I’m not a big fan of participating in the Both-Sides conversation about sexual harassment, or “women can be equally gross towards men too” conversation. While women can absolutely be the aggressors, harassers and abusers, let’s be clear: the overwhelming majority of harassment and abuse cases involve men as abusers, because that’s the nature of the patriarchy. Now, all that being said, what Katy Perry did was gross and she should be called out. During an American Idol audition, Katy, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan were chatting with a 19-year-old conservative Christian kid. The kid claimed that he had never kissed a girl because he had never been in a relationship. This is what happened (you only have to watch the first minute or so):
Nope. Both-Sidesism! Imagine if a 30-something man (say, Luke Bryan) had surprised a unwilling 19-year-old conservative Christian girl by kissing her on the mouth. There would be outrage and it would be justified. Katy should have known better. This kid’s name is Benjamin Glaze and he spoke to the New York Times (via People), saying:
“I was a tad bit uncomfortable. I wanted to save it for my first relationship. I wanted it to be special. Would I have done it if she said, ‘Would you kiss me?’ No, I would have said no. 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.”
Glaze told the Times he does not view the kiss as sexual harassment and actually appreciated the added screen time, as his audition did not advance him to the competition’s next round in Hollywood.
“So in that way,” he told the newspaper, “I’m glad she did it because it’s a great opportunity to get my music out.”
A rep for American Idol did not comment. A rep for Perry did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Again, the added layer to this is that Glaze was probably raised in some Duggar-esque Evangelical household where he believes that the first woman he kisses will be his wife. You can say, “pfff, Katy was just being silly” or “hey, those conservative Evangelicals are crazy, it doesn’t matter,” but it clearly mattered to this kid and please don’t discount his discomfort. Katy shouldn’t have done it.
Photos courtesy of ABC and WENN.