May 23, 2024

“Ninety-one percent of victims of rape and sexual assault are female, and 9 percent are male,” according to National Sexual Violence Resource Center statistics.

On Aug. 31 Aretha Franklin’s life was celebrated and death was mourned at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit, MI. The service honored the Queen of Soul with a stunning performance by Ariana Grande ‘s version of Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” Unfortunately, Bishop Charles H. Ellis III decided to punctuate the performance with some subtle yet not so subtle sexual harassment on live television.

Directly after Grande performed, Bishop Ellis leads her to the pulpit nearly dragging her by her waist, her steps reluctant. He then puts his arm around her upper waist with a hand groping her. From the very first contact, Grande is visibly uncomfortable.

The encounter lasts no more than two minutes but is obviously not pleasant for Grande. All her physical reactions are proof of how uncomfortable she is with his touch. Her shoulders are tense, she continually pulls away, steps down from the platform in attempts to leave multiple times, nervously laughs and even runs off the stage when he finally releases her.

That evening Bishop Ellis apologized publicly to The Associated Press in an interview stating “Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar.”

While sexual misconduct of any kind is clearly wrong, the most unsettling part is how this man felt comfortable enough to make this move in front of a large audience at a televised funeral service.

The problem with this toxic masculinity is its current standing. Despite all the reform and advancements made in society with racism, sexism and classism, all those efforts feel lost when events like this are circulating in the media so blatantly.

For many women including myself, fear of sexual assault, sometimes on a daily basis is a real thing. However, there are ways for men to make women feel comfortable while still being friendly.

This can be done with mindful thinking and respect. It is important to be aware of the body language and responses from others. Paying attention  if someone is uncomfortable or not can help make the women around you feel much safer.

Despite many claims, consent is much simpler than many may think.

If a woman wants your attention, physical touch or romantic advancement she should consent to it. A man should not attempt to make advances until then.

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