Personal Space

The DJ David Mueller who sued Taylor Swift claiming she got him the sack had his case thrown out last week.

And now a jury has found in favour of Swift’s countersuit that the radio host subjected her to a sexual assault, grabbing her bum while she posed for photos with fans at a meet and greet.

Amidst the discussion and coverage, much of which has been accurate and helpful and some of which hasn’t, an interesting piece of evidence from Taylor’s mother Andrea has perhaps been overlooked.

Here’s part of what she said during her testimony:

‘One of the things I think that stuck with me [about that night] was that [Taylor] couldn’t believe that after the incident, after he grabbed her, that she thanked him for being there.
She said thank you. It was destroying her that she said that after someone did that to her. It made me question why I taught her to be so polite in that moment.’

Here’s a woman, at work, behaving like the professional she is, appreciating the fans and industry representatives who’ve helped her achieve the success she has enjoyed, the complete antithesis of the stereotypical ‘pop star diva’ throwing a strop over the mineral water not being the correct temperature, suffering a gross invasion of her personal space, a sexual assault and still ending up fighting that instinct that she owes him something.

And then Taylor and her mother had the issue of how to deal with the matter. In testimony, Andrea said they didn’t want publicity. Taylor didn’t want this issue to define her and predicted a myriad of internet memes about ‘Taylor Swift’s Ass’ – you only need to look at Google Trends and a glance through Twitter to see their fears were well founded.

This should not be framed by anyone as an entertainment story and it’s only due to the vagaries of the US legal system (and the actions of Mueller, the perpetrator who had the gall to raise the original action) that this entire case was heard in a civil court rather than a criminal one.

I’ve heard it said that men who commit these sorts of offences towards women do so out of a sense of entitlement. And this – doing it and then trying to violate her again by suing when his actions led to the loss of his job – seems a powerful example of exactly what they mean.

But maybe it also gives those of us who need it some further insight into how it must feel for women on the receiving end of this. From being grabbed, to wolf whistles, revenge porn, inappropriate comments on Linkedin and all the rest…if someone of Taylor Swift’s stature has to fight an instinct that says ‘thank you’ for attending the meet and greet…how much harder and more confusing must it be for others? And maybe we should all be more supportive of those who do call this behaviour out for what it is.