Is Unwanted French Kissing Sexual Assault?
I was discomforted when I recently heard Fantasia saying that Jamie Foxx french kissed her out of nowhere, on stage, after one of her performances...It is a shame that women who are new to the music industry have to physically fend off older male musicians. It is honestly a sign of disrespect, Jamie would never shove his tongue unexpectedly down Aretha's mouth! All of my memories of tongues from men and me, without my prior permission, are bad memories of assault.
Is Unwanted French Kissing Sexual Assault?
By Kirsten Anderberg (www.kirstenanderberg.com)
Written Dec. 28, 2006
I was discomforted recently when I heard Fantasia, a woman who recently got fame on the TV show "American Idol," saying that Jamie Foxx french kissed her out of nowhere, on stage, after one of her performances. Tyra Banks, on her show, then showed a clip of the kiss, and asked Fantasia if she had dated Jamie before or after that kiss. Fantasia acted pretty much miffed by the experience, and said no, he basically just french kissed her like that on stage and they never dated. She seemed somewhat confused by the whole thing, and Tyra's response was to call it a "one night stand kiss." Unfortunately, it seems more like a form of mild sexual assault, of Jamie taking inappropriate liberties, and I am sorry to say that. It definitely has lowered my opinion of Jamie Foxx, for many reasons. And I would avoid performing with, or near, him now, after hearing that. I immediately thought back to times when men thrust their tongues, unexpectedly and unexplained, into my mouth, for "one night stand kisses." And all of those memories reek more of sexual assault, than of pleasure.
When I was 20 years old, in my first real band, a 12 piece Motown Revue, the drummer, Paul Black, kept doing things to me that I hated, such as licking my face in a sexual manner. Somehow other women in the vicinity liked such behaviors, but it repulsed me, and I asked he stop it repeatedly to no avail. This man was at least 10 years older than me, as well. I felt it was incredibly rude, arrogant and honestly, violating, to have this man just swipe me up for his sexual pleasures and/or status, whenever he wanted, merely because I was a young singer in a band with him. Finally I was hostile enough that this man stopped touching me like that. It is a shame that women who are new to the music industry have to physically fend off older male musicians. It makes me sick, and is honestly a sign of disrespect these men are showing towards young women. I am sure Jamie Foxx would never shove his tongue unexpectedly down, say, Aretha Franklin's mouth, after one of her performances, on stage!
All of my memories of tongues from men and me, without my permission, are bad memories. All of those memories involve older men, too. My first really vivid memory of having a tongue shoved down my throat by an older man, is from the crossing guard at Lake City Elementary School, in Seattle. He crossed me from the 4th grade until the 8th grade, when I quit going anywhere near him after he grabbed and groped me, and stuck his tongue down my throat as I pulled violently away and ran in horror. I went to a curb and sobbed my eyes out alone, afterwards. I felt I had just narrowly escaped something worse, like rape. My mom was a single mom, and a feminist, and all hell would have broken loose if I told her what happened, so I kept it to myself so that *I* would not be stigmatized. From then on, I avoided Lake City Way due to the school crossing guard. I never let my son go to school via a crossing guard, either. I walked him myself due to "Bill," the perverted crossing guard in Lake City.
How many other girls did Bill violate, I wonder now? How long did the City of Seattle continue to allow Bill access to young girls and boys, and how many of us carry Bill's dirty little secrets for him? Did Bill *not* sexually violate me because he only got as far as jamming his tongue down my throat and groping me in a vague manner? My fear sure as hell was real, and it was a fear of violence and sexual assault! Does the Seattle Public School District do any kind of background checks on these crossing guards that have full access to their student population, due directly to the school itself? Not that I have been able to ascertain. After calling 8 different Seattle Public School District offices today, including the Superintendent's Office, the School Board office, and even the "Safety" department, I was told flippantly, at department after department, that school crossing guards have zero to do with the Seattle School District. They do not hire them, they do no checks on them, they are not interested in what I am saying about their school guard molesting me in the 1970's...that is what the Seattle Public School District told me repeatedly today.
I have another very strong memory of an unwanted french kiss that felt too sexual, and too close to rape, as a kid. I was about 13 years old, and I was with my stepsisters, visiting the home of their real father, Jimmy Hopper. As we were getting ready to leave his house and go home, he had all the girls line up to kiss him goodbye. We ranged in age from about 9 to 16 years old. (My older brother had left home early, prior to this, due to him fighting with this man over his sexual molestation attempts on my stepsisters.) One by one my sisters kissed their dad goodbye and I thought nothing of it. As I went to peck him a kiss goodbye, he shoved his tongue way down my throat and I freaked out! I immediately pulled away from him and felt very much as though I had just been *sexually* molested! I looked at my stepsisters, immediately, in horror, and saw a look of shame and guilt on their faces. At that moment, I realized he had been doing this to them all along, and *they KNEW it was wrong.* I was horrified the whole way home and did not talk about it with my stepsisters. The minute I got home I told my own father, who became enraged, and I was no longer allowed to go to Jimmy Hopper's house. But, my stepsisters were still given over freely to that man regularly, and no one protected them at all. I consider what Jimmy Hopper did, french kissing me, and his own daughters, to be sexual molestation. Maybe some do not feel it raises to that level, but the way I felt as a kid in that situation felt like sexual molestation and nothing else.
I also have a memory of being a teenager, about 14, at a party my adult sister was throwing. An older male who was probably in his 50's somehow got me alone on the back patio, and he, too, shoved his tongue unexpectedly down my throat. Again, I reeled in fear, and ran inside to the safety of my sister. My sister reprimanded this man, saying I was a young girl, and he was my dad's age, and what was he thinking. I can see how the older I got, the more I became open game for men and more and more it became *my responsibility* to see their gross tongues coming and head them off at the pass. Never has it been presented in this world around me that men should learn how to ASK before TAKING sex from women. Somehow since I was in my teens, I have been told it is *my* fault if a man sticks his tongue down my throat unexpectedly, and so I do try to make sure that does not get near me as an older woman. As I said, it also has to do with respect. If the men are not going to respect us of their own volition, then we will force respect on them. But geez, is it really that hard for older men to quit thrusting tongues down young women's throats without warning or permission? And is that really not sexual abuse, in one way or another? I think it is. It is degrading, it is scary, the experience is not fun for most women. I, personally, do NOT want even one more man, famous or not, shoving his tongue down my throat unexpectedly, this lifetime. No thanks. I see absolutely NO benefit in that to me, whatsoever.
So back to Jamie Foxx and Fantasia. My first thought was "I wonder what Beyonce has had to put up with from Jamie?" And then I wondered if Jamie treated Beyonce differently than Fantasia, you know, the whole virgin-whore fetish thing. And then I also thought how disrespectful that was of Jamie to do to Fantasia, to reduce her to a trophy, or to reduce her to his sexual plaything, on camera, in front of everyone, while in performance mode, no less. I can see how she has to just act like it was okay, or even cute, or something. Andrea Dworkin said that any woman who is "no man's" becomes "everyman's" property. Because Beyonce is partnered with a man, Jay-Z, is she off limits to Jamie's tongue, yet Fantasia, who appears to be single, is "everyman's," and thus Jamie's liberty taking was somehow considered legitimate?
That behavior from Jamie Foxx is pretty pathetic. Pretty old school casting couch behavior, really. It immediately brings Fantasia's credibility into question, inferring sexual favors, etc., which I do not think is occurring, but the overtone is there once he did that. I guess I wonder *why* Jamie Foxx felt a need to do that to Fantasia, and who benefited from that display? I think it hurt Fantasia and Jamie, both.
When I first began writing articles professionally, the editor of the first newspaper I worked for began courting me, even though he was, unbeknownst to me, in a monogamous 10 year partnership that he lied about. I got dragged into his and her world, he was the big editor, the famous writer, and I was a new writer, craving experience and knowledge. He used his position as the editor to get alone time with me and to basically "work" with me a lot. The more intimate we became sexually, the more articles of mine he published, and I began to move closer to the front page with my stories. Then people found out we were having this "affair," and they started to say I only got published due to who I slept with, not due to my writing abilities. Ironically, the truth was who I was sleeping with was due to my writing! But I began to see how getting involved intimately with my editor had huge problems. After his partner calling me a homewrecker, et al., I was sick of this famous writer and editor and even though he wanted me to keep working there past our failed affair, I wanted nothing to do with him and moved on to other publication venues.
Oddly, I saw a repeat of that same scenario almost immediately, with the next editor I tried to work with! This time I recognized the pattern and cut it off at the pass. I began to write for this other local publication, and in no time, the male editor of that paper was calling me, saying he was lonely and he had a wife but they never had sex, and she was fine with him seeing other women, they just wanted to keep their housing intact, etc. It was almost the verbatim of the story I heard from editor #1. This was a new angle on what I had experienced as a new musician, decades earlier. And once again, I knew I would be blamed, not the men, if I interacted with these men intimately. So by the second editor, I learned not to engage personally with editors of local papers that I write for.
This article has meandered a bit, talking about older men thrusting tongues upon young girls, and also addressing the vulnerabilities women meet when new in any field, really. And also I have spoken about how women will be blamed for the male's behaviors so we hide our feelings for the men with the power. I am sure if Fantasia was more rich and powerful than Jamie Foxx, she would have something more to say about an unexpected and unexplained public french kiss from him than a mere, "I don't know" when asked about it. I think *taking* french kisses from women without consent really is a form of sexual assault, as I know I feel used, degraded and yes, assaulted, when that unasked tongue arrives in my mouth! I feel that consent for french kissing should not come *after the fact* and in my own memories of french kisses thrust upon me, without explanation or warrant, it feels disrespectful. For some reason, I doubt Jamie Foxx would ever try to put his tongue in say, Whoopie Goldberg's mouth like that, after one of her performances he liked, and I doubt he would ever do that to Patti LaBelle, as well. Now why is that?
Fantasia did nothing wrong at all, but Jamie did act questionably. And oddly, people have not really spoken about this. Just like no one talked about Bill, the pervert crossing guard in Seattle, or Jimmy Hopper, the gross molester father...silence is how this stuff keeps on going...silence is what these men count on. It is long past the time that women should be silent on such issues, in my opinion. Stuff your tongue down my throat without warning, and expect some broken bones, without warning. I see no benefit to me in allowing men to take sexual liberties nonconsentually, with me. I am no man's trophy, and that *does not* mean I am "everyman's" trophy, either. One must also ask, how much does such a feminist attitude limit one's career options? If Fantasia said she thought that was inappropriate for Jamie Foxx to french kiss her like that, would her career be ended? Does anyone remember Anita Hill? I cannot believe we are almost into 2007, and women are still being pawed at sexually on stage, without prior consent, and everyone still somehow makes excuses for the men. What I saw Jamie Foxx do on camera was to take public sexual liberties with Fantasia, without prior consent, and I do not find it excusable, amusing, or sexy. I would not want him to do that to my child on her way up in stardom, not at all. I see it as pathetic, just like the other men I have had do that to me in my lifetime. I perceive it much more as middle aged male sexual assault, than some macho playful sexiness on the part of Jamie Foxx.
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