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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Taylor Swift and bodily integrity

I've been reading/watching in the news about the trial in which Taylor Swift has accused a man of grabbing her behind ...



I'm glad she has chosen to make a public issue of this. I think it's probable that most women have experienced some level of sexual harassment at the workplace - I have - but many of us are not able to really redress it. What's disturbing is that using another person as your involuntary squeeze toy is often not seen as a serious violation. I know this because many Americans, including Catholics and Evangelical Christians, just knowingly voted for a professed pussy grabber for president.

This issue touches on the idea of bodily integrity, a concept which has informed issues not just of assault but also of torture, suicide, abortion, circumcision,. Some people think our bodies are the property of God or of society or of other people, but bodily integrity emphasizes the importance of personal autonomy and the self-determination of human beings over their own bodies. In the field of human rights, violation of the bodily integrity of another is regarded as an unethical infringement, intrusive, and possibly criminal.

Here's a bit from an article on the Taylor Swift trial ...

Taylor Swift’s Sexual Assault Testimony Was Sharp, Gutsy, and Satisfying

[...] For young fans of Swift’s, hearing a beloved artist speak candidly about the emotional damage of sexual assault and stand up to a courtroom of men trying to prove her wrong could be a formative moment for their developing ideas of gender, sex, and accountability. Swift certainly has advantages most women who endure similar violations will never have: the money and time to mount a strong case against her alleged assailant, the jury-endearing privileges of white skin and a beautiful face, and millions of supporters rallying publicly behind her. And since he’s suing her for money and she’s already one of the biggest superstars in the world, detractors can’t argue, as they so often do in sexual-assault cases, that she’s making up a story for money or fame.

But Swift also faces some of the same obstacles other assault survivors endure if they bring their perpetrators to court. She must relive a distressing moment over and over again to dozens of observers, recounting in detail how her body was allegedly touched without her consent, while lawyers on the other side try their hardest to make her look unreliable, petty, and fake. When McFarland asked her how she felt when Mueller got the boot from his job at the Denver radio station, Swift said she had no response. “I am not going to allow your client to make me feel like it is any way my fault, because it isn’t,” she said. Later, she continued: “I am being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are a product of his decisions and not mine.” Women who allege sexual assault are scolded all the time for ruining men’s lives, even if those men are proven guilty. Swift’s sharp testimony is a very visible condemnation of that common turn in cases like these. That’s an important message for women who may find themselves in Swift’s position someday, and maybe even more so for the men who’ll be called on to support or rebuff them.


Good on you, Taylor.

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