After four days of testimony, a federal judge has dropped Taylor Swift from a suit filed by a radio host who took the star to court, claiming she had falsely accused him of groping her.
David Mueller claims Swift set out to have him fired after a 2013 photo op before her show in Denver. Mueller denies groping Swift during the photo and has sued the singer, her mother, Andrea Swift, and their radio handler, Frank Bell, seeking up to $3 million as compensation for his ruined career and reputation.
The judge said David Muller offered “insufficient evidence” that Swift acted improperly when she reported an assault she truly believed happened. However, while Swift has been dropped as a defendant in the case, Mueller’s allegations against Swift’s mother and Frank Bell will go to jurors for a verdict. The ruling comes after four days of electrifying testimony from Swift — and before that, her mom, Andrea Swift.
Swift did not come to play nice when she spent an hour on the stand on Wednesday. Mueller’s attorney tried to get her to admit fault in the encounter, but she was not having it.
Instead, she defiantly recounted what she called a “despicable and horrifying and shocking” encounter before a concert. She told the courtroom that when she felt Mueller’s hand go up her skirt and touch her bare backside during the photo op, she tried to lurch away (closer to his girlfriend) but that his hand still stayed firmly attached to her body.
“It was a definite grab. A very long grab,” she added in her testimony.
Swift’s best response was when the lawyer asked how she felt about Mueller losing his job at a radio station following their encounter:
“I’m not going to allow you or your client make me feel in any way that this is my fault,” Swift said. “Here we are years later, and I’m being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are the product of his decisions — not mine.”
I cheered out loud when I read these words. While I wasn’t a fan of Taylor Swift before, I most certainly am a huge fan now.
Swift testified that after the photo was taken, she tried to get as far away from Mueller as she could, telling him and his girlfriend, who was also in the photo, “thank you for coming,” in a monotonous voice before they left. She did not say anything to Mueller or halt the event after he departed, saying she was stunned and did not want to disappoint several dozen people waiting in line for photos with her.
But, while Taylor kept her composure during the alleged assault and in the courtroom, Andrea Swift became emotional and teared up on the stand when she testified how the incident had impacted her daughter.
“I knew what happened, I heard it from her, I heard it from my daughter’s mouth. He sexually assaulted her, right there, that guy,” Andrea Swift said, pointing at Mueller from the stand. She said seeing the look on her daughter’s face after the incident made her want to “vomit and cry at the same time.”
“She couldn’t believe that after he grabbed her, that she thanked them for being there,” she continued. “It was just destroying her that she said that … [and] as a parent it made me question why I taught her to be so polite in that moment.”
It’s something every parent of daughters should question on a daily basis. As women, we’re taught to be polite, and it’s how we raise our daughters. How many times were you told to “act like a lady” when you were growing up — with “lady” generally defined as being polite, passive and proper?
As Soraya Chemaly notes in an article called, “Does Your Daughter Know It’s OK To Be Angry?”:
“Anger is diverted in women, who, as girls, lose even the awareness of their own anger as anger. Girls are taught, through politeness norms that suppress disruptive behavior, to use indirect methods of dealing with rage. For example, it’s “unladylike” to be loud, or “vulgar” to curse, yell, or seem unattractive. Adaptable girls find socially acceptable ways to internalize or channel their discomfort and ire, sometimes at great personal cost. Passive aggressive behavior, anxiety, and depression are common effects. Sarcasm, apathy, and meanness have all been linked to suppressed rage.”
Chemaly explains that parents don’t consider the long-term effects of teaching girls lessons about politeness and how to be social. It’s so ingrained in us not to make a scene, that a smart, savvy woman like Taylor Swift reflexively thanked the man she says sexually assaulted her.
As we become women, we are taught to put others’ needs first, and that’s what Taylor did; suppressing her shock and horror, continuing with the meet and greet so she wouldn’t disappoint others waiting their turn to meet her.
Scenarios similar to what Swift went through during the photo op have played out over and over throughout the lives of every single woman I know – namely, shock and outrage when some man at a nightclub grabs our bodies without permission.
As Anne Catherine Demere writes for the Huffington Post:
“I’ve seen girls weakly laugh it off because they think that’s what they’re supposed to do. And I’ve seen guys stammer excuse after excuse after excuse, because they’re taught to search for anything to blame but themselves.”
It’s just a grab. I’m just having fun. Don’t overreact. It’s not a big deal, right?
Wrong. It’s a VERY big deal. Taylor Swift, role model to millions, understands this, thank God. And while she may not have responded with outrage in the moment, her testimony in the courtroom was loud and clear and millions of little girls and young women who look up to her are listening.
“Girls need to know — and should be told explicitly — that it’s alright to feel anger,” Chemaly emphatically states. “That it’s a healthy emotion that, as humans, they have the right to feel and express.”
Especially in a society where even the President of the United States has normalized sexual assault. Women now, more than ever, need to respond with outrage, not politeness — and we need to teach our daughters to do the same.
Taylor Swift countersued Mueller for $1. She says neither she nor her team are responsible for his termination and the dollar is a symbol of empowerment to other women who are victims of sexual assault, who may be forced to publicly relive similar outrageous and humiliating acts.
Thank you, Taylor Swift for taking on those ridiculous men in that courtroom like the badass boss that you are. And thank you, Andrea Swift, for raising a strong young woman who is polite, yes — but also poised, brave, eloquent, and worthy of the adoration of the millions who love her.
“I’m not going to allow you or your client make me feel in any way that this is my fault. Here we are years later, and I’m being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are the product of his decisions — not mine.”
Someone get that on a T-shirt, STAT.