Seen the headlines? Taylor Swift Spoke Up. Sexual Assault Survivors Were Listening.
Melena Ryzik1, “She’s sold millions of albums and heard stadiums full of fans chant her lyrics at sold-out concerts around the world. But the Taylor Swift line that might resonate the loudest now is “He grabbed my bare ass.” Ms. Swift, the pop superstar, made that comment in a federal courtroom in Denver last week, as part of her testimony …Her confident and blunt testimony swayed the jury — on Monday, she won her case …Among those paying attention to the trial: lawyers and others who work with sexual assault survivors, who found in Ms. Swift’s moment on the stand a potent public example of how to persevere in a fraught situation, and perhaps a way to shift the national conversation around sexual assault.
In an immediate response the next day, PBS NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan2 led the show with the headline, Will Taylor Swift’s Sexual Assault Legal Victory Empower Others?
Lisa Dejardins conducted the interview, citing a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll, “Swift’s case and experience is not new. One in five college-age women in the United States say they have experienced some form of sexual assault.”
Women immemorial have lived it..many from almost day one in their lives. The young- girls and boys alike- require guidance from their own personal “day one”.
Dejardins continued, “Judy (Judy Vredenburgh, President, Girls, Inc.), I want to ask you. You work with young girls. How much of an issue is this to them, and how certain do they feel about taking a stand in situations like this?”
Judy, “Yes, we asked our girls, what are the top issues that you’re facing? And 70 percent of girls, viewing a list of 12 issues, identified as their number one issue bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault. So, it’s a real issue for girls, absolutely.”
Matthew Hunt3, “Sexual abuse is common, particularly on women: Ninety percent of all rapes are committed against women, and most mental health practitioners focus on treatment of women, (goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/sexual)”
“Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, such as:
Unwanted sexual statements: Sexual or “dirty” jokes, comments on physical attributes, spreading rumors about or rating others as to sexual activity or performance, talking about one’s sexual activity in front of others and displaying or distributing sexually explicit drawings, pictures and/or written material. Unwanted sexual statements can be made in person, in writing, electronically (email, instant messaging, blogs, web pages, etc.) and otherwise.
Unwanted personal attention: Letters, telephone calls, visits, pressure for unnecessary personal interaction and pressure for dates where a sexual/romantic intent appears evident but remains unwanted.
Unwanted physical or sexual advances: Touching, hugging, kissing, fondling, touching oneself sexually for others to view, sexual assault, intercourse or other sexual activity. (Sexual Assault Prevention Awareness Center (SAPAC), Office of Institutional Equity, University of Michigan).”
How can women/girls/Mom & Dad take advantage of this recent empowerment?
Go to Girls inc4
“Girls Inc. inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold through direct service and advocacy. Our comprehensive approach to whole girl development equips girls to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers and grow up healthy, educated, and independent. These positive outcomes are achieved through three core elements: people – trained staff and volunteers who build lasting, mentoring relationships; environment – girls-only, physically and emotionally safe, where there is a sisterhood of support, high expectations, and mutual respect; and programming – research-based, hands-on and minds-on, age-appropriate, meeting the needs of today’s girls. Informed by girls and their families, we also advocate for legislation and policies to increase opportunities for all girls.”
Girls inc. Bill of rights:
- Girls have the right to be themselves and to resist gender stereotypes.
- Girls have the right to express themselves with originality and enthusiasm.
- Girls have the right to take risks, to strive freely, and to take pride in success.
- Girls have the right to accept and appreciate their bodies.
- Girls have the right to have confidence in themselves and to be safe in the world.
- Girls have the right to prepare for interesting work and economic independence.
Four days later, Laura Bates5, tells Taylor’s mother, Andrea Swift’s story, “When Ms. Swift’s mother, Andrea Swift, took the stand during the trial, she testified that her daughter had agonized over the fact that she had said an almost automatic “thank you” to Mr. Mueller and his girlfriend after the photo shoot.”
“She couldn’t believe that after he grabbed her, that she thanked them for being there,” Andrea Swift said. “It was just destroying her that she said that.” Breaking down in tears, she went on to say, “As a parent, I questioned why I taught her to be so polite.”
Bates continues, “Neither she nor her daughter bears any responsibility whatsoever for the assault, as Ms. Swift powerfully pointed out in court. But Andrea Swift put her finger on an important truth. We raise girls to be pretty, pliant and polite. We raise boys to be loud, demanding and confident.”
It starts from babyhood, with onesies featuring pretty princesses and future presidents. We “shush little girls, contain and silence them, while boisterous boys are expected to make noise. We train girls to practice far more self-regulation than their male peers. Research shows that parents interrupt girls more often than boys and that boys are more likely to speak up in the classroom.”
What to do?
*A good place to begin- Visit Girls inc, http://www.girlsinc.org/about/about-girls- inc.html. Read closely, especially girls’ bill of rights.
*Put these rights into everyday practice- making them a valuable guide as girls mature into womanhood as they face the inevitable encounters.
*Guide boys as well as they travel their own path toward maturity. They are, after all, the other half of the equation.”
Need personal guidance? This is where Counseling on Demand comes in. Our counselors are well-versed in this.
We are online at CounselingonDemand.com
Effective Online Counseling…Only a Click Away
1. Melena Ryzik, Taylor Swift Spoke Up. Sexual Assault Survivors Were Listening https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/15/arts/music/taylor-swift-sexual-assault.html
2. Hari Sreenivasan, Will Taylor Swift’s Sexual Assault Legal Victory Empower Others? Lisa Desjardins, interviewer, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/Will-taylor-swifts-sexual-assault-legal-victory-empower-others/
3. Matthew Hunt, Sexual misconduct Men and Women, take note, October 19, 2016
4. Judy Vredenburgh, President, Girls, Inc http://www.girlsinc.org/about/about-girls-inc.html
5. Laura Bates, op-ed contributor, A Thank-You to Taylor Swift https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/20/opinion/a-thank-you-to-taylor-swift.html