The Jury Talks Back


No R-E-S-P-E-C-T For Ariana Grande At Aretha Franklin’s Funeral

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 12:00 pm

[guest post by Dana]

At yesterday’s funeral service for the legendary Aretha Franklin, 25-year old pop star Ariana Grande performed the classic “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman.” After the performance, Bishop Charles H. Ellis III greeted the singer and thanked her while he hugged groped her before hundreds of people:

In the video, Grande is obviously tense and attempting to pull away from Ellis to create some space between them. This as his hand reaches further around her body toward her breast, and laughably blathers on about giving her respect. Given that he had to know this moment would make its way to the internet for the public at large to see, one wonders if he has gotten away with this sort of behavior before, without any consequences. Business as usual.

Moreover, this appears to be an example of just how easy it is for a woman to be be so caught off guard at finding herself in a most unexpected circumstance that she struggles to assertively react to inappropriate touching. There is that horrible moment of shock when one fully realizes what is happening, and confusion as one attempts to figure out how to literally, disengage. All of it making for one fleeting, awful moment. Grande is a not a novice at performing. It’s her livelihood, after all. But in this clip, she appears strained as she makes an effort to physically pull away from a dirty old man copping a feel in front of a huge audience.

For his part, Ellis apologized after receiving complaints about his behavior:

“It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast. … I don’t know I guess I put my arm around her,” Ellis said. “Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize.”

He said he hugged all the performers during Friday’s eight-hour service.

“I hug all the female artists and the male artists,” Ellis said. “Everybody that was up, I shook their hands and hugged them. That’s what we are all about in the church. We are all about love.”

He added: “The last thing I want to do is to be a distraction to this day. This is all about Aretha Franklin.”

Seriously?? You also hug male performers by awkwardly reaching under their shoulders toward their breasts?? Bullshit. Perhaps it all depends on your definition of a “hug”. I don’t buy the apology. I believe a grown man is fully aware of choosing to reach under the arm of a woman to side-hug her, rather than around her shoulder where there is no possibility of touching her breast. One would like to think that a man of God would be especially mindful of the optics and/or possible misinterpretation that might follow. Thankfully, my bar of expectation for those in the pulpit to actually behave in a Christ-like manner is at an all-time low, so this isn’t all that shocking. Business as usual. And how sad is that.

P.S. For those who believe the bishop did not “cross the border” and are basing that opinion on one photograph, the video clip gives a clearer, much fuller picture of what took place.


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