This is not a case about a pop star. This is a case about a woman defending herself against a man who touched her body, without her permission, then sought $3million for the privilege. This is a case that sends the message that no means no. Whatever your thoughts or opinions about Taylor Swift are, I urge you to rejoice in her victory against David Mueller, because this is a victory for ALL women. This tells women everywhere, that no matter who you are, nobody has the right to touch your body without your permission. It encourages us to call out the things that make us feel uncomfortable or violated. It tells us that we have the power to be strong and that we do NOT have to accept any form of sexual assault.
If you haven’t been living under a rock, I’m sure you’ll have heard about the sexual assault case between David Mueller and Taylor Swift. In case you missed it; David Mueller was a DJ at KYGO-FM who, during a 2013 meet-and-greet before one of Swift’s concerts in Denver, allegedly reached under the singer’s skirt and grabbed her backside whilst they posed for a photograph. Swift said the DJ “stayed latched on to my bare ass cheek as I lurched away from him, visibly uncomfortable.” Swift’s team reported the incident to Mueller’s bosses at the time and he was subsequently fired. Swift’s team didn’t demand that the DJ be relieved from his position, only that “appropriate action be taken.” Still, Mueller sued Swift for “damages to his reputation and missed job opportunities”, claiming that he lost his job because of her allegations, and sought $3million in damages from Swift, her mother and their team. In retaliation, Swift countersued for sexual assault and battery, seeking just a single dollar in damages. For Swift, this wasn’t about the money, it was about sending a message to the world that sexual assault, in whatever form, is NOT okay. Thankfully, after four hours of consideration, the jury ruled unanimously in favour of Swift and she left court victorious.
This should have been an incredibly powerful message to the world, but some people have chosen to ignore the facts and prioritise meaningless bollocks, instead of what this case says to victims of sexual assault. Too many people have been writing vile comments, focusing not on the man inappropriately groping a young girl, but the fact she referenced her “bare ass cheek”. “Well she mustn’t have been wearing underwear, the little slut”, wrote one commenter on Facebook. “What a trashy little hoe”, wrote another. I stared at my screen in disbelief. Are we really still so far behind and out of touch with morality, that we focus on whether she was wearing underwear or not? Are you fucking kidding me?! For some of the ignorant, soulless cretins out there, there’s actually a pretty wide range of underwear out there that leaves your arse cheeks exposed. Thongs, French knickers and girl boxers all leave parts of your skin uncovered. Even larger briefs can leave the lower halves exposed – ask Bridget Jones. For the rest of the world, in case you didn’t realise, THAT IS NOT THE FUCKING POINT. Her underwear is irrelevant; a man touched her WITHOUT her permission and then tried to sue her for it! Imagine a man putting his hand on an intimate part of your body, without your permission, then demanding some major money from you. Hell yes, she countersued him and she was well within her rights to do so.
Taylor’s answers in court were also pretty darn epic and empowering. My personal favourite was her response to Mueller’s lawyer, Gabe McFarland, who cross-examined Swift and asked her if she felt anything about Mueller losing his job because of the incident. She remained strong and stood up for victims everywhere when she responded: “I’m not going to let you or your client make me feel in any way that this is my fault. Here we are years later, and I’m being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are the product of his decisions – not mine.” Isn’t that something we’re all too familiar with? Being forced to justify our feelings of intense discomfort or, worse, being expected to feel guilt for someone who has been caught out in their shitty behaviour?
Sadly, too many women have experienced some form of sexual assault. Even sadder still, the majority of cases go unreported. Too many men get away with taking advantage of women. Too many women live with the emotional damage and trauma of an assault; it’s carried around like a scar and it won’t fade, no matter what you do, where you go, or what you achieve. It’s permanent and unrelenting, but the fact that someone with as much star power as Swift took such a solid stand, is a massive step in the right direction. If she encourages even one woman to come forward and report her sexual assault, then she has set the wheels in motion. A change is coming. We will not tolerate this kind of bullshit any longer. Every woman, across the planet, whether you like Swift or not, should celebrate her win for what it truly is: a strong stance against sexual assault and a victory for women everywhere.
Thanks for reading – I know this post was a little different to my usual ramblings, but it was too important of an issue to not write about.
Until next time, chums!
Big thanks to my pal, Emily, for her incredible illustration of Taylor Swift.