The first time I heard a Taylor Swift song, it was 2008 and I was in the third grade. I remember the Florida sun shining hotly through the windshield of the car, our windows down, as my Mother and I drove down I-4 together. Taylor, who back then sported long curly hair (not too dissimilar to my own), had a sort of upbeat country attitude that I could only hope to achieve. She was the sweet young girl trying to make her dreams a reality. Funny how all of this was conveyed to a 9 year old girl, snacking on some fruit-snacks.
Flash forward, Taylor Swift has become a household name all across the world. Taylor herself is now worth a startling $280 Million according to Forbes, and has created an empire around her. Her previous albums have won her 11 American Music Awards, 7 Grammys, and 6 Country Music Awards. Swift is also the top selling digital artist in history. But for all of her success, Swift has received great controversy around her love life, which is the subject of many songs. Many have criticized Swift for dating men with the sole purpose to write songs, or to generate new ideas for songs. Swift was also in a previous feud with Singer/Song-Writer Katy Perry, which was the subject of a slew of media attention for the past few years. Recently, Swift seems to have changed her image--and this seems to have come on the heels of a recent lawsuit.
In June of 2013, former KYGO (A Denver, CO based Radio Station) Radio Host, David Mueller, along with his then-girlfriend, attend a backstage meet-and-greet at a Taylor Swift Concert. Swift claims that during a picture, Mueller, reached up her skirt and "grab[bed] [her] ass". Swift, after the photo, told her mother, Andrea, who then called Swift's team to meet to go over what should be done. Swift's team then removed Mueller from the concert as a result. Mueller was then fired from his job, after a call was made by Fran Bell, Swift's Senior Manager. Then, in September of 2015, Mueller sued Swift claiming that he lost his job and other work opportunities as a result of her "apparently" false accusation. In October of the same year, Swift filed a countersuit for assault and battery. Mueller is seeking $3 Million dollars, while Swift's suit only looks for $1. A federal judge allows the case to see a Jury, and Mueller's case, which had already been in jeopardy after the recorded phone calls between Bell and Mueller's Boss had been edited and then lost (after Mueller "spilled coffee" on his laptop), was thrown out with a lack of evidence that Swift was the cause of Mueller's firing. Swift, however, went on to win the trial after a unanimous decision was made by the Jury after less than four hours spent in deliberation. After the verdict was handed out, Swift stated, "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...my hope is to help those whose voices should also be heard."
Regardless of the fact if you agree with Swift's stances on a number of issues, if you like her music, or her Instagram and Twitter feeds, Swift's case is a direct stance against sexual assault. Swift's countersuit of only a single dollar, showed a symbolism to many Americans, particularly women. Sexual assault is not and should never be alright. It should never be put down or lessened. Sexual assault is a serious allegation and should be treated as such. Approximately every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted, and even more staggering is that 1 out of every 6 American women will be sexually assaulted, with younger women at the highest risk. Yet, surprisingly, only 310 of 1000 assaults are reported to police, and out of those thousand assaults, 7 of those people will be given a felony conviction, while 6 rapists will be incarcerated. Why are women so scared to report a sexual assault? Perhaps it's cases such of those like Megan Rondini or the humiliating reality that most victims report feeling after, or even worse, many victims suffer from PTSD following an assault.
Swift's victory shows an increasing awareness in the American public regarding the current stance on sexual assault. Swift speaking out about an event that could have turned sour quickly, shows a sense of fearlessness and ownership over the incident. Not to mention, the jury's verdict, which swung positively in Swift's favor, allows the American public to see that coming forward with cases dealing with sexual assault can bring a sense of closure and justice. And I don't know about you, but I'm feeling it's time for us to start looking at sexual assault with a more honest, and fearless lens.