By Alexandra Raskin
Katy Perry, one of three judges on ABC’s “American Idol” reboot, has recently made headlines due to a property dispute with Californian nuns. This scandal overshadowed an instance of sexual misconduct on Perry’s part during the show’s pre-recorded auditions.
A 19-year-old hopeful, Benjamin Glaze, mentioned during his audition that he had never kissed a girl. Perry replied, “Come here. Come here right now.”
Glaze offered Perry a kiss on the cheek. After asking for another, Perry turned her head and kissed Glaze on the mouth, raising her arms victoriously.
“I felt a tad bit uncomfortable,” Glaze, who was rejected after his audition, said, according to The New York Times. He does not consider the experience to be sexual assault, and while his role as the receiver of unconsented action allows him to make this judgement, the situation has been a definitive reminder of the many double standards regarding sexual misconduct and of the value of consent.
Perry’s actions, though not as severe as many recent incidents in the media, exemplify a number of concerning patterns present in our society, though Perry’s advances on the young man were nonetheless unacceptable.
Men and women are often not held to the same standard concerning harassment and assault— Female perpetrators are more easily forgiven, and male victims are less frequently believed. Perry’s actions would likely not have been excused if they were carried out by one of her male co-stars.
This double standard is reminiscent of the widespread misconception that men are inviolable. Males are seen as the perpetrators of sexual misconduct — they are often assumed to be dominant, strong and hypersexual, making it difficult for society to believe that they could be victimized.
For this reason, the violation of “hypersexual individuals” of every gender is largely invisible. While white males are the most common perpetrators of sexual crimes, males can also be victims. Because they are labeled as hypersexual, they are consequently deemed inviolable.
Following the onset of the #MeToo movement, a few male celebrities have come forward with their own experiences with sexual assault.
“This whole thing with Harvey Weinstein is giving me PTSD. Why? Because this kind of thing happened to ME,” tweeted actor and former NFL star Terry Crews.
Others male victims include Anthony Rapp, Brendan Fraser and Michael Gaston.
“I understand the unwarranted shame, powerlessness & inability to blow the whistle. There’s a power dynamic that feels impossible to overcome,” James Van Der Beek tweeted after recounting his own experiences as a young actor.
Based on everything from Perry’s actions to the actions of Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by 84 women according to USA Today, we are reminded that consent should be a right to all people.
Perry’s actions have reminded us that it is always crucial to seek something that is often forgotten — expressed consent.
“Would I have done it if she said, ‘Would you kiss me?’ No, I would have said no,” Glaze told The New York Times. “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.”
All people are deserving of consent, regardless of race, class, sexuality, occupation and gender. Consent is often seen as a privilege and not a necessity, an implication or an afterthought.
In order to perpetuate a culture in which we view others as deserving, we must remember to give victims the space to speak, and must become proactive seekers of consent. We are all deserving of respect, and by actively seeking consent, we protect ourselves as well as others from victimization.
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