Jerry Seinfeld Refused To Hug Kesha, And It's Actually A VERY Big Deal

Here's why.

seinfeld kesha hug YouTube/USA Today

There's a video clip making the rounds on TV right now featuring controversial pop star Kesha trying to get a hug from Jerry Seinfeld on a red carpet. 

In the video, she approaches him with open arms, asking for a hug.

Seinfeld smiles and says, "No thanks."

She asks again, more aggressively, coming closer into his space.

He moves away.

Again, "No thanks."

She comes in again.

"No thanks."

She's clearly disappointed and skulks off.


Seinfeld laughs to the reporter who was interviewing him and explains that he doesn't know who that is.

When it's explained to him, Seinfeld seems neither impressed nor upset. Just neutral.

A lot of people found the clip funny, and others found it deeply uncomfortable.


Some people were mad, assuming Seinfeld snubbed Kesha — perhaps because she's become quite controversial after coming forward with allegations that her manager of many years, Dr. Luke, had repeatedly sexually assaulted and abused her both physically and emotionally.

But there's no doubt in my mind, personally, that Seinfeld had no idea who Kesha was, and that none of this was about her personal story or experiences.

He just didn't want to hug her.

As someone who isn't into hugs, I empathize.



I live in Los Angeles, where everyone is constantly hugging and even kissing when they see each other.

I think all the love is nice — if you're the type of person who likes to be touched a lot.

But what if you're not?

For those of us who aren't into hugging, these interactions can be super intrusive. 

I cannot even imagine what an A-list celebrity must experience on a daily basis as far as hugs are concerned.

We have a strange thing in our culture where we believe celebrities lives and bodies are our public property.

Because we love Jerry Seinfeld, and we can see his show every single day on TV, we feel like he is part of our lives. 

But he's not.


He's just a man who is really funny who made a funny show.

He's a human in every other way. He doesn't know you. 

And he should be treated as such.

This situation, though it's mostly silly, offers us an opportunity to talk about bodily autonomy and consent. 

Most parents these days teach their kids that nobody gets to touch them without their permission.


They let their children defer from hugs if they really don't want to hug someone.

We teach our teenagers that sex is not consensual until our partners have agreed — and that consent can be revoked at any time.

We also teach them that we should never try to pressure anyone, or guilt anyone, into any sort of physical contact.

We teach our kids that coercive sex is rape and to keep their hands to themselves. 

So why are we OK when someone tries to pressure another person into hugging or kissing or any other form of physical contact?

Sure, hugging has significantly fewer physical consequences than rape, and I'm not trying to compare them.

But they are both about bodily autonomy. Something everyone in the world deserves the right to have. 


And this situation with Jerry Seinfeld and Kesha is also about empathy.

We don't know why Seinfeld didn't want to share a hug with her.

As a celebrity, he probably feels there is an imposition upon his personal space when every single person wants to hug him.

He also probably understands that there are pranksters who go around and pick celebrities up as part of their schtick. Some pranksters throw things at celebs and try to grab them inappropriately — this happened to Will Smith, who actually slapped a prankster who tried to kiss him on the lips.

Personally, I wouldn't call someone trying to kiss you against your will a "prankster", maybe "criminal", but I digress... 


Nobody's body is your business.

You like hugs? Great! Hug people who want to hug you.

But not everyone feels the way you do.

Maybe they have a bad cold, maybe they have gas, maybe they were abused as a child, maybe they just went through a traumatic experience, maybe they have strong sensory issues, maybe they have been touched too much today and just feel "touched out", maybe you smell bad, maybe your perfume is too strong, maybe your breath is bad, maybe their breath is bad, maybe they just ate a whole bunch of garlic toast ... maybe they just aren't into hugs. 


And NOBODY owes you a hug — not me, Jerry Seinfeld, the guy down the street, the child you babysit for, your uncle's Frank, not anybody — to make YOU feel better or to give you the hug YOU want.

This is about empathy. 

Step out of your own experience and imagine someone else's. 

That's what Kesha should've done. And she, of all people, should know that celebrities too often have their lives and personal space violated by fans and the media.


So let's all take a lesson and give each other space, ask for consent before we touch others, and respect their "no" responses the first time. Every time.