Harry Styles Was Sexually Assaulted, and We Need to Talk About It

On October 21, 2017, Harry Styles performed at the charity concert, We Can Survive. If you’ve ever seen Styles perform live, you would know just how connected he becomes with the crowd — especially during his favorite song to perform, Kiwi. During the song, he runs around the stage, tripping over his microphone wire, throwing water onto the crowd and screaming into the microphone on his knees, right in front of fans. During his performance at the breast cancer benefit concert, a fan reached up to him and aggressively grabbed his crotch, while he was kneeling in front of them. Styles quickly shoved the woman’s hand away, stood up and avoided that area of the stage for the rest of his performance.

Shortly after the assault occurred, a video was released on twitter. Styles’ fans were inflamed. They started the hashtag ‘#RespectHarry’ to remind everyone that Styles deserves respect, just as every human does — being a celebrity does not make him an object. Grabbing someone’s crotch is sexual assault. It is important to acknowledge that sexual harassment isn’t solely targeted at women, and just because Styles is famous doesn’t make it any less of an assault.   

It wasn’t long before Styles’ fans found the assaulter’s twitter. Her twitter has since been deleted, but her username was @lalaxerica. She claims that she “wouldn’t have [done] it on purpose.” Whether she claims to have done it accidentally, or she did it on purpose, it is clear that she assaulted him, and she needs to take responsibility for her actions. She’s not just an ‘overzealous fan’. She’s a sexual harasser. It’s our responsibility to call her what she is.

As a longtime devoted fan of Harry, it was extremely painful to see the video of him being assaulted flood my social media on Saturday night. Harry’s platform is all about spreading love, positivity, respect and support for others. One of his most infamous sayings is ‘Treat People With Kindness’. Harry is always there to support his fans and show us that we are accepted no matter what. His concert is a safe space for fans, where one can truly be themselves. Harry brings flags on stage to show support of different communities — he’s brought on the pride flag, transgender flag, the Puerto Rican flag and more. Harry uses his platform to empower women, specifically young women, because he knows that we make up a majority of his fan base, and he believes in us. Harry deserves nothing but the positive energy he’s putting into this world. It’s disgusting that someone thought it was okay to assault him.

On the night of Tuesday October 4th, 2017, TMZ posted a video on twitter titled “Is Harry Styles just asking to get his crotch touched?” NO. HE’S NOT. No one is ever asking to be sexually assaulted; that’s what makes it assault — it’s not consensual. Unless Harry told the crowd “when I get on my knees please grab my crotch,” a fan grabbing him inappropriately could never be consensual. In the video of the woman groping him, you can see the shade of his knuckles, which implies his grip was really aggressive, in order to force the woman’s hand away. It’s not a debate. It was sexual assault.

Harry Styles doesn't perform for fans so they can touch him inappropriately. This victim blaming ideology is the reason so many people don’t come forward when they are sexually assaulted, because people don’t take them or the subject seriously. This happens to men and women. It isn’t gender specific. It is wrong. There is absolutely nothing debatable about sexual assault. For someone to give the excuse, “Well he was performing too close; he wants to be grabbed,” is sickening. Being a celebrity and performing for your fans isn’t an invitation to be groped. People need to respect him and his personal space. That’s his body, and he hasn’t given anyone permission to touch him. The media cannot downplay what happened to him. He didn’t ask for this; he didn’t enjoy it, and he sure as hell shouldn’t be blamed for this fan’s disgusting actions.

There’s absolutely no reason there should still be a problem with sexual harassment and assault in 2017. In order to end sexual violence, we must create a culture where everyone is treated with basic human respect. This culture must be present on and off the stage. We must refuse to strip people of their dignity. We must refuse to sexualize and treat people like they are nothing, and we must refuse to stay silent.

 

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, there is help to be found. Please consider these online resources:

A Voice For The Innocent - http://www.avoicefortheinnocent.org

Anti Violence Project (serves LGBT) - https://avp.org

National Sexual Assault Hotline - 800.656.4673

National Sexual Violence Resource Center - https://www.nsvrc.org