Yesterday, Taylor Swift made headlines for something other than her award-winning music or her love life and sparked an incredibly important dialogue in the process.
Monday marked the first day of Swift’s groping trial against former DJ David Mueller. Swift alleges Mueller slipped his hand up her dress and groped her while she posed for a photo with he and his girlfriend back in 2013 after a Denver concert. Later that evening, Swift’s bodyguard confronted Mueller about the incident; he denied it happened and asked that the police were called. He and his girlfriend were escorted from the venue and the incident was reported to Mueller’s boss. Swift didn’t go to the police.
In 2015, Mueller filed a lawsuit against Swift, claiming he was fired from his job – a DJ at a country music station – after being wrongfully accused by Swift and her team. He’s seeking at least $3 million in damages. Swift promptly fired back, countersuing Mueller for assault and battery. Ensuring loud and clear that this isn’t about the dollars, Swift is seeking $1 in the verdict. Instead, she’d rather hold Mueller accountable for his alleged creepy and utterly unacceptably wandering hands and “serve as an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts.”
So, what’s Mueller’s defence? His attorney argues that Swift may have misidentified Mueller as somebody else…you know, another perverted and boundary-lacking person who somehow thought the move was acceptable – or at least, something they could get away with.
Sadly, these days, we need all the setting of examples we can get when it comes to battling sexual assault and harassment – from both celebrities and strong, brave “real women” alike. The reality is that – in the club on a Saturday night or on a date, to the workplace – unwanted advances and groping still happens all the time. All the time.
Most recently, a Canadian female TV reporter from Quebec, Valerie-Micaela Bain, was harassed on the job this past weekend as she attempted to cover Osheaga in Montreal. When she was live from the festival, a concertgoer thought it would be a good idea to kiss the journalist on the cheek. Much to the collective pride of females everywhere, Bain pushed him away and yelled at him before snapping gracefully back into reporter mode and continuing her report. Bain took to Facebook to share the incident. “Kissing someone without their consent is no,” she wrote in a post that included images of the unidentified man. “In the end I would like him to understand why his gesture is unacceptable,” she wrote. The man has since apologized for his actions.
But it seems guys are doing a lot of apologizing these days; for one reason or another, many simply aren’t getting the memo that there’s nothing cute about unwanted contact.
In the past two weeks, two separate girlfriends have been groped or inappropriately touched on first dates with men they had met online. Both were immediately disgusted by the common denominator that the men assumed that the fact that they were on a first date automatically gave them an open invitation to touch them without a hint of invitation that it would be welcome at all.
It happened to me last month in a party. Apparently, you can’t wear a figure-hugging dress without someone coyly copping a feel after a few cocktails.
It’s important to point out that groping can sometimes come in the form of a playful interaction as opposed to something that is sexually charged (and violating). A friend of mine recently took to Facebook to express his distaste for others – both men and women – who had groped him recently at events, grabbing or slapping his ass on multiple occasions. He questioned whether people thought that it was acceptable behaviour because he is a body-conscious gay man or because they felt they were good enough friends with him that a slap on the ass was seen as harmless.
He raised a good point. After all, most have us have probably been jokingly slapped on the ass by a friend at some point. I see females to this to one another often. But engaging in this type of thing only normalizes such behaviour.
Whether it involves men, women, strangers or friends, the reality is that unwanted groping is still somehow happening and it’s time to stop.
Cover Image: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey