The stolen kiss is an iconic romantic moment, celebrated in literature, films and popular culture. But sexual harassment law and feminist outrage has dictated that it is, when unwelcome—immediately or later—sexual assault serious enough to warrant national shunning, social isolation, media condemnation and a marred career and reputation.
On this week’s premiere of the rebooted “American Idol,” a 19-year-old cashier Benjamin Glaze prefaced his audition by telling the judges that he had never kissed a girl. “I have never been in a relationship and I can’t kiss a girl without being in a relationship,” he said.
Pop singing star Katy Perry beckoned the shy young man. “Come here. Come here right now,” she said.
Perry was using her stardom, her superior status, and the glare of the TV lights to exert power over the young man. This is often the modus operandi of workplace predators.
When Glaze come over to the judges’ table, she thrust her face toward him. making an obvious demand. “On the cheek?” he said. The singer smiled in response. Glaze tentatively touched his lips to her cheek, but Perry complained that it wasn’t sufficient, that he hadn’t even made the “smush sound.” He began to kiss her again on the cheek, but Perry quickly kissed him squarely on the lips. “Katy!” he exclaimed. “You didn’t!” Ms. Perry raised her arms in victory, like she had scored a winning goal.
Remember, Perry once said in a video, “I’m automatically attracted to beautiful…I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.” Oh, I’m sorry, I got confused for a moment. Candidate Donald Trump said that as part of his macho, locker room pig-boast caught on tape, for which he has been assailed by feminists ever since, and called a sexual predator, although he has never been seen on coast-to-coast TV kissing any woman without warning or consent.
OK, now what? That kiss by Perry was sexual assault, and the “Idol” judges were gleeful about it. Glaze didn’t let Perry off the hook, either, by saying he was thrilled. He made it clear that Perry’s kiss was unwelcome.
“I was a tad bit uncomfortable,” Glaze told the Times. “I wanted to save it for my first relationship,” he said. “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.”
The kiss was unwelcome. There was no consent. It was sexual assault, by definition. Now what? Not very long ago, an episode like this would be considered, without exception, as a cute and harmless event. Oh no you don’t! Not any more. Uh-uh. If Katy Perry can get away with kissing a young man who didn’t want to be kissed because of who she is, then so can any middle aged male boss, or movie star, or rich guy. It was just once and “she didn’t mean anything by it”? Not part of the rules, and no exception. We have been listening to angry celebrity women lecturing us for months now that such sneak attacks are always, always, unconscionable, even when the victim of the stolen kiss—no, wait, survivor!—was originally receptive and changed her mind decades later because of flashbacks, or post-traumatic stress, or the desire of her friends to defeat a politician they don’t like, or something. One way or the other, the miscreant must pay, and pay big time, with his reputation and his career. Those are the rules, or so we were told.
So if Perry, who has proven herself a potential sexual predator, is allowed to remain on the show, it must mean…
a) #MeToo doesn’t apply to powerful women, only men…or
b) #MeToo doesn’t apply when the assault occurs in front of millions, but when it is based on the single account by a woman that is denied by the man decades after the event and without any witnesses at all, that is enough to demand that the man be fired…or
c) #MeToo doesn’t apply to beautiful female pop stars, because the welcomeness of the stolen kiss is presumed, regardless of what the victim says…or
d) #MeToo applies when it can be used as leverage for power and to intimidate and depose men, but not when calling an assault an assualt would undermine a female ally of the movement…or
e) #MeToo applies when feminists and activists and Hollywood social justice warriors choose to have it apply, and it doesn’t apply when its inconvenient…or
…something else. I could write these forever.
I checked to see what Ann Althouse had blogged about this, as I was sure she had. Sure enough, she wrote in part…
“When I saw this Katy Perry kiss on “American Idol,” I said, “He should sue her.”…He clearly stated a principle that deserved respect and that, I would think, gives respect to women, the kind of respect #MeToo proponents would seem to want….But he does not have a relationship with Katy Perry, so she is ordering/tempting him to betray his own principle. She has power to make a decision he wants, so right before our eyes, we’re seeing something like the Harvey Weinstein situation. If you don’t like it, why don’t you just leave? Glaze’s response is something like the way many women reacted to Harvey: play along a little to humor him, and maintain your dignity by not giving too much…”American Idol” chooses what footage to include in the final edit, and they must have liked this. I’m sure they have their lawyers, and I’m guessing, now that I think about it, that they got full, explicit consent from Glaze before airing this clip. But that doesn’t explain why they thought we would like it, and why — in #MeToo times — they’d promote their big star judge Katy Perry like this. How could they think we’d just love this and not feel that this decent young man had been violated?”
Glaze shouldn’t have to sue, and his damages are minuscule and perhaps unquantifiable. Perry should be fired, and the entire #MeToo mob should insist on it—all of them: Reese Witherspoon, Senator Kristin Gillibrand, Monica Lewinsky, Gwynneth Paltrow, every single one of them. I’m sorry for Katy, just as I was sorry—a bit—for some of the men who were caught in the cultural shift. She’s 33, and was raised to believe that stolen kisses were sexy and romantic, now immersed in a culture where sex is no big deal. and she’s used to men always being grateful for her attentions…just like Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Matt Lauer, Ben Affleck all the other disgusting male sexual predators. But what she did, on TV, is exactly what we have been told will not and must not be tolerated.
Will it be tolerated, or not? If Perry doesn’t go, then it means this movement has no integrity, and is just expedient, cynical political grandstanding—as I have suspected.
Make no mistake: I do not care for stolen kisses. I have never stolen a kiss in my life, though I have been Perryed a few times. I think they can be assault; I am certain that in the workplace, they are harassment. I also think they can be mistakes, or honest misunderstandings, and thus believe that that the no-tolerance approach promoted since the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck started rolling is unfair and excessive. I didn’t make the current standards, though: the indignant and angry women did. Now I want to see them show some integrity, or, in the alternative, admit that developing relationships aren’t as simple as they have been claiming for political gain.