What happens when a famous woman is accused of the sexual misconduct that we’ve been taught to expect from powerful men? In the aftermath of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, Katy Perry looks set to find out.
The singer faces allegations of sexual misconduct. Tina Kandelaki, a Russian journalist, claims that Perry touched her without consent and kissed her while intoxicated at an industry party. Model Josh Kloss, who worked with Perry on her Teenage Dream video in 2010, came out with allegations that the singer exposed his genitals without consent to her friends while at a party they attended together.
This is not the first time Perry has been accused of questionable sexual behaviour, an American Idol contestant claimed Perry kissed him without his consent a few years back, but he declined to press charges. Perry was also caught on camera grabbing Shawn Mendes’s bum when he was still a teenager in 2017.
But this time the allegations are more serious. In an Instagram post, Kloss wrote: “As I turned to introduce my friend, she pulled my Adidas sweats and underwear out as far as she could to show a couple of her guy friends and the crowd around us my penis. Can you imagine how pathetic and embarrassed I felt?”
“I just say this now because our culture is set on proving men of power are perverse. But females with power are just as disgusting.”
Kloss is right. Despite three claims of inappropriate behaviour, Perry has yet to be “cancelled” or face much public condemnation. If these accusations, which the singer has yet to publicly acknowledge, are proven true, then Perry should be exiled from the industry and considered a pariah.
Yet, in the comments of the post that Kloss revealed that he is an alleged victim of Perry’s unwanted advances, Kloss is being harassed, blamed and accused of lying for attention. If this seems familiar, it is the same rhetoric aimed at female victims of sexual violence.
Kloss is an alleged victim of sexual assault. He waited nine years to tell his story because he was fearful of coming out against a powerful woman who could end his career. If he was a woman and Perry was a man, his alleged assault would be all over the news and Perry would be off the radio. But that’s not the case.
When men are victims of sexual violence, they’re taken less seriously. Frequently, these victims are told to “man up” and “enjoy it” when they bravely come forward with their accusations. This rhetoric reinforces toxic masculinity and allows men to be victimized further as they may feel that their assault wasn’t truly an assault. But a 2015 report found that nearly a quarter of US men will encounter sexual violence at some point in their lifetime, so this is a serious, widely-experienced problem.
Perry may identify as a feminist, but accusations like these prove that abusing power and fame for sexual gratification is not reserved for men. Feminists must recognize that sexual violence against men is as real and valid as sexual violence against women.
As a feminist, I believe Josh Kloss. I will support him in his quest for justice against his alleged assaulter. If you stood by Dr Christine Blasey-Ford, Rose McGowan and R. Kelly’s countless accusers, you should be standing with Josh Kloss today.
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