Apparently the #MeToo Movement Doesn’t Apply to Katy Perry

By Liberty McArtor Published on March 15, 2018

#MeToo is in the news once again. Who was it this time? Did Harvey Weinstein invite another young actress to his hotel room? Did Anziz Ansari push another young fan to go farther than she wanted to go? Is Ben Affleck still groping breasts

Nope. This time it was Katy Perry.

Her victim? A 19-year-old boy. 

A Cringe-Worthy Scene Unfolds

Here’s the scene. It happened on the American Idol reboot premiere, which aired Sunday, though it was taped last October. Then-19-year-old Benjamin Glaze (he’s now 20) enters the audition with his guitar. He says he’s a cashier from Oklahoma, and likes to get cute girls to say hi to him at work. 

Country singer Luke Bryan, one of three judges, asks Glaze, “Have you kissed a girl and liked it?” (Cue flashbacks to high school and that annoying Katy Perry chorus looping incessantly through my brain.) 

Glaze says no. He’s never kissed a girl; he’s saving that for his first relationship. 

 

That’s when Perry, also a judge, stands up and beckons the bewildered contestant. “Come here,” she demands. “Come here right now.” Obviously nervous, Glaze walks over. “One on the cheek?” he asks. With Perry’s cheek in his face, Glaze quickly pecks it. Perry criticizes: “You didn’t even make the smush sound.” She leans in for another. This time, as he goes in for another cheek kiss, she turns and smacks his lips with hers. 

Surprised, he falls down. Perry celebrates.

When the judges are finally ready for Glaze to sing, he asks for water. It’s awkward as an aide hands him a water bottle from off-camera, Glaze attempts to regain composure, and third judge Lionel Richie walks over to see if he is “gonna be okay.” 

“Your first kiss was Katy Perry,” Richie says. “You understand me?” 

Eventually Glaze goes on to sing, but he’s not good enough to move to the next round. 

Glaze is Gracious, But Katy’s Still Wrong

When The New York Times interviewed Glaze by phone, he said, “I was a tad bit uncomfortable.” He added that if Perry had actually asked him for a kiss, he’d have said no. “I wanted to save it for my first relationship,” he said. “I wanted it to be special.”

Glaze is gracious in the interview, noting how he talked through the experience with friends. They determined the kiss didn’t really “count,” since it wasn’t a “romantic situation with someone you care about.” 

We need to demand an end to this kind of behavior, in all industries, all workplaces, and everywhere else. We can’t get angry and start a movement when it happens to women, then laugh it off when it happens to men.

In response to negative backlash against Perry, Glaze defended her in an Instagram post. “I don’t believe my views have been appropriately communicated through the media,” he writes. He said he does not consider the kiss sexual harassment, and is not complaining. He “was uncomfortable in a sense of how I have never been kissed before and was not expecting it.” 

The singer wishes he’d performed better. “I should have picked another song to sing and calmed myself down regardless of the kiss. I should have been able to perform under pressure.”

I’m glad Glaze isn’t harboring a grudge. He even told the Times the whole incident has steered more attention to his music, which he appreciates. But that doesn’t make Perry’s actions okay. 

What If …

Let’s state the obvious. What if Glaze had been a young woman? What if the judge demanding a kiss had been Bryan or Richie? Can you imagine him standing up, leaning over the table, and saying “Come here right now,” demanding that a 19-year-old contestant (whom he was about to evaluate) give him her very first kiss? Especially after she just explained that she was saving that first kiss? And then after she reluctantly conceded to a cheek kiss, stealing one off her lips without her consent?

Perry held a position of authority over Glaze in that moment. She was about to judge him on his musical performance, and potentially launch him into the career of his dreams. How is this different from some Hollywood executive asking an aspiring young actress for sex, when she knows he can — and will — make or break her career?

If Bryan or Richie had done that, there would be no doubt about what the male judge’s actions constituted: sexual harassment. He’d find himself denounced by every major media outlet. He’d also find himself out of a job the next day. The producers of American Idol would issue a statement apologizing to the victim and claiming the action didn’t represent their values.

Arrogance — A Big Red Flag

In the video, all three judges seem to think that Perry’s done Glaze a great favor. Perhaps she flattered herself, thinking, what teen boy wouldn’t be grateful that I gave him his first kiss? 

That’s just the kind of arrogance that will get one into trouble, big time. It’s the kind of arrogance that prevents us from seeing the other person — their desires, their pleasure, their discomfort, their autonomy over their own body.

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In fact, it’s likely what’s gotten so many powerful men into trouble. Who wouldn’t want to have the chance to kiss me? To sleep with me? I’m ME! Perhaps this was the belief that led Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and many others down their destructive spirals.

Mind Your Blind Spots

We need to demand an end to this kind of behavior, in all industries, all workplaces, and everywhere else. We can’t get angry and start a movement when it happens to women, then laugh it off as “fun” or “cute” or a “joke” when it happens to men. 

I’m sure Katy Perry never intended to harass Glaze. But she obviously has a huge blind spot regarding the significance of her own actions and their effect on others. Perhaps this will be a wake-up call for her. 

And may it be a wake-up call for us all. No one in their right mind supports sexual harassment of anyone. The #MeToo movement wants men to see what they’re doing when they push a woman for sex. But part of the #MeToo movement must be recognizing and acknowledging our own blind spots, whoever we are. If you see no problem with Perry’s actions toward Glaze, examine your own. 

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