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Kris Kristofferson And Gillette Should Team Up Against Toxic Masculinity

In a week of toxic male awfulness, here's a bright spot of a story from Audra Williams about Sinéad O'Connor and Kris Kristofferson.

Sometimes stories emerge when you need them most. Today is one of those days. We've had a week (Well, two years. HELL, TWO MILLENNIA, but I don't get paid enough for that list) of awful XY chromosomal behavior and testosterone-laden abuse.

Witness the awful response of so many angry men terrified and triggered by the Gillette ad suggesting men can be better humans by not harassing women, bullying kids who are smaller than they are, and not assaulting gay people. The nerve of Gillette.

Witness the gall of the who gathered in Washington, DC, this weekend to tell women what to do with the most intimate parts of their bodies, that their lives didn't matter as much as a blastula, and when and how many children they could have at the "Pro-Life" march.

Witness the young Catholic males who surrounded, harassed, smirked, and mocked the Native American Elder, Nathan Philips as he stepped between them and a tiny group of (yes, homophobic) Black protestors in an attempt to de-escalate tensions.

Whew. Did I basically get it all? Oh, wait. There was also Trump. And Ben Shapiro, who I blame for my new desire for a t-shirt that reads, "I would totally kill "

Yeah, I'm tired. Toxic masculinity is the worst.

Then author Audra Williams comes along to save the day with a truly lovely story about Kris Kristofferson, one of my many childhood crushes. On Twitter, Williams recalled the reason Kristofferson and singer/activist Sinéad O'Connor became and remain close friends, and it's because of his genuine allyship at a time her activism was under severe fire for tearing up a photo of the Pope on SNL.

In 1992, Sinead O'Connor ripped up a picture of the Pope on live television, in protest of the rampant child sexual abuse the Catholic Church was actively covering up.

— Audra Williams (@audrawilliams)

In the weeks that followed, Andrew Dice Clay said he wanted to give her "such a smack", Frank Sinatra said he wanted to "kick her ass", and millionaire producer Jonathan King said she "needed a spanking".

↓ Story continues below ↓

— Audra Williams (@audrawilliams)

She was 26.

— Audra Williams (@audrawilliams)

Ten days later, she was scheduled to perform at Madison Square Gardens, as part of a celebration of Bob Dylan. As soon as she got to the microphone, the audience began loudly booing her, seemingly in unison.

— Audra Williams (@audrawilliams)

She talked later about how awful the sound was, and how she thought she was going to be sick.

— Audra Williams (@audrawilliams)

The organizers tasked Kris Kristofferson with removing O'Connor from the stage. He instead went out and put his arm around her and checked in on her and stayed until she'd steadied herself and was ready to perform. When she came off stage, he wrapped her in a bear hug.

— Audra Williams (@audrawilliams)

About the incident, he says:

"Sinead had just recently on Saturday Night Live torn up a picture of the Pope, in a gesture that I thought was very misunderstood. And she came out and got booed. They told me to go get her off the stage and I said 'I'm not about to do that' [...]

— Audra Williams (@audrawilliams)

[...] I went out and I said 'Don't let the bastards get you down'. She said 'I'm not down' and she sang. It was very courageous. It just seemed wrong to me, booing that little girl out there. But she's always had courage."

— Audra Williams (@audrawilliams)

The recent Gillette ad has started/furthered a lot of conversations about what alternatives to toxic masculinity look like. This is it.

— Audra Williams (@audrawilliams)

This song was on his 2009 album "Closer to the Bone"

— Audra Williams (@audrawilliams)

And was mixed up about one part: Andrew Dice Clay was the host of SNL the night that Sinead tore up the picture. She (and other women in the cast) refused to be in skits with him. It was Joe Pesci who -- when hosting the show a week later -- said he wanted to give her a slap.

— Audra Williams (@audrawilliams)

Turns out Andrew Dice Clay was not the Host of SNL that night...Tim Robbins was. But she was, indeed, scheduled to perform on an earlier show where Clay was the host, and she cancelled her appearance to protest.

Tim Robbins was the host that night (10/3/92). Andrew Dice Clay hosted two years before that (5/12/90). Also, after Sinead tore up the photo all the pieces were saved by a stagehand except for a corner that David Spade has.

— Shawn Garrett (@ShawnGarrett)

Andrew was NOT the host the night she yore up the picture. That would be Tim Robbins. She was supposed to be a guest on Diceman's episode years earlier but protested that he was hosting and cancelled her appearance.

— WhatWereTheyThinking (@WWTTPodcast)

Here's a video of Kristofferson's telling of the story of that moment in the Dylan tribute concert at Madison Square Garden.

You can watch the entire scene in the first video above - from introduction to the moment he guided her from backstage when it was over. Some might take issue with his calling O'Connor "little girl." She was 26. I appreciate being on the lookout and vigilant for dismissive and demeaning language towards women, so this is not a call-out to those people. But I wanted to acknowledge that in this particular case, taken in the context of the entire story, what I find much more significant is that (a), he treated her with great respect in front of tens of thousands of people; (b), he respected her activism, her bravery, and her craft; (c), he refused to be part of silencing her - au contraire, he gave her strength to continue on; and (d), in the end, in the song he wrote, he referred to her as a sister, despite their obvious generation-length age gap, "Sister Sinead." If a man with 20 more years experience and standing in my field referred to me as his "sister" in work, I'd consider it an elevation, not an insult.

Take a bow, Kris Kristofferson. I do hope you're still in touch with Sinéad O'Connor, as . And thank you, Audra Williams - that story is just what we needed right about now.

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