It’s been one year since Taylor Swift won her lawsuit against the man who sexually assaulted her in public during a 2013 meet and greet.
Swift countersued DJ David Mueller for a single symbolic dollar to serve as an “example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts”, and her win was a huge win for us all.
There are a lot of fair criticisms to make about Taylor Swift, her feminism and her politics. Her feminism is predominantly exclusive to women who are, like her, white and privileged, and she’s been infamously quiet when it comes to crucial things like denouncing Donald Trump.
So it’s great to see Taylor share such powerful words about sexual assault that calls on the need for change and empathises with the many, many victims out there who are not believed.
No one is under any obligation to publicly share anything about their own experiences with sexual assault, which makes the emotional and extremely personal speech Taylor Swift gave on stage at her Reputation tour performance all the more brave and powerful.
“This exact day a year ago, I was not playing a sold out stadium in Tampa. I was in a courtroom in Denver, Colorado, and I was there for a sexual assault case.” Taylor tells her fans.
“This day a year ago was the day the jury decided in my favour, and said that they believed me. I’m don’t want to– I guess I just think about all the people that weren’t believed, and the people who are afraid to speak up because they think they won’t be believed. I just wanted to say I’m sorry to anyone who wasn’t believed, because I don’t know what turn my life would have taken if people didn’t believe me when I said that something had happened to me.”
“I guess I just wanted to say that we have so, so, so much further to go,” She continues. “And I am so grateful to you guys for being there for me during what was a really, really horrible part of my life. I just wanted to say that, and I wanted to thank you for everything.”
I know that when I meet you guys at meet and greets before and after the shows, you tell me about the hard times you’ve gone through in your lives, and I really appreciate you trusting me with that information. You guys have seen me go through so many ups and downs in my life, just due to the public nature of the way my life is, and I’m just so happy to see you and to have you and to know you through the ups and downs of my life. Thank you for everything. I’m sorry, I just haven’t really talked about it, so I’m just not composed at all.”
Fans were given specially made faux single dollar bills to represent the symbolic dollar Swift won in her court case, and instructed to hold them up during her speech to show support for her and all victims of sexual assault.
Taylor Swift may not always be a great feminist, but this was a powerful and brave thing to do. It’s a good reminder that while criticising people is important, we are often very quick to condemn and that is far less useful.
Having someone with as huge a platform as Taylor Swift improve her personal politics is much more helpful than writing her off completely, especially if Swift keeps up this kind of empowering content.