What happened to Ariana Grande should never happen, and we’re tired of repeating this


Ariana Grande was harassed after performing at Aretha Franklin’s funeral, and we are beyond tired of this kind of behavior happening.

Last Friday, the celebration of Aretha Franklin’s life was held at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit. Family, friends, and celebrities were all there to honor her life and her legacy. Ariana Grande was given the honor of singing “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” at the funeral.

What should have been a time of celebrating Franklin’s life and honoring her, a time for thoughtful remembrance and respect, turned into an uncomfortable, unacceptable situation for Ariana Grande.

After she sang the song, Pastor Charles H. Ellis III put his arm around Grande. Instead of respectfully doing so, he pulled her close and groped her breast. This happened in the middle of the funeral in front of thousands of people, and the video of this incident has been shared widely on the internet. In the video, it is clear that Grande is trying to pull away. At a funeral meant to honor a legendary woman, Grande forcibly and awkwardly laughed, as if not wanting to make a scene during the funeral.

Pastor Ellis had this to say about what he did, “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.”

Watching this go down, in such a public place and in a place of worship, was hard for many people, especially women, who have been in similar situations. Most women can relate to being put in this position where they have to fake being nice and not make a scene even as they are being touched inappropriately and against their will.

The fact that this happened at a funeral, and where Ariana Grande was a guest of honor, there to try and pay tribute to Aretha Franklin’s legacy, is shocking, and yet somehow not surprising. Sexual assault and harassment happen everywhere.  These violations don’t just happen at parties or on the streets. They happen in homes and churches, and they are often perpetrated by people we think we should be able to trust. Watching this happen reminds us as women that no matter where we are, our bodily autonomy is often at risk of being violated.

Let us make no mistake that what happened to Ariana Grande was a form of harassment and assault. There is no excuse for crossing lines and touching people without their consent in that way, regardless of the apology issued by Pastor Ellis.

We are sorry this happened to her, and it is heartbreaking that this happens to women so frequently. Even as the Me Too movement has brought this conversation to light, there is still so much — too much — of this happening.

While it is exhausting and frustrating, while it angers us and causes all too many women to think of situations just like this that have happened to them, we must hold those who commit these horrible acts accountable. Until then? Victims will fear being blamed for how they dressed or acted and perpetrators will feel they can violate a woman’s body, be it privately or on the most public of stages, and hide behind blanket apologies.