Celebrity Sexual Harassment and What It Says About Us

I saw an interview of Tom Hiddleston on Chelsea Lately several weeks ago, and was really bothered by it. At first, I couldn’t figure out why, but after I watched the interview a couple of times it suddenly clicked. During almost the entire interview, Handler sexually harassed Hiddleston. Handler visibly ogled Hiddleston’s butt, made comments about his appearance and mentioned his weight. Hiddleston looked distinctly uncomfortable and flustered.

Somehow, the sexual harassment of celebrities has been deemed socially acceptable. How did this happen? How is it alright for interviewers to demand celebrities to take off their shirts? To make comments about their boobs and butts? To ask them about their weight? No one’s body is a piece of public property, not even a celebrity’s. To the people who claim that it is part of a celebrity’s job to be sexually harassed, that’s just a cheap copout. Sexual harassment is part of no one’s job description, and no one has the right, under any circumstances, to sexually harass anyone.

Interviews are a part of a celebrity’s job and like many other people who get harassed at work, it’s really hard to retaliate against because a) you could potentially lose your job (though to be fair, celebrities have a lot more power than the average person. At most, they would only be viewed as unpleasant to work with), and b) harassment is almost always unexpected so it is hard to retaliate against.

Celebrities only have a split second to decide on how to handle an uncomfortable situation, and they know that whatever course they choose, their decision will be forever captured on film. More often than not, celebrities just try to laugh off their harassment. Can you imagine how humiliating that must be? For there to be a record of all the times you were sexually harassed and to be expected to do nothing about it? And if a celebrity did try to speak out about it and say, “Hey, this isn’t right. You shouldn’t be doing this to your guests,” she probably wouldn’t get anywhere. She would be told that she was making a big deal out of nothing. That no one else has complained about it, and look, there she is laughing when she was supposedly being “sexually harassed,” so what’s the big problem? The problem is that this very visible and accepted harassment of celebrities reflects how the country, on a whole, thinks that it is not only alright to harass people but that harassing women is fair game. That if a woman is harassed then it is a compliment or just “boys being boys.” To say that it’s alright to harass someone is the same as saying that the harassed person’s feelings don’t matter, because if one is being harassed, by definition, she is receiving unwanted attention.

It’s ultimately saying that women don’t matter. And I’m sick of it. And I’m sick of celebrities getting harassed. We get it. Celebrities are super attractive. Get the fuck over it.