Yesterday, a video of Ariana Grande went viral on the internet where she's seen being inappropriately touched by senior pastor Bishop Charles Ellis III during Aretha Franklin's funeral service in Detroit.
As Ariana was leaving the stage after she performed her tribute to the late Queen of Soul, she was called back by the pastor who officiated the service. "When I saw Ariana Grande at the program, I thought that was a new something at Taco Bell,” he joked, all the while having his arm around her back with his fingers clearly resting on the right side of her chest.
It's no surprise that everyone who saw this was enraged. The hashtag #RespectAriana trended on Twitter as netizens came to the rescue of the singer.
In his interview with The Associated Press after the incident, Bishop Ellis shared his point of view in the matter saying, "It would never be my intention to touch any woman's breast." He further claimed, "I don't know, I guess I put my arm around her. Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize."
And while this already looks like an apology, it does not qualify as such. To an extent, his words are an echo of the ever-problematic victim-blaming mindset that has always plagued our society. Instead of admitting and apologizing for his behavior, Bishop Ellis "apologized" for "maybe crossing the border" and "maybe being too friendly or familiar," insinuating that he was merely misinterpreted and manipulatively projecting the blame to those who reacted negatively to his actions when, in fact, his actions are solely to be blamed.
This is a case we know all too well, one that feeds rape culture and the abuse of women time and time again. And it has got to stop.
To all the women out there whose personhood is mindlessly trampled on by this kind of thinking, know that you are not in the wrong for feeling victimized by inappropriate behavior. You are not in the wrong for feeling offended when you see a sister being harrassed. And no one can tell you that you are only misinterpreting something that has clearly made you feel abused and degraded.
Whether you speak up or not, know that you don't have to take this distasteful and predatory behavior from men with a nervous laugh or by convincing yourself to move along without reconciling what happened to how you truly felt. Your feelings are valid, and your right to be respected as a human being is absolute. Don't ever doubt that.
And to all the men who still think that they are the superior gender, that women's rights are not worthy of true and mindful respect, and that they can get away with anything by masking their lascivious intentions with a joke or some flowery words, this world has no space for you.
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