I’m not saying my head isn’t exploding after I just watched the video of Ariana Grande getting groped by a pastor in front of millions of people at a funeral. I’m just saying I’m not surprised. This is the kind of crap that women deal with all the f’ing time.
As in, #NotAShocker.
If you’re shocked, then chances are you’re not a woman. If you’re a woman and you’re shocked, than Go You, because you have managed to not have your body groped, or ogled, or unduly stared at, or debated about, or “thoughtfully considered by your boss” — at least, not that you’ve known about.
So, if you’re not a woman, or if you’re, like, the one or two women who hasn’t been through this yourself, let me break this shit down for you. Let me show you how this all works, because it’s once again time to #NoticeTheSystem.
First: there is the male ownership of space. This is the unconscious idea, this weird social more that says males own the space they are in, and thereby also own everything in it — including the women. They are entitled to them. They are there for the taking. This is the same ideology that makes some men think it’s totally okay to cat-call women. It’s what makes it fine to manspread all over the place. It’s the same ideology that assumes men’s good intentions, because after all, if they own everything, they get to grab at whatever they want, right?
Then: there is the context. The situation in which male dominance plays to the social construct of the situation counter-played against the societal expectations of women. Take, for example, the beautiful young performer, honored to appear at the funeral of a national treasure.
After all, one doesn’t make a scene at anyone’s funeral, much less that of a musical legend. When one is on stage. Being watched by millions of people. This is not the time, when one is being groped and molested, to confront. To make a scene.
Besides, you’re so shocked yourself in that moment you can barely process what’s happening to you as it actually takes place. Is that…the pastor’s…fingers…on my….wait, what? Taco bell?
Stay calm. Above all, smile.
This, after all, is what you’ve trained for. All your life. The mask of calm. The cavalier attitude, because if they know how much they are getting to you, you might actually lose it. You look around, hoping someone will help. You pull away, hoping to create a fucking* semblance of personal space. And despite the fact that there are hundreds of people watching, and at least ten probably know exactly what is going on, no one is coming to your aid. No one.
You, girl, are on your own.
So you smile. And pull away. And try not to ruin the funeral of the Queen of R&B by saying, “Yo, asshole, get your fucking* hand off my breast.”
Now we move on to the next phase of the system: your personal recovery. You have just been violated. It seems like it was just a fraction of a second — surely something you should just get over in about as much time. And yet — you feel dirty. As if somehow you were to blame. As if you want to take a decades-long shower. You play it over in your head…was there something you did? Something you said? You can’t stop thinking about it. You feel angry and disgusted and sad and ashamed and then really pissed off again.
You maybe tell someone — your mother, maybe. A boyfriend, a sister. And they respond by saying, “Well, was your dress really short? Did you smell too good? Were you too pretty?”
And all of a sudden, it all comes crashing down on you — are you pretty enough, or too pretty? Should you smile, like you’re always told to smile, sometimes by perfect strangers when you’re just walking down the street? Or if you smile, will that guy think he gets to feel you up? Are you supposed to be nice and sweet and friendly, the way they always tell you to be? Expect you to be? Don’t make waves. Don’t speak out. Don’t share your truth. But then, when you are careful to smile, when you are certain to be nice, and try hard to be friendly — then there are hands on your ass unexpectedly**. Then there are man-parts being shoved through your car window at the bagel store after you’ve just gotten your usual cup of coffee**.
It’s 7 am. Have you been molested today?
Then all of a sudden, you are to blame. For all of it.
And the dynamic of dominance at play here is not just about male dominance. Let’s throw in pastoral authority while we’re at it. It’s the guy who is supposed to be good. Above reproach. The one who is supposed to know better. The one who is supposed to see you as God’s holy creation.
A holy creation, it seems, designed solely for his own pleasure.
But surely, you don’t want to 1) ruin the legendary funeral of the Queen of R&B by 2) being all confrontational while 3) millions of people watch you 4) be “rude” to a pastor?
Meanwhile, step 4 of the system is playing out in the gossip column. Now, depending on your star status, this gossip column may be the hyper-local high school food chain, the college campus, the pre-worship Sunday School, the workspace. Or, if you’re an icon yourself, it’s the whole entire interwebz, where at least a few people are speaking out against what happened to you. Because, like, we actually saw that shit get caught on camera.
Because that’s the only way we’d believe you, anyway.
But you’re so busy trying to shower off all the creepy-crawlies you’re feeling you haven’t even barely noticed your Twitter feed, where all the people are debating — as if it’s fucking* debatable — whether you deserved to get felt up because your dress. And the way it, like, affected that former president who sat behind you while you sang your talented heart out, and all.
Let’s get this cleared up right now: Nope. No. No way.
Ariana, girl, you get to step into the fullness of your talent and abilities wearing whatever the hell you want to wear and no one gets to squeeze your boobs because of it. You don’t owe anyone shit*, much less the right to put their hands on your body.
But let’s not forget to #NoticeTheSystem. Step 5 is when the good pastor gets called out on his behavior — and it’s all, Gee, shucks, I was just being friendly, everyone. No need to get all up in arms.
In other words, don’t be so sensitive. In fact, you should take it as a compliment. I mean, I hug everyone, but I only cop a feel off the women young enough to be my daughter that I really, really like. Seriously, you should feel honored that I bestowed my grabby-grabbiness upon you.
But seriously, everyone, just calm down. I guess maybe there’s a line, and maybe I crossed it, but really, I hug everyone.
And after all, my job is just so hard, because 9 hours of a funeral, I just wasn’t in my right mind anymore. I’m so sorry you’re being so oversensitive about this.
Meanwhile, the patriarchally-indoctrinated will continue to blame Ariana for her own molestation because she was wearing a cute black dress, and obvs a pastor shouldn’t be expected to have any self-control*** or anything.
Meanwhile, no one will even think to call the cops and report the actual crime that was committed, because #NoticeTheSystem. It’s plays out the same way everywhere you go.
* If you’re offended that I cursed in this post, I’m more offended that you’re less offended at #TheGropingofAriana than you are at my cursing. So there.
**Two of my own personal #MeToo moments
***See 1 Timothy 3:1-7; 1 Peter 5:1-3; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Timothy 5:17.