Taylor Swift’s firm testimony in a civil trial this week involving a former radio host who allegedly groped her is sending a strong message to women who might experience similar forms of sexual harassment and assault: Don’t diminish the act.
“It provides a useful template for her fans, for younger girls who might experience these forms of harassment and be intimidated out of saying anything because their voice is consistently discredited,” said Karen Tongson, a professor who specializes in gender studies and pop culture at the University of Southern California.
Model for how to respond
Tongson says Swift’s authoritative stance while on the stand is a model for how to respond to questions trying to undermine the validity of a claim.
“A lot of young women have in mind, ‘well, who’s going to be believe me anyway?’ or ‘maybe it’s not a big deal,'” said Tongson. “It’s unclear for many what the line is of discomfort or how much discomfort one has to absorb before it’s worth talking about.”
‘It’s unclear for many what the line is of discomfort or how much discomfort one has to absorb before it’s worth talking about’
– Karen Tongson, USC gender studies professor
According to 2014 Statistics Canada data, 83 per cent of incidents involving sexual assault — including unwanted touching — were not reported to police. The most common reason provided by victims for not reporting the crime was that it was considered minor and not worth the bother to come forward.
A Colorado judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit filed by ex-DJ David Mueller, who blamed Swift and her team for getting him fired in 2013.
The pop singer countersued for a symbolic $1 US. She’s alleging Mueller intentionally grabbed her backside during a meet-and-greet with fans, prompting her team to contact his employer and demand appropriate action be taken.
Refusal to accept blame
Earlier this week, Swift, 27, stood her ground while testifying about her experience, despite probing questions from opposing counsel.
“I am critical of your client for sticking his hand under my skirt and grabbing my ass,” Swift testified Thursday when asked a question by Mueller’s lawyer.
“I’m not going to allow you or your client to make me feel in any way that this is my fault…