Opinion | Leave Katy Alone

Calling Katy Perry a sexual assailant is hurting the #MeToo movement

By on March 27, 2018

Ian Berkey
Katy Perry was accused of sexual assault for kissing a 19-year-old contestant on “American Idol” on March 11.

“Would I have done it if she said, ‘Would you kiss me?’ No, I would have said no,” he said. “I know a lot of guys would be like, ‘Heck yeah!’ But for me, I was raised in a conservative family and I was uncomfortable immediately. I wanted my first kiss to be special,” contestant Benjamin Glaze told the New York Times.

Glaze entered the audition room with confidence, discussing his job as a cashier which he admittedly loves because “sometimes there’s cute girls and they’re not going anywhere without saying hi.” After judge Luke Bryan faciously asked if Glaze has kissed a girl and liked it, referring to Perry’s 2008 hit, Glaze reveals that he has not.

“I’ve never been in a relationship… I can’t kiss a girl without being in a relationship,” Glaze responded.

This admission provoked a quick response from Perry, urging Glaze to ‘come here.’

It is true, Glaze resisted. He did not immediately float to the songstress or give any sign that he was prepared for what was to come. Bashfully, but still smiling, Glaze agreed to kiss Perry on the cheek while judges Lionel Richie and Bryan laughed and unsheathed their cell phones to take photos.

After a peck on the cheek, Perry jeered, “It didn’t even make the smush sound.” With a laugh, Glaze agrees to try again, and this is when Perry raised some hell.

Perry turned her head at the last moment to initiate Glaze’s first kiss, to which he responded with smiles, blushing and a resonant, “No you didn’t… Well, that’s a first.”

I am thankful for the judges comments and critiques… I was uncomfortable in a sense of how I have never been kissed before and was not expecting it,” Glaze wrote in a post on Instagram.

If Glaze had appeared upset or stoic or even just quietly excited, I could understand some concern from viewers. However, that was not the case.

“How was it?”

Glaze, a pompous, excited teenage boy, asked the 33-year-old pop star how his unplanned first kiss was.

These do not sound like the words of someone who feels violated, attacked or even uncomfortable.

While Glaze ultimately did not make it to the Hollywood round of the show after his shaky performance of “Levels” by Nick Jonas, he still made headlines when the New York Times reached out to him asking how the incident made him feel.

“I was a tad bit uncomfortable… I wanted to save it for my first relationship, I wanted it to be special,” Glaze told the New York Times.

Somehow this wishy-washy statement about how Katy Perry wasn’t a special enough first kiss evoked accusations from viewers calling Perry a sexual assailant.

“It was a forced sexual act. Imagine if this was from a male judge. Has @katyperry not taken anything from the #metoo movement?” one viewer tweeted.

This seems to be the biggest argument against Perry: what if a man had done this to a 19-year-old girl? Wouldn’t it be considered sexual assault then? Maybe. However, the stigma around men sexually assaulting women has made for a sense of anxiety and surveillance on male actions, especially in the media. Because of this, I do not believe that would happen at this point in time, and if it had the “Idol” producers would never have even considered airing it. While this may seem like a double standard, it also reinforces the fact that this was seen by people on set, editors, producers and many more people involved in this show and no one found Perry guilty.

Similarly, if you take any situation and change the factors involved you’ll have a different result. What if it had been in private? What if it had been female-on-female? What if she told him a kiss would score him a ticket to Hollywood? Maybe those things would all heighten the situation, but the fact of the matter is that they didn’t happen.

Most cases in the #metoo movement have been females accusing older males of using their power and influence behind closed doors to take advantage of them sexually, for example Larry Nassar abusing women in a medical setting. In these instances, victims felt trapped and like they could not speak out against Nassar because of his reputation in the gymnastics world.

This situation was nothing like that. Perry was aware that her actions were being filmed and Glaze laughed and joked with her the entire time. When the situation ended, “a tad bit uncomfortable” or not, Glaze felt comfortable speaking to a major news source casually only a week after the incident.

While I do not believe Perry sexually assaulted Glaze, I do not think it had anything to do with gender. Men absolutely can be, have been and sadly will continue to be victims of sexual assault. As of 1998, 2.78 million men in the U.S. had been victims of attempted or completed rape, and one out of every 10 rape victims are male, according to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.)

It is possible that at some point in his life Glaze will be a victim of sexual assault, but this was not it. Since his comments in the New York Times many viewers have even begun calling for Perry’s removal from “Idol.”

“So Katy Perry basically sexually assaulted someone on American Idol. If the genders were reversed, not only would there have been a firing, but perhaps an arrest as well. Just think of a female contestant saying this about a celebrity judge kissing her,” viewer @neontaster tweeted.

Glaze finally spoke up again, this time defending Perry.

“I do not think I was sexually harassed by Katy.” By calling this white, teenage male, who admittedly has not been sexually assaulted, a part of the #metoo movement is ultimately hurting this monumental cause. #metoo was founded in 2006 to help survivors of sexual violence, particularly young women of color from low income communities, find pathways to healing, according to the #metoo website, metoomvmt.org.

Glaze is not a member of this group that needs support and community to recover from a trauma, he is a person who was kissed on national television and responded to a newspaper’s inquiries.

If we want to support actual victims of sexual assault we need to take time to hear their stories and not waste time dwelling on cases that have already settled themselves. While it is truly difficult for viewers to wrap their heads around grey areas like these, some things are simply true: Perry is keeping her job, Glaze does not feel he has been sexually assaulted and there are still countless victims who are not talking to the New York Times.

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About Madison Fraitag

Creative Director
Film, Television and Media Major
Class of 2019