In the #MeToo Era, a new microscope has been placed on the dynamics that bring together, and oftentimes separate Black Women & Black Men.
We have evolved. As a society we are in a constant state of evolution. Our thoughts and ideas about what is “normal” or “acceptable” is in a constant state of flex. What was once progressive is now archaic in this fast pace world. It forces us to reexamine everything. Old standards we were taught as children were considered good behavior or polite are now possibly unacceptable. Holding a door open or giving up your seat to a woman to one generation is considered being a gentleman. To another generation it’s considered an antiquated and sexist gesture that continues to bolster a patriarchal society. It depends on the decade you were born in probably.
Patience is something that seems to be in short supply. We are very quick to dismiss points of view if they don’t align with our own. White people who speak on racism in any way that doesn’t line up with the most recent viewpoint of black America is suspected of cultural apathy at the least and white nationalism at the most. To be honest, these titles are gained deservedly in most cases. It’s extremely frustrating to present someone with statistical data, first hand testimony, and historical data on racism only to have them still question the validity of your complaint; Not only to question it, but to also speak with a level of authority above your own as someone who has experienced the bitter fruits of racism. It’s insulting in soo many ways when some white people come not with a desire to hear or understand, not with a desire to empathize and understand, but with a desire to teach, inform, and educate on a subject they know nothing about. It will completely end any discussion with me and any attempt to reach a common ground is over. They are now marked as the enemy and completely useless to the progression of equality in this country.
Well men (of all races) that is who we are currently on the subject of rape. We have no right to an opinion on the subject. We do not get a say in the definition. We definitely don’t get to be skeptical of an accusation. If you even think about being critical of a story or narrative, you might as well register as a sex offender. To say anything in opposition to a woman’s view of what constitutes sexual aggression, violence, or rape culture means you agree with the perpetrator so you might as well register as a sex offender. If they have a waiting list you should be on it. There’s a few things that get ignored in relegating men to the role of bystander in the discussion of rape and rape culture. One is WE GET RAPED TOO.
And I don’t mean in the bad 70’s “Too Sweet” Penitentiary movie franchise prison type of way. (One of my favorite movies by the way.) I mean men are sexually assaulted by both women and men at young ages and at more advanced ages. We don’t speak on it for various reasons. There is a notion that men always want it from the time we hit puberty. I actually had a woman tell men that men couldn’t be raped because we’re stronger than women. That is the general consensus. As the definition of rape changes from “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will” to “penetration , no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sec organ of another person WOUTH THE CONSENT of the victim” (Moni Basu, 2012) so must the idea that men cannot be raped and thus have no right to speak on the subject.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18. 27.8% of those men sexually abused were 10 or younger the first time they were abused (Center, 2015). I whole heartedly agree that we were raised in rape culture. Baptized in it with movies like Revenge Of The Nerds, Porkeys, a whole host of Blacksploitation movies, plus quite a few westerns that compared breaking a woman sexually to breaking a bronco. For that reason the notion that men always want sex and never turn it down must also be attached to that same conditioning. I remember playing “Catch a Girl, Hump a Girl” back in elementary and we didn’t even fully understand what humping was. It was a game to us like Mr. Freeze or Red Light, Green Light. That game was basically preparing us for what would be our adult dating relationships. The fallacy even in that game was that girls were never the ones chasing. Their job was to run and never get caught because if they did, they would have to submit per the rules. In our adult dating lives though, it thankfully doesn’t play out like that. Not only do women not HAVE to submit, but many times they are the ones chasing.
Another byproduct of the changing times is that the rules to sexual engagement are heavily slanted toward the emotional state of the woman with the addition but lack of definition of “consent” in the definition of rape. It’s completely subjective. Meaning a bad sexual experience has just as much of a possibility to end up as a sexual assault allegation as it does a disparaging facebook post. For instance a man can take a woman out for drinks and end up with a rape charge if she claims she was too drunk to give consent. That same girl wouldn’t be charged with rape for having sex with a drunk guy. If a man penetrates a woman that he’s dating while she’s sleep he is, by definition, raping her but if a woman inserts that man’s penis into her while he’s sleep she’s being sexy. In essence women are being given a mulligan for making bad decisions on a date that men aren’t afforded completely removing any responsibility from her and placing all of the blame on the man.
Now by this point many women have already decided that I’m either crying (a cloaked shot at my masculinity) or am a closet rapist (childish). But I offer this thought. We are ripping the cover off of our sons to protect our daughters. Who protects our sons? It’s not enough to teach them to be gentlemen; To teach them to be educated doesn’t ensure they will be saved from an accusation that can ruin them. There have been many examples of a false claim of sexual assault leading to dire consequences for a man with no repercussions for the accuser. The Rosewood massacre, Emmett Till, and more recently Nate Parker who was acquitted of raping a woman he had a continuous sexual relationship with in college. The allegations resurfaced during the promotional tour for the movie Birth Of A Nation he wrote, directed, and starred in. The disappointing box office results for the movie some say was due to the negative press the actor received.
Our black young men are being left vulnerable because of the subjective nature of the definition of rape. Some women don’t even believe it’s necessary to deny consent. In other words you can complete a sexual act with a person, not say no, stop, I don’t want to, or even push him away and if you internally felt any pressure that can also be considered rape. How do you prosecute based on emotion? According to reason.com In the 2013-2014 academic year, 4.2 percent of Colgate college students were black. According to the university’s records, in that year black male students were accused of 50% of the sexual violations reported to the university, and they made up 40% of the students formally adjudicated. (Soave, 2017) And that statistic is not abnormal. It is happening on many college campuses. Are black boys and black men extra “rapey” or is there a possible rush to judgment based on stereotypes not even birthed in the black community?
Black men are treated as both predator and prey in the rush to protect our daughters from all forms of sexual assault. So what is the answer? Am I saying to ignore the victims? No. Hell no. We’ve done that for far too long far too many times. Should we make it harder for them to come forward? Absolutely not. We need our sisters whole and well mentally, physically, and emotionally. It is our responsibility as the physically stronger sex to protect women. All women. What I am suggesting is an alliance. Recognize that everyone with an x chromosome is not your enemy. We are not your attacker. Many of us have been attacked as well which means we need to be at the table to help define rape and sexual assault because we are victims also. We are your sons, brothers, fathers, cousins, and husbands. You cannot continue to silence our voices when we are your allies. I know this very divisive subject matter has the potential to upset many. But if silence is a condition of our (black men’s) support then sadly you’ll never have it.