Don’t miss Trey Mancini and Joey Rickard guest bartend at the first Brews & O’s event June 10th. Get your tickets today!

Taylor Swift sets example for women by refusing to 'shake it off'

I wish Taylor Swift had taken him to the cleaners.

David Mueller — a 51-year-old DJ — had the gall to not only grab her 23-year-old behind during a photo op in 2013 (standing next to his then-girlfriend, no less), but to also sue the world-famous pop star for losing his radio job because of it.

But she’s a better person than I, asking for a single, symbolic dollar from the lech after a federal judge dismissed his case and a civil jury embraced hers, finding Monday in a countersuit that Mr. Mueller committed assault and battery on Ms. Taylor.

You can be forgiven if you haven’t heard about the incident; it seems only the entertainment press found it worthy of consistent coverage, despite Ms. Swift’s high-profile personage and its basic gravity. The message its resolution sends is best suited to her fans, anyway — legions of young women and girls (she has 85.4 million followers on Twitter and even more on Instagram: 102 million) who were just given the greenlight to speak out against the sort of everyday insults their mothers mostly just toughed out.

Don’t get me wrong, Ms. Swift, like thousands before her, took a lot of guff for getting groped — that standard, blame-the-victim blather that keeps so many of us from coming forward. The lawsuit was payback for those she’s sued. A copped feel is no big deal. She should have called the police if it were so wrong, or at least stopped greeting fans.

She’s not even the one who got the ball rolling in court, but she refused to roll over once it was cast.

Imagine: You’re a young woman at a business event and someone older, bigger and stronger than you — working in an industry you’re dependent upon — reaches down, actually lifts your skirt from behind and latches onto your butt cheek while a camera snaps from the front, knowing that your image is everything and you’re trapped.

She powered through like the professional that she is, completing her meet-and-greets for the day, then finding the photographer and the Mueller photo, and telling her people — including her mother — what happened; they contacted Mr. Mueller’s bosses, who fired him.

Regular women don’t call the police for this kind of thing because, really, what’s the point? Rape is rarely taken seriously; what can you expect with this? But when you’re Taylor Swift, you also don’t call police because you’re in the public eye. “I didn’t want this event to define her life,” Ms. Swift’s mother testified during the trial. “I did not want every interview from this point on to have to talk about it.”

Mr. Mueller was more than happy to exploit her again, though, targeting her fame instead of her body this time with his ridiculous $3 million lawsuit claiming she’s the one who harmed him. Ms. Swift didn’t let him victimize her a second time, however. She called the incident “horrifying” and “shocking” in testimony last week and never shied away from frank description of it. More importantly, she pushed back.

“I am not going to allow your client to make me feel like it is in any way my fault, because it isn’t,” she said in court. “I am being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are a product of his decisions and not mine.”

And there’s the takeaway.

This man sought to treat Taylor Swift like a piece of property, something that happens to millions of women every day. But she had the resources to fight him — and set an example for the rest of us to no longer “shake it off,” but stand up for our dignity.

Tricia Bishop is The Sun's deputy editorial page editor. Her column runs every other Friday. Her email is tricia.bishop@baltsun.com; Twitter: @triciabishop.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
66°