To all the people that have blamed Bishop Charles Ellis’s wandering hands on Ariana’s little black dress, I urge you to think twice about what you are really saying.
To all the people that have criticized her for not swatting away his hand in front of everybody, for not causing a scene and telling him to fuck off, I urge you to think five times about how ridiculous that statement is.
Following the memorial for Aretha Franklin, there was not one of my female friends that were not talking about the unnecessary breast cancer examination that the Bishop conducted on Ariana Grande on live television. Reactions ranged from, “Well, what did she expect dressed like that?” to, “I would have kicked him in the crotch right there and then.” Both those statements are problematic. But perhaps what is most problematic is the amount of times that I heard “I know that look. I know that feeling.”
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According to a November 2017 poll by Quinnipiac University, 60 percent of U.S. women have been sexually harassed at least once in their life. “Among women who say they've been harassed, 69 percent say they've experienced it at work,” reports the pollster. “43 percent say social settings; 45 percent say on the street and 15 percent say it happened at home.”
These statistics are alarming, but they are also not surprising at all. According to UN Women, 35 percent of women globally have experienced sexual or physical violence. That adds up to over 1.3 billion women worldwide who have been victims. If you ask me, that number (tragically) seems a little bit low.
And yet, the world refuses to acknowledge the fact that sexual harassment (in the workplace, in the streets, in the home, everywhere) is a dangerous heteropatriarchal epidemic.
You would think that in the times of the #MeToo Movement we would have made enough progress as a society to understand that the way a woman dresses is never an invitation for a man to grope her, on live television or anywhere else.
Before you judge Ariana, try to imagine the situation she was in. You do not know what it is like to be in this position” with a guy who is bigger, stronger, and in a position of power, in public. If she had swatted his hand away, she would’ve gotten criticized for disrespecting Aretha. There is literally no right thing to do when you are put in that position. If you fight back, you are a bitch. If you stand still, then it suddenly it is your fault.
So maybe, just maybe, the right thing to do is actually to respect women no matter what they are wearing, and not because you “have a sister or a mother or a daughter” but because they are human beings worthy of equal respect. Maybe give that a try, men.
Kassel is a junior Women & Gender Studies and International Relations double major with a minor in Latin American studies.