As Taylor Swift's legal battle with former radio DJ David Mueller continues, gossip site TMZ took the decision to post a photograph that allegedly shows Swift being groped.
Taylor Swift has been locked in a legal battle for three years now. In 2013, the pop star filed a deposition against David Mueller, a Denver-based DJ, accusing him of sexually assaulting her.
In response, Mueller sued Swift, claiming that her false allegations had caused him to lose his job. Swift then filed a countersuit, filing a photograph as evidence that the event took place. Although she specifically asked that the photo be kept private, gossip website TMZ has decided to publish it.
The photograph, according to Swift, shows the moment she was assaulted by Mueller.
“Right as the moment came for us to pose for the photo, he took his hand and put it up my dress and grabbed onto my ass cheek and no matter how much I scooted over it was still there,” Swift said in her deposition back in 2013. “It was completely intentional, I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life.”
“I remember being frantic, distressed, feeling violated in a way I had never experienced before.”
Swift’s lawyers argued that the photograph should be kept from the public because “it is all but assured that the photograph will be shared for scandalous and prurient interests.” They also stated that due to Swift’s celebrity, it could affect the jury selection, should the case go to trial.
Not only did TMZ publish the photo, however, the language used in the particular ‘article’ is genuinely distressing. It opens: “This is the photo Taylor Swift felt was too hot for the public to handle.” An interesting choice of words, given that when you take away Swift’s celebrity, the photograph is, in actual fact, a documentation of the moment a then 23-year old woman says she was assaulted by a 58-year old man.
TMZ’s decision comes at a time when sexual assault, particularly in the US, is at the forefront of people’s minds. Donald Trump, the president-elect of the United States of America, openly bragged about groping women. He was also accused by multiple women of sexual assault.
We don’t know whether Mueller is guilty, but the point is: he has been accused of sexually assaulting a young woman, and that alone should be taken seriously. It seems incomprehensible that, in 2016, the world still has a tendency to instinctively disbelieve women who claim they have been a victim of this sort of crime. In response to the notion that Swift and her legal team felt that publication of the photograph could influence a jury, TMZ simply wrote: “It’s hard to see how this pic unduly prejudices anyone.”
The judge presiding over the case is yet to decide whether or not it will proceed to trial but, one thing’s for sure: we need to be aware of the dangerous nature of the language surrounding these sorts of cases. We need to be aware of victim-blaming and work together to stop it; particularly in this current climate, where women’s rights are at risk.
As Swift herself said of the incident: “A meet-and-greet is supposed to be a situation where you’re thanking people for coming, you’re supposed to be welcoming people into your home, which is the arena for that day. And for someone to violate that hospitality in that way, I was completely stunned.”