“American Idol” judge sparks outrage over unwanted kiss


Tribune News Service

“American Idol” judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and host Ryan Seacrest pose for a photo. (Eric Liebowitz/ABC)

Samantha Durham, Opinion Editor

Editor’s Note: Samantha Durham is a senior at UNCW studying sociology. She is the Opinion Editor for The Seahawk and enjoys concentrating her work on social issues. All opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Samantha may be found on Twitter @Durham_Sam. All suggestions and inquiries may be sent via email to [email protected]

The conversations surrounding sexual misconduct have been going on for years now. However, as the conversations continue the confusion on what is appropriate and what is not seems to persist. With the rise of #MeToo movement and the awareness of abuse in professional settings, the message has never been more clear: women will not be silenced by their abuse or abusers.  

The irony to this is that the #MeToo movement along with most conversations surrounding sexual misconduct forget a key point. Those that are sexual abused are not just women, but men as well.  

Contrary to what you see on the news or in headlines, men too experience sexual misconduct or sexual harassment, both in and out of the workplace. Katy Perry made this clear during an episode of “American Idol”. 

Katy Perry, an American pop icon, serves as one of the celebrity judges on ABC’s television show, “American Idol.” The show has been around for years and has helped stars such as Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, and Jordan Sparks begin successful careers in the music industry.  

The show is also known for displaying funny moments, auditions that are bad as well as impromptu moments between the contestants and judges.  

One of these impromptu moments occurred during Benjamin Glaze’s audition. Glaze, according to The New York Times, is a 19-year-old cashier from Oklahoma.  

Upon entering the audition room, Glaze spoke briefly about himself to the judges. He claimed he enjoyed his job as a cashier because it allowed him to meet “cute girls”, reported The New York Times.  

Luke Bryan, a country music star and judge on “American Idol”, commented “Have you kissed a girl and liked it?” in reference to Perry’s popular song “I Kissed a Girl”, reported The New York Times. Glaze explained that he had not kissed a girl because he felt he had to be in a relationship, which he had never been in.  

Perry then felt it was her time to join the conversation. She demanded Glaze step up to the judges’ panel and had him kiss her once on the cheek and once on the lips due to the initial kiss not making a “smush” sound.  

Glaze spoke to The New York Times claiming he felt “a tad uncomfortable,” regarding the incident. Glaze went on to state, “I wanted to save it for my first relationship. I wanted it to be special,” reported The New York Times.  

Clearly, there is a lot wrong with this picture. First, Katy Perry in no way asked Glaze if he even wanted a kiss. She simply demanded he come over to the panel and basically forced him to kiss her, not once but twice.  

I watched the audition and I could clearly tell that Glaze was uncomfortable. Some might claim that is from anxious energy due to the nature of the contest or from standing in front of three well know celebrities.  

I merely saw this as what it was: an unwanted sexual advance. Perry even tweeted about it later with a GIF of Mickey and Minnie Mouse kissing each other and the hashtag #BenjaminGlaze. 

The point is Perry should have at least asked or just left him alone to do his audition like every other contestant. She was horribly wrong to assume that her actions would be okay without his consent. She should have at the very least asked before she made him uncomfortable. 

The worst part is that even after somewhat demanding a kiss, she surprised him with the second one on the lips.  

The sad reality is that this is only one example. Men encounter interactions like this more often that we really consider. 

According to RAINN, in 1998, 2.78 million American men were victims of completed or attempted rape. That is just one statistic. While a kiss and rape are two completely different things, the message is the same. Men are victims too.  

This is not to say that the women who are sexually abused or sexually assaulted are less important, but it does prove that sexual abuse is not just a “women’s issue.” 

Sexual misconduct is an “everyone” issue because everyone can be or is affected by it one way or another.  We cannot forget that women are not the only ones subjected to sexual violence and sexual harassment. While the numbers do show that more women are subjected to these incidents than men, it in no way discredits the impact and aid that men also need in the effort to protect victims and stop perpetrators.  

“American Idol” is not the only place we see men becoming victims of sexual misconduct. The hit show, “New Girl” starring Zooey Deschanel displays one of the characters being constantly bullied and sexually harassed by female co-workers. While this is part of the comedy aspect of the show, it is more common than it seems.  

Overall, the movement to fight sexual abuse and harassment should not be aimed just to protect women. While I am sure those are not the intentions, many seem to neglect the fact that men are also victims of sexual misconduct.  

As a feminist, I believe that all people deserve equal rights. This movement is no different in that regard. Men deserve just as much support, protection and aid from sexual abuse as women. While the number of men that are impacted is less, that still does not change the fact that they are also abused.  

While Katy Perry’s kiss was probably meant to be harmless and for good ratings, it speaks to a much larger issue. Women have no more right to make unwanted sexual advances than men. We cannot assume that just because “men are men” that they are okay with sexual advances.  

The rules for consent and considerate behavior still apply even if you are a woman. Realistically, they apply to everyone regardless of gender.  

At the end of the day, people are making great efforts to provide a voice for those who have been subjected to sexual misconduct. However, we cannot provide voices for only one portion of that group. All voices deserve to be heard regardless of gender or background.