By: Shivani Gosai | Opinions Editor
On Monday Aug. 14, a jury ruled in favor of Taylor Swift in her countersuit against former DJ David Mueller for alleged assault and battery. Swift’s victory should be a victory for women everywhere who have experienced sexual assault.
Swift held a meet-and-greet at the Denver Pepsi Center on June 2, 2013 in which she posed for a photo with Mueller and his girlfriend at the time. Mueller reached his hand under Swift’s skirt and grabbed her “bare ass” (Swift’s exact words in court). The police were never called, but the singer’s team did notify Mueller’s bosses at KYGO radio. Swift went on to perform that night without the public knowing of the previous events. Mueller was fired from KYGO two days later.
Fast forward 2 years later, Mueller sues Swift for $3 million. He claimed her false accusations from that night resulted in wrongful termination and did irreparable harm to his reputation. Swift decided to prove a point and countersued Mueller for assault and battery a month later.
A lot of mixed reactions have come up online regarding Swifts trial; some positive, and some criticizing the pop-star for going to court over something they believe to be a trivial offense.
It’s kind of understandable how one would be skeptical at first because of how Swift has played the victim for most of her career, i.e.: consistently writing only breakup songs or trying to finesse Kanye West. However, letting this go would mean Swift would be disappointing thousands of women.
1 in 4 women have experienced some sort of sexual violence. Sexual violence is a general term to describe sexual harassment, rape, or any sort of unwanted sexual contact. When someone is unable to or does not consent to sexual activity, it is considered sexual violence, which is very serious and under-reported.
The reason it isn’t taken so seriously can be attributed to “rape culture”. Rape culture is a term first coined in the 70’s to educate the public on how common rape actually was. Basically, rape culture stems from ideas of misogyny and gender inequality that ultimately leads to the oppression of women. It gives men the idea that women are property, that they are deserving of sexual violence or had “asked for it” in some way. Victim blaming, essentially a symptom of rape culture, considers the assault victim to be at fault or responsible. Because of this, 6% of women who did not report rape said it was because of fear of not being believed by police.
The thing is, sexual assault doesn’t have to be as violent as rape. Sometimes it’s as little as being touched in an inappropriate way. The feelings a victim feels from non-consented sexual contact can be shame, rage, fear or anything in between. Consider the feelings of the victim, no matter the type of assault.
In a court statement, Swift thanked her legal team and the judge for “fighting for me and anyone who feels silenced by a sexual assault.” She plans to make donations in the future to multiple organizations that aid sexual assault victims.
Doug Baldridge, Swift’s lawyer, said during closing the arguments, “By returning a verdict on Ms. Swift’s counterclaim for a single symbolic dollar, the value of which is immeasurable to all women in this situation…You will tell every woman…that no means no.”