WASHINGTON • Pop star Taylor Swift was featured on Time's Person of the Year cover on Wednesday as one of 2017's "silence breakers", who spoke out during this year's cultural reckoning surrounding sexual harassment and abuse.
She stood next to figures such as actress Ashley Judd, one of the first who went on the record with allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, and lobbyist Adama Iwu, who helped coordinate a campaign to stop harassment in California state politics.
A famously apolitical star who has been criticised for not taking any political stance in this divisive year, Swift had in August won a groping trial against former Denver country radio DJ David Mueller.
The most-discussed aspect of the case was her very blunt testimony, as Mueller's lawyer questioned her on the stand about whether the DJ actually groped her during a meet-and-greet at a 2013 concert.
In a written Q&A with Time, Swift explained why she had spoken so directly. "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 wrote.
"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 mum - why should I be polite?"
She added: "I'm told it was the most amount of times the word 'a**' has ever been said in Colorado Federal Court."
Swift, who called the trial process "demoralising", said many people did not realise that Mueller had sued her first, alleging she got him fired when she said he groped her. She countersued for a symbolic US$1, accusing him of assault and battery. "I spent two years reading headlines referring to it as 'The Taylor Swift Butt Grab Case', with Internet trolls making a joke about what happened to me," she wrote.
Ultimately, she said, she received lots of support during the trial and left with this advice for those who are going through something similar: "You should not be blamed for waiting 15 minutes or 15 days or 15 years to report sexual assault or harassment, or for the outcome of what happens to a person after he or she makes the choice to sexually harass or assault you." She acknowledged that although she recognises her privilege (and her financial means to support an expensive trial), it was still a "lonely and draining experience, even when you win".
After everything, she still has not received the symbolic US$1 she won from Mueller, she added. "I think that act of defiance is symbolic in itself."