The shady side of Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift is on top of the world, but critics say she's done some sketchy things to get there. From her controversial views on feminism to her questionable dating habits, let's take a closer look at the shady side of America's sweetheart.

She capitalizes on her relationships

Though she insists in interviews that she doesn't like to talk about her personal life, Swift definitely profits on the speculation. According to countless celebrity sites, most of Swift's exes have made their way into her singles. Singer Joe Jonas supposedly inspired Swift's "Forever and Always," "Better Than Revenge," and "You're Not Sorry" after he broke up with her in an infamous 27-second phone call. Actor Jake Gyllenhaal is rumored to be the man behind most of Red, including "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together." Harry Styles is allegedly the beau behind "I Knew You Were Trouble" and much of 1989, especially "Style" and "Out of the Woods."

Though Swift never officially confirms or denies these suspicions, she often scatters hints, like bread crumbs, in liner notes and interviews, knowing full well that fans will follow the trail.

Some of her muses have fired back at the songstress. Musician John Mayer told Rolling Stone he was "humiliated" by Swift's song "Dear John." Swift responded by telling Glamour that he was being "presumptuous" about the track's inspiration. Okay, Tay, whatever you say.

Jonas indicated that Swift manipulated the facts regarding their breakup to drum up sympathy at the expense of his reputation. He defended himself in a letter to fans. "For those who have expressed concern over the '27 second' phone call," he wrote (via People), "I called [Swift] to discuss feelings…Those feelings were obviously not well received. I did not end the conversation. Someone else did. Phone calls can only last as long as the person on the other end of the line is willing to talk."

Her awkward reactions at award ceremonies

Despite winning almost everything all the time, Swift puts on an awkward faux shocked face when she wins an award. The only time she seems genuinely shocked is when she loses to someone else—just look at the sneer she threw at Adele during the 2013 Golden Globes and her embarrassing reaction when Daft Punk beat her for album of the year at the 2014 Grammys.

Swift candidly addressed the latter in an interview with Stereogum. "When they announced the album of the year winner it was like, 'And the album of the year goes to…Reeeeeandom Access Memories, Daft Punk!' And they really dragged out the 'reeee. And for a second, I kinda thought we had it," she said. "I remember not going to after-parties. I went home and I cried a little bit, and I got In-N-Out Burger and ate a lot." Seriously? That sounds a little dramatic for someone who has clearly received a gigantic amount of critical affirmation throughout her career.

Her confusing feminist positions

Swift stirred up a hornet's nest of criticism when she tried discussing feminism in a 2012 interview with The Daily Beast. "I don't really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have," she said. "I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life." Critics thought she'd missed the point by suggesting some sort of male standard to try to meet. Swift later attempted to amend her views, yet her attitude still seems off.

In Swift's world, any criticism of any woman—especially her—seems to be viewed as anti-feminist. When comedians Tina Fey and Amy Poehler wisecracked about her dating life at the Golden Globes in 2013, Swift quoted Katie Couric (who was actually quoting Madeleine Albright) in Vanity Fair, telling the mag, "There's a special place in Hell for women who don't support other women."

In 2015, Swift's "Bad Blood" video, starring her famous squad of model friends, was nominated at the MTV Video Music Awards. Rapper Nicki Minaj had this to say about it on Twitter: "If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year." Swift responded, tweeting, "I've done nothing but love & support you. It's unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot." Swift then invited Minaj to join her on stage if Swift won. Minaj wasn't having it. "Huh? U must not be reading my tweets," she said. "Didn't say a word about u."

The irony in Swift's lecture to Minaj was that "Bad Blood" was reportedly inspired by Swift's hatred for another female artist: Katy Perry. Of course, Swift has coyly declined to confirm that rumor, but Perry wasn't afraid to weigh in on the feud with Minaj, tweeting, "Finding it ironic to parade the pit women against other women argument about as one unmeasurably [sic] capitalizes on the take down of a woman…

Her hypocritical slut-shaming

In Swift's song, "Better Than Revenge," the singer attacks a woman who she thinks stole her boyfriend. Rumor has it the song is about actress Camilla Belle allegedly stealing Jonas from her (which Jonas vehemently denies). Swift sings, "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."

However, one could surmise that Swift has no issues "stealing" guys when it's convenient. In her video for "You Belong With Me," she lures the football star away from his girlfriend, and according to the Daily News, she allegedly began secretly dating Scottish DJ Calvin Harris while he was still attached to his ex, model Aarika Wolf.

She holds grudges

Remember when Kanye West interrupted Swift at the 2009 VMAs? She certainly does. Swift wrote a song about it called "Innocent" and even keeps a framed photo of the incident in her home.

At the 2015 Grammy Awards, Tay and Yeezy finally mended fences, or so we thought, until West released The Life of Pablo in 2016. In the first verse of "Famous," he raps "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex. Why? I made that b**** famous." The video that accompanies that song includes a Swift look-alike lying naked in bed next to West. You can't make this stuff up, and we wouldn't blame Swift for taking offense, except West's wifey, Kim Kardashian, claims Tay signed off on the song. Say what?

According to Kardashian, West and Swift discussed the songs lyrics. "It was funny because [on the call with Kanye, Taylor] said, 'When I get on the Grammy red carpet, all the media is going to think that I'm so against this, and I'll just laugh and say, 'The joke's on you, guys. I was in on it the whole time,'" Kardashian told GQ. But Swift didn't laugh when she won album of the year at the Grammy Awards. She "completely dissed my husband just to play the victim again," said Kardashian.

In her acceptance speech, Swift said, "I want to say to all the young women out there—there are going to be people along the way who are going to try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame."

Swift's camp denied Kardashian's story, but on July 17, 2016, Kardashian released Snapchat video footage of Swift on the phone with West while he was in the studio working on "Famous." Everything seems fine and dandy on that call. According to TMZ, Swift reportedly had no idea West had put her on speaker phone for the conversation. Thus, her legal team believes West violated a California state law which states that a person must inform the other party if they plan to record their conversation. In other words: Swift's camp thinks West committed a felony.

She sends mixed messages about artists' rights

Swift was considered a champion for unpaid and underdog artists when she came out against Apple Music for not paying artists for streams. That attitude is what made a subsequent conflict with a visual artist particularly shocking.

In 2014, Swift posted a fan-made illustration of a fox on her Instagram along with the lyric, "They are the hunters / We are the foxes" from her 1989 track, "I Know Places." Artist Ally Burguieres came forward saying she created the original fox image and would like it removed. A Swift fan had reportedly copied and slightly modified the original work and added the Swift lyric. Swift claims she had no idea the fan's work was not original. At that point, the lawyers got involved.

According to the Daily Mail, Burguieres claimed Swift agreed to pay her "four figures" for the alleged copyright violation but stipulated that the money had to be donated to a charity. Swift's camp sung an entirely different tune. Her legal team said it offered Burguieres "a fair offer of payment well above a reasonable licensing fee for the short time that the fan art was posted online" with "no requirement of a contribution to any charity." When Burguieres reportedly rejected Swift's offer, her legal team dubbed the decision "an unfortunate effort to extract more money and more publicity."

Now, back to Apple: in 2015 Swift climbed in bed with her former foe, inking a huge business deal that included an exclusive 1989 World Tour documentary. According to Billboard, Swift's decision was "a business-as-usual move for an artist and label who are wringing every ounce of sales and promotional benefit out of anyone willing to meet them halfway—or so."

She's very charitable, and she wants everyone to know it

Swift loves donating to charity and doing good deeds, especially when the press is around to talk about it. Somehow, cameras—not just from bystanders, but also from professional photo agencies—manage to catch the songstress doing really sweet things. Her philanthropic efforts are incredible, but the potentially staged documentation of these gestures make some critics question her motives. Case in point: her wildly popular "Swiftmas" videos document her holiday generosity in the most self-congratulatory way possible. It's great to be charitable, but it's tacky to make a spectacle out of it.

Her friendships seem cliquey and risky

OK! magazine reports that Swift's beloved squad isn't all it's cracked up to be. An insider told the tab, "There are to be no secrets, ever, and backstabbing's a major no-no." The source added that any social media postings even mentioning Swift have to be approved by the singer. Does Tay also control what her famous friends say about her in interviews because it seems all Gigi Hadid, Martha Hunt, and the rest of the clique do is gush about just how wonderful Swift is.

It doesn't end there. Actress and model Chloe Grace Moretz revealed that she was invited to join Swift's squad, because, you know, that's something real friends do, right? When Complex pressed for details in a 2016 cover story, Moretz said she could not elaborate. She would only say this about Swift: "She's a very talented person." As for squads, in general? Moretz made it clear she wants no part in them. "They appropriate exclusivity," she said. "They're cliques!"

Of course, being Swift's friend also brings with it the risk of her writing a song about you. She said "Bad Blood" was about an alleged friendship gone awry. (That friend is believed to be Katy Perry.) Swift also mentions her childhood BFF in her popular song "Fifteen," and that has to be a little embarrassing, considering the song mentions Abigail, by name, giving "everything she had" (read between the lines) to "a boy that changed his mind." Ouch.

Is she trying to destroy Calvin Harris?

Swift met Avengers star Tom Hiddleston at the Met Gala in May 2016. Swift attended the gala solo though she was reportedly still with Harris, her boyfriend of 15 months, at the time. At a gala afterparty, Swift and Hiddleston oozed chemistry and were filmed having some sort of dance-off. Soon after the party, Harris and Swift went kaput, and just two weeks after that, Hiddleston and Swift were photographed making out in Rhode Island. Rumors erupted, but initially, everything seemed on the up and up. Swift and Harris both posted amicable breakup messages about one another.

That sweetness has since soured. The ex-lovers erased all traces of one another from their social media accounts, "Hiddleswift" continued its PDA all over the world, and Harris released a co-called "cheating song."

And then things went from bad to worse: TMZ reported in July 2016 that the couple's relationship imploded over drama surrounding his hit song with Rihanna, "This Is What You Came For." Sources allege Swift actually wrote the lyrics to the song and Harris loved it so much, they agreed to record a demo together. At the time, Swift reportedly asked to remain anonymous on the song's credits, but she supposedly changed her tune following an interview Harris gave to radio host Ryan Seacrest. During the interview, Harris was asked if he'd ever collaborate with Swift. The DJ seemed to protect Swift's cover, saying they had not and likely would not ever work together, but according to TMZ sources, Swift felt "disrespected" by Harris' response. Insiders told TMZ that her friends "feel [Calvin] should be thanking her for quietly giving him a smash hit."

Harris is singing a very different tune. He took to Twitter in July 2016 with a string of candid posts. "I wrote the music, produced the song, arranged it and cut the vocals," he said, "And initially she wanted it kept secret." Like a gentleman, he acknowledged Swift's talents, calling her an "amazing lyric writer." Then Harris let it fly: "I figure if you're happy in your new relationship you should focus on that instead of trying to tear your ex bf down for something to do" he said. "I know you're off tour and you need someone new to try and bury like Katy ETC but I'm not that guy, sorry. I won't allow it." The "Katy" reference is a nod to Swift's "Bad Blood" song, which is wildly believed to be about rival pop star Katy Perry.

All this drama is exhausting, isn't it? Though this article makes a solid case for Swift's shady side, we suspect the superstar will "build a castle out of all the bricks" we threw at her and keep cranking out hit music for years to come.