I’m really proud of Taylor Swift for speaking out about the unwanted physical attention she received from a certain radio DJ – and in turn (quite rightly) winning her court case.
The DJ was found to have lifted the back of Swifts skirt and grab her bum while posing for a photo with the star and his (then) girlfriend at one of Taylors concerts in 2013. Swift testified that her security team saw the incident occur and afterwards removed the DJ from the concert. Two days later the DJ was fired from his job at the station and (two years after the incident) he sued Swift. The DJ wanted $3 million (£2.3 million) in damages while Ms Swift simply sought $1 (77 pence) and her day in court.
I don’t blame her. Especially after she stated in court documents that “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.”
Bottom line (no pun intended) – It’s not okay to grab someone and cop a feel regardless of who they are.
I have been groped by a stranger myself so I understand, in part, how angry and upset she must have felt and will still be feeling.
For me, the incident took place on the circle line of the London Underground on Friday the 12th of July 2013. I remember the date distinctly because I was on my way to meet up with my best friend from New Zealand that I hadn’t seen in the flesh for the past thirteen years. I was ecstatic and booked the day off so I could spend as much time together as possible.
The tube was peppered with a few people here and there, but there were lots of free seats. Which is why I was so surprised when this little non descript man sat right next to me and opened up his broadsheet newspaper. I was minding my own business, reading my book and silently wishing he would sit somewhere else. Because even as he sat down he was taking liberties regarding space invasion with his stupid paper. He kept flapping it and trying to inch it further over me. To the point he was blocking the view of the book that I was holding right in front of my face.
At first I thought he was just yet another oblivious jerk on the underground encroaching on someone else’s space and thought about moving to another seat. But I decided hold my ground. I was here first and he can learn to keep to his designated area. So I jabbed my elbow at his arm and pushed it back over to his side of the arm rest while giving him a judgemental “wtf?” look.
But five seconds later he was inching over the arm rest again and then I realised what he was trying to do. And that realisation came when I this total fucking stranger opened his paper so it covered my chest and book, reached out under cover of broadsheet and groped my boob. It was a full-on boob grab. No “I was trying to grab my paper!” mistake. It was an intentional titty attack that he was hiding from other commuters and the security cameras using the goddamned Times newspaper!
I shoved his hand away but to THIS DAY I have no idea why I didn’t turn and slap the creep right then and there. Honestly? I think I was so shocked at being groped that it took a second to process “Wait – did that just happen?” Sadly he used that split second to his advantage by getting the hell off the carriage before I could make either a scene or a citizens arrest.
As a naughties woman brought up around strong female role models I always assumed that if something like that ever happened to me I would go into auto-girlpower-pilot and throat-jab the attempted perpetrator. But it all happened in a flash and the guy clearly knew what he was doing. Which makes me certain that this wasn’t the first time he had sexually harassed someone.
Now, I am not a violent person.
However I could have run after him with my Swiss army knife and done some serious Ramsey Bolton Game of Thrones style damage to him at that moment in time.
No report was made regarding this incident for the following reasons:
- He had used the newspaper to hide the assault from view, so nobody else would have seen what happened to me
- I assumed that I would be accused of being at fault because I was wearing a strappy dress – despite it being baggy and falling to my ankles
There is so much wrong with all of the above. It wasn’t about nobody having seen what happened. And it certainly wasn’t about what I was wearing. A stranger groped me. It was unwanted sexual contact. He singled me out, timed his attack and got away before I could get over the shock of someone sexually assaulting me in broad daylight on a tube with other people present – and react accordingly.
It was wrong. That’s the bottom line.
Just like it was wrong for the DJ to grope Taylor Swifts bottom.
Unwanted sexual contact is not okay and its important to speak up about it.
I didn’t know who to report the incident to when it happened to me. But now I do.
The British Transport Police were very informative about incidents like this and what to do: ‘We encourage you to report anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. This includes rubbing, leering, sexual comments, indecent acts, groping, masturbation, taking photos of a sexual nature without your consent.’
They encourage anyone experiencing or witnessing the above to report it to stop it. ‘This will help us to find the offender and bring them to justice, and stop it happening to someone else.’
You can report unwanted sexual behaviour on the underground by texting the British Transport Police on 61016 or calling: 0800 40 50 40
Since my experience on the tube I’m hyper aware of other people around me and feel very claustrophobic when a carriage fills up with people. But I’m not afraid to tell someone to move their laptop / briefcase / handbag because it’s rubbing against my bottom or even move to another carriage if someone makes me feel uncomfortable or unsafe. I’m vocal about it. I’m not afraid to stand up for myself and tell a stranger to back off. I’d rather be confrontational than easy prey.
I’m proud of Taylor Swift for standing up for herself. With any luck it will encourage other women, young or old, to do the same and not just ‘shake it off’ in silence.
(Sorry, I couldn’t resist)