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Swift trial offensive to assault victims

Illustration: Madalyn Drewno

A NON-REALITY-BASED CRUSADE ON SEXUAL ASSAULT

A Denver meet-and-greet with radio host DJ David Mueller and Taylor Swift, in 2013, lead to a long legal battle over Swift’s accusations that Mueller sexually assaulted her. Over the course of the Summer of 2017, the trial held in Denver has lead to a media circus and a chance for many to finally condemn sexual assault. The details of whether or not it happened are irrelevant: this trial shouldn’t be what finally sparks conversations about sexual assault.

After watching the evening news everyday during the trial, it was hard not to become a little bit sickened by people being interviewed on the news. “I can’t believe this happened to such a beautiful young woman,” and “If it can happen to Taylor Swift, it can happen to anyone,” and “is is a tragedy for such a great person,” and “I can only imagine her pain and suffering.” It was as if no one in the history of the world had ever been sexually assaulted.

It was disheartening to hear people say that they couldn’t believe it happened to such a ‘great person’ or ‘beautiful young girl,’ as if to say, “oh, it only happens to people who deserve it.” To be completely frank: no one deserves to be sexually assaulted. There is no one who deserves the emotional trauma or physical brutality that sexual assault brings. “Such a nice girl,” as if it’s not considered sexual assault if one is considered “not a nice girl.”

In the Swift trial, attorneys didn’t degrade Swift like they do other women. No woman should be degraded in a sexual assault case; but many believe that this case is the “norm” for how sexual assault cases are conducted. Many women who come forward about sexual violence have their lives ripped open and ridiculed in front of an entire jury. They bring up sexual past and behaviors that make a woman look less than pure, like they are the scum of the earth because they’ve had sex before. No one in this case brought up Swift’s sexual past to imply that maybe she wasn’t telling the truth.

Did anyone actually believe that a lawyer would confront Taylor Swift with statements like, “Ms. Swift, we see you’ve had sexual relationships with Harry Styles, John Mayer, Tom Hiddleston, and Calvin Harris” that simply wouldn’t happen. Swift doesn’t deserve for her love life to be ridiculed, either. But it was clear for any woman who has been sexually assaulted that this case wasn’t based in reality and was offensive to Swift and others to hide behind the guise of “ fighting for women.” As Swift’s management team and her supporters stated, “this is a fight for women.” But it wasn’t actually a win for women because the case didn’t follow the standard rape case traumatic experiences. Did anyone actually believe that the jury would not side with her based on her celebrity status? For many women, they will never win their sexual assault cases—or even see them go to court.

Nothing will change for women unless there are conversations about the reality that women of sexual assault actually face. Society shouldn’t be concerned just because this happened to one of their favorite pop stars. Where were they in every sexual assault case previously? Victim blaming is never okay, nor are comparisons; but how can anyone say that Swift has faced an atrocity when there are women who have been raped so violently that they were left in the ICU for months and never received justice?

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