Why It Matters That Taylor Swift Only Asked David Mueller for $1

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

By Lily Petkova

I am unashamedly not Taylor Swift’s biggest fan. I don’t agree with her approach to feminism and her hypocrisy, I don’t agree with the way she can make criticisms of the music industry all about herself (think the Nicki Minaj feud regarding the VMAs), and I don’t agree with the way she rarely uses her platform to speak about issues that matter unless it benefits her in some way. BUT, for the first time in a long while, I am totally behind her 100 percent and not only support her but absolutely respect her. I respect her because she is choosing to fight not for herself, but for women all over the world.

Swift faced a legal battle over the alleged groping by former radio DJ David Mueller, who attempted to sue her after she reported him and spoke out against him lifting her skirt and grabbing her bare bum while a photo was being taken. Immediately, there was an evident problem with him suing her for simply reporting the assault. While many of us will not experience the feeling of having a $3 million lawsuit filed against us for simply making ourselves heard, many women can at least relate to the feeling of being silenced and told not to speak out against our harassers. More often than not women are either too afraid they will not be listened to, or just believe sexual harassment comes part-and-parcel with some lines of work. In fact, 75 percent of people who experience sexual harassment do not report it.This is not surprising considering we constantly see women’s claims dismissed nationally – just look at the judge’s treatment of Kesha in her case against Dr Luke. Suing someone for speaking out perpetuates this damaging rhetoric, where women are punished for reporting their abusers or harassers, either by having their plight ignored or being personally attacked for it, while often the abuser is defended as the victim is accused of lying. 

While Swift could have quietly fought this lawsuit, she chose to make public what would undeniably be a horrible ordeal for her. More often than not, women who make these accusations are dragged through the mud; we only have to look at the case of Ched Evans, in which the female victim had her sexual history scrutinized in a bid to disprove her claim of rape. Women are constantly having to fight to be believed, and Swift fought this publicly in an attempt to support other women in and out of the music industry who have been sexually abused or harassed. Swift has a platform of millions of fans; some female victims of abuse have no support, but this could pave the way for them and inspire them to speak out no matter what.

This is why the damages claim of $1 is so crucial. Often, where someone is alleging abuse or defamation, the damages are high. But in her case, she is asking for a meager sum of $1 in her countersuit. Again, this supports her desire to "serve as an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts." Taylor Swift stands to gain nothing from this. It is clear that the only reason she is taking this to court is she understands the importance of her speaking out now, when others cannot.

On a more personal level, I respect Taylor because I have also been the victim of a form of sexual assault and never spoke out. I was roofied on one of my first nights out in my second year of college, and while I was lucky enough to have my friends find me before I left with the guy who gave me the laced drink, I was – and still am – traumatized by the experience. I know exactly who did it but I never felt confident or brave enough to speak out about it, because it was my word against his, and like I’ve previously mentioned, women are constantly not taken seriously when it comes to the topic of sexual assault or harassment. But watching Taylor Swift and how she is dealing with this case makes me think if it had happened now I’d have found the confidence to speak up.

Taylor Swift is giving every woman a voice and love her or hate her, you gotta respect her.

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