Katy Perry is a bully and a predator and this footage is clear harassment which flies in the face of #MeToo and should not have aired.
#MeToo and sexual harassment is not bound by gender, regardless if one gender experiences it disproportionally. Bullying, shame, humiliation and power abuse knows no gender.
WATCH BELOW: Katy Perry gives American Idol contestant his first kiss
Let me explain how I see it:
The video starts off innocuously enough, with Perry and the judges inquiring about 19-year-old Glaze’s life, job, and relationship status. Glaze admits he has never kissed a girl because he has never been in a relationship – so how could he have done any kissing?
His explanation is endearing and pure. The judges invite him up to the table to rectify the situation, with Luke Bryan hooting and clapping.
Glaze said no several times: “No, wait, hold on, you can’t, no way.”
He looks to the curtains behind him for guidance. But instead of repeating “no” and standing his ground, the contestant – eager to please – approaches the table to appease the judges, who have pulled out their phones to catch this moment on camera.
LISTEN: Andrea Montgomery shares her thoughts on Afternoons With Rob Breakenridge.
Did I mention this boy is 19 years old?
Under much peer pressure, he agrees to kiss Perry on the cheek and does so very softly, sweetly and without any sort of gumption. A church kiss.
Perry is not satisfied and asks for one more as Lionel Ritchie starts making smacking sounds and leans in like a coach, showing the young buck how to properly please a lady.
At the very last second, Perry turns her head and steals a kiss on the lips – a non-consensual kiss.
Young Glaze is rocketed off of his feet and tries to recover from what just happened.
The second he hits the ground the judges’ attention is off of him and they proceed to high five and congratulate Perry for “getting him.”
But, what the judges do not see as the young man backs away is the look on his face.
This is a look that anybody who has suffered at the hands of a bully should recognize. As I watch, my stomach twists in sympathy and my facial muscles twinge in familiarity with his reaction.
I have made that face.
Glaze’s eyebrows are in his hairline; he is laughing along with the group – his big smile an obvious mask for his humiliation. He tries to go along with it; he’s a cool guy, he can take it.
“Katy!” Glaze calls out admonishingly, unsure of what to do. His hopes and dreams of continuing on American Idol are on the line here and he tries to laugh it all off.
The judges continue talking about Glaze and how he fell down as though he has ceased to exist. Classic bullies.
WATCH BELOW: Being a male in the age of #MeToo
Glaze tries to come out of the situation on top as a funny guy; he asks Perry how it was and nervously rubs his hand through his hair.
She tells him not to get cocky now and demands he play his song.
On the first strong note his voice misfires and he sings off key. He is eliminated from contention in American Idol.
The whole video is a cacophony of hypocrisy, impropriety, power abuse and bad decisions.
Picture Ritchie kissing a 19-year-old female American Idol hopeful while the other judges tell her, instructively, how to smack her lips.
In interviews after the fact, Glaze said he was uncomfortable but doesn’t feel sexually harassed. He is such a sweet, nice guy to let Perry and American Idol off the hook like that.
No woman or man – not even billionaire American Idol pop star judge Katy Perry – is above asking for consent.
That the editors at American Idol felt this was a cute thing to televise flies in the face of the strides made by women all over the world who have come forward to shed light on how often this happens with #MeToo.
I repeat: #MeToo and sexual harassment and bullying is not bound by gender, regardless of if one gender experiences it disproportionally.
This is also a #MeToo moment for me.
The kiss-on-a-cheek-switcheroo move is not exactly original. When I was in university a pretty popular event planner-type-guy pulled it on me. I consented to giving him a kiss on the cheek because he was behind all the sweetest events and I wanted invites.
But when he turned his face and kissed me, I had the advantage of being on my home turf, in my back-yard, with my friends.
I immediately physically ejected him from my personal space bubble and he didn’t come near me again.
Ten years later, I do not remember this guy’s name. I barely remember his face. But, I do remember distinct details about the kiss: it was way too wet and he smelled like gin.
I also remember how much fire burned in my stomach as I shoved him away from me.
It is the same fire I feel when I see Perry and American Idol take advantage of Benjamin Glaze.
This is the epitome of why #MeToo is important: bringing situations like this to light and promising not to repeat them.