Harry Styles groping incident is sexual assault


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By Ariana Portalatin

A fan groped singer Harry Styles as he performed at the We Can Survive breast cancer benefit concert in Los Angeles Oct. 22, prompting conversation on sexual assault and harassment within the entertainment industry.

In a video posted on Twitter, Styles is shown performing his song “Kiwi,” during which an overzealous fan overstepped boundaries and grabbed Styles’ crotch as he approached the front row on his knees. Styles seems to immediately swipe at the fan’s hand before making his way back to the center of the stage.

Many spoke against the action and viral hashtag #RespectHarry soon followed to remind fans that Styles is deserving of the same respect as everyone else. This isn’t just about Harry, though. It’s about Harry and every other artist and entertainer with fans who think they are entitled to touch someone without their permission just because they are in the spotlight.

The incident follows recent sexual assault allegations made within the entertainment industry, including those against film producer Harvey Weinstein, screenwriter and film director James Toback, former President George H.W. Bush, musician Jeordie White, also known as Twiggy Ramirez, photographer Terry Richardson, and many more.

Though support is growing for outing alleged harassers, some people still don’t see the problem of touching someone else without consent. Some people have justified the fan’s groping and have even gone as far as to blame Styles for the incident.

“What kind of backwards world are we living in where people are whining about a female grabbing a rock star’s crotch? Did Elvis ever whine about it?” one person wrote online.

TMZ also distastefully posted a video on its Twitter account Oct. 24 of its staff discussing the incident, asking, “Is Harry Styles just asking to get his crotch touched?” A few staff members were making excuses for the incident in the video.

But despite what they say, he wasn’t asking for it. Touching someone inappropriately without consent is assault and should not ever be tolerated no matter who the victim is.

Also, Styles should not be blamed. Getting close to fans during a performance is not uncommon and is typically appreciated by fans, who also regularly reach out to grasp artists’ hands. Styles is a musician, and it is not abnormal for him to want to get closer with his audience to provide them with a better performance. But just because he wanted to connect better with his fans does not give them the right to grab him sexually. Failing to understand this can lead to artists separating themselves from their audience. Fans are not entitled to anything other than a performance, especially not an artist’s body.

It’s important for people to realize this. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, a national anti-sexual violence organization, there are 321,500 victims— aged 12 or older— of rape and sexual assault each year in the U.S., which means someone is sexually assaulted about every 98 seconds. Although women and girls experience sexual assault at a higher rate, men are not excluded. About three percent of American men have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime, and one out of every 10 rape victims are male.

No matter how excited a fan may be, the emotion does not give them the right to touch the performer. There is a line of respect and boundaries, and those were crossed when this audience member groped Styles.