Critics bash Time for including Taylor Swift in its Person of the Year

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In September, Taylor Swift testified in court about the radio host who groped her during a photo op in 2013, all for a symbolic $1 in damages to show that women deserve to be believed. For her part in 2017’s reckoning of abusive, powerful men, Time included Swift within the “silence breakers” it deemed as its Person of the Year, even obtaining Swift’s first interview since the trial.

“My advice is that you not blame yourself and do not accept the blame others will try to place on you,” Swift said in her interview. “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.”

However, much like Swift’s trial, critics too have found her inclusion as Person of the Year to be that—purely symbolic.

During President Donald Trump‘s campaign, election, and first year of presidency, Swift has remained largely apolitical and continued to do so during her interview. On Twitter, users criticized Time reporters for not asking Swift about Trump, who has faced more than 10 accusations of sexual harassment and assault himself.

Critics also took issue with Megyn Kelly’s inclusion, which appeared to legitimize her past as a conservative Fox News host. Along with Swift’s place as Person of the Year, people voiced their concerns in how the two women were put on the same level as Tarana Burke and Sandra Muller, women of color who had done work to respectively develop and internationally boost #MeToo movement, yet had previously enabled of ignored systems that oppress women of color.

Noticeably absent from this list of women, however, were former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, who had taken down Fox chairman Roger Ailes in 2016, and Kesha. As journalist Yashar Ali pointed out, Carlson’s voice helped upend Ailes and subsequently former host Bill O’Reilly from the network, leading journalists to follow tales on Harvey Weinstein, and other powerful men who have since been ousted from their industries through October and November. As for Kesha, her years-long struggle against her producer and alleged abuser, Dr. Luke, and her comeback with Rainbow and powerful single “Praying,” somehow missed Time‘s parameters for a “silence breaker.”

Swift’s inclusion, however, isn’t a problem for some. Supporters of the artist’s experience instead see the criticism as an attempt to invalidate Swift’s own assault instead of a critique of her lack of history in politically advocating for others.

To be sure, Swift’s experiences and championship of other sexual assault survivors is very valid, and very real. On the stand, Swift finally made a political statement, helping young fans to feel emboldened to speak out against men who belittle or violate them. That cannot be undermined, even in respect to the nuance of her public persona. However, it’s important to acknowledge that this nuance does exist, and that Swift’s overarching silence speaks volumes about how she views other issues faced by women of races and classes that are different from her own.



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