Awesomeness continues after advertisement
Taylor Swift is just the role model we need this week.
She stresses the importance of female friendship, encourages young women to not let anyone take credit for their success — and she is not afraid to admit that her understanding of what it means to be a feminist is constantly evolving. Phew! Us too.
But her actions in the courtroom this week take on an even more serious issue.
Awesomeness continues after advertisement>
Swift has been in court the last few days battling for her rights in a way that is truly inspiring. The lawsuit stems from a 2013 incident in which Swift alleges that Colorado radio DJ David Mueller grabbed her butt during a fan meet-and-greet.
Once the allegations got out, Mueller was fired from his job and sued Swift for defamation, asking for $3 million (his case was dismissed on Friday).
Enraged, Swift countersued (only asking for a symbolic $1). For her, this was about standing up for what is right and what is wrong.
Celebrities often try to avoid publicly testifying, since intimate details about their lives are then made available for public consumption. But not Swift. She decided to make sure her voice was heard.
In court, the “Shake It Off” singer got into the gritty details of the incident, which took place during her Red Tour. When asked if she blamed her bodyguard, Swift testified, “I’m critical of your client sticking his hand under my skirt and grabbing my a**.”
She made it clear that the DJ touched her inappropriately and she refused to take any responsibility for his later being fired from his job. It was “his decision — not mine,” she said.
When asked if she could “see” the event happening at the time, she quickly clarified no, since her a** in the back of her body. She also explained that no one else was witness to this incident because “the only person who would have a direct eye line is someone laying underneath my skirt and we didn’t have anyone positioned there.”
But the questioning didn’t end there.
Mueller’s lawyer went as far as to show a photo from the meet-and-greet and claimed “there’s nothing in Taylor Swift’s face to suggest anything is wrong.” This comment reportedly made Swift tear up — and enrages us to no end. Blaming the victim is wildly wrong in any setting — casual or courtroom — and pointing to Swift’s reaction in a photo has nothing to do with the fact that someone touched her inappropriately and without consent.
Swift’s lawyer responded to both that claim and the claim that she should’ve reported the incident to the police (instead of having her mother and a radio liaison tell Mueller’s employer). He stated: “Women who are attacked [and] women who are mistreated generally don’t want people to know.”
Swift’s lawyer was the champion she needed during the proceedings. In his closing statement, he criticized Mueller’s legal team for the “re-victimization” of the superstar. He perfectly summed up the case by saying, “It means ‘no means no,’ and it tells every woman that they will determine what is tolerable to their body.”
After four hours of deliberation, Swift received the verdict from the jury that we feel she deserved.
The Denver jury determined that she was groped by the DJ and that Swift’s mother and her radio liaison were well within their rights to inform Mueller’s boss (which resulted in his termination).
Swift stood up for herself and other victims with some powerful words:
“I acknowledge the privilege that I benefit from in life, in society and in my ability to shoulder the enormous cost of defending myself in a trial like this,” she said.
“My hope is to help those whose voices should also be heard. Therefore, I will be making donations in the near future to multiple organizations that help sexual assault victims defend themselves.”
One out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed sexual assault. And young women are at far greater risk: girls ages 16-19 are four times more likely to be victims of sexual assault, and young women in college are 3 times more likely than women in general to experience sexual assault.
Taylor Swift stood up for her rights — and for what is acceptable to her body — in a commendable way this week. Many victims of sexual assault do not report it, especially if they feel unsure if an incident “counts” as sexual assault.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.”
Swift’s actions have paved the way for young women to come forward, speak out about these injustices, and remind the world that only you can determine what is tolerable for your own body.