Will Taylor Swift’s trial put her brand of feminism back on track?
Taylor Swift’s recent sexual assault trial, in which she countersued a Denver DJ who attempted to sue her for $3 million on the grounds that she ruined his career with allegations of groping, could help put the pop star’s brand of feminism back on track.
Much has been made of the “Bad Blood” singer’s testimony, which was unrelenting in its description of events and staunchly unapologetic, characterized by statements like, “He had a handful of my ass. I know it was him,” and “it was a definite grab.” It has allowed her to regain some media ground lost in her days of #squadgoals.
WATCH BELOW: Taylor Swift wins assault case against DJ
“In speaking out about sexual assault and encouraging other women and girls to do the same…Swift has, at last, done something truly feminist,” Claire Cohen wrote in The Independent.
“Right now, I’m pretty much giving Taylor’s testimony a standing ovation from my desk,” BuzzFeed‘s Lauren Yapalater said.
It might be the statement the pop star made after winning the trial, however, that’s receiving the most praise for its self-awareness.
After the verdict was announced, Swift said in a statement: “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.”
It was this moment of self-awareness — a rarity among the rich and famous — that clinched her reputation for many.
“One of the biggest pieces of the win is that she didn’t overstate her own role,” May Friedman, associate professor in the graduate program in Communication and Culture at Ryerson University, told Global News.
“I appreciate that she said, ‘I’m coming as a privileged white woman and I’m doing it because other people can’t do it.’ She could have spun [her image throughout the trial] as the woebegone victim, but she was consistently angry and not victimized.”
It’s an important image shift for a celebrity who tried to position herself as a champion of women by making her female friendships a focus of her fame, but was largely criticized for creating what was perceived as a thinly veiled sorority for wealthy white celebs.
In a scathing 2015 take down in The Hollywood Reporter, feminist cultural critic Camille Paglia criticized Swift’s “twinkly persona” and advised her to “retire that obnoxious Nazi Barbie routine of wheeling out friends and celebrities as performance props.”
Today, however, while she’s been applauded on social media by fellow celebrities like Amber Heard, Nelly Furtado and Lena Dunham, it will likely be thanks to the endorsement of a Seattle father who attended the trial with his 10-year-old daughter that her brand of feminism has a chance of shedding that “Barbie” image.
Ed Lee told The New York Times that he brought his daughter to the trial because it exemplified the lessons he aims to teach her.
“I’ve had many conversations with her as I walk her to school,” he said. “I tell her: ‘You’re an alpha. I want you to know how to pull the claws out when you need them. Because you’re going to need them.’”
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