This week Taylor Swift was in court, and in a world where the media covers her every date and change of shoe it took me days to find out. Crazy right?
It gets even crazier when you find out why the queen of break up songs was in court in the first place; she was being sued for $3 million by a man who lost his job because she reported him for putting his hand up her skirt and grabbing her backside during a photoshoot.
Now let’s be honest, being sued is never good for someone’s reputation. And when that someone is a person the media in general seem to detest, they may well be forgiven for doing some backstage legal wrangling only to send the guy packing with a much smaller settlement.
Not Taylor though, no no no.
She refused to settle. She went all the way to court, took her place on the stand when the time came and said her piece (pretty bloody well too). And not only that, but she actually counter-sued the arsehole in question for assault and battery, asking for the grand total of $1.
I know, it will have cost her way more in legal fees than she eventually won. But let’s be honest, it was never about the money. Instead it was about something way way better, and it’s that something that makes me back Taylor Swift 1,000,000% this week.
I’m supporting her because this week Taylor has gotten up there and taken a stand against the arseholes of the world who think it’s OK to touch women without their consent, and in doing so has shown the women who experience that that they’re not alone.
In reality of course, we know they’re not alone. We know that because a simple conversation with any group of women will throw up any number of reports of being grabbed, groped or touched in some other way without their consent.
The Christmas that I was six a relative of mine was murdered when she told a bloke in a club to take his hand off her backside. His response? To glass her. She died in a nightclub on Christmas Eve at the age of 19.
The lady wasn’t a close relative, but by nature of the fact that I knew her, it felt close to home. And it continued to feel closer to home every time I left my worried mum at home to go out clubbing; every time I wondered about the best way to tell a man to back off on a night out, and in all manner of other ways. In fact the events of that Christmas have never been too far from my mind.
My own personal stories are – thankfully –much less painful; there’s the random man who put his hand up my friend’s short skirt while she was stood at a bar one night; the guy who stuck his hand down the back of another friend’s dress during a work night out about an hour after she’d told him she wasn’t interested; and the complete stranger who snuck up behind me in the street one night and bit my backside. Yes, you did read that right.
In all of those cases the guys in question weren’t sorry. In fact they didn’t even understand why we thought they’d done anything wrong. And when each of us repeated the story to other people, they just shook their heads and rolled their eyes.
Because it’s seen as normal – acceptable even. So much so that even those of us who know point blank that it’s unacceptable can still get scared about calling that out, or taking the complaint further.
And that’s why Taylor Swift’s refusal to back down is so bloody important, not just for her but for all of us.
Here is someone who can afford financially to take the complaint further yes, but who is also a successful, strong, confident woman who refused to be brought down to a lower level by some arsehole who couldn’t keep his hands to herself.
Even when she took to the stand and faced the standard demeaning treatment that we’re used to seeing given to victims of sexual assault in court, she answered back like a pro.
The lawyer asked if she was certain his client was the person who had assaulted her; according to Buzzfeed Swift replied: “He had a handful of my ass. I know it was him.”
He asked if she had actually seen the incident; she replied that no, she hadn’t because “my ass is in the back of my body.”
And when the lawyer asked how she felt about his client having been fired from his job because of her decision to report the incident, she responded: “I am not going to allow your client to make me feel like it is in any way my fault, because it isn’t.”
And isn’t that in itself the absolute kicker here? Because how many times as a woman have we heard that our short skirts encourage men to touch our backsides; that men can’t be blamed for focusing solely on our boobs if we’re wearing a low cut top, etc etc right up to “it’s not rape, she was just drunk.”
It’s a subject I could rant about for hours – not only from the victim blaming respect but also because of how dismissive it is of men’s ability to actually think. But that’s a post for another day, because this one is all about Taylor Swift.
This is about a woman who not only reported her assault, stood tall when the legal system tried to blame her and make her out as an idiot, and went on to win the damned case, but who – in doing so – took a stand for other women too.
She showed women across the world – particularly those young women who comprise a huge chunk of her fan base – that they don’t have to stay silent in situations like this, and that they are not alone.
And she reminded the whole world that non-consensual backside grabbing – just like any other form of intimate touching – is not in any way acceptable.
Let’s hope that both of those things resonate not only within that courtroom, but across America and the entire world, for years to come.