According to the media, Katy Perry “gave an American Idol contestant his first kiss” during his audition this week. “He kissed a girl and he liked it,” beamed People Magazine. The two were “flirting,” according to TMZ. “Lucky guy,” said many internet commenters. I’ve never seen sexual assault get such glowing reviews.
Despite how the event is being presented, the fact is this: Katy Perry kissed a non-consenting person. In fact, Benjamin Glaze wasn’t just non-consenting. He specifically stated ahead of his audition that he has never kissed anyone and he is saving his first kiss for a relationship. Perry responded by demanding that the 19-year-old come over to her and kiss her. He leaned in to give her a peck on the cheek, but she turned her head at the last minute and planted one right on his lips. Glaze said afterward that he was uncomfortable, he did not want to kiss her, and now he’s disappointed that his first kiss has been ruined.
Simply imagine what would happen if the roles were reversed. Imagine a male pop star demanding a kiss from a shy 19-year-old female and then smooching her on the lips without consent. The outrage would be deafening and immediate. He would certainly be fired from the show. We would get another round of lectures from the feminists explaining how this is all symptomatic of problematic sexual dynamics, etc. The guy would be metaphorically (perhaps literally) strung up by the ankles and dragged through the streets. But when the culprit is a woman?
“He kissed a girl and he liked it!”
The double standard is not isolated to this one incident. Just think of the weekly teacher sex scandals. Some woman in her twenties or thirties gets arrested for having sex with a 14 or 15-year-old boy, and nobody gets too upset about it. Mostly we treat it like a joke. We see that the predator is relatively attractive so we decide that the young man should be honored to have been sexually exploited by her. When do we ever do that with men? Have you ever heard anyone suggest that an assaulted woman was “lucky” because her assaulter was handsome? Anyone who made a comment like that would be stoned to death (again metaphorically but possibly literally).
The dirty little secret in our society is that women are very often raunchy, aggressive, and sexually assertive. And they almost always get away with it. They are rarely fired and never publicly chastised for it. Women essentially have carte blanche in the sexuality department. A sexually inappropriate woman is “empowered.” A sexually inappropriate man is a rapist and a creep. It’s a double standard on steroids.
This is the other side of sexual harassment in the workplace that nobody talks about. When some women are sexually harassed — I said some, not all or most — they are merely being treated exactly as they treat others. They are inappropriate toward men and men are inappropriate toward them. Then one day they decide they’ve had enough, or it’s gone too far, and they grab their #MeToo sign and take to the streets. But they are harassers themselves, not victims. They have done a lot to contribute to the inappropriate environment in their workplace and now they want to be hailed as heroes for complaining about the problem they caused.
Plenty of women are clear-cut victims of abuse and harassment. It’s good that they speak out. But there are quite a few Katy Perrys out there. More than I think we want to admit. And they always get away with it.