UPDATE - August 15, 2017: A jury has determined that Taylor Swift had been groped by a radio station host and awarded her the $1 in damages she requested. For more, click here.
UPDATE - Aug. 11, 2017: A Denver judge has tossed out David Mueller's lawsuit against Taylor Swift. For more, click here.
Women who've been assaulted know all too well how hard it is to speak up and accuse their abusers. And most of the time, their credibility is put under intense scrutiny. To be frank, lots of people don't believe women who say they've been assaulted and/or abused.
Which leads us to Taylor Swift.
The singer is in the middle of a sexual assault trial against former radio host David Mueller, and yesterday, she took the stand to testify against him.
To recap, Swift is alleging that Mueller grabbed her butt from under her skirt when they were taking a photo together during a meet-and-greet in 2013 (TMZ has the photo of when the alleged assault took place). Two years later, Mueller sued Swift for $3 million, claiming her allegations were false, and led to a loss of income because he was let go from his job. Swift is now countersuing Mueller for just $1.
Mueller's attorney, Gabe McFarland, cross-examined Swift on Thursday, and her testimony is a lesson in how to stand up for yourself when your story — and character — are questioned.
According to reports, McFarland suggested that Swift's bodyguard would have intervened had the alleged assault actually occurred, and then asked her if she was "critical" of him for not stepping in to help her. Swift would have none of it, and said, "No, I am critical of your client for sticking his hand under my skirt and grabbing my bare ass."
McFarland also suggested Swift could have taken a break from the photo-ops if she was so upset by the alleged assault, as Swift had previously said she was shaken by the incident but carried on taking photos because she didn't want to upset her fans.
To this Swift replied, "Your client could have taken a normal photo with me."
Mueller's lawyer also tried to insinuate that Swift unnecessarily cost his client his job. Swift wasn't having any of this victim blaming and said, "I didn't have a reaction to a strange person I didn't know losing his job... that was a product of his decisions, not mine. I'm not going to let you or your client make me feel like this is my fault."
Swift's certainty about the alleged assault was also questioned, but Swift remained steadfast, and stood firmly by her initial statements.
It happened to me. He had a handful of my ass. It happened to me. I know it was him. I didn't need a picture.
"It happened to me. He had a handful of my ass. It happened to me. I know it was him. I didn't need a picture. I could have picked him out of a line of a thousand... this is not alleged. I don't need you to grill me about the tiny details of this photograph. You can ask me a million questions about it and I'm never going to say something different. I never have said anything different," she said.
And, when asked why the front of her skirt doesn't appear out of place in the photo if her claim that Mueller did indeed grab her ass is true, Swift replied, "Because my ass is located on the back of my body."
The subtext of this whole line of questioning is problematic on a couple fronts. First, that Swift must be lying because she didn't immediately ask for help and move away from her alleged abuser, and second, that she didn't "look" like a victim of assault because she didn't look upset in the photo.
And Swift wasn't here for that BS.
I am critical of your client for sticking his hand under my skirt and grabbing my bare ass.
However, as Elaine Lui of Lainey Gossip notes, Swift is privileged in that she can call out the problems with this line of thinking.
"Women are often disadvantaged in these situations to begin with. But some more are more disadvantaged than others," she writes. "Taylor was rightfully indignant and quick-witted, condescending even, in the best way. Women of colour, however, particularly black women, don't have that luxury.
"The sass that Taylor showed today, were she a black woman could have very well been perceived as aggressive and combative in a courtroom...This doesn't take away from Taylor standing up for herself, of course not. But in the larger discussion about sexual assault, as we've seen, justice can be selective."
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