I Can’t Take Any Moore: My Two Cents on This Alabama Senatorial Clusterfuck

I have been looking at MSNBC all day (11/14/2017). Not on purpose, mind you.

I turned it on earlier this morning to see what, if anything, had happened overnight to plunge America even deeper into the seeming Trump abyss, and I just never turned it off.

I dozed off on the sofa, woke up and ate my lunch on the sofa, graded some essays on the sofa, answered some emails from the sofa, and let the TV keep talking.

I sat from nine this morning to two this afternoon, subconsciously soaking up all the convoluted talk from back ass-ward Republican officials and pundits about Roy Moore, hearing his fifth accuser bawl out her horrific story in a sickening loop, and tuning in and out as my outrage and exhaustion alternately impelled me.

And this is what I have to say after listening to the umpteenth white male so-called conservative hedge at being asked whether he would rather have a pedophile or Democrat in the US Senate:

These white men attempting to dodge this question are not nearly as artful as they think.

They keep arguing that if the accusations brought to light against Moore are proven to be true, they will retract their support of Moore and his run for the Senate.

Well, Moore is not being prosecuted for any of the crimes or acts of misconduct of which he has been accused. He will not be prosecuted for any of the crimes or acts of misconduct of which he has been accused. So the accusations will never be “proven.”

Alabama has the shortest sexual abuse statutes in the United States, so when Moore’s victims didn’t go to the authorities on Moore directly after he assaulted them, they gave up their opportunities to go the authorities on Moore.

(In Alabama, in child sexual abuse civil cases, the statute of limitations is two years after the alleged victim’s 19th birthday, and in criminal sexual abuse cases, the statute of limitations for felony sexual abuse cases is three years and the statute of limitation for misdemeanor sexual abuse cases is one year.)

And Moore’s supporters know this.

They know the American public can never receive a legal verdict on Moore’s guilt.

They keep saying they will retract their support if Moore is proven guilty so they don’t have to retract their support.

They pretend to be protecting the rule of law and upholding the principle of innocent until proven guilty when they are really acting on political tribalism and sideways racism (Democrat added to the Senate = slightly higher chance that laws will be made in the US that benefit people of color, immigrants of colors, and individuals in the LGBTQIA+ spectrum).

They are immoral, unethical, transparent, and tiresome as fuck.

Now, along with the “wait & seers,” you have the “technically, he isn’t a pedophilers.” They want to pretend that Moore merely “preferred” to date “younger” women.

To them, I grant that Moore isn’t technically a pedophile. By clinical definition, the pedophile engages in sexual behavior with children 13 years and younger, and the youngest any of Moore’s victims on the record has claimed to be at the time of her assault is 14.

That doesn’t absolve Moore of wrongdoing, though.

Because the age of consent in every single state in the US is 16 or older, and the biggest age difference legally allowed between a person that is the age of consent and his or her sexual partner is 10 years (in Utah, not Alabama, where Moore was working and trolling back in the day, while in his late 20s and early 30s).

In Alabama, the age of consent is 16, and the legally allowable age difference is two years, which means the oldest someone that is sleeping with a 16-year-old can be without committing a crime in that state is 18.

People under the age of consent cannot consent to sexual activity, according to the law, so anyone engaging in sexual activity with them is engaging in nonconsensual sexual activity.

And that is sexual assault.

That is sexual abuse; that is molestation; or that is rape. Statutory or violent. It doesn’t matter.

So when these supposed conservatives and Republican evangelicals are talking shit on cable TV or online or anywhere else, saying they are unsure whether Moore is worse for America than his Democratic opponent, and they hinge that argument on the fact that he is technically not a pedophile, they shouldn’t fucking congratulate themselves for winning the “clever” semantical game they’re attempting to play.

They are still aligning themselves with a sexual criminal, no matter what they try to say.

Roy Moore is still a sexual criminal – he is still a sexual predator – not according to opinion, but according to the fucking rule of law that the members of his party are constantly referencing whenever they want to justify their heartless actions, or, better yet, emphasize that their unethical actions are not necessarily illegal.

He is a sexual criminal according to the rule of law that he and his kettle (the name for a group of circling vultures) of withered cronies wrongfully use as a hiding place for their deep-seated amorality.

For anyone that remains undecided on the matter, and is interested in truly weighing the veracity of the allegations that have been made against Moore all you need to do is scrutinize the following facts:

  • According to the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, only 15.8 to 35 percent of sexual assaults in the US are reported to authorities;
  • According to the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, survivors cite fear of reprisal and fear of lack of evidence as reasons for not reporting assaults or attacks;
  • According to the Iowa Law Review, “rape claims [are] often dismissed out of hand with little or no investigation”;
  • According to The Chicago Tribune, misconceptions about rape prosecutions have propagated the notion throughout American culture that “rape and sexual harassment can be minimized, marginalized, or even mocked because the clock has wound down on when the crime could or . . . should be reported or prosecuted”;
  • Public figures like Moore (Weinstein, Trump) foster public goodwill with their personae and so-called accomplishments, or they buy public goodwill with their philanthropy, making it difficult for the typical American to conceive of them as criminals;
  • Public figures like Moore (Weinstein, Trump) possess a great deal of power and belong to powerful networks, making it plausible and possible for them to retaliate against women that go on the record accusing them of committing sexual crimes.

If, when you are considering whether the accusations against Moore are true, you acknowledge that none of these accusers can have Moore arrested at this point and very few people credit them with any real credibility – then you should be able to deduce that these women stand to gain nothing material from going public.

They can’t make any real money off of going public with their accusations, and they can’t gain any fame from it – only infamy. Their names get to go down in the same Hall of Undeserved Shame as Anita Hill and Juanita Broaddrick.

The only thing they could logically or realistically be seeking to gain then is the assurance that they tried to help prevent a remorseless criminal from becoming a US Senator.

Their accusations, if they were lies, wouldn’t be worth telling in this current cultural climate, with its new, intensely virulent strain of misogyny.

More likely than not, when all of this is “over,” they will have succeeded in doing little more than inadvertently inviting a bunch of mean-spirited mendacious scrutiny into their private lives.

They will have sacrificed their anonymity and a certain sort of sexist dignity in order to reveal a truth that no one really wants to hear.

Honestly, think about it: When has America ever rewarded a woman for calling out her politically powerful sexual attacker?

(If you’re unsure of the answer to this question, I advise you to ask Anita Hill.)

The answer is never, so how likely are these women to be lying, particularly when the current trend in public debates about women’s safety is to put the onus for the harm they suffer on women and pretend that American culture isn’t laced with a hatred of women that acts like fentanyl when you mix it with heroin.

Just look: The superficial, circular back-and-forth in which the Fed, media, and citizenry are engaging about the matter, without actually doing anything to remove Moore from Alabama’s senatorial ballot, illustrates how little America on the whole respects or appreciates women that take the socially suicidal plunge into becoming sexual whistleblowers.

And one last thing – one last point – for anyone stupid enough to argue – outside of everything else – that being a sexual offender doesn’t automatically mean that a person is unfit to govern.

I want your ass to take a look at the etiology of the typical sexual offender and then tell me that shit with a straight face.

According to science – the other system of laws that Trump and his sycophants like to bend and twist like the wiry hairs of their unsightly toupees into absurd versions of themselves – in addition to having interests and getting aroused by having sexual contact with others against those others’ wills or without those others’ consent, sexual offenders have interests and get aroused by inflicting pain and humiliation onto others, participating in violent and aggressive acts, and watching acts of violence or aggression.

They know that rape, molestation, and other forms of sexual assault are immoral, illegal, and, most of all, harmful to others, but they choose – and it is instrumental that those of us that are not sexual offenders accept this truth – that sexual offenders choose – to rape, molest, and subject their victims to other forms of sexual assault anyway.

Sexual offenders have cognitive distortions and/or pro-offending attitudes that allow them to justify the terrible things they do to others, such as believing a woman that dresses a certain way or that has hurt their feelings “wants” or “deserves” to be assaulted.

They are much more capable than non-offenders of convincing themselves that their deviant and dangerous behaviors are not as injurious or serious as they really are. They are also extremely capable of serially assaulting people because they don’t accurately perceive that they are doing serious harm, or they don’t accurately perceive the degree of harm that they cause when they assault people.

So when we you (because this is all you, Republican Party) push to put sexual offenders in public office, you are assenting that it is acceptable and perhaps even advisable to empower people that deliberately, consistently, and guiltlessly hurt others to inflict their twisted wills on innocent and undeserving men, women, and children.

And, if the evidence of that claim seems too tied into concepts of sexual behavior to encompass non-sexual behavior, then consider that a great number of sexual offenders have what clinicians refer to as a “cluster” of non-sexual personality deficits that also make them unfit to govern, among a laundry list of other social, interpersonal, and intimate things.

Sexual offenders often have ineffective communication skills; they have difficulty getting along with people; they have a profound lack of empathy; and they lack effective or healthy psychological and/or emotional coping skills.

Many cannot manage their emotions. They tend to be highly impulsive and unwilling to think through the consequences of their actions. They are often isolated because they lack social skills, and they struggle with behavioral self-regulation. They experience a lot of problems in intimate relationships, which tends to make them even less empathic and even more emotionally unstable and allow them to experience even more cognitive dissonance.

Moore is a former judge whose record bears substantial and substantive evidence that the personal issues that have impelled him to sexually attack underage women have very probably affected the way that he performs professionally.

His professional track record proves that he was unfit to be a judge and strongly suggests that he would be disastrous as a federal legislator.

Again, for the hair-splitters, these two positions are not two sides of the same coin. If police officers are, say, pennies, then prosecutors are nickels, municipal and state legislators are dimes, federal legislators are quarters, and executives are dollars.

That means state legislators have much more power than judges. Their power is much more proximal to executive and presidential power, which is even more reason why Moore has no business yielding it.

The US Congress is responsible for making laws that apply to every state in the country; Congress has the power to “declare war, coin money, raise an army and navy, regulate commerce, establish rules of immigration and naturalization, and establish the federal courts and their jurisdictions,” according to ushistory.org.

Congress oversees the annual federal budget and investigates any wrongdoings committed by public officials, including the President.

In fact, the US Congress is among one of the most powerful legislative bodies in the world.

US Senators specifically confirm presidential appointments and try impeachment officials after the House initiates impeachment procedures and raises articles of impeachment.

They serve six-year rather than two-year terms, and they approve treaties, so, in a way, they are more influential or powerful than members of the House.

So, if Moore is allowed to win a seat in the Senate, he will be afforded six years of opportunities to inject his deviant attitudes, including his old-fashioned Southern deep-fried blatant blend of fifty-leven types of bigotry, into the American political discourse and possibly even the actual governance of the country.

That thought should be repulsive to anyone that claims to want America to be great, whether again or eventually.

America has been and still is inexorably shaped by its leaders. That is why Roy Moore became a viable, front-running candidate for Alabama Senator in the first place. He hitched his wagon to the pants zipper of our predatory, pussy-grabbing 45th President.

You can pretend to be unable to imagine how Moore’s tenure in the Senate would unfold, but you know it would very probably be a legislative version of Trump’s presidency: as I said, a fucking clusterfuck.

Now, I know the chances of any of Moore’s supporters reading this blog are nil. I know that my audience of readers is largely liberal, Democrat, or independent.

But I addressed this post to Moore’s army of marauding assholes for a reason, the least of which is I had substantial amounts of anger and frustration to expel.

I addressed this post to Moore and his unfortunate ilk because I feel I need to make the point that Moore’s political ascension is symbolic of an alarming sexist trend occurring in this country’s political culture.

A very small but very powerful white male cis-hetero contingent of the leadership of the Republican Party has become so terrified of the Party losing its political foothold that they have adopted this pro quid pro ethic by which they will work to place sexual deviants and criminals in office as long as these men prevent Democrats from taking office.

This is extremely dangerous because in the process of snatching up presidencies and Congressional seats they are also destigmatizing – they are normalizing – at least in political ideology and rhetoric – sexual assault and abuse.

We who know what a horrific slippery slope down which this can lead American culture cannot stand by while they do this and simply roll our eyes, suck our teeth, and mumble under our collective breath about how “ridiculous” they are and their endeavor is.

We have to speak truth to power. We have to say – whenever we have a chance of being heard – that they are dead fucking wrong. And we have to fight them in whatever ways we can.

I know that anti-Trump Americans are tired of this refrain, but the midterm elections are coming up next year.

And those of us that care about making this country, shit, safer for women again need to demand that the candidates in next year’s elections explicitly decry this insidious polemical “conservative” vein of misogyny that has crept into our politics, and they back their renouncements with consistent, meaningful action that reverses the damage the Trump White House has done, before we give them our votes.

In an open letter to Sean Hannity in response to the flurry of accusations that has surrounded him, Moore says that his wife Kayla and he have five granddaughters.

He throws that up at Hannity And Hannity’s Twitter followers as if being a grandparent to girls somehow makes it impossible for him an abuser of girls.

What Moore doesn’t say, in unequivocal language, is that he did not have sexual dealings with the women that are accusing him of having assaulted them.

He denies the allegations of two of his victims, Leigh Corfman and Beverly Nelson, and says he “did not date underage girls.” I suspect, however, that Moore is playing a similar semantical game to his supporters when he says he did not “date” underage girls. Because he didn’t date these women when they were underage. He molested them. He harassed them. He stalked them. He assaulted them

I think he knows it, and we know it, and we should do something about it. I think that is our obligation as citizens.

We should make America’s political sphere as unsafe for predators like Moore as he apparently made the Gadsden Mall – what appears to have been his favorite place to go trolling  back in the early eighties – for young unsuspecting girls.

We should build a wall around the federal government that blocks out assholes like Moore.

We should lock them out even if we can’t fucking lock them up.

.

 

 

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Fathers, Fairy Tales, and Lies: Why We Can & Should Hold Black Male Celebrities Accountable for Their Crimes

I wrote this back in May of last year, but all the Bishop Eddie Long apologists I’m reading on Facebook brought it back to my mind and renewed its relevancy, at least to my thinking.

I will say the same thing here that I said on Facebook about some people’s refusal to be silent about the sexual abuse allegations against Bishop Long in the event of his death:

You recount the mistakes to distill the lesson.

The black community should’ve held Eddie Long accountable for the wrongs he committed while he was still alive if so many of its members find it distasteful to indict a dead man.

But what the black community shouldn’t do–through its parochial responses to Long’s accusers–is continue to make the black community unlivable for sexual abuse victims or make it a safe space for sexual predators.

That–if you ask me–is a sin.

MRS

Even though I grew up in a household that was an approximation of the black middle class ideal, I still wanted to be a Huxtable.

I wanted more siblings than my one baby sister, who, at eight years younger, could do nothing but annoy the hell out of me; I wanted to live in a brownstone in the biggest and busiest city in the world; I wanted to have all four of my grandparents within walking distance and visit with them regularly; I wanted a mother who allowed my friends to come and visit our home every day after school; and I wanted a father just like Heathcliff.

When I was young, my father was a workaholic with ambitions of becoming the next Johnny Cochrane; he was gone most of the time, and, when he was home, he was still busy with work. He had his own father’s heirloom sarcasm. He wanted his daughters to be ladies even though our mother was raising us to be women. His expectations could loom higher than a Detroit skyscraper at times, but his temper could be as ugly as the Detroit River. He never spanked me once in my life, but he did smack me up a time or two with doctrine—the proxy hand of God—when he thought I was getting too out-of-control with my damned independent thinking and insistence on eking out my own identity.

He was a lot more complicated than Heathcliff Huxtable–less fun and way more demanding–and, since I had that TV image with which to compare him, I often found myself wishing my dad was less himself and more like a sitcom character.

I would fantasize about him reacting to me in the warm, goofy way that Heathcliff reacted to his kids, and I would feel a bit cheated because it was work being his daughter, and no one applauded for me as I did it.

Now, at 39, I realize that work was some of the most valuable that I’ve ever don–that he–my father–and I were building me into a decent, hard-working, and responsible person (with a wicked sense of humor, enviable taste in music, an elegant sense of style, and a deeply-rooted notion of fairness).

I understand now that navigating one’s relationship with one’s parent(s) is one of the most influential parts of growing up, and I wouldn’t be anyone close to the thinker, writer, teacher, mother, sister, or friend I am if I hadn’t been my father’s daughter–and mother’s daughter–first.

I also see–in thinking through why Heathcliff Huxtable was such an appealing character to me–what a juvenile concept of the “father” most of black people retain throughout our lives.

This is important to point out because I think it has a lot to do with why so many us, who love(d) Heathcliff Huxtable, are having such a difficult time accepting that Bill Cosby is a rapist that deserves to be punished for his crimes.

Rather than an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, whispering to black people about what fathers are and are not, we have a fairy tale weighing on one shoulder and a pack of racist lies weighing on the other.

These two false images make it difficult for us to be realistic or real about our fathers and father figures.

The fairy tale is of the white father–a romanticized figure that is an amalgam of the Judeo-Christian God and Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. This man–because of his social privilege and inherent moral superiority and intelligence–conferred by his whiteness–is the perfect father. He is always there for his kids; he always has to proper solution for their problems; he can provide for his children’s every need; and he never fails them. He is the polar opposite, conceptually, of the paradigmatic black father.

The lies on the other end of the binary are that black men are inherently bad fathers. That slavery stole the ability to parent permanently from them. That institutional racism bars them–across the board–financially, emotionally, and spiritually–from adequately supporting their children. That being the victims of oppression, suppression, deprivation, and violence makes them ineffective and even damaging.

Charles Blow of The New York Times does an excellent job of describing this manifold misconception: “[We believe],” he writes, ” . . . there is something fundamental, and intrinsic about black men that is flawed, that black fathers are pathologically prone to desertion of their offspring and therefore largely responsible for black community ‘dysfunction.’”

Both of these mythoi–of the good white father and bad black father–conveniently–or inconveniently for black men–ignore the facts–which must be considered in order for black people to gain a more realistic–and serviceable–concept of the “father.”

The first is that, historically, many white men have failed spectacularly at parenting. See Joseph Kennedy, who had his daughter Rosemary lobotomized at age 23 without his wife’s knowledge or agreement, or Woody Allen, who had an affair with the adopted daughter—Soon-Yi Previn—of his long-time girlfriend Mia Farrow. They have proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that white men in general are not automatically “better equipped” for parenting.

On the other hand, black men are more than just the “serial impregnators” portrayed in the racist mainstream media.

Though 72% of black women having babies are single mothers, this doesn’t mean that they don’t live with the fathers of their children. It actually means they aren’t married to them. Many still live with the fathers of their children. Only 55% of black children live in single mother households.

And even though a lot of black fathers don’t live with their children, about 2.5 million black fathers do live with at least one of their children.

Too, according to the CDC, black fathers–in and out of the home–provide more actual child care than white or Hispanic fathers. Yes–black men regularly feed their children their meals (78.2% black>73.9% white>63.9% Hispanic), dress their children (70.4% black>60% white>45% Hispanic), and read to their children every day (34.9% black>30.2% white>21.9% Hispanic). They are not all flailing or failing to fulfill their parental duties, despite what even a large segment of the black community maintains.

It is fair to acknowledge, too, that many of the black fathers that are missing from their children’s lives are missing because of factors related to institutionalization.

As reported in The Washington Post, “Incarceration [is an]  overwhelming [driver] of the gap [in the number of black women and men in the free population].

“Of the 1.5 million missing black men [out of 8 million] from 25 to 54 [the prime age span for fatherhood]–higher imprisonment rates account for almost 600,000. Almost one in 12 black men . . . is behind bars, compared with one in 60 nonblack men . . .”

These numbers prove that black men are not pathologically neglectful of their children.

Black fathers are still more absent from black homes than white fathers, but their patterns of abandonment can be linked to the historical legacy of slavery–how it has shaped today’s law enforcement and justice system, created genetic pitfalls for black people in terms of their health (which result in earlier deaths), and facilitated the demonization of black men in order to justify its reprehensibility.

Often, it is their internalized self-hatred–their own belief in their badness–that impels black men to leave their children alone–in the wrongheaded attempt to protect them.

Because black men struggle on a lot of levels to be present for their children at the same rates as nonblack men, and black people as a whole have a lot of misconceptions about how structural racism impedes parenting, the absences of black fathers lead many black people to cling to idealized father figures like Heathcliff Huxtable.

They set these father figures, usually found in entertainment, on pedestals because these men seem to have overcome whatever obstacles they needed to overcome in order to “get it right” for their children and co-parents (which are more often than not their wives).

Those that actually are or that just feel fatherless worship these figures in a sense, and this may be because one of the predominant figures in this improvised pantheon of imaginary surrogates is, in fact, the Judeo-Christian God.

Just listen to the way that many black religious leaders speak about God. They very liberally and munificently humanize Him. They do this because they know that so many black people suffer from an acute psychological sense of fatherlessness. They want to fix it, so they offer their congregants a God that is an eternal, omnipotent father.

They take that Biblical address, that ancient, enduring metaphor—“Our Father”—and literalize it–to effect some sort of spiritual healing from parental abandonment. They create a model of fatherhood that–while it may not shape the way that real black fathers do their jobs–shapes the way that the fatherless envision the role of the father. Then, celebrities, cultural icons, and imaginary characters like Heathcliff Huxtable do the same thing, but on a lesser level.

These famous “fathers” provide the fatherless with an unrealistic ideal that they attach to as “theirs” to fill the absence of an actual father. These “fathers” give the fatherless ridiculously high standards for what a father is, but, since they appear to meet these standards, they also inspire immense amounts of love and loyalty. It is this love and loyalty–and the painful prospect of losing yet another “parent”–that make it so difficult for people to accept it when father (or maybe it’s more apt to say “fatherly”) figures like Bill Cosby commit terrible acts.

Since so many black people do suffer from fatherlessness–or even from the idea that their “regular” black fathers are inferior–they do not want to give up their adoptive fatherly figures.

They do not want to face the fact that a character like Heathcliff Huxtable is a personage and not a person.

They want their fatherly figure to be innocent, or, if he cannot be innocent, they want him to be exempt.

So when their fatherly figure is put on public trial, these “children” argue that his positive contributions to society or culture or the black community must outweigh his crimes. They vilify his victims in order to lessen his culpability and depravity. They deny that his behavior is actually harmful, or, worse, they say that his victims are the ones doing the harm, by ruining the fatherly figure’s so-called legacy.

They make that same tired argument every time–that if Guilty Black Fatherly Figure were white, he wouldn’t be held nearly as accountable for his transgressions, as if that somehow justifies his transgressions. But the truth remains.

Despite how prevalent fatherlessness is in the black community, or how painful it is, we—the collective—cannot use it as an excuse to dismiss the crimes of our famous black men. Our imaginary “fathers” are no less responsible for their actions than our actual fathers. Fame, wealth, and talent–while they are rare–impressive–enchanting–still do not cancel out brutality, cruelty, perversity, or decidedly unchecked psychopathy.

The ugly truth is, then, that Bill Cosby is somnophiliac that–because he prefers to secretly drug women rather than gain their consent to have unconscious sex–has allowed the pursuit of his paraphilia to make him a rapist.

He has admitted on the record to drugging women and raping them. He has paid these women–by order of the court and on his own—as his atonement for raping them.

He has exploited his image as a fatherly figure, his power, and sexist stereotypes like that of the female groupie or gold digger to ruthlessly cover for his crimes.

He has been allowed and–yes–encouraged–by his wife, entourage, the Hollywood establishment, the legal system, the patriarchy, and, yes, the black community–that deifies him–to violate a group of 50 women–that we know of–between 1965 and 2008–without suffering any losses to his fame, wealth, reputation, or freedom.

And before any of you reading can make the reflexive argument that erroneously links the veracity of their accusations to how long it took certain of his victims to come forward on the record, let me let you know–

American culture and the nation’s justice system are criminally inhospitable to female rape victims, and this has a profound effect on their willingness to report their attacks.

In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that only 15.8 to 35 percent of all sexual assaults are reported to police.

This is because when women are assaulted by a friend or acquaintance (neighbor, classmate, coworker, boss), they fear they will not be believed.

They fear retaliation from the accused, other people finding out they’ve been assaulted, being branded as a rape victim, and/or being disrespected and/or mistreated during the trial process.

They believe that the police will not do anything to help them.

They believe that they have a lack of adequate proof or evidence.

They have their own misconceptions about what actually constitutes rape and do not actually know or believe that they have been raped.

Men may not be able to relate to these reasons–or they might refute them in order to abstain from inverting and being implicated by them–but women–if we’re being honest–know that they are very real.

Too many of us have either been raped or molested and experienced these paralyzing fears or doubts firsthand, or we have imagined being raped or molested and projected these fears and doubts onto our imaginary selves and into our possible futures.

Another reason not listed by the Bureau of Justice Statistics that women don’t report sexual assaults is the terrible lack of credibility attributed to them by certain principles of rape culture.

Patriarchal notions that men hold–about how desperately women want to please them, how deserving “promiscuous” women are of punishment, and how important maintaining a “good girl” image is to women–make it easy for men to believe that women are lying when women say they’ve been raped.

Men like this think women are so universally “afraid” of being typed as sluts that any and all of them would lie about having consensual sex–call it rape–to avoid retribution or requital for exercising their sexual freedom.

And these men hold to the unfortunate truth that some women have lied about being assaulted—they have falsely accused men to avoid shame, exact revenge, or hide infidelity.

In the case of Cosby’s accusers, we must also concede they were up against the unlikelihood that a woman that is a “nobody” would be believed over a cultural icon.

Look baldly at how his accusers have been treated, and it’s easy to see why so many of Cosby’s victims felt for so long that reporting him to the authorities would be pointless.

People conflate Cosby with Heathcliff Huxtable. They think Bill Cosby is Heathcliff Huxtable. And, as devotees of the character, it is impossible for them to imagine Heathcliff raping a woman. So they struggle with believing that Cosby is a rapist. Still, the numbers of victims—as well as Cosby’s own accounts of his encounters with them and court settlements to which he has agreed—make it impossible to ignore that Cosby is guilty of a pattern of illegal behavior for which he deserves to be punished.

It looks as if the same thing, unfortunately, can be said about legendary hip hop culturalist Afrika Bambaataa, who has been accused in the last couple of months by four men of sexually abusing them during the 1980s.

Allegedly, he showed them—as boys—pornographic materials then performed oral sex on them.

Along with assaulting them, he gave them shelter, food, and money when they needed it, and he maintained a “father-son” relationship with at least one of them into adulthood. That is—in fact—what the boys called him: “Poppy.”

It’s reasonable to assume that fatherlessness, shame, machismo, and a distorted sense of loyalty are what kept them from reporting their abuse until now.

Again, before those of you that are inclined start doing that victim-blaming “thing” we so often do when we hear that victims of sexual assault have waited to name their accusers, I want to go back to one really significant concept I brought up previously, and that’s loyalty.

I honestly believe that malformed and misdirected loyalty are what keep a lot of black people silent about the terrible things that other black people do to them or in their presence.

We have such a profound mistrust of law enforcement and the courts that we do not want to turn a supposed “brother” or “sister” over to them if we can help it.

So many of we black people refuse to report crimes committed against us by other black people—and we uphold our own abusers in a lot of instances—in order to show our racial awareness and solidarity.

We romanticize our victimization as a sacrifice of sorts, and we shame those that don’t adhere to this dysfunctional “code” of honor and silence. But this behavior is a throwback to the plantation and the inhumane treatment our ancestors often suffered when they didn’t cover and/or lie for each other.

As a people, we have to start moving past our past, in this sense. We either have to abandon this anti-“snitching” ethic and turn the offenders in our community over to the law, or we have to figure out our own ways to hold them accountable for their choices to damage others and refuse to seek help for their sicknesses.

I said it before—navigating one’s relationship with one’s parent(s) is one of the most influential parts of growing up. James Baldwin even said that loving someone—that act in itself—is a growing up.

It’s a process of shedding the pretty, pretend ideas we get from fairy tales, and the hyperbolic or fantastical ideas we get from lies, and embracing new ideas about ourselves—bolder concepts of ourselves—that protect and empower us, female and male.

And here are a few—

We can love Heathcliff Huxtable—what he represents—the will to father black children lovingly and joyfully—without reifying him.

We can admire Bill Cosby as an entertainer, philanthropist, actor, and producer without deifying him.

We can condemn Bill Cosby for raping those women without killing the image of Healthcliff Huxtable.

We can support a conviction of Bill Cosby’s guilt and maintain a sense of our highest and not our basest form of integrity.

We can condemn Afrika Bambaataa without indicting hip hop culture or erasing his contributions to the culture from its history.

We can support a conviction of his guilt.

We must.

Nothing can justifiably counterbalance wrongs like the ones Cosby or Eddie Long committed except confession, contrition, reparation, and rehabilitation.

So we cannot keep perpetuating this cult of fragile black manhood—this concept that black men cannot answer for their actions—if we want black men that ultimately inspire more than pity, mistrust, resentment, or fear in us. Or that can only truly be great when they are standing framed in our blind spots.

We cannot keep perpetuating this cult of fragile black manhood if we want to evolve into a culture that is characterized by more than its pathologies.

In order to grow out of the desperation of fatherlessness and demand what is actually attainable from our famous men–decency–we have to leave the childish notion that fathers are faultless behind us, once and for all.

We have to process the ugly truths about our fatherly figures. Topple them from their pedestals. Let them shatter and clean up the messes they’ve made.

This will help us to not only heal from their abuses, but it will help us to better appreciate our real fathers.

It will open us up to accepting that many of them are bending over backward, being their best for us.

 

White Men Will Be Boys, Black Men Will Be Predators: Nate Parker, Casey Affleck, Intersectionality, and the Prevaricating Press

Buzzfeed–the “edgy” Internet periodical–has an article up about the fraternal Sundance cinematic wunderkinds Nate Parker and Casey Affleck. In it, the author–young, white, woman–explains why Parker’s history of sexual violence tanked his movie, “The Birth of a Nation,” and Affleck’s did not tank his (“Manchester by the Sea”).

She says Parker was accused of “rape” and put on trial while Affleck was only accused of “harassment” and never went to trial (“In today’s calculus of male dickishness… Affleck’s [assault allegation] reads as bad, but not as bad as a rape allegation”); and Parker was an unknown with no pre-existing image to offset the image given to him by the rape accusations while Affleck had an established image as the rare Hollywood “artiste.”

She says Affleck had enough name recognition and star power to lure a high-powered publicist to work on his behalf to quiet the conversation in the press about his misconduct, and publications were afraid to pursue the story and piss off his superstar brother, so they didn’t.  

On the other hand, Parker’s film was about slavery–a subject from which people are always eager to turn away; and Parker was the auteur of “Birth of a Nation,” which meant there was no one else people could support if they wanted to see the film but they didn’t want to support Parker at the same time (he wrote, directed, and starred in it).

Finally, Petersen says Parker adopted a wrongheaded PR strategy:

“On its face [she writes], [his] approach to his past seemed like a stroke of genius: He’d confront the allegations head-on in a series of all-cards-on-the-table interviews, thereby clearing the air (and path) to his Oscar campaign. 

“But those interviews quickly became a cascading clusterfuck, with Parker oscillating between attempts to distance himself from the ‘painful event’ and suggesting that paying attention to the allegations only deflects attention from the story of Nat Turner. To many, it seemed that Parker — who later admitted that he’d never truly thought about ‘consent’  — had blinded himself to his own culpability in the alleged assault, and was far more concerned about its potential effect on his film than the effect on the alleged victim.”

Affleck was just cannier, she says:

“‘People say whatever they want,’ Affleck told Variety. ‘Sometimes it doesn’t matter how you respond … I guess people think if you’re well-known, it’s perfectly fine to say anything you want. I don’t know why that is. But it shouldn’t be, because everybody has families and lives.’ 

“The implication [Peterson writes]: The claims weren’t just libelous; they fucked up Affleck’s family . . . 

“Here, Affleck’s framing subtly positions him — not the women — as the actual victim . . . Affleck’s move here is key [Petersen writes]: He hasn’t refused to talk about the allegations, which would likely earn disdain, nor has he dismissed them outright. But he has ensured that they are decentered from the conservation of both his performance and the film. The vast majority of press and audiences have followed his lead.”

Peterson only mentions race in her analysis when she writes about the “privileges” afforded Affleck by his name recognition and close association to his brother, Ben.

“Parker had none of that privilege [says Petersen]. He quit acting in order to concentrate full-time on the arduous task of acquiring funding for the biopic of a black historical figure, with no white savior, starring a relatively unknown actor. Parker had no name recognition, no famous brother, no famous brother’s best friend, no famous wife, no famous brother-in-law.

“He lacked that privilege, in no small part, because he is black. He did not travel in the same Hollywood circles as the Hollywood elite — save Denzel Washington — because he was not cast in the same movies. The chances that a family member or best friend would also make it in Hollywood were slim because, as a black man, his own chances of making it in Hollywood were just above nonexistent.”

This is true, but it doesn’t delve into the whole of the racial component to this comparison Petersen has sketched out between Parker and Affleck. 

The other reason that Parker’s movie tanked, and his career has very probably been ended, by the exposure of past rape allegations is the entrenched racist belief in the black cis-hetero male as the super sexual predator. And the fact that his alleged victim was white.

Before I get into this, I want to make it explicitly clear: I refused to see “Birth of a Nation” because of what I learned about the allegations against Nate Parker. I also wrote a post about the situation, and I took a lot of heat from a lot of the black men I know for helping to make this “important” film about Nat Turner into an essential flop.

I agree with Petersen that Parker did not handle the situation strategically, and I would add that he didn’t handle it with any real decency, either. 

I am thinking specifically about the nasty way he snapped to Robin Roberts, during an appearance on “Good Morning America,” that he wasn’t going to apologize for what happened with the young lady that accused him of raping her, even though he had admitted on record that she was intoxicated during their encounter, and he invited his roommate, Jean Celestin, to have sex with her after him (Parker) while she was in that state.

I also agree with Petersen that privilege–or lack thereof–is the most significant factor in why Parker has been treated differently than Affleck by audiences, media, and the Hollywood establishment.

However, it still upsets me that Affleck is the frontrunner for the Oscar “Best Actor” race when he is clearly guilty of sexually harassing multiple women while Nate Parker may never work in Hollywood again, and he was acquitted of his rape charges.

As I said, it’s racist and makes me wonder when black people will ever be viewed as possessing the same level of humanity as everyone else.

Because white men get to be these eternal boys. Like Ryan Lochte this summer in Rio. Like Dylann Roof, whoss arresting cops were apparently so worried about him that they felt compelled to feed before taking him to jail. 

White men will be boys, or so it’s gone. Like Brock Turner. Like Donald Trump. Trust me – I can keep rattling off names.

When white men do something wrong, or even something heinous, they do not lose the right to compassion or the ability to elicit compassion from other white people. 

Somehow, white people can always collectively believe that a white male that has committed a crime either made a mistake or acted out of some “childish” misunderstanding of the severity or destructiveness of what he has done. 

White people will argue, adamantly, and ironically, that his maleness–which according to the supremacist ideal is supposed to make him a paragon of human perfection when paired with his whiteness–has somehow made it impossible for the white male assailant to truly understand the ramifications of his crime. 

White male assailants are more often than not characterized as having this preternatural lack of “maturity” that that somehow lessens their culpability and can derive from anything from their social class to the level of their education to the economic consequences of their upbringing.

No matter what, there is something immutably forgivable that white people see in white males that commit crimes, and that is especially true when the crime is using sexual violence against girls or women.

The same is absolutely untrue of black men. In fact, Dylann Roof’s reason for shooting up the Emanuel AME Church was that “[black] men rape [white] women, and [they] are taking over [the] country, and [they] have to go.”

Roof is but one example of millions of white people that are willing to believe that black men are intrinsically disposed to committing rape.

The myth of the black cis-hetero male as a super sexual predator dates back to the antebellum South, where white men could not stomach the idea of consensual sexual relationships between white women and black men, and it remains with us like so many other vestiges of slavery. 

Pre-Emancipation, the perpetuation of the cult of true womanhood and lie of white supremacy necessitated that any sexual interaction between a white woman and black man be characterized as rape, and so it was that black male sexuality was pathologized in the American white imagination.

In a book titled Redefining Rape: Sexual Violence in the Era of Suffrage and Segregation, Stanford historian Estelle Freedman argues that the “rhetoric that African American men were disproportionately rapists became solidified in the late 19th century . . . perpetuated by court cases, news media, and racist popular culture.” 

According to Freedman, “… many of the white men who wrote rape laws, determined who would be arrested and charged with these crimes, and served as judges and jurors on sexual assault cases, not only perpetuated these stereotypes but used them to protect their own status as full citizens,” which “contributed to the immunities enjoyed by white men who seduced, harassed, or assaulted women of any race.”

These white men were able to root the myths that a) white men that commit sexual crimes are either just outsized adolescents or alpha males while b) black men are all latent or active rapists and the worst kinds of reprobates in the American unconscious.

Then, they formed a racist polemic out of the second idea by casting white women as the perennial victims of black male rapists, in order to validate anti-black hatred and justify anti-black violence.

This enrages me not just because it provides white women with a powerful weapon with which to manipulate black men (the false but deeply believable rape allegation) and white men with yet another way to discredit, disfranchise, and even incarcerate black men, whether or not they are criminals.

I am angry because the black man as super sexual predator myth also destigmatizes the rape of black women by black men, which is when and where I specifically enter this dialectic.

You pair the myth of the black man as super sexual predator with the Jezebel archetype, which white men have historically used to justify their own rape of black women, and what you get is the concept that black sexual relations are fundamentally and inevitably deviant.

You make it so that no matter who rapes a black woman–black man or white man–it is easy for authorities and juries to disbelieve the accusation. A black woman is always operating at a deficit of believability whenever she accuses someone of rape.

Which brings me back to the other thing for which Nate Parker has been shunned besides his blackness and his sexually violent tendencies.

His victim was a white woman, and white women are still the ideal of American womanhood, whose sanctity is not to be violated by a black man, and a dark-skinned one at that.

I strongly suspect that if his victim had been a black woman, the media would’ve depicted her with less respect and compassion; writers would’ve been more incredulous of her story; they would’ve been more open to Parker’s side of the narrative; they would’ve been less negative in their judgment of Parker.

It would’ve been the inverse of the numerous black male and female writers that were deeply suspicious of his victim because of the long history in this country of white women covering for consensual sexual dealings with black men with false rape accusations.

As far as these black writers were concerned, Parker’s victim was a post-postmodern Mayella Ewell, while many other writers–white and black–depicted Parker as a post-postmodern Bigger Thomas.

The bottom-line isn’t whether they were right or wrong, though. Not for me, anyway. I read what I read about Parker, and I felt what I felt, and I did what I did in relation to his past and his film, and I stand by that.

What I don’t like is that Casey Affleck can be a sexual abuser, and, since he is a white man, he can still be a celebrated member of the Hollywood inside.

Because sexual abusers should not have their behavior normalized, much less in that extraordinary way. Because there should be no difference in the way white and black sexual abusers are treated in our society. And there should be no difference in the way white and black victims of sexual abuse are treated.

That said, the discrepant ways that Parker and Affleck have fared down their paths from Sundance last January are symbolic of the tenacity of intersectional oppression in American culture, and they signify the deep need–as far as I can tell–for intersectional feminism like mine.