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Taylor Swift Is a Silence Breaker…When It Comes to Sexual Assault

My (mostly sarcastic) wish was that there would be an end to Taylor Swift think pieces for the Holiday season. However, her presence on the Time cover has caused a backlash, a response to that backlash, and a continuous discussion as to if she “deserves” to be on the cover. Because of course it did.

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The Daily Beast released an article on the 6th saying that Taylor Swift doesn’t deserve to have the title “silence breaker” since she has been silent on the political front concerning the 2016 election, Donald Trump, and fact that the alt-right and other neo-Nazis have taken her up as their perfect Aryan queen. Now, these things are hella suspect and part of the reasons why Taylor’s “wokeness” will always be in question—not because I think she is either a Trump supporter or a Nazi because I think it takes one quick look at her history to assume she is most likely not, but because if Beyoncé and P!nk and Katy Perry and Demi Lovato and all of her female contemporaries can speak up and risk their reputations, so can she. It is a choice.

Glamour then published their own response to the piece two days later, saying that Swift’s actions, despite her absence in the #MeToo movement, speak louder than words. She countersued a man who assaulted her and also donated money to Kesha to help with the artist’s legal fees following the Dr. Luke case. Glamour also mentioned that it is dangerous to start ranking which victims matter more or who “deserves” media attention or not.

Now, as someone who has enjoyed T-Swift’s music, but finds everything else ranging from grating to obnoxious, I think the one thing we should all rally behind her for is her court case. That asshole DJ had the raw-ass audacity to sue Swift for lost wages after the artists told his boss that he grabbed her ass. She countersued for $1 and called out that asshole for putting her and her family through this mess of a trial for his own ego. This dingleberry of a human still hasn’t paid Swift the dollar. Her interview with Time is powerful and important: her rage and aggression is perfect. Regardless of how you feel about her, according to RAINN there was a 35% increase on their crisis hotline during and after Swift’s trial. That is important and that alone is reason alone for her to be included in this article, which is about tributing women who spoke out about sexual assault.

However, that does not mean a discussion shouldn’t be had about her lack of political awareness in other areas. Glamour states this in their defense article about Swift:

 The overwhelming issue feminists take with Swift surrounds her inaction on social issues. Yes, the pop star was silent during the 2016 election. No, she didn’t publicly use the #MeToo hashtag on Twitter to support her sisters in arms. Many felt it was her duty on both counts to stand up for women and pick a side—makes sense when you’re someone with a platform as massive as hers —but she is, first and foremost, a pop singer. Throwing her hat into the activism ring shouldn’t be required.

Except, that, quite frankly, is bullshit. We can not act as though her being a pop singer (former country singer) means that her silence is appropriate or acceptable. Taylor labeled herself as a feminist, a la the school of Lena Dunham, but a feminist none the less. Which means she should be held accountable for her inaction when it comes to feminist issues. It also is not activism to say “I don’t support my nazi fans”, at least I didn’t think we were in a world where that has become activism.

Radio DJ David Mueller groped Taylor Swift during a photo op in 2013. She reported him to his radio station, KYGO, and he was terminated. He said her accusations were false and sued Swift. She countersued for $1 and won. “When I testified, I had already had to watch this man’s attorney bully, badger and harass my team, including my mother … I was angry. In that moment, I decided to forgo any courtroom formalities and just answer the questions the way it happened. This man hadn’t considered any formalities when he assaulted me … Why should I be polite? I’m told it was the most amount of times the word ass has ever been said in Colorado federal court.” (Mueller’s lawyer did not respond to multiple requests for comment.) @taylorswift is among the Silence Breakers, TIME’s Person of the Year. Read the full story on Photograph by Billy & Hells for TIME. #TIMEPOY

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Disliking Taylor Swift, rationally or irrationally, is not a reason to tear her down on this issue. What happened to her was assault, and we should not say that one kind of assault is more “important” to showcase than another. All it does it silence people from coming forward because they feel like they are going to be criticized. There is no ideal victim. However, we shouldn’t pretend that the media doesn’t think there is. Yes, Swift deserves her place in the cover and should be included, but there is a reason her face is on it and not Rose McGowan or Tarana Burke (even though they are featured inside) or Gabrielle Union. Women of color still don’t feel they have been included and we haven’t even begun to touch on LGBTQ women yet—all of these things matter.

Women from every political spectrum have been affected by this issue. However, if you are gonna call yourself a feminist and not promote progressive issues consistently with your mainstream base, then that is a problem. Taylor’s victimhood shouldn’t be called into question, but she should also be called out for what she hasn’t done. They are two different conversations that have converged in a way that overshadowed the accomplishments of the #MeToo movement and have just become a discussion about Taylor Swift. Which, as the trending and clicks show, people are much more interested in, even if they won’t admit it.

(via The Daily Beast, image: Shutterstock/Big Machine Records)

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Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.

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