It was the kiss that had the whole world talking. But for all the wrong reasons.
Soon there was video to show just what horrors had befallen the Canadian rapper. Madonna joined him onstage during his Coachella set, stood behind him and kissed him. At first, things seemed to be going well for everyone. Drake even tried to add his own sexy touch to the moment, raising his arm to hold Madonna’s head. That was when things took a bad turn. First, the Material Girl moved his arm away. And then something happened — be it bad breath, overactive salivary glands or the dawning realization by Drake that Madonna’s tongue was in his mouth. Soon, Drake’s arm was flopping around, looking like a drowning man trying to break the water’s surface and find safe ground. Then, finally freed from the kiss, he sat up, grabbed his mouth, said “what the f**k just happened?” and looked like life was a gross, horrible thing.
A bad moment for Drake equaled Internet gold. The jokes came fast and furious, with people saying 56-year-old Madonna stayed so young by sucking the life force out of some of her younger kissing buddies (in the past, she kissed a considerably younger Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears before turning her attentions to 28-year-old former child star Drake). The New Yorker even got into it, publishing a cartoon that showed a traumatized Drake at a therapy session with the analyst holding up a doll and saying, “Why don’t you show me on the doll where Madonna kissed you?”
It seems a little less haha funny when you realize that this joke only works if you see Drake as a childlike victim of sexual abuse against an older, predatory adult. Which isn’t really so funny when you think about it.
It’s even less funny when you think of how few jokes would have been made if gender and race roles had been reversed in this situation.
Imagine if a 50-plus-year-old man kissed a twenty-something woman who didn't look like they wanted to be kissed.
And then imagine that man was Black and the woman was white.
And then remember how Kanye West did not touch Taylor Swift when he bum rushed her acceptance speech, and think of how the global response was to act like poor Swift had been abused and bullied by scary Kanye. He never touched her. And she never made a face of disgust that came close to Drake’s horror. And yet there are many who still think he should be apologizing to her, like what he did was a heinous crime.
So now imagine if Taylor Swift was tongued down by Snoop onstage and she looked like she wanted to vomit afterwards. What you’d have to imagine next would be Snoop being carted off in handcuffs, because there’s a good chance he’d get charged with something.
This is not to say Madonna should be arrested. But it is to say that we need to check ourselves when it comes to not seeing men as the possible victims of sexual inappropriateness. Our failure to recognize that men can also be victimized doesn't leave a lot of room for these men to come forward with their stories in a safe space and be believed and helped. Granted, Drake is claiming he was all in and enjoying himself — though the video tells a very different story. But before he even made a public statement, we had already decided that there was no way he could feel violated by a woman.
Here’s one more thing to imagine: Imagine we can all see past narrow, dangerous ideas of hypersexual male masculinity to recognize that no means no regardless of who is saying it.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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(Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Coachella)
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