Ariana Grande and Bishop Charles H Ellis III
Photo: Rex Features

OPINION

Ariana Grande’s dress is in no way as offensive as the pastor who groped her – and shouldn’t be treated as such

Ariana Grande was as heavily critiqued for her short dress as the pastor who publicly groped her was

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By Yomi Adegoke on

When Aretha Franklin was laid to rest last week, Ariana Grande’s outfit choice was a huge talking point. A sleeveless black mini dress with a mesh panel at her chest, many commentators felt her attire was inappropriate for church, with several people taking to Twitter to express their disdain. Music legend Smokey Robinson echoed the sentiment in an interview with TMZ, saying the outfit was “inappropriate”. “I think she’s a great talent, but somebody in her camp should have told her she was at a funeral,” he concluded.

But her dress, which caused no real distress beyond pearl clutching and tutting, was on the receiving end of almost as much criticism as an incident of groping that she was victim of on the same day.  

Footage of the funeral shows Bishop Charles H Ellis III holding Grande high above her waist, his fingers repeatedly squeezing into and around the side of the singer's chest. Grande looked uncomfortable during the exchange, her body pulling away from his. Before long, the bishop apologised, stating that he would never intentionally “touch any woman's breast”.

“I was, I don't know I guess I put my arm around her,” he continued. "Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologise."

She was repeatedly scolded for a short dress by the public, and the bishop who publicly groped her was cheered on by a high-profile actor

The video soon went viral, sparking a discussion on how, even at a televised funeral, stood next to “a man of God”, women are still subject to men’s roving hands.

But Luke Cage actor Mike Colter didn’t see an instance of misconduct. Rather, he saw a comical lesson in how to “shoot your shot”. Writing to his 34.7K followers, the 42-year-old shared a clip of the incident and captioned it: “Now THIS is how you shoot your shot! Zero FCKS!!” followed by a string of laughing emojis.

And he, too, followed his bad-taste joke with a mealy-mouthed apology.

“Hello all. I apologise about my tweet earlier,” he said in a statement. “In no way do I condone any such behavior. It was intended to point out the absurdity of the act itself. Complete and biting sarcasm.”

Colter’s comments were widely condemned, but illustrated a wider point about Grande’s treatment in the wake of the funeral. She was repeatedly scolded for a short dress by the public, and the bishop who publicly groped her was cheered on by a high-profile actor, who claimed to be joking when his comments came under scrutiny. Legs at a funeral seem to have caused as much offence as an actual act of harassment by a bishop – if her treatment in both cases doesn’t illustrate the horrific double standards of what’s acceptable for men and women, I’m not sure what does.

@yomiadegoke

Photo: Rex Features
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