Here’s the secret… there are 3.
- This article is serious
- This article is about Taylor Swift
- This article is about sexual assault
If you don’t wish to engage with any of the above topics, I invite you to exit now. However, if we really want to have a conversation, let’s keep going.
If you didn’t know, Taylor Swift is back in the limelight. Not for her music. Not for her haircut or style choices. Not for a man. For sexual assault. For an assault that she is claiming to have happened to her. If you need further background, see here.
First off, let me be real clear. There is no way in hell that the judge would have asked me to be on that jury, because I am adamantly a Taylor Swift fan and I have extreme biases. But that’s not what this is about. I am not here to deem innocence or guilt, because we all know the saying… “innocent until proven guilty”… so alright, I’ll try to play along. But, there are a few things that need some serious addressing in the overall discussion of sexual assault.
This is an interesting case. This is not a violent rape and murder trial. This is not even Stanford-rape-case level of heinous. This is a man *allegedly* deeming himself worthy and powerful enough to cop a feel of a 23-year-old woman’s ass.
Taylor was 23 when this happened. I am 23 right now. And this has happened to me. I would bet it has happened to many, if not most, women and potentially many men as well. I remember it happening. I was 21, out at a bar in my college town, and wearing a pair of high-waisted shorts because it was summer and it was hot and arguably I looked damn good in them. At said bar I was waiting patiently for the bartender to make my drink, when there it was. The unmistakable clench of a hand around my ass and the innate reaction of my body going rigid. I turned to find a group of guys behind me none looking guiltier than the next. Maybe it was a mistake, I tried to reason, though even as I turned back away from them I knew that was bullshit. Grabbing a person where a person should not be grabbed is never a mistake. But, I stayed silent because it was crowded and I hate causing scenes and like I said, maybe it was a mistake. And then, it happened again. That’s when I turned to my friend next to me and told her what was happening and her, being the audacious kind of girl she is, had no problem turning around and telling whoever was behind me to kindly get his hands the hell off of me. It happened to me. Therefore, when this case got brought to the public it was so easy for me to believe it. Because it happens. ALL THE TIME. To women much less famous, powerful, and influential than Taylor Swift. To women like me.
To the numerous comments I have seen claiming that this is not sexual assault, that it trivializes the matter, that she should “get over it” – let me be very clear. You. Are. Wrong. This is sexual assault. Grabbing, touching, or otherwise encroaching a person’s private areas of their body is and always will be sexual assault. If we start trivializing what happened to Taylor Swift, if we start simplifying this as “only ass-grabbing” then where do we start drawing the line? At what body part is it not okay to grab another person? When is it ass-grabbing, and when is it sexual assault? Or, do we wait for it to be full on rape to really care? And even then, you might only get a 6-month prison sentence. @BrockTurner.
Let that stand as a testament to anyone who believes it is no big deal. Let me tell you, it is. I have had many nights where I have been in a bar in a pair of shorts around groups of men and none do I remember so specifically as the one in which the aforementioned account happened. I am not scarred or traumatized from the event but it is a damning experience all the same, because when something like that happens to a person it reinforces the idea that you have to be fearful and cautious in a place you should feel safe, in a place where you go to be care-free and to have a good time. Beware, because you never know when “playful ass-grabbing” could turn into something more sinister. Beware, because we as a society still aren’t sure where to draw that line.
There is more. There are always hateful comments when women in particular, choose to step forward to accuse someone of sexual assault or rape. It is one of the few crimes in which the victim is blamed more often than not. ‘You drank too much.’ ‘Why were you wearing that?’ ‘Why were you walking alone?’ ‘But, you’ve had sex before so…………..’
So? Rape and sexual assault have been around since the beginning of time, back to when it was shameful to show your ankles as a woman, so that line is old and tired and I hate to break it to you, but clothes and alcohol and walking alone and your sexual history do not rape. Rapists rape. Assaulters assault. I wore those shorts in front of a lot of boys that night and only one grabbed my ass. Taylor Swift has done a lot of meet and greets with a lot of fans and only one grabbed her ass.
-comment on an article from Variety.
-a comment on Facebook from a Fox News article
It is one of the few crimes in which society chooses to tear down the victim with anything they can find. ‘She’s too ugly for anyone to grab.’ ‘What butt?’ ‘Can’t wait for her to write another song about hating men lol.’
LOL. No. As if the size or shape of a human being’s body makes it any more or less okay to take advantage of it. Do not demonize another person’s character, appearance, and unfortunate stereotypes. Demonize sexual assault.
-Comments from a USA Today article
It is one of the few crimes in which we deem to place ourselves as the expert. It is when we explain what the victim *should have* done. ‘Why didn’t she slap his hand away?’ ‘Why didn’t she tell the cops?’ ‘Why did she deal with it so privately?’
Why? Does anyone know what they would do until it is actually happening? Would you come forward? Have you seen what people go through when there are trials for things like this? I have. And I would be scared as hell. I am scared just posting this article to a blog that isn’t very widely read and to social media accounts that are set to private. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to testify and receive national news coverage and scrutiny from everybody and their mother about arguably one of the worst and most traumatizing experiences a person could go through.
-a comment from a Buzzfeed article
-a comment from Facebook on a Fox News article
There are so many more comments like these and I could never capture them all, but they are all equally as degrading, ignorant, and shameful as the next. They come from men and women alike, on posts from conservative Fox News to articles from left-leaning Buzzfeed.
These are shameful ideas and dangerous mindsets that I will never fully understand. It is something that HAS TO change if we as a society ever hope to have a prayer of serving justice for sexual assault and rape. Until then, we are lost and the victims of these crimes barely have a fighting chance.
Lastly, there is a bone I have to pick with a couple of media outlets in regards to their coverage:
-Marie Claire Twitter Post and headline from a Marie Claire article.
Marie Claire- If I ever see another one of your articles treat a sexual assault trial like a damn concert or Oscar’s after party ever again I will come for you. It is not a show. It is someone’s life and it matters for all of us.
Buzzfeed- First off, it is not a “butt-grabbing trial” (how eloquent). It is sexual assault. You wanna talk about something trivializing this issue? That’s it, right there. Call it what it is. Second off, I know everyone wants to lighten the mood so ‘LOL let’s poke fun at how ugly the courtroom sketches are.’ Let’s not. This is not something in which the mood should be lightened. DO NOT tout yourselves as this “progressive, social justice seeking news outlet” and put out content like that about an issue like this. That is all.
Let me make one last point very, very clear. This is not a political issue. I’m not sure when rape and sexual assault turned into a political issue. This is not a woman’s issue- though it affects them more often, make no mistake. I don’t care if you are black, white, man, woman, young, old I will fight for you when something like this happens. Seek justice where justice is due. You cannot call yourself a feminist and not support Taylor Swift and her sexual assault trial because “oh, I don’t really like her. I think she’s a bitch.” I don’t care. You cannot call yourself a feminist if you do not seek justice for men who go through these things too because “oh, he’s a man that would never happen.” You are wrong. Seek justice where justice is due.
The end result of this trial will be an interesting one. It will be a devastating blow if she loses because if Taylor Swift can’t win, who the hell can? However, if she wins, perhaps it can inspire others who have had acts like this committed against them to come forward, to seek justice, or to simply have the courage to demand a man get his hands the hell off of her in a crowded bar on a hot summer day when she dared to wear shorts that she arguably looked damn good in.