Taylor Swift is a pop star, one of music’s most savvy businesswomen and a $280 million brand.
And yet, she was none of those things yesterday in a Denver courtroom, where she testified against a man who she says groped her at a 2013 meet-and-greet. Swift was just another woman in a world that requires women to insist — to prove, over and over again — that their experience qualifies as truth. In a world that decides, off the bat, that women are crazy or mendacious or simply wrong. And so Swift insisted, more times than anyone should have to and in increasingly descriptive terms, that a former radio DJ had the audacity to put his hand under her skirt and violate her.
…Swift was unbowed, lighting the courtroom ablaze: “It was a definite grab,” she would say. Once his hand found its target, she testified, it “stayed latched on to my bare ass cheek.” Again and again, she described what she says happened. The Denver Post suggested it might have been the highest recorded number of instances of the words “ass” and “cheek” in the courtroom’s history.
Before it was eventually edited, a CNN article described Swift’s testimony as “snarky.” Others described her as aggravated. We’d do better to see Swift’s testimony as what cultural critic Soraya McDonald described recently in the Undefeated as “necessary arrogance.” It’s necessary because not being believed is the baseline for women.
…Mueller is also arguing that Swift’s accusation has wrecked his career prospects and his name; for that, he is seeking as much as $3 million from Swift. (She is seeking $1, and in court documents said she filed suit only to “serv[e] as an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts.”)
In court, asked about the fallout for Mueller, Swift retorted, “I am being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are a product of his decisions and not mine.”
It was as if she really was speaking for every woman. And that’s profoundly sad.