There has been much said about TIME Magazine’s person of the year since its reveal on Wednesday morning (Dec.6). Many have applauded TIME’s choice and others have been attacking the choice at hand. If you haven’t heard by now, TIME Magazine has chosen four five individual women to be on the cover for Person of the Year, and they have named them the Silence Breakers. These women include: Taylor Swift, Ashley Judd, Adama Iwu, Isabel Pascual and Susan Fowler.
There’s been outrage. Not about four women being named a Silence Breaker but one woman in particular. People are mad. But why? Several articles, tweets, and thoughts have been sent out questioning why someone didn’t take the place of Taylor Swift. According to many, Swift didn’t deserve to be name a silence breaker. While they may have these thoughts in their minds. They are indeed wrong.
The cover story speaks about those women who have broken the silence this past year. It highlights the #MeToo movement, sexual harassment and those who weren’t afraid to take a stand and use their voice. All these women have done just that, including Taylor Swift. While the #MeToo movement sparked a wave of survivors to speak up, Swift also spoke up before the movement went viral. Let’s not forget her symbolic $1 dollar and the trial she won back in August. Many say she doesn’t deserve the cover because she doesn’t know what it’s like to be sexually harassed or simply because they don’t like her. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
First and foremost, let’s discuss the trial Swift faced in August against a man who sued her because Swift told his radio company about him groping her butt. Two years after the incident, David Mueller sued Swift, denying the claim. The pop star then countersued for a symbolic dollar to be a voice for the voiceless. She took an incident that affected her deeply and used it for good. She used it to inspire those who didn’t feel like they could speak up. Once the trial was over and Swift won her symbolic dollar, she then donated thousands of dollars to organizations like RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network). She recognized her privileged and went forth to speak about what her intentions were for countersuing.
“I want to thank Judge William J. Martinez and the jury for their careful consideration, my attorneys Doug Baldridge, Danielle Foley, Jay Schaudies and Katie Wright for fighting for me and anyone who feels silenced by a sexual assault, and especially anyone who offered their support throughout this four-year ordeal and two-year long trial process,” the statement reads. “I acknowledge the privilege that I benefit from in life, in society and in my ability to shoulder the enormous cost of defending myself in a trial like this. My hope is to help those whose voices should also be heard. Therefore, I will be making donations in the near future to multiple organizations that help sexual assault victims defend themselves.” – Taylor Swift’s statement released after her trial victory.
During Swift’s first interview since the 1989 era, she mentions how several others made her feel bad about the consequences her harasser faced. Mueller was fired after reaching under Swift’s skirt and groping her. On the stand during the trial, the judge had asked Swift if she felt bad about the consequences Mueller had faced. Swift answered confidently:
“I’m not going to let you or your client make me feel in any way that this is my fault,” she told the lawyer. “I’m being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are a product of his decisions. Not mine.”
Swift’s words are powerful as she not only speaks up for herself but also the voiceless. Her testifying has sparked other young women to speak up about what happened to them. Swift sparked a movement and that can’t go unnoticed. Being on the stand fueled the fire within Swift to have a voice and speak up. “I figured that if he would be brazen enough to assault me under these risky circumstances,” she says, “imagine what he might do to a vulnerable, young artist if given the chance.” Needless to say, Swift refused to be bullied on the stand. Her testimony was fierce and courageous.
Don’t be angry that Swift is a part of the TIME person of the year because she deserves to be there. She spoke up. She used her voice. She started a movement. This isn’t a competition about who deserved it more. This is about speaking up and using your voice. Every woman on the cover has used their voice for something powerful, and we can’t single Swift out for not deserving it just because she is Taylor Swift.
Swift not only faced sexual harassment but she also faced bullying and badgering in the court room. “I had already been in court all week and had to watch this man’s attorney bully, badger and harass my team including my mother over inane details and ridiculous minutiae, accusing them, and me, of lying,” she states in her TIME interview. “My mom was so upset after her cross-examination, she was physically too ill to come to court the day I was on the stand. I was angry. In that moment, I decided to forego any courtroom formalities and just answer the questions the way it happened. This man hadn’t considered any formalities when he assaulted me, and his lawyer didn’t hold back on my mom—why should I be polite?”
Swift is a silence breaker. She’s fierce, strong, brave, and isn’t afraid to take a stand. She doesn’t need a hashtag to let her voice be heard. What Swift does is much bigger than social media. Actions speaks louder than hashtags and tweets and that’s an important fact to remember. We often forget who’s human here, and we often forget that even the most famous celebrity or artist has feelings. The world is cruel but let’s not make light of what happened to Swift. Let’s not forget that this is Swift’s first interview in a long time and it’s about speaking up. Not only is incredible brave, it’s probably the most important interview she’s ever done in the entirety of her career.
You demoralizing Swift and attacking her for being on a cover of a magazine speaks volumes of how little the world views her as human. To those who aren’t her fans and to those who love to hate her, she’s an object to be messed with. She’s made out to be whatever people want her to be. Who cares if a man groped her. She’s Taylor Swift, so therefore, she doesn’t deserve to be labeled a ‘Silence Breaker’. Several speak about how we should talk about sexual harassment but when Swift speaks up, it’s not because she’s affected by it. No. Several believe it’s because she’s playing victim or trying to sell copies of her album. But contrary to their beliefs, she is the fearless breaker of silence and she will always freely live as one no matter how much the haters and dirty cheats of the world spit at her. Her bravery to stand up and speak is a testament to who she is, and those who are hiding behind a computer screen attacking her for doing so is a clear act of defiance that’s symbolic in itself.
You can read Taylor Swift’s TIME interview here.