August 11, 2017

How to Win a Sexual Harassment Case in this Misogynistic Culture?

taylor swift

I’m not a Taylor Swift fan but I’m currently loving how she’s standing up for herself in court. Headlines are focused on the ongoing sexual harassment case Taylor Swift has filed against DJ David Mueller, who allegedly groped the pop star’s butt during a 2013 fan meet-and-greet.

The case caught my attention because Taylor seems dead serious about helping take down a system that has consistently punished women. A big indication is how she’s only demanding for $1 in damages to counter the lawsuit David has put up wherein he demands for $3 million dollars. Glamour reports that Taylor’s intent is not to bankrupt David but to extract justice. Taylor’s attorney J. Douglas Baldrige said, “She’s just trying to tell people out there that you can say no when someone puts their hand on you. Grabbing a woman’s rear end is an assault, and it’s always wrong. Any woman—rich, poor, famous, or not—is entitled to have that not happen.”

She’s not a perfect role model, as Taylor is often criticized for the privileges she’s enjoyed as a white female from a well-to-do family. Any other assault victim wouldn’t have the luxury of foregoing the amount the court can award in reparation for the crime committed against them. Still, I admire how Taylor took money out as a factor. Often, sexual assault victims are accused of simply trying to find a way to cash in or to get attention. This is one big misogynistic opinion we have to let go of. The view of women as money-grubbing creatures is a personal takedown merited on stereotype.

The statements Taylor made in court also indicate that she knows what she’s up against. On the suggestion of David’s attorney that she could have taken a break from meet-and-greet event after David allegedly groped her, she simply said, “Your client could have taken a normal photo with me.” This is an example of how we already position women to act a certain way after an assault. There is a bias already because we often think, “If she really was assaulted, why didn’t she speak up, why didn’t she call him out immediately?”

She also refuses to be blamed for what happened to David after the incident. The DJ lost his job when the allegations broke out. Taylor was asked if she felt anything about it and she said, “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.”

Often, women are made to feel guilty for ruining a man’s life when they speak up about the assault. News flash to all you Brock Turners of the world, if you don’t want to face the consequences of your actions, don’t do them. It’s not the women who point out your crimes that ruin your life—it’s you.

Slate calls Taylor’s testimony in court as “sharp, gutsy, and satisfying.” I have to agree as Taylor is not playing the victim in this one. On any suggestion that her allegations are false, she challenges why she can’t rely on plain and empirical evidence. “The only person who would have a direct eye line is someone lying underneath my skirt and we didn’t have anyone positioned there,” Taylor said when David’s lawyer asked why there are no other witnesses to her claims.

On top of this, Slate also points out how Taylor is at a great position to teach younger women a lesson about the whole incident. “For young fans of Swift’s, hearing a beloved artist speak candidly about the emotional damage of sexual assault and stand up to a courtroom of men trying to prove her wrong could be a formative moment for their developing ideas of gender, sex, and accountability.” That is a win in itself especially if it empowers women against this kind of treatment.

Filed Under:

court, culture, feminism, misogyny, sexism, sexual harassment, Taylor Swift, Trial

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