Is Groping Sexual Assault? Taylor Swift says YES!

When stars use their stardom for something awesome like a benefit concert, that’s swell. And when they get an illness and use that opportunity to educate their fans on health and wellness, really terrific. But the Taylor Swift trial going on right now, August 2017, is awesome. Maybe she didn’t mean to make this so public but it’s public now, and after her mother got the radio talk show host David Mueller fired from his $150,000 a year job (get me out of academia!), he filed the first lawsuit and she counter-sued. As I understand it, when a publicity photo was being taken, he jumped in and felt her butt cheek from behind, under her dress. Just look at the photo. That’s where his entitled hand went. Swift froze in the moment like as most victims do, most likely thinking, “Is this really happening?” And perhaps she knew better to not yell WTF in the middle of a photo shoot given her middle school fans are always listening. Also, in that sort of a situation, the guy always wins, because he will jump away and pout and the world will say "boys will be boys," and in the end, he got away with something. But after he walked away, she discussed what happened with her team. And that’s when someone from the radio station was told about it. Because of a MORALITY clause in his contract, he was fired. Her lawyers asked to have the photo evidence sealed but it was leaked. They wanted it sealed I'm guessing because they didn’t want copycats, and most likely didn’t want disrespectful memes and more going around the internet.

SECS-C just loves that Taylor Swift can get a guy fired for this, that she can actually get “recovery” for damage and hardship, and that at this writing the judge threw out Mueller's lawsuit. Imagine what the world would be like if the rest of the girls and women around the world could sue every time a man groped them, which brings me to the title's question.  

Some opinion writer, there's always one, is saying that we shouldn't call a grope "sexual assault" because it makes more invisible the more serious sexual assaults that other women have experienced. I have sympathy for that argument because rape isn't taken seriously enough and a grope from a stranger typically isn't as devastating as rape. But if we don't call a grope a sexual assault, then there is no legal recourse for it. The law defines this as an assault and not Taylor Swift. And there ought to be legal recourse. There ought to be a way that men can't get away with this behavior and dismiss it as negligible.  Whether or not the damages are high or low, calling these kinds of things assaults and illegal protects all women.

And maybe I need to remind everyone that this is happening in an era where a guy who bragged about “grabbing pussy” is our president.  Hooray for that morality clause at that radio station. Would that our government's HR gave the president a contract with a "morality clause." Hooray for Taylor Swift showing that some women, when powerful enough, can call out a groper. Even if fans love you and you have  gazillion dollars in the bank, it’s still hard to publicly call out a groper. So hooray for her!  And bystanders? That’s where you’re needed. No matter how cool the victim, she needs you! In the moment AND afterwards!

Back to SECS-C --  the curriculum that teaches sexual ethics! Sure you can teach fellows not to grope women, that it’s wrong. But you can also teach them why it's wrong. And that is where respect for autonomy develops, where understanding privacy comes in, and where rape culture and entitlement are discussed. More sexual ethics in schools today. Contact us re the SECS-C.