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Aug 25 2017
by Victoria Nguyen

You Can Dislike Taylor Swift, But Still Acknowledge That Sexual Assault Is Wrong

By Victoria Nguyen - Aug 25 2017
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Recently, there has been speculation that Swift has planned and even used her sexual assault trial as leverage to promote her new album, "Reputation."

The problem? Swift wasn't even the reason the trial came about.

At a backstage meet and greet on June 2, 2013 Taylor Swift was allegedly groped by DJ David Mueller. The evidence is presented in an awkward photo of Taylor Swift with Mueller and his girlfriend. After the incident, Andrea Swift (Swift’s mother) contacted Mueller’s boss at KYGO Radio Station and told him about the incident. Mueller was fired and sued Swift for $3 million in damages from false accusations. Taylor Swift counter-sued Mueller for $1 for sexual assault. Her $1 claim is symbolic of “an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts.” However, Mueller’s actions were not publicized until he initially sued her. Although the jury will decide the cost of monetary damages, Swift will be donating any extra winnings to women’s abuse charities.

TMZ

Several times throughout the trial, Mueller’s lawyer, Gabriel McFarland, tried to invalidate Swift’s experience by arguing that there wasn’t anything visibly inappropriate happening in the photo and that her skirt showed no sign of displacement. Swift responded, “Because my ass is located in the back of my body.” When asked why Swift had no witnesses to confirm that Mueller groped her, Swift slyly responded, “The only person who would have a direct eye line is someone laying underneath my skirt, and we didn’t have anyone positioned there.” Furthermore, McFarland continued to belittle the action of sexual assault by referring to it as “inappropriate touching” which Mueller denied that he partook in. He claimed that the awkward hand placement was a result of getting into the frame of the photo. When asked if Swift had any feelings related to Muller losing his job due to the alleged sexual assault, Swift confidently asserted, "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.” 

On the sixth day of the trial, the jury ruled in favor of Swift. In her closing statement, she thanks Judge William J. Martinez, the jury and her attorneys. She stated, "I acknowledge the privilege that I benefit from in life, in society and in my ability to shoulder the enormous cost of defending myself in a trial like this. My hope is to help those whose voices should also be heard. Therefore, I will be making donations in the near future to multiple organizations that help sexual assault victims defend themselves."

The lack of people openly talking about Taylor Swift’s sexual assault civil trial is not a result of "#taylorswiftisover." It’s because the notion that it’s okay to grope somebody has been ingrained into us since Slap Ass Friday, where having somebody violate you is supposed to be seen as a sign of approval and desire. It’s because people want to pick and choose who to stand up for, despite sexual harassment being unacceptable on all ends. It’s because this patriarchal society has made it awkward to put a male in his place, because apparently his interpretation of his actions is a compliment towards the girl, despite the exact opposite of what the girl feels: discomfort. So as a result, we continue to stay silent.

Besides Mueller and his lawyer, many people have tried to belittle Swift’s sexual assault. 

Hot or not: pitting women against each other. Not. Who wore feminism better? Neither. Instead of putting down women who have a distorted idea of feminism, we should teach and build each other up.

Hm...Halloween is the perfect time of the year to be somebody you’re not as well! We should all be respectful human beings who don’t sexually assault people. Except it shouldn’t be a costume; it should be permanent.

He claims that giving any additional earnings to women’s charities is a “PR stunt” and advises her to “just donate, Taylor. You don’t have to ruin another man's life to do so.”

Has Taylor Swift been considered problematic with her limited views on feminism and the whole Kim-Kanye incident in the past? Sure, but that’s not what this is about. You can hate Taylor Swift, but still acknowledge that sexual harassment is unacceptable. You should be able to put your personal feelings aside and realize right from wrong.

The validity of this event is not defined by Swift’s past. It is defined by the actions that took place within that event. Since when was holding a man accountable for his actions considered an attempt to “ruin his life?” Any grown person should know that his or her actions have consequences. This clearly isn’t about money, considering that Swift is only suing for $1. Only 20% of female college student victims, age 18-24, report to law enforcement. This trial is about empowering women by showing them that they too can stand up for themselves and hold their attackers accountable in civil trial. It’s asserting that sexual assault will not be excused, and a victim’s feelings will not be invalidated. These are ideas that need to be reinforced, especially when we have a president who thinks it's okay to “grab women by the pussy” without consent.  If a privileged white successful business woman’s experience of sexual assault is invalidated and deemed as a PR stunt, how do we expect a minority to be treated in court? 

Whether you like Taylor Swift or not, her statements on sexual assault and having boundaries should not go unnoticed. This isn't to say that Taylor Swift is the face of feminism or the guardian angel of sexual assault, but that sexual assault can happen to anybody regardless of their social standing. And that in each and every circumstance, it is unacceptable and should not go unpunished.

Lead Image Credit: Twitter via @SkippyKungfu

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Victoria Nguyen - University of California, Irvine

Victoria Nguyen is a freshman at University of California Irvine majoring in Social Ecology. Follow her on Instagram! @victoriatsn

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