Style Voices

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Amy Mulvaney: Taylor Swift is right - it's not okay to touch someone without their permission, no matter how famous they are

Taylor Swift performs during her '1989' World Tour at ANZ Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
Taylor Swift performs during her '1989' World Tour at ANZ Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
In this courtroom sketch, pop singer Taylor Swift speaks from the witness stand during a trial Thursday. (Jeff Kandyba via AP)
Taylor Swift performs on stage for the 1989 World Tour at CenturyLink Center on May 20, 2015 in Bossier City, Louisiana. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for TAS)
Kanye West (L) jumps onstage after Taylor Swift (C) won the "Best Female Video" award during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on September 13, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston
(L-R) Models Gigi Hadid, Martha Hunt, actress Hailee Steinfeld, model Cara Delevingne, actress Selena Gomez, musician Taylor Swift, model Serayah, actress Mariska Hargitay, models Lily Aldridge and Karlie Kloss attend the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on August 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Amy Mulvaney

After more than a year out from the spotlight, Taylor Swift is back and for very good reason.

Despite her professional success, most of the interest around Taylor focuses on her high profile relationships, but now she is taking back control of her narrative – this time, as a brave, young woman standing up for herself in court.

The 27-year-old singer said she was subjected to a "very long" and "intentional" grope four years ago by DJ David Mueller during a meet-and-greet, taking to the stand in Denver, Colorado this week to detail her alleged experience.

"It was a definite grab ... a very long grab," she said."It was intentional. He stayed latched onto my bare ass cheek. I felt him grab onto my ass cheek under my skirt."

In this courtroom sketch, pop singer Taylor Swift speaks from the witness stand during a trial Thursday. (Jeff Kandyba via AP)
In this courtroom sketch, pop singer Taylor Swift speaks from the witness stand during a trial Thursday. (Jeff Kandyba via AP)

And while Taylor’s brand is one of pseudo-feminism filled with girl squads and carefully constructed Instagram shots might provide endless fodder for commentators, she is silencing even the most vocal of critics with her decision to take a stand; both literally in the US District Court and figuratively, by letting the world know that fame does not mean you’re a piece of property.

She’s using her profile for good – to send a message to the millions of women who have been grabbed by creepy men without their consent.

"I am not going to allow your my client to make me feel like it is anyway my fault because it isn’t," she told the court.

I have no doubt that many readers can relate, in some capacity, to a similar experience themselves, and remember the cocktail of shame and anger they may have felt when it happened to them; how they may have felt that they couldn't speak out to the offender for 'fear of causing a scene'.

Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston
Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston

Last year, a report by Tusla found that half of Irish women have experienced sexual harassment at some point in their lives. Following the release of the finding, Irish model Vogue Williams spoke about her own experience with sexual harassment, recalling when a man put his hand up her dress at her birthday party.

"At my birthday last year I had to go home because a man put his hand right up my dress as I walked by him in a nightclub," she wrote in her column in a national newspaper.

"It really upset me and made me furious but this was not a one-off incident. Over the years I've had a few incidences like that and some a little worse, but none I want to go into detail here now."

The rise of 'upskirting', where people put cameras under unsuspecting women's skirts and take pictures, is further proof that when it comes to sexual harassment, it is always right to take a stand. Gina Martin, from the UK, found herself a victim of upskirting when she was enjoying herself at a festival this summer. Yet, when she saw the photo on the man's phone and called the police, she was told five days later that the case was closed as the man hadn't broken any laws.

(L-R) Models Gigi Hadid, Martha Hunt, actress Hailee Steinfeld, model Cara Delevingne, actress Selena Gomez, musician Taylor Swift, model Serayah, actress Mariska Hargitay, models Lily Aldridge and Karlie Kloss attend the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on August 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
(L-R) Models Gigi Hadid, Martha Hunt, actress Hailee Steinfeld, model Cara Delevingne, actress Selena Gomez, musician Taylor Swift, model Serayah, actress Mariska Hargitay, models Lily Aldridge and Karlie Kloss attend the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on August 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Since then, Ms Martin has started a campaign to make upskirt photos illegal, and has already gathered the signatures of more than 53,000 people.

It may have been 'easier' for Taylor to brush off the incident, to succumb to Mr Mueller's claims for damages and to sweep the entire thing under the rug, keeping it hidden away from the public forever, but she didn't.

Whether she likes it or not, Taylor is a role model and her every move makes an impact in some way. While her squeaky-clean image has been somewhat tarnished over the years through her feud with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian and the endless public focus on her high profile relationships, her profile puts her in a powerful position.

Not to mention that her followers are largely comprised of teenagers and women in their early 20s. Now, Taylor is using her voice to send the message surrounding sexual assault to her legions of dedicated fans loud and clear.

Kanye West (L) jumps onstage after Taylor Swift (C) won the
Kanye West (L) jumps onstage after Taylor Swift (C) won the "Best Female Video" award during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on September 13, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

If someone touches you without your permission and/or makes you feel uncomfortable, you have the right to speak up about it and defend yourself, whether you're a multi-award winning singer or not.

Whether it’s "only" your bum or not, you don’t have to stand there uncomfortably while someone puts their hand on your leg. Feel confident in causing a scene and outing them before they leave the area. It's your right.

At time of writing, the case currently continues. Nevertheless, despite whatever result the court reaches, Taylor has already won a case for millions of young women (and men) around the world by showing that, when it comes to sexual assault, the answer is never to shake it off.

Taylor Swift performs on stage for the 1989 World Tour at CenturyLink Center on May 20, 2015 in Bossier City, Louisiana. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for TAS)
Taylor Swift performs on stage for the 1989 World Tour at CenturyLink Center on May 20, 2015 in Bossier City, Louisiana. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for TAS)

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