The director — who helmed Swift's new video for "Look What You Made Me Do" as well as videos for 1989 tracks "Wildest Dreams," "Bad Blood," and "Blank Space" — took to Twitter to defend the singer, claiming that those who referred to her as "manipulative" were falling prey to a sexist system that puts accomplished women down.
The director — who himself faced controversy for allegedly portraying a "white colonialist" narrative within Swift's "Wildest Dreams" video, which he has vehemently denied doing — tweeted that men, including himself, don't seem to have a problem with the "manipulative" label.
"If I plan something as a man I'm a 'genius.' If Taylor as a woman plans something she is 'manipulative.' Double standards. This is wrong," Kahn tweeted on Wednesday.
Swift may be silent on social media about the labels that the world slaps on her — save for that famous July 2016 note in which she claims she would like to be "excluded from [the] narrative" following Kim Kardashian West posting a video of her approving Kanye West's "Famous" lyrics on Snapchat — but her work speaks volumes. The "Look What You Made Me Do" video showcased her many alter-egos, all of which are some version of the Swift that's portrayed in the media.
It's clear that Swift is at least somewhat in on the joke that she is, as Katy Perry puts it, really "a Regina George in sheep's clothing." Still, Kahn does bring up a good point — the term "manipulative" does feel like a particularly gendered dig at women who are in control of their own image. (Seriously, has a male star ever been attached to that particular term?)
That doesn't mean all criticism of Swift is invalid, of course — but it's a side of the argument worth discussing.