On Sept. 7, I read about the overdose death of rapper Mac Miller in a tweet. While I wasn’t personally a fan of his music, I respected the down-to-earth attitude he had when he appeared in interviews, so naturally, I felt sad for him and his fans.
As I scrolled through Twitter and Instagram, I quickly started feeling sad for someone else, though.
I saw Ariana Grande’s name almost as many times as Miller’s. The comments and posts about her were scathing. The two musicians went public as a couple in August 2016 and their relationship lasted until May. Suddenly, it was like society agreed that Miller’s suspected overdose was the result of Grande ending their toxic relationship.
The long-standing Yoko Effect became prominent once again. The Yoko Effect refers to the longstanding myth that women are connected to the behaviors of their romantic partners, even when they may not comprehend them. It is named after Yoko Ono and the influence some Beatles fans believe she had on John Lennon, according to Rolling Stone. Some blame Ono for Lennon’s ultimate estrangement from the band.
Now, Grande is facing the blame for her ex-boyfriend’s addiction and ultimately his death. It is time for us to stop attacking women for the actions — in this case, illness — of their significant others.
I can imagine that it’s extremely hard to be in a relationship with someone who is addicted to drugs. While the instinctual thing to do is help your loved ones, there is only so much you can do for the person.
“I am not a babysitter or a mother, and no woman should feel that they need to be,” Grande wrote in a tweet after her breakup with Miller. Grande responded to a comment claiming she was responsible for Miller’s DUI arrest last May.
“Of course I didn’t share about how hard or scary it was while it was happening but it was,” the tweet continued. “I will continue to pray from the bottom of my heart that he figures it all out and that any other woman in this position does as well.”
The concept that women must be the caregivers for the men they are involved with is an archaic and narrow-minded notion, and Grande’s choice to stop seeing Miller was not selfish nor ill-intentioned, but reasonable and rational.
Anne Balay, a gender and sexuality instructor, said the issue with women being seen as motherly figures is that they are given a moral obligation to nurse people with substance abuse disorder back to health, rather than focus on their ,wellbeing. She called it an “unfair gender stereotype.”
“Grande was expected to be some kind of miracle worker who could cure Miller instantly after he had been dealing with addiction long before knowing her,” Balay said. “Our culture is extremely unable to understand addiction, and the media is trying to understand the victim.”
It’s important that we sympathize with the victim of the overdose without demonizing another innocent person in their life. While it isn’t the victim’s fault, it isn’t their girlfriend’s fault either.
Celia Porter, a junior psychology major and a long-time fan of Miller, said blaming Grande is “ignorant” because she tried so hard to help him when they were together and even wished him the best when they broke up.
“Ariana had nothing to do with the death of Mac Miller,” Porter said. “She tried to help him to the best of her ability. …His death was very upsetting to me. He will forever be one of my favorite artists and will always hold a special place in my heart.”
Many people of our generation considered Miller to be their favorite artist, but some media outlets discredited him by referring to him as “Ariana Grande’s ex.” People were so focused on blaming Grande and their failed relationship that they were also belittling Miller’s legacy.
Miller’s unfortunate death was in no way Grande’s fault, and she should not be held liable for his battle with addiction. In a world where Courtney Love is still being speculated as the reason for Kurt Cobain’s death by suicide 24 years after it happened, it is time that we stop making women the targets of unjustifiable accusation and expecting them to work miracles.