaslight include:

  1. Bad Blood
  2. cowboy like me
  3. right where you left me
  4. Speak Now
  5. Mr. Perfectly Fine
  6. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together (also a Girl Boss song)
  7. Look What You Made Me Do
  8. This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
  9. Back To December
  10. Picture To Burn
  11. Teardrops on My Guitar
  12. The Other Side Of The Door
  13. Superstar
  14. We Were Happy
  15. I Wish You Would
  16. How You Get The Girl
  17. Starlight
  18. Afterglow (opposite)
  19. Mirrorball
  20. Champagne Problems
  21. Tis the Damn Season
  22. tolerate it
  23. Wonderland
  24. The Lucky One
  25. No Body No Crime (also girl boss)
  26. Ivy
  27. Blank Space
  28. Forever and always


Taylor Swift songs that fall under the “Gatekeep” category are songs where the speaker is so in love with her subject that she doesn’t want anyone else to have him. For instance, in “Call It What You Want,” the speaker describes how her “baby’s fit like a daydream / walking with his head down / I’m the one he’s walking too.” In fact, she wants it known that he is her man so much that she states: “I want to wear his initial / On a chain round my neck.” Additionally, the speaker in the song “august” mourns how her summer fling is not hers to keep; “You back beneath the sun / Wishin’ I could write my name on it.” In “Don’t Blame Me,” the speaker develops a metaphor for her lover, saying: “my drug is my baby / I’d be using for the rest of my life.” In the song “Tim McGraw,” the speaker makes it clear with the lines “When you think TIm McGraw / I hope you think of me;” she does not want him thinking about anyone else when he thinks about Tim McGraw. In “Paper Rings,” the speaker is so in love with her man and so ready to commit that she would even “marry you with paper rings.” Finally, in the song “Dress,” the speaker emphasizes that she “doesn’t want you like a best friend” and “you made your mark on me, golden tattoo.” Some other songs that I classified as “Gatekeep” include:

  1. Love Story
  2. The Way I Loved You
  3. King Of My Heart
  4. the lakes
  5. Lover
  6. Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince
  7. London Boy
  8. Daylight
  9. Stay Stay Stay
  10. Message In A Bottle
  11. End Game
  12. Gorgeous
  13. New Year’s Day
  14. Mine
  15. Enchanted
  16. Ours
  17. Our Song
  18. Mary’s Song
  19. Style
  20. I’m Only Me When I’m with You
  21. Today was a Fairytale
  22. The Best Day
  23. Untouchable
  24. Sparks Fly
  25. Everything Has Changed
  26. Holy Ground
  27. You Are In Love
  28. This Love
  29. I Know Places
  30. … Ready For It
  31. Delicate
  32. Gorgeous
  33. Dancing With our Hands Tied
  34. I Think He Knows
  35. Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince
  36. It’s Nice to Have a Friend
  37. Seven
  38. Invisible String
  39. Peace
  40. Gold Rush
  41. Fearless
  42. Cornelia Street
  43. Stay Beautiful
  44. Hey Stephen
  45. Wildest Dreams
  46. Willow


Finally, “Girlboss” Taylor Swift songs are songs where she is either happy and living life to the fullest, or where she is taking some form of empowerment. For instance, in “Me!” Swift rejoices at how “I’m the only one of me / Baby, that’s the fun of me,” and is just very happy to be herself. In “Welcome To New York,” Swift expresses her joy of a fresh start in New York, singing about how she feels that the city has “been waitin’ for” her and “it’s a new soundtrack, I could dance to this beat, beat forevermore.” Then, in “Shake It Off,” the speaker demonstrates her girlboss skill of not letting the haters get to her: “the hater’s gonna shake… I’m just gonna shake it off.” Swift continues this sentiment of independence in the song “I Forgot That You Existed,” where she exclaims that she can’t even remember her haters. And in “closure,” Swift continues to revel in her independence, saying “I don’t need your / closure.” Finally, the epitome of “girlboss” comes when Swift calls out the sexism in the music industry, singing “If I was a man / Then I’d be the man … / They wouldn’t shake their heads and question how much of this I deserve.” The other songs I classified as “Girlboss” include:

  1. You Need To Calm Down
  2. 22
  3. the last great american dynasty
  4. I Did Something Bad
  5. Should’ve Said No
  6. this is me trying
  7. Long story short
  8. it’s time to go
  9. Mean
  10. Happiness
  11. Begin Again
  12. Long live
  13. No Body No Crime
  14. The 1
  15. New Romantics
  16. Mad woman