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This is a message to all the good men – and there are multitudes – who 1) support the females in your lives who have haltingly, heartbreakingly told of their own #MeToo moments; 2) have intervened in physical or verbal assault; and, 3) find it hard to believe that it continues to happen.
The message is this: Anyone who uses power to sexually harass another person is guilty, regardless of his or her gender, or the gender of the victim.
Take Katy Perry. I’ve written about Perry in October 2013, when Lakewood High School won ABC’s Good Morning America contest to have her perform at their school. Although Perry’s image has never been entirely wholesome, by her own design, she has reinvented herself to some degree as judge on the current season of American Idol.
If you missed it (as I did), a 19-year-old contestant, Benjamin Glaze, got into a conversation with the judges about whether he had ever liked kissing a girl, a reference to Perry’s hit song, “I Kissed a Girl.” Glaze, in all sincerity, said he had not kissed anyone yet because he wanted to be in a relationship when he did, so it would be special.
Can you guess what happened? Perry coyly asked for a kiss on the cheek, and when Glaze acquiesced – he was auditioning for a spot on the show, after all – Perry full on kissed him on the lips. From the broadcast, you can see Glaze stumble backward, aghast, yelling, “Katy! You didn’t!” The supposed adults in the room, though, thought it was quite comical.
Glaze told The New York Times that if Perry had asked to kiss him, he would have said no. Social media, as usual, took sides. Some reacted predictably with “Lucky son of a gun!” Others decried that Perry used her power as a judge to take advantage of a young man who clearly did not want – and did not ask for – her advances.
Imagine, for a moment, if this had been a male judge. With the recent focus – rightfully – on such unwanted attention, a man would have been pilloried – rightfully – immediately. The same should hold true for Perry.
The incident took place last October, and Glaze’s episode aired earlier this month. Upon reflection, Glaze said he doesn’t feel he was a harassment victim because he’s now decided that it wasn’t really a kiss – just lip contact. He said he was “grateful” for the exposure Perry afforded his music when she tweeted about the whole thing.
Most harassment isn’t quite this public. Many such demands are private or semi-private … and witnesses are as likely to be affected by the consequences as the victims themselves.
Victims are also likely to be confused – for example, social media twits are pointing out that Glaze did walk over to Perry … albeit at her command. Who had the power over someone’s potential career here?
The message is that it doesn’t matter the gender of the harasser or the gender of the victim: if you are using power, strength, circumstance, or deceit, you are guilty.
In retrospect, I also have another message, as a victim myself. I want to thank everyone who respects another person’s boundaries, no matter who they are … or who you are.
Andrea Doray is a writer who stands up for those who tell their stories, those who want to tell their stories, and those who never ever want to speak of them. Contact Andrea at email@example.com.
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