Ariana Grande Gets Groped by a Bishop, Reminds Us of Incidents All Too Familiar to Women

Words by Micah Avry Guiao

What was supposed to be a peaceful commemoration of the Queen of Soul has now turned into a whirlwind of controversy.

A few days ago, the internet went haywire over some footage wherein Bishop Charles H. Ellis III was clearly shown to be wrapping his arm a little too high and tight on Ariana Grande’s torso, after which he proceeded to grope her breasts repeatedly, giving rise to the hashtag #RespectAriana.

It wouldn’t take an expert to discern that she was clearly rejecting his touches. There was discomfort written all over her face. As much as she wanted to withdraw, the bishop just gripped her closer to him.

Since then, the bishop has apologized, saying: “It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast. 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.”

Ellis further incites that perhaps “it was just a joke that went bad,” explaining that he merely tried to keep the mood light and entertaining throughout the nine-hour funeral.

Here is where the problem lies–his excessive use of maybes make him anything but apologetic. There is no accountability in maybes. Even if he is given the benefit of the doubt, even if it were truly unintentional, the fact is Grande felt violated. That reason alone should be enough for him to take responsibility for his actions.

Sadly, this incident can very well be likened to that of any other woman experiencing harassment: the physical uneasiness, the forced laughter, the freezing up, the feeling of being less of what you are as a person.
This incident reminds us of experiences that are all too familiar with women. On one hand, the normalization of rape culture is there–how women have been conditioned to just “ignore the stares,” “laugh it off,” or be grateful nothing worse happened to them. Perpetrators thrive in an environment where they have the upper hand, where a woman’s silence and acquiescence is expected of them lest they make a scene. 

Furthermore, victim-blaming is ever present. Instead of condemning the misconduct that appeared on live television, Grande’s tiny dress drew flak among some viewers for being “inappropriate.” In a cultural setting, her dress may be deemed unfit for a funeral. That is acceptable. What is not acceptable is that some believe her dress warrants her an unfortunate experience.

It’s absurd to think that rape and harassment allegations are far too often disregarded. Consider this concrete evidence captured on video–the bishop is clearly groping Grande, and yet, some still have the audacity to invalidate the very obvious sexual misconduct unfolding before their eyes. This was done in a funeral, in front of thousands of attendees, inside a church.

When we condemn an awful incident such as this, may we always remember that these are the experiences that are anything but alien to women. How does this groping issue, which sparked much dispute and debate, relate to the power play and entitlement among sexes?

This isn’t about what she’s wearing. This isn’t about men’s inability to control themselves. It’s about perpetrators like the bishop who thought–and still think–that they can get away with things like this.

What are your thoughts on this? Let us know!


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