Mel B was sexually harassed on TV, some people are defending her harasser

America's Got Talent Episode 5 as seen on 'NBC.
We’ve seen old videos come out of men sexually harassing women on television, when they know they’re being recorded. Such was the case last fall when footage of Ben Affleck groping Hilarie Burton in the early 2000s resurfaced. After that clip went viral, Affleck mildly apologized, completely mischaracterized the incident during an interview on late night television, and essentially got a pass.

That’s what came to mind when I saw this footage of X-Factor judge Mel B having her butt grabbed by fellow X-Factor judge Louis Walsh. It happened on The Xtra Factor, a companion live show that aired after the X-Factor. The clip, which was recently posted to Twitter, is below. Mel, Louis, Simon Cowell and Sheryl were being interviewed while sitting on a bench around a round table.

In the video, you can see Louis’s hand near Mel’s bum, and then he puts it on her butt and pats her repeatedly. She rolls her eyes, stops the interview and says “Why are you grabbing my butt?

Louis says “I’m looking after you, I’m looking after you.” Mel moves away from him and he then moves closer to her and puts his arm on the top of the seat behind her!

At that point Simon Cowell interjects “Honestly, you’re safe” and it’s just as dismissive as you would expect from him while Louis laughs uproariously. [Transcript via Daily Edge] Here’s the video with sound:

On the thread on Twitter where this was originally posted, there are people (trolls) making excuses for Louis and claiming that Mel responded poorly, which is ridiculous. I’m just including a couple below and of course there are some excellent responses outlining the ways that this is absolutely sexual harassment and that these are textbook examples of dismissing the victim.

The tweet below is not a joke because this user goes on about how people are easily offended and how Louis wasn’t charged with anything.

This tweet isn’t a joke either. Notice the username.

Some people are bringing up the fact that Walsh is an openly presumed gay man (update: apparently it’s just assumed Walsh is gay and I’m sorry for getting that wrong on publication). Some people are questioning what that means. That doesn’t mean he gets a pass or that this is somehow ok. Sexual harassment is about power and control. I guess this just brings it home that people will bend over backwards to defend assault and harassment and to blame the victim. However the fact that this has come out, and that more people are condemning Walsh than excusing him, is reassuring. We need those people making the decisions in courtrooms and on a national scale.

This is of course sarcastic:

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48 Responses to “Mel B was sexually harassed on TV, some people are defending her harasser”

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  1. Tiffany says:

    He put his hands on Mel, that is assault, plain and simple.

  2. Queenb says:

    Gay men violating womens bodies and then saying “its okay, I am gay” is common.

    • AB says:

      Google Issac Mizrahi and Scarlet Johanson for an example of that .. he grabbed her chest on camera at an awards show a few years ago :/

      • Kanye’s Blonde Hair says:

        An old friend was upset with me for not dumping my bf- he wanted me to be with white men, not black. He is a self hating Latino- and was super verbally abusive to me when he found out I wasn’t dumping my guy. At one point he screamed “You are MY fag hag! You date who I TELL YOU TO!!”

        Needless to say, we never spoke again.

        Gay men are still men. They are not absolved of misogyny and, in my experience, feel even more entitled to see and grope our naked bodies. The guy above wanted to live his gold-digger for white men fantasy through me. It was very weird.

      • SlightlyAnonny says:

        Thank you for this. Gay as the day is long Isaac Mizrahi groped/assaulted ScarJo on NATIONAL TELEVISION and she was expected to be okay with it. He NEVER saw what was wrong with it. Misogyny is not always tied to sexual desire. You can still hate what you don’t desire.

    • Sayrah says:

      Ick. Gay men are not absolved from sexual harassment. I’ve had it happen to me in the workplace and because he was gay it was supposedly ok. After slapping my ass in front of tons of coworkers he said, “you know I’m a flamer, don’t worry.” Simon dismissing it because Louis is gay is gross.

      • ccx says:

        Omg, that is awful. It was clearly about showing off his power and humiliating you publicly, even if it was a “joke”.

        But it makes perfect sense, oppressed people love to find someone who they think should be even lower on the social ladder and oppress them in turn. The “T” folks in the LGBT community get sh!t not just from the outsiders. Biphopbia is rampant as well. Dark skinned people treating those who are darker than them with disrespect is nothing new either. People have been doing this for ages, I guess it’s just another ugly aspect of human nature.

      • the Spiral says:

        Gay men are not absolved from misogyny or toxic masculinity. Last I checked they grew up in the same screwed up culture as everyone else did.

    • Jamie says:

      Exactly. Excusing gay men from sexual harassment misunderstands what SH is. It’s about power, not sex.

    • j says:

      the misogyny of gay men is truly astounding and an affront to women who’ve been allies to the community for a long time.

    • Alyse says:

      Also, I’ve had several occasions where men who’ve identified to me as gay have then taken advantage of that trust to then try on more with me… (some cases they were straight boys pretending to be gay to get close – so effed up, and other cases gay or bi boys feeling experimental)

      Unless it’s a friend (of any gender or sexuality) who you have a genuine understanding and agreed consent with (I have a bunch of close friends who like to touch my butt, for example) then it’s not ok

  3. Shambles says:

    F*ck this is depressing and upsets me more than I thought it would. I’m actually close to tears. So a woman can literally be assaulted on camera and people still won’t care or believe her. Good. Okay. But why am I suprised? There’s a recording of the president of the United States admitting to sexual assault. And here comes all the hurt I’ve been trying not to feel for the last year and a half. Sorry guys, I’m on my period and this sucks. But how dare SHE embarass HIM, right? *sobs*

    • Toc says:

      I understand your feelings. It’s disgusting to see people still saying that that was nothing, being dismissive and worse, worried about the guy being unconfortable because she was called out, as if women are supposed to be carefull to never hurt men’s feelings, even when they are the ones transpassing limits. It happens so much and constantly, that we can get these kind of reactions.

    • Milla says:

      Don’t be upset it’s not gonna help you or any other woman.
      You said ir yourself, it seems like we live in a world where women are seem as blowup dolls. But it’s up to us to change that. Post it on soc media, talk about it, share, just do not allow those stupid people to take away your voice.

      • Alyssa Calloway says:

        I think you mean well, but “don’t be upset” is so dismissive of someone’s feelings. Nobody gets to dictate how someone feels about something. Getting upset or angry is what spurs action sometimes. I don’t take up arms without some kind of emotion behind it. So yes, getting upset is going to help her and other women.

      • Milla says:

        Alyssa
        I didn’t think cos I’m pissed. i apologise, of course i respect people’s feelings. It was supposed to be comforting, but it doesn’t work that way and I know that

    • magnoliarose says:

      It is has been a very hard year and when metoo started I felt like I was falling apart. I had to rethink nearly 20 years of my life and pick apart things I had brushed off. So many things bothered me and some incidents I purposely forgot. All the little humiliations and all the times I laughed it off to make other people feel comfortable piled on the times I tried to be brave but got punished for it instead. That pile was added to the times I felt unsafe or had to think my way out of potential dicey situations. Underneath it though was a lot of rage and sadness.
      Harassment cost me work and opportunities and I put up with things I didn’t want to just because I couldn’t take fighting. There were times I just felt beaten down. I got tired of holding back tears or that horrible feeling of shame and guilt like it was my fault. It would sit there at the pit of my stomach gnawing at me sometimes. So I went along which made me feel worse.
      So I put on a front of badass and ice bitch just to keep men away from me in professional settings and then also social settings I found it handy. Better to be cutting and untouchable than to be groped or sexually bullied. Better to have a guy curse at me at a party than to be cornered and threatened.
      I watch this video I feel like kicking the wall. I KNOW what she is feeling. I know what he thinks. “She’s just a tarty singer who probably effed her way to fame so why should she be pissed off if I cop some feels. She’s no green girl. She knows the score.”
      And then worse. Been here too. Simon backs him by demeaning her and insinuating she is no innocent and this is TAME for what she has accepted in the past. Glaring at HER like SHE is the problem. There is a bit of threat there too. About what? I have no idea but I see it. Don’t make a scene he is telling her. Or else.
      Even if none of it is true about her men will make it up just so they can do crap like this. I don’t care if she is sitting there naked boasting about sleeping with 10 men every day for the last 20 years, he has no right to touch her. NONE!!! Then he gets closer when she tries to get some protective space.
      It just kicks up those feelings. I get it Shambles. I wish I didn’t though.

      • the Spiral says:

        Girl I feel you. And I am sending you love through the screen. #MeToo was hard for me too. I felt a lot of “rage and sadness” too, not just for all the things I’d tried to ignore and forget in my own life, but from all the sad, scary and rage-inducing stories I heard from other women who I loved and respected.

        And your reading of this situation is spot on. OF COURSE we can see the implicit threat to Mel B that men can’t see, because we’ve been on the receiving end of similar threats our entire lives. Be quiet, be compliant, don’t be a “bitch”, don’t make a fuss, don’t embarrass your harassers, or we’ll take away your job and your livelihood. No more! I am so proud of women for speaking out and standing up for themselves. I hope all the men who are feeling “afraid” and “embarrassed” due to #MeToo realize it’s only a drop in the bucket compared to the fear and embarrassment we’ve had to work through to tell our stories, and realize it’s time to reassess their behavior and do better.

  4. Noodles says:

    I love the way she handled it. I think a lot of women might have frozen in that situation but she spoke right up, in usual Mel B style.

  5. gatorbait says:

    This was in response to someone above stating that they have noticed misogyny in the gay male community. It has since disappeared.

    I’ve also noticed a lot of comments on gay leaning gossip blogs where they out right say they hate women. I also recently watched Will & Grace and the constant crude jokes about lesbians was a major turn off. There is something to this.

    • Shambles says:

      I’m not sure why it was deleted— I apologize if it was hurtful. That wasn’t my intention. Just pointing out that gay men still very much benefit from male privilege.

      • gatorbait says:

        Hmmm I don’t know why. I was in agreement with you. It’s something I have low key noticed for a while. It just hasn’t been a big enough issue for people to address publicly. But, if people are going to say that women cannot be harassed by a gay man then there will need to be some accountability going on. It can and does happen. It’s a pity that the world is coming to this. It’s every man for himself.

    • magnoliarose says:

      I have noticed an uptick in this lately too. I am not sure why. I have never experienced it and have a gay male friend for years who likes to cuddle and kiss me but it is about permission. I love him so it is fine. We are very close.
      I have never had a gay man sexually harass me. Or maybe I did and I excused it? I have been around gay men my whole life and even more since I was 16 and yet I haven’t heard a lot of talk about it.
      I have heard of gay men not liking women but no one I have known well enough to detect it. Though I have known gay men who do not like lesbians very much. One in particular who seemed to nearly hate them. I met him through work and realized after I learned this I could not be his friend.

  6. Rainbow says:

    Some people are scum. Just reading BuzzFeed comments on Facebook is enough to let you know the world is not in a good place with so many people with the same mentality as this guy running around being shameless.

    Trump being president has made it okay for idiots and jerks to act out in public. Seriously.

    And as always, it’s the woman’s fault. Because how dare she try to protect herself, right?!

  7. HK9 says:

    His hands aren’t supposed to be there plain and simple. Gross.

  8. Original Jenns says:

    He SHOULD be embarrassed, he should be ashamed of himself to have done that. And instead, he wraps himself in humor and overreacting, and moves on to do it again to someone with less power who won’t speak up. Maybe we all need to get back into the kindergarten classrooms, and focus on the “keep our damn hands to ourselves” rule.

  9. Seán says:

    The thing is Louis is not an openly gay man. People speculate that he is because he’s somewhat flamboyant and has a been a bachelor forever, well into his 60s. It’s still all speculation anyway and I think he’s denied being gay in the past. I wonder if he’ll pull a Spacey if this all blows up!

    Regardless of his sexuality, it’s not acceptable either way! He’s always been a publicly misogynistic tool anyway!

    • Celebitchy says:

      I’ll fix that thanks for the clarification!

    • nb says:

      Agreed – not acceptable in any way!

      What if she had been the one touching him? What if she put her hand on his thigh, then moved it up to his junk and squeezed a few times? Then when he was obviously uncomfortable and moved away she moved closer to him again instead of respecting him wanting space? Would that be OK because he’s gay and she’s straight? Women pretty much NEVER do that type of thing. The excuses of “oh his hand just happened to be there, no big deal, he’s gay anyway, she embarrassed him” are ridiculous. How often do you see a woman put her arm around a man in a professional setting like that and then start grabbing or touching them? They are on TV and Mel is there to do her JOB, not be touched by someone regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. She is obviously uncomfortable the entire time. I am so angry for her having to put up with this and remain tactful and ‘ladylike’ through it when she probably wanted to sock him in the face or get up and leave. Even though she retained her decorum she is STILL getting crap for it.

      The guy who tweeted that it was ‘just a back hug’ – um NO. He started with his hand behind her, placed it on her butt, patted it a few times and that starting to full on grab/jiggle it. It’s disgusting to watch.

      This is infuriating and the brush offs are exactly what’s wrong with people’s thinking, and why #metoo exists in the first place. IT IS NOT OK OR FUNNY OR CUTE OR NOT A BIG DEAL. IT IS ASSAULT.

    • the Spiral says:

      Who cares if he’s gay or straight? He has NO right to grope her either way!

  10. redhead says:

    Not surprised by Simon Cowell.

  11. TheOriginalMia says:

    It was a clear violation. She could have slapped him. She handled it the best she could on national tv. The gall of people to say she embarrassed him. He should have been embarrassed, but he clearly wasn’t.

  12. Lex says:

    Eeeek physically putting your hands on someone in this manner is NOT sexual harassment but sexual assault plain and simple.

  13. Veronica S, says:

    Don’t forget the racial element at play there – she’s a black woman being groped by a white man, surrounded by complicit white men. She’s in a two-fold bind in terms of how she reacts both due to her “female hysteria” and her “black attitude.” Women’s bodies have always been considered public property, but non-white women have been downright dehumanized throughout Western history. I don’t know how severe the issue is/was in Britain, but in America, there’s a very ugly history of sexual assault and violence being used to terrorize, demean, and control black women that’s impossible to overlook when you witness something like this.

  14. CityGirl says:

    This makes me sick to my stomach and makes me so angry I can scream!!!
    This is not ok, never was ok, never gonna be ok and all this same would apply whether or not he is gay and the same race, religion, educational/financial stature,.

    I cannot stand this! and F*** Simon Cowell. He is just as bad.

  15. me says:

    So being gay gives a man the right to grab any woman he wants? Ummm no.

  16. Jess says:

    One of my gay male friends once poked me so hard in my chest (really it was like the middle of my boob? I’m flat and pretty bony there lol) that it left a fingertip-sized bruise. I didn’t really think much of it then (other than it hurt and was embarrassing to get poked in such an aggressive manner) but after reading these comments and watching that video I’m mad at myself for just letting it go because he’s gay. He didn’t have the right to touch me like that and if he had been straight there would have been hell to pay. We need to start holding everyone accountable for sexual assault no matter their gender or sexual orientation. It’s just not ok!

  17. Ellis says:

    This is what I’ve been waiting to see. After several months of MeToo, we find that men, in way too large numbers, still just don’t get it. Too many still treat us like objects no matter their sexual orientation, race, religion, age, collar color, dog or cat men, etc. And those who would disrespect us, support each other. Is disrespect the example they see in their home growing up? Are they not reprimanded for laying hands on little girls when they are little boys? I don’t care. These types of men need to get a grip on a new reality that should be an old reality: don’t touch us unless permission is asked and granted. Good for Mel B. She is an example of what all women need to start doing in the moment. Very loudly and firmly call out the perpetrator. She did it perfectly, which is probably what is worrying – to some.

    • the Spiral says:

      It just goes to show where some of these men’s loyalties lie – more concerned about creepers and gropers being “embarrassed” than women asserting our basic rights to personal space and bodily autonomy. Well, the embarrassment has only begun! They don’t realize their pushback against #MeToo just makes more people realize how important and necessary it is.

  18. Yes Doubtful says:

    Why is it so hard for men to keep their damn hands to themselves! What he did was totally inappropriate as was the response from the others witnessing it.

  19. the Spiral says:

    Attention gay, straight and whatever else men: it is not ok to grope women without consent! Ever! In any context! You’d think these IDIOTS would have learned this basic lesson in kindergarten, where 3 year olds are taught “keeping your hands to yourself” is a basic social skill, but apparently it needs repeating over and over and over and over…