Taylor Swift divides opinion by changing ‘misogynistic’ lyric on new Speak Now album

The album cover of Taylor Swift's Speak Now Taylor's Version, and Taylor Swift performing on the Speak Now tour.

Taylor Swift’s version of her third studio album Speak Now is finally out in the world, but one lyric change has fans drawing battle lines and fighting their corners.

Ever since “Karma” singer Swift began re-recording her past albums back in 2020, following her back catalogue being purchased by entrepreneur Scooter Braun against her will in 2019, fans have wondered how much, or how little, she’d change on the newer versions.

The first album she re-released was Fearless, her record-smashing, 2008 sophomore record. Fans wept listening to her mature vocals take on the teenage sensibility of her smash hit single “Love Story”.

When Red hit the shelves back in 2021, the fan hysteria hit a new peak with the release of the previously unreleased, “From The Vault” track “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)”. One fan loved it so much that he got its lyrics tattooed across the entirety of his leg.

The third re-recorded album to drop, after months of teasing, is Swift’s third album Speak Now. It’s long been a fan favourite: “Dear John”, the scathing letter to ex-boyfriend and musician John Mayer, is arguably one of her best lyrical achievements. “Story of Us” is seen as Swift’s earliest foray into rock music, while “Enchanted” is a Disney film in six minutes.

Among the adoration though, there’s the discourse. One song on Speak Now that has filled up discussion threads on Swiftie fan sites for years is her track “Better Than Revenge”, an angsty vengeance track.

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“She had to know the pain was beating on me like a drum,” Swift sings, her rage bubbling up over the surface. “She underestimated just who she was stealing from.”

“Better Than Revenge” is rumoured to be about American actor Camilla Belle, who began dating Swift’s ex-boyfriend and Jonas Brother star Joe Jonas shortly after the pair split in 2008.

On the original version of the song, and in lyrics that have for years been branded as “misogynistic” and “slut-shaming” by certain fans, Swift yells: “She’s not a saint and she’s not what you think, she’s an actress. She’s better known for the things that she does on the mattress.”

When Taylor Swift announced back in May that she’d be releasing the new version of Speak Now, fans took it as a cue to once again ignite the debate over whether the lyric was appropriate or not, and speculate whether Swift would change it.

The guessing games are finally over, as “Better Than Revenge (Taylor’s Version)” has landed, and fans have learnt that, yep, the controversial lyrics have been swapped out.

“She’s not a saint and she’s not what you think, she’s an actress,” the new lyrics read, before Swift changes the line about mattresses to: “He was a moth to the flame, she was holding the matches.”

While some fans have praised Swift for the new lyrics and declared that they think the new version is more poetic anyway, others are unsure and have pledged to continue listening to the old version.

“She deserves some applause for ‘Better Than Revenge (Taylor’s Version)’,” wrote one Swift fan on social media, garnering more than 30,000 ‘likes’ in response.

“Apparently I am in the minority by liking the lyric change in ‘Better Than Revenge’. I think it’s a poetic and mature change to a line that (whether you like it or not) needed an update,” another shared.

“Calling someone a sl*t in a poetic way is still calling someone a sl*t. Taylor apologised for a reason,” said a third.

Others, though, are steadfast in their opinion that the lyric didn’t need to be switched out.

“If Paramore can perform ‘Misery Business’ in the year 2023 then Taylor Swift can keep the lyrics to ‘Better Than Revenge’ the same,” one tweeter shared.

Paramore’s Hayley Williams announced in 2018 that she would retire the band’s hit song due to a lyric calling a love rival a “wh*re”, but the band began playing the song once again last year

“The lyric change on ‘Better Than Revenge’ needed to stay in the vault,” another said.

“For the first time a remade song is worse than the original,” one fan shared. “I’m sad she changed that lyric in ‘Better Than Revenge’ because now it sounds like some cleaned up kidz bop version and I’m gonna be keeping the original on my playlist.”


Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) is out now.