By Jennifer De La Torre
On August 31, 2018, politicians, celebrities, family members, friends, and fans came together to celebrate the life of Aretha Franklin. Ariana Grande was one of several performers at the funeral who paid tribute by singing one of Franklin’s hit songs titled “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Women”. Following Grande’s performance, Pastor Charles H. Ellis wrapped his right arm around her, pulling her closer to him while pressing into the side of her chest for over 30 seconds. While evidently uncomfortable, Grande awkwardly forced herself to laugh while on stage to not create a scene at the respectable funeral. Once this incident blew across the internet, many were quick to criticize Grande for wearing a dress above her knees, claiming that it is her fault that she was sexually harassed because of the length of her dress. Soon after, the pastor apologized by stating, “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”.
The prevalence of sexual harassment cannot be ignored; Grande’s story is not one-of-a-kind. Studies find that 81% of women in the United States have been sexually harassed, whether it be verbally, physically, or digitally. It is not always as public, not every victim is on a stage being having thousands of witnesses. However, even when there are witnesses present, people often do not know what to do either. What we can do is stop blaming victims for what happens to them because of what they choose to wear, but instead hold the abusers accountable for their undefendable actions,