After watching what happened at Aretha Franklin’s funeral I thought this was a very good time to write about sexual harassment. Women face harassment and sexual harassment all the time. When a bishop can come so close to almost outright grabbing a woman’s breast while on TV and in front of a whole church full of people, you know it can happen anywhere at any time, to you. And like what is being done to poor Ariana, there will be plenty of people who will try to blame the woman for it happening or downplay what actually happened. It’s her fault, look at the way she was dressed. He went to hug her like he would anyone else, it’s just because she is so short that his hand ended up there.
The picture from the video says it all. Ariana is obviously trying to pull away from Bishop Charles H. Ellis III. His hand is up tight against her right breast. The exchange goes on for about 40 seconds in which he not only keeps his hand there but at points digs his fingers in, keeping her in place for his continued molestation as you can see from the video below.
This type of sexual assault is very common. Men will engage in a type of touching that they can then claim was done totally innocently. Then, if anything is said, they will either act bewildered or angry and say it was all a misunderstanding, that’s not what he was doing, the woman is overreacting and/or being hysterical. In the case of a minister, all he has to do is give a luke warm sort of apology and say he would never intentionally do something like that which is what Bishop Ellis did. Then he can sit back and let his supporters defend him. He’s a holy man! He would never do that intentionally!
The woman will then be forced to try to prove something that is hard to prove, was it accidental or intentional? And yes, the burden of proof will weigh heavier on the woman than it ever will on the man. Why did she feel he was trying to touch her? Why does she think it was not an accident. Has she ever encouraged him before, and so on. It will usually be taken for granted that when the man says it was an accident that he is telling the truth. This kind of interrogation can make a person start doubting themselves.
There is a term for that. It’s called gaslighting. Psychology Today defines gaslighting as: a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. In this case the power gained by the bishop was the ability to molest a woman in front of the world and to do so with impunity. The gaslighting is in his statement that he would never do something like that.
I’ve read some of the comments from people rushing to protect the bishop. Aside from the stupid ones that blamed her for how she was dressed, there was one that said of course it must be an accident because he would not have done something like that intentionally knowing he was on TV and in front of a church full of people. That’s actually a dumb comment. For a lot of people, the thrill of possibly being caught adds to the pleasure.
We can all feel the difference between skin covering ribs and the soft flesh of a woman’s breast. The difference is even more obvious in a woman who is at her correct weight. There is no way the bishop didn’t know exactly what he was grabbing. This was blatant sexual assault.
So how does it apply to you? This isn’t something that was first invented by Bishop Ellis. Men have been getting their cheap thrills by these “accidentally” touching incidents for a long time. This kind of thing happens everywhere including the workplace. So many woman don’t want to say anything because we suffer repercussions from complaining about the mistreatment. We are the ones viewed in a negative light. We just want to hurt the man. We’re liars. We’re vindictive. Whatever petty little thing they can think of will be used as a reason why we’re doing it with those petty attitudes being attributed to us.
Woman need to band together. We need to be supportive of each other. We need to be willing to speak out. We need to call out abuse when we see it even if we are not the one on the receiving end. If we don’t drag it out into the light it will never end.