Taylor Swift‘s assault trial has come to an end and the singer has come out victorious. The trial, which began last Monday, involved a Denver radio host who Swift accused of inappropriately groping her. The DJ sued Swift after losing his job because she spoke out about the incident and she ~swiftly~ countersued.
The trouble began during a meet-and-greet in 2013 at the Pepsi Center in Denver. A local radio DJ named David Mueller was posing for a photo with Swift when, according to Swift, he got bold and groped her under her skirt. After the singer/songwriter’s team vocalized concern about the encounter, Mueller was fired from his cushy radio job. His firing led to him suing Swift and claiming it was a false accusation that lost him his job. Swift countersued two years later for assault and battery. While the DJ’s original lawsuit was worth thousands — T.Swizzle only asked for $1 in damages.
Throughout this saga there has been one piece of what Swift claims is damning evidence — a photo from the meet-and-greet that shows Mueller’s hand very low on the singer’s back. In a deposition filed last year in an attempt to avoid trial, Swift said, “He reached up under my skirt and grabbed my ass right when I was having to pose for a photo,” and expressed her dismay at his behavior because — duh — that’s disgusting.
Despite her efforts to prevent a media spectacle, the case did go to trial and the “Blank Space” singer came out swinging. With signs of support written in Post-Its on nearby buildings, Taylor entered the courthouse. During her testimony, she was not going to allow herself to be slut-shamed or denied justice — something that unfortunately happens all too often in sexual assault cases. When Mueller’s lawyer Gabriel McFarland asked why the front of her skirt wasn’t ruffled if the DJ’s hand was under it Swift responded, “because my ass is located in the back of my body.” Dang, girl.
In another quote from the trial that went viral because of Tay’s refusal to take the blame off of the assailant, she responded to a question asking if she was critical of her bodyguard for his inaction by saying, “I’m critical of your client sticking his hand under my skirt and grabbing my ass.” That line just might become the most iconic clap back of our generation.
Taylor Swift’s mother, Andrea also took the stand, giving very emotional testimony where she questioned why she taught Taylor to be so polite. She recalled her disgust at the incident, saying it made her want to “vomit and cry at the same time.” She also echoed a sentiment that many sexual assault survivors can understand – the desire to not have her daughter relive the incident but to also get justice for her child.
The jury ruled in favor of Swift after four hours of deliberation on Monday. This victory comes after she was dismissed from Mueller’s suit against her when a judge ruled she did nothing improper to lead to the DJ losing his job.
Swift will be receiving a mere $1 in damages. She decided to sue for $1 to bring awareness to sexual assault cases rather than bleed the DJ dry. In her lawsuit she said she hoped this case would “serve as an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts.” This is just one of the first steps, but it’s a big one.
Swift has often been seen as a bit of a “bystander feminist.” Her silence on many feminist issues and current events has been criticized often. This has contributed to even more silence surrounding her trial. While fans and feminists alike came out in hordes for Kesha during her assault trial with Dr. Luke, those same supporters are nowhere to be seen here. That said, the timing of this victory could not be more poignant — as Kesha’s new album dropped last Friday and although it seems to call out Dr. Luke for his alleged manipulation and abuse, he will still likely profit from the record as Sony would not let Kesha out of her contract with the music producer (though he did step down as CEO of the label).
The issue of sexual assault is nothing new, but it is something that so many women have been through without receiving proper justice — which frequently leads to other victims not reporting their crimes for fearing not being believed. Hopefully, Taylor Swift’s justice can encourage survivors who wish to speak out to feel comfortable in doing so. Taylor Swift is planning to use her platform to bring attention to the problem even more. In a statement after the verdict, Swift 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.”
Swift can use her fame to do real good here. Celebrities are often attacked for speaking out against injustices that they have never experienced. Swift has, unfortunately, experienced sexual assault first hand and can now truly help in the fight against it. Why does it matter if her support comes monetarily instead of in a flurry of tweets (as was criticized in the Kesha v. Dr. Luke scandal)? She recognizes that her privilege allows her to fund a legal defense and that many don’t have the same option. Her goal now is to help assault victims get justice and I think that’s something we can all get behind.