Tay­lor Swift re­fuses to ‘shake it off’

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Tricia Bishop 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.

Iwish 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-and­greets 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 man­sought 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.

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