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Why It Matters That Taylor Swift Showed Up to Her Groping Trial

Dr. Elizabeth Yuko is the Health Editor at SheKnows. She is a bioethicist and writer specializing in sexual and reproductive health and the intersection of bioethics and popular culture. She is an adjunct professor of ethics at Fordham ...

This might be Swift's most feminist act yet

Taylor Swift isn't necessarily a feminist icon, but she absolutely deserves credit for showing up and testifying in court against the man who allegedly groped her in an incident she described as “horrifying and shocking,” according to CNN.

This all stems from a 2013 incident in which Swift accused David Mueller — then a radio DJ for KYGO, a country music radio station in Denver, Colorado — of inappropriately touching her backstage at a concert in Denver. Mueller was subsequently fired and sued Swift and her mother over false allegations. In turn, Swift filed a countersuit accusing Mueller of reaching up her dress and grabbing her butt as they posed for a photo.

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In court yesterday, Swift stated that she had no reaction regarding Mueller’s termination over the incident, adding: “I'm not going to allow you or your client to make me feel in any way that this is my fault, because it isn't.”

She’s right. It’s not.

That Swift — a hugely popular singer and celebrity — took time out of her schedule to travel to Denver and testify in person sends a clear message about how traumatic being groped can be despite the fact that it’s something that’s consistently dismissed as “part of being a woman” and something we should just “get over.”

But Swift’s not having it. CNN reported that her lawsuit clearly states that her active participation in the trial aims to "serve as an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts."

I can relate to Swift’s testimony. A few years ago, I was sexually assaulted on the subway and went through the infuriating and humiliating process of reporting the incident to the NYPD. Unlike Swift, I was grabbed in the front and had to answer specific questions about whether the guy managed to get any fingers inside my vagina or if he just had to settle for a handful of vulva. Either way — front or back — this is never acceptable.

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It took me three days to make the trip to my local police precinct to report the assault, and even though I knew there was little to no chance of actually catching the guy, the guilt and shame I felt over what happened prompted me to speak up, if for no other reason than to prevent it from happening to other people.

The prevailing attitude of the multiple NYPD officers and detectives I dealt with was that this sort of thing happens all the time and is just part of normal, everyday life in the city — especially for women. Basically, “Sure, it’s not ideal, but it’s something that comes with the territory of existing while in possession of female body parts.” But it doesn’t have to, and like Swift, we shouldn’t just accept this type of sexual assault as normal behavior.

Also, the fact that Swift made it clear that the groping was “very intentional” is significant, because it’s so easy to dismiss ass-grabs as accidental, blaming it on close quarters. Sure, sometimes that can be the case, but trust me — you know when it’s intentional. Someone doesn’t “accidentally” cup his hand around your crotch or butt and squeeze; that’s done with purpose.

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Mueller claimed that the alleged grope was actually “jostling” for a photo — something Swift squarely rejected. Again, we know the difference between jostling and a deliberate grab.

As someone who has been through this, I am grateful to Swift for speaking out about this. Touching people without their consent is never OK — regardless of what they’re wearing, how famous they are, how closely you were posed for a photo or any other condition.

We live in a country where a man openly bragged about groping women and was still elected president, which has made this type of blatant misogyny mainstream. That is just one of many examples of how women’s bodies are viewed as public property, but does not mean this behavior is ever acceptable.

Taylor: We may not always see eye to eye, but what happened to you was truly awful and definitely was not in any way your fault. I’m sorry, I believe you, and I thank you for speaking out about this.

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