The #MeToo movement has shed significant light on the sexual harassment female actresses, performers and musicians face in Hollywood –– and on their lives outside of the industry. Though the movement initially amplified allegations made by women, men, such as actor Terry Crews, have also been included in the movement. Recently, a video of Katy Perry tricking a teenage boy into kissing her on “American Idol” has made waves on the internet. Perry saw nothing wrong with the exchange, but it was clearly nonconsensual.
“American Idol” judge Luke Bryan asked 19-year-old contestant, Benjamin Glaze if he had ever “kissed a girl and liked it,” referencing Perry’s famous song, “I Kissed a Girl.” Glaze responded that he had not, explaining that he had never been in a relationship, and he couldn’t kiss a girl without being in a relationship. Producers ushered him over to the judge’s table to give Perry, 33, a kiss on the cheek, which he voluntarily did. However, she pointed out he didn’t make the “smack” sound, and with the other judges egging him on, he moved in to kiss her on the cheek, but Perry moved her head at the last minute to kiss him on the lips.
Glaze was so shocked he fell backwards and, clearly shaken, asked for water before his performance. Perry laughed and said, “Sorry!” as she flung her arms out, seemingly not apologetic. All of the judges then rejected Glaze’s performance and labeled it lackluster, most likely due to Glaze being spooked by Perry’s actions. In an interview with The New York Times, he described the situation as “uncomfortable” and stated that even if she had asked for his consent he would have said no. He also said that he wanted his first kiss to be special.
He seemed to have watered down some of these statements later in the interview, saying that he discussed it with his friends and felt it didn’t count as a first kiss. Glaze took to his Instagram to say he didn’t feel harassed. He also claims that he had some idea that she would kiss him when he walked up to her. Despite Glaze’s decreasing concern, the public hasn’t scaled back in its number of varying reactions. Almost every article about the incident is littered with comments about how “lucky” the boy was and how it was a “joke” or “no big deal.” For example, The Washington Post writes, “If you’re 19 and haven’t kissed a girl before, Katy Perry is a pretty big upgrade. What’s he saving it for?” Even when it happened, the other judges laughed and brushed off a 33-year-old kissing an unsuspecting 19-year-old.
It’s hard to speculate whether if the gender roles had been reversed, Perry would have been fired, but the world’s reaction to male sexual harassment victims often invalidates their pain. Men are stereotyped with wanting sexual attention, so when a man does have the courage to come forward and claim that they have been sexualy harrassed or assaulted, it is overlooked. Moreover, with the assumption that women are physically weaker than men, many doubt that they would be able to harass men or force sexual or romantic attention on them, even if they wanted to. But male victims are every bit as important and valid as females, and they deserve to be believed and offered support, not have their pain mocked or belittled.
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