“Violate. Look it up,” Crystal told her castmates on Wednesday night’s episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. While she wasn’t speaking to me directly, I obediently followed her instructions. Turns out she was absolutely right, the dictionary’s definition of “violate”—to “fail to respect someone’s peace, privacy, or rights”—describes exactly what happened in the Lake Tahoe episode, in which Sutton tried to return Crystal’s coat and walked in on her ass naked. But as with any good reality show drama, there’s more to it than that.
This beef between Sutton and Crystal—which seems minuscule in the shadow of Erika’s divorce, the A-plot of this season—has been largely fueled by the show’s editing choices, which, unfortunately for Crystal, make her look like a gossipy mean girl. It seemed as if every time Crystal or anyone else made a new comment about the Coat Incident, the show dug up a flashback of Crystal telling someone how she felt about it, for no reason other than to make Crystal look like the girl who cried creep. But there are nuances to this issue that the women absolutely bulldozed over on Wednesday night during Kyle’s dinner party.
Firstly, Kyle and her thirsty ass are forgetting that Sutton very clearly told Crystal, an Asian woman, that she does not see color or race. When Crystal calmly questioned this view, Sutton cried and played the victim, claiming that as a Southern woman she always felt a need to defend herself from the perception that she’s a racist redneck. Truly nothing screams “I’m not a racist” like refusing to “see color.” Then there was the Coat Incident itself. The women defended Sutton’s behavior by arguing that seeing each other naked is the norm for girls’ trips and that Crystal was blowing the situation out of proportion.
What they all seem to be forgetting that Crystal is not one of the girls. It’s her first season, and Tahoe was her first trip right out of the gate. Not to mention that Crystal had an extremely candid conversation with the women about being in recovery from an eating disorder and having issues with her body image. After that conversation, the Coat Incident should have been considered in a new light.
Crystal’s feelings about her body and how she might look at any given moment are not up for debate by Sutton or Kyle. It doesn’t matter what Sutton’s intentions were: She crossed a virtual stranger’s boundary and, in any other circumstance, the women would agree that was a violation of some kind. It’s especially alarming that these women aren’t factoring in Crystal’s recovery considering Kyle admitted to having an eating disorder and Lisa’s daughter Amelia still struggles with anorexia.
Maybe it would have all blown over since these two women clearly don’t wish to communicate with each other any longer. Yet Sutton—who in her premiere season famously said, “You’ve had your fun now let the mouse go” (because she was sick of being picked on by Dorit)—will herself not let this mouse go. Sutton is stuck on Crystal’s use of the word ‘violate’ as she feels this is a direct attack on her reputation as a benevolent rich white woman who gives everyone gifts. She’s so wrapped up in defending her reputation she’s oblivious to exactly how she’s damaging Crystal by harping on this and at one point on Wednesday night, issuing a mild threat, “That’s what you don’t want, me getting angry.” Sutton, girl, you can’t fight.
Were Crystal not attempting to be the model minority (as all women of color on these shows must be) then she may have had a response to that threat instead of a clipped, “K. I’m not backing down on that word.” But she can’t because Crystal is trapped between being her authentic self—a wealthy woman with the full range of human emotions including anger—and a spokesperson for the entire Asian community.