Am I missing something? I was under the impression that, now more than ever, feminists were loud and present and defensive. I thought I was seeing a wave of even braver men and women on social media, calling out bullshit and striking down misogyny. I thought the last nine months built an online army of journalists and Twitter users and anyone else who’s fed up with sexism and its disturbing presence in the administration, fighting every day against the trails of normalized misogyny Trump leaves behind and defending the women who speak out about it.
But there’s a ringing silence now. And it’s looming around Taylor Swift’s groping trial. A woman who is constantly attacked for being silent is now getting the worst of it.
Colorado DJ David Mueller is suing Swift for $3 million in damages after she alleged that he lifted her skirt and grabbed her during a meet-and-greet photo op. Mueller was fired soon after, and sued Swift, her mother, and her radio promotions director for defamation.
As much as grabbing women in sexual violation has been dismissed and normalized by our country’s leaders and its people, it’s an issue of sexual assault that made Andrea Swift want to “vomit and cry at the same time” seeing the look on her daughter’s face post-backstage incident.
Firsthand, I’ve seen girls run out of clubs in a heartbreaking tearful mixture of shock, fury and disturbance after a man grabbed them sexually without any form of consent. I’ve seen girls weakly laugh it off because they think that’s what they’re supposed to do. And I’ve seen guys stammer excuse after excuse after excuse, because they’re taught to search for anything to blame but themselves.
I’ve also seen girls, on and offline, race to the defense of those who were violated. I’ve seen them deliver completely scathing responses to regular people and political leaders alike who try to dismiss a woman’s story of sexual assault in any way or call it anything less than it is.
These people I’ve seen are incredibly vocal. They like to hold others accountable, and they spend a really admirable amount of energy spouting their support to women, famous and not, who choose to speak out about their sexual assault experience.
Let’s just take Ke$ha’s trial, shall we? Tons of celebrities, journalists and everyone in between shouted their encouragement, their disgust at her alleged abuser. Adele used her acceptance speech at the 2016 Brit Awards to publicly express her support of Ke$ha. Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Snoop Dogg, Kelly Clarkson, Lorde and a clump of other pop stars (apologies to Snoop Dogg and his admirers for grouping him into a ‘pop stars’ category) used Twitter to do the same.
And then, two days after a New York judge denied Ke$ha a court injunction, Taylor Swift donated $250,000 towards any of Ke$ha’s financial needs. Kind, right? Nope, no one seemed to think so. Internet users everywhere shamed Swift for her donation, including the “I-always-know-the-best-thing-to-say-on-the-Internet” Demi Lovato.
Lovato tweeted “Take something to Capitol Hill or actually speak out about something and then I’ll be impressed.” This attitude was reiterated widely across Twitter, because it’s Twitter. And also because Taylor Swift, no matter what on the Lord’s green Earth she does, cannot win. But that’s another story that would take pages and pages to tell, so I’ll refrain myself.
Swift was ripped apart for “silence” after her donation. She was also ripped apart for her “silence” during the Women’s March. She Tweeted about it, celebrating the day and expressing her pride in everyone who marched. But of course that wasn’t enough, because it never is. She was annihilated for not going to her local march. (Even though she’s one of most photographed and stalked celebrities in the industry and could probably not go to a march without people harassing her and/or accusing her of going for attention and a photo op, but whatever it’s fine.)
Before my fury completely takes over my fingers and I start to type a fuming address to everyone who continually hates this girl because it’s what they’ve been in the habit of doing since 2012, let me take it back to the trial.
I’ve never heard silence quite this loud. (I hate myself, that is a Taylor Swift lyric, whatever.) It’s obvious, and not just to me.
Demi, is your Internet down? Or are you in a plane on the way to Capitol Hill to discuss sexual assault and actually impress someone?
Where is everyone? Where are the mighty feminists I so admire, I so try to be? Suddenly they aren’t as loud.
But Taylor Swift, no matter what card you think she plays, is a forcibly strong human being. To be hunted down every day physically and on the Internet, to be mocked at absolutely every turn, you can’t be a weak person. You just can’t.
Swift only countersued for $1. Before you open your mouth or press that little blue button in the corner to compose a Tweet, close it and take your hands off the keyboard. She’s not doing this for the money. Her mother wanted to keep it private until DJ Mueller sued. She’s doing this to show every other girl who watches her with adoring eyes and the ones who pretend they don’t that you can report your sexual assault. You can hold the person accountable. She’s showing men who mock her for her dating life but objectify her at the same time that they will not be tolerated. And it’s being met with silence. But we’ve known since the early days of 2010 that silence doesn’t follow Taylor Alison Swift for long, and it won’t now.