I was inspired to write this because of Ariana Grande’s incredibly uncomfortable and inappropriate encounter with a man of the religious cloth.
Bishop Charles H. Ellis had no business putting his hands on Ariana. He was fully aware of what he was doing and fully aware of how it made her feel. The whole nation can see it. It’s clear as day.
Yet, he purposefully chose to ignore this feeling for his own benefit. And although I can’t speak for Ariana, I can only assume that she felt like she had to stand there and take it. Maybe because she didn’t want to disrupt the funeral of one of her role models, maybe because he was a bishop, or maybe because she was afraid of how others would perceive the situation.
As women, we have been conditioned to sacrifice our own comfortability for others because we’re told not to rock the boat. We’re told “that’s not something he would ever do.”
“He didn’t meant to do that.”
During my junior year of college, I dated a guy who invited me to spend the weekend at his place. I went in with the understanding that we were going to have sex, which at the time excited me. The first night I said yes. It was an enthusiastic yes, but the second night I felt off. I was uncomfortable, and I said no. I said no about a dozen times.
I expressed it in my body language, and I expressed it physically, but he did what he wanted anyways. And when he was finished, he said, “See what happens when you make me wait.”
I felt terrible after it happened, and I really couldn’t figure out why. I tried so hard to make it right because I had convinced myself that I had done something wrong. I said yes the night before. He was a nice guy. People respected him. There was no possible way that he could have done something so volatile to me.
It must’ve been me. It had to be me.
And like Ariana, I just took it.
It took me a great deal of time to realize that what happened that weekend was more than a bad moment in a bad relationship. Anytime I would share the story, I would tell it as an I-dated-a-fuckboy story and not as an I-was-sexually-assaulted story because I was protecting his reputation. I didn’t want to accuse him of something because of the kind of person he projected himself to be.
It wasn’t until I told the story to one of my male friends during my senior year, that I felt differently about what happened.
My friend told me, “I hope you know that wasn’t consensual.”
Hearing the word “consent” shifted something in my head and all the pain that I had felt was suddenly explainable. I sacrificed my own comfort and well being to protect someone who did not deserve my protection because of who I thought he was.
And despite the difficulty in sharing this as a sexual assault story rather than my usual fuckboy story, I want to share a message that helps other women and girls.
Just because someone is a family friend, just because someone is a nice guy, just because someone is well respected, just because someone is a pastor, does not mean they have the right to violate your body.
No matter the time or place, you do not have to sacrifice you’re well being and safety.
You do not have to be silent. You do not have to grin and bare it. You simply don’t have to.
What happened to Ariana is the core of rape culture. There’s a lot of folks who’ve said “it’s not that deep” or “you’re making a big deal out of nothing.” However, when men are continuously taught that women are theirs for the taking, and women are told they should just suck it up or ignore it because that’s how men are, it is a big deal.
Do not let anyone ever make you feel like you’re causing a fuss.