Another day, another example of Rape Culture

Last year, it was revealed that actor/director Nate Parker would be starring in and directing The Birth of a Nation, a biopic about Nat Turner’s 1831 rebellion. The film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this past January, was such a hit that Fox Searchlight picked it up for $17.5 million, a price no one has ever paid for a film in the history of the festival. That’s a testament to the quality of the film, which is something that Parker had a huge effect on. I’ve seen many a commenter remark about how excited they are to see the movie, which debuts in theaters on 10/7/16. For my part, while I recognize that the film is probably an amazing one, there are three reasons I’m not going to see it.

First, to be honest, I’m sick of the narrow range of movies about black people Hollywood sees fit to create: those like The Birth of a Nation involving the enslavement of black bodies, those involving black people being a source of laughs (think any of the comedic movies by Martin Lawrence), and those involving black people being “the help” (think of the movie of the same name). I want to see black actors offered the same type of diverse roles as white actors. Where are the horror movies with black characters in the leading role? Suspense thrillers? Fantasy movies like Lord of the RIngs (yes, I look forward to Idris Elba in Dark Tower)? Science fiction? Where is Inception with a black character as the main protagonist? No, black characters-by and large-get to be slaves, the help, and the entertainment. For all that it might be a great movie, The Birth of a Nation is one more the long line of “black suffering movies” (which ought to be its own subgenre if it isn’t already) that Hollywood executives are enamored with, and that I am *over*.

Secondly, on the off chance that I *do* want to see black people suffering, all I need to do is turn on the news, or fire up my computer. It happens every day. Whether its police brutality or racism from our fellow citizens, we black people experience a great deal of suffering on a regular basis. That’s not really something I want to go out of my way to watch (and have to pay for). It’s certainly not something I find entertaining.

As for the third, well, if someone had asked me today why I wasn’t going to see the movie, I would only have had two reasons. After today, I have a third (though it’s not about the movie). It’s about the director, Nate Parker. From all indications, he’s a rapist:

Continue reading “Another day, another example of Rape Culture”

Another day, another example of Rape Culture
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This is Rape Culture: Exhibit A

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You know how sometimes you’ll read a story and think “there’s no way this could get any worse”, and you quickly find out how wrong you are? I’m talking about stories like the Jerry Sandusky rape case, the near five-dozen allegations of sexual assault and/or sexual harassment against Bill the rapist Cosby, or the deluge of shit that continues to spew forth from the Brock Turner rape case.

Continue reading “This is Rape Culture: Exhibit A”

This is Rape Culture: Exhibit A

Bill the rapist Cosby: now it’s 43

Since late last year I’ve been following the ever-growing number of women who have publicly accused comedian Bill Cosby of sexual assault. I first became aware of the allegations when Cosby was called out as a rapist during a stand-up act by comedian Hannibal Burress. Following that accusation, two women stepped up to accuse Cosby of sexual assault. Soon after, I learned that the number of victims jumped to 15. Then 19. Then 22. Then 23.  Then 26. At this point I suspected the number would rise to 30 in little time (which it did) and began to wonder how high it was going to go. How many women did Bill Cosby sexually assault over the years? Last week, the number of victims rose to 41. Today, it has risen to 43:

Former “Cosby Show” actress Lili Bernard and writer Sammie Mayes on Friday came forward with sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby in a press conference in New York City. The women stood next to attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing many of Cosby’s alleged victims.

Allred says Cosby raped Bernard in New Jersey, a state that does not have a statute of limitations on rape. Cosby could conceivably be charged for the crime if a prosecutor finds sufficient evidence. This has not been possible in the cases of other women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault in recent years.

I find it fucking outlandish that different states get to decide whether or not to have a statute of limitations on rape, and I’m glad to hear New Jersey is one of those states without one. I hope there is enough evidence to charge Cosby, so that there can be some measure of justice for the many, many women he has assaulted over the last several decades.

In her statement, Mayes said she met Cosby when she attended a New Orleans TV conference in the mid-’80s. She says she was just starting her writing career, so she eagerly accepted Cosby’s offer to do an interview with him.

Mayes says she asked a passerby to snap a photo of herself and Cosby (see above) as they headed to his hotel room together. Once there, she says, he mixed her a drink. When she woke up covered in drool, she initially thought she had fainted.

But she says she soon noticed her shirt was unbuttoned, and her bra pushed to the side. Her chain belt (which can be seen in the photo) had been loosely re-hooked.

“I realized I had just survived an encounter with a scheming madman who hid his demons behind an alluring persona,” she says. Out of fear for her safety, she says, she apologized to Cosby profusely and left the room quickly.

Bernard claims Cosby assaulted her in the early ’90s when she guest-starred as the zany and pregnant Mrs. Minifield on the final season of “The Cosby Show.” She says Cosby became a mentor and a father figure to her.

A faux mentor/father figure who wanted to gain her trust, affection, and respect as part of his predatory tactics. Once he did that, his plan was to rape her, which is exactly what happened:

“After he had won my complete trust and adoration he drugged me and raped me,” she said during the press conference.

Bernard says Cosby threatened and intimidated her after the assault, telling her, “As far as I’m concerned, Bernard, you’re dead,” which she interpreted as a death threat.

A few months later, Bernard was hospitalized for suicidal thoughts following the trauma. She said she still suffers nightmares and panic attacks.

I wonder if that hospital would still have those records and if they could be beneficial in building a case against Cosby. I really hope so because I want to see that lying shitstain rapist face the consequences of his actions.

Bill the rapist Cosby: now it’s 43

Bill the rapist Cosby: now it's 43

Since late last year I’ve been following the ever-growing number of women who have publicly accused comedian Bill Cosby of sexual assault. I first became aware of the allegations when Cosby was called out as a rapist during a stand-up act by comedian Hannibal Burress. Following that accusation, two women stepped up to accuse Cosby of sexual assault. Soon after, I learned that the number of victims jumped to 15. Then 19. Then 22. Then 23.  Then 26. At this point I suspected the number would rise to 30 in little time (which it did) and began to wonder how high it was going to go. How many women did Bill Cosby sexually assault over the years? Last week, the number of victims rose to 41. Today, it has risen to 43:

Former “Cosby Show” actress Lili Bernard and writer Sammie Mayes on Friday came forward with sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby in a press conference in New York City. The women stood next to attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing many of Cosby’s alleged victims.

Allred says Cosby raped Bernard in New Jersey, a state that does not have a statute of limitations on rape. Cosby could conceivably be charged for the crime if a prosecutor finds sufficient evidence. This has not been possible in the cases of other women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault in recent years.

I find it fucking outlandish that different states get to decide whether or not to have a statute of limitations on rape, and I’m glad to hear New Jersey is one of those states without one. I hope there is enough evidence to charge Cosby, so that there can be some measure of justice for the many, many women he has assaulted over the last several decades.

In her statement, Mayes said she met Cosby when she attended a New Orleans TV conference in the mid-’80s. She says she was just starting her writing career, so she eagerly accepted Cosby’s offer to do an interview with him.

Mayes says she asked a passerby to snap a photo of herself and Cosby (see above) as they headed to his hotel room together. Once there, she says, he mixed her a drink. When she woke up covered in drool, she initially thought she had fainted.

But she says she soon noticed her shirt was unbuttoned, and her bra pushed to the side. Her chain belt (which can be seen in the photo) had been loosely re-hooked.

“I realized I had just survived an encounter with a scheming madman who hid his demons behind an alluring persona,” she says. Out of fear for her safety, she says, she apologized to Cosby profusely and left the room quickly.

Bernard claims Cosby assaulted her in the early ’90s when she guest-starred as the zany and pregnant Mrs. Minifield on the final season of “The Cosby Show.” She says Cosby became a mentor and a father figure to her.

A faux mentor/father figure who wanted to gain her trust, affection, and respect as part of his predatory tactics. Once he did that, his plan was to rape her, which is exactly what happened:

“After he had won my complete trust and adoration he drugged me and raped me,” she said during the press conference.

Bernard says Cosby threatened and intimidated her after the assault, telling her, “As far as I’m concerned, Bernard, you’re dead,” which she interpreted as a death threat.

A few months later, Bernard was hospitalized for suicidal thoughts following the trauma. She said she still suffers nightmares and panic attacks.

I wonder if that hospital would still have those records and if they could be beneficial in building a case against Cosby. I really hope so because I want to see that lying shitstain rapist face the consequences of his actions.

Bill the rapist Cosby: now it's 43

I’m sad too, but not for Bill Cosby

As part of his October 2014 stand-up act, comedian Hannibal Buress reminded the country of the sexual assault allegations surrounding fellow comedian Bill Cosby. Referring to him as “the f–king smuggest old black man public persona that I hate”, Buress went on to say:

“He gets on TV, ‘Pull your pants up, black people. I was on TV in the ’80s. I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom,'” Buress mocked. “Yeah, but you raped women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches.”

Buress couldn’t have known, but his comments served as the catalyst for many of Cosby’s victims to speak up publicly about their assault at his hands.  While a handful of his victims had already publicly accused Cosby of raping them (Andrea Constand, Beth Ferrier, and Tamara Green), it turns out there were many, many more.  As the number of accusations increased, more victims chose to speak up publicly, some for the first time.  Barbara Bowman was among the first women to allege that Cosby sexually assaulted her. Days later, Joan Tarshis came forward with her own allegations. Then there was Janice Dickinson, followed by Therese Serignese and Carla FerrignoLouisa MoritzAngela Leslie, and Linda Joy TraitzMichelle Hurd, Renita Chaney Hill, Victoria Valentino, Joyce Emmons, Kristina Ruehli, Jewel AllisonJena T, Judy Huth, Chelan, Helen Hayes, P.J. Masten, Beverly Johnson, Chloe Goins, Lisa, Lachelle Covington, Shawn Brown, Donna Motsinger, Katherine McGee, Linda Kirkpatrick, Lynn Neal, Kasey, and Cindra Ladd.

Recently, three more women have spoken up, raising the total number of allegations against Bill Cosby to three dozen. Heidi Thomas decided to speak up and her story mirrors the stories of so many of Cosby’s victims. 30 years ago, she was questioning her career choices when she was given the opportunity to meet Bill Cosby. Seeing this as a way to further her career, Thomas journeyed to Reno, Nevada, in the hopes that Cosby would coach her and help her develop her acting skills.

Thomas says she was picked up by limousine at the airport in Reno. She questioned the driver because she remembered seeing the city lights behind her as they drove away. Thomas says she was confused because the postcard she bought at the airport showed Harrah’s as being in the middle of town.

The driver told her that a friend let Cosby use their house outside Reno so “he doesn’t have to deal with all of the paparazzi,” Thomas says.

Thomas says Cosby greeted her at the door of the sprawling house, and later, the coaching began.

She says she performed a monologue, and when she finished, Cosby asked her to do a cold read of a person who was intoxicated.

According to Thomas, Cosby wasn’t impressed. Thomas wasn’t much of a drinker.

“How are you ever going play an intoxicated person … if you’ve never been drunk?” she says he told her.

She says Cosby wanted her to relax, and he gave her a glass of Chablis.

Thomas admits that her memory of the next few hours is “foggy,” but she says that at one point, he may have asked her something like, (Are you) “feeling the part now?” or “Feeling the lines now?”

Thomas says that when she woke up, Cosby was next to her in bed, naked and “forcing himself in my mouth.” She says she remembers feeling like she wanted to throw up.

Soon after, Thomas says, Cosby was getting on top of her again and referring to himself in the third person.

“I’m your friend … your friend is gonna (ejaculate) again,” Thomas remembers him saying.

Rather than get angry with Cosby, Thomas says, she made excuses and asked herself, “What’s happened? Why am I here? Why is he naked? What did I say? What did I do?”

Thomas says she remembers eventually storming out of the room and slamming the door, and then apologizing for being “rude.” The next thing she can remember is riding with Cosby to his show. She says the rest of her memory is spotty: She recalls a cook offering her strawberries and having wine with Cosby before his show. But, she says, she doesn’t remember much more from the four-day trip.

Thomas says that months after the incident in Reno, she learned Cosby was going to be in St. Louis. She says she traveled there and was able see him backstage after one of his shows, but never talked to him about what happened in Reno. She was never alone with him, she says.

“There’s another thing I wish I could explain,” she says of the trip. “[The] closest thing I can say here is I just wanted to make this right … I’m still not thinking I’ve been abused. I’m thinking this is all my fault.” Thomas says she wanted to see if Cosby really thought she had talent.

That was 1984 — and Thomas says that she’s been haunted in the years since, thinking that maybe she’d brought it on herself. She chose not to confide in anyone, including her agent or the talent agency.

But Thomas says everything changed a few weeks ago when she learned that her mother knew something had happened in Reno. Thomas says she learned this from a friend; her mother had never mentioned a word of it to her in all these years.

Indeed, Johnson says Thomas called her from Reno back in 1984 after her first full day there and after the alleged incident. Thomas says she doesn’t remember making that call, but her mother has little trouble recollecting the confusion and anguish she felt hundreds of miles away.

“I remember standing in the kitchen thrilled to hear from my daughter. She was excited.” Johnson remembers making some small talk when she said Thomas said something very disturbing.

“I did something wrong and … I got away and slammed the door,” Johnson remembers her daughter telling her.

Johnson says she continued trying to get more information from her daughter on the phone.

“‘Did he rape you?’ She said, ‘No, I got away.'”

Johnson says she wanted to comfort her but didn’t know how. “I couldn’t reach her. I couldn’t touch her. I didn’t know anyone in Reno to send her to. She was on the other side of the earth.”

Thomas says she returned to Denver with no memory of the flight or the ride home with her parents.

“I don’t remember seeing them. What did we say to each other? How did she look? I-I-I have nothing.”

Johnson says she decided not to mention the phone call — or let on that she knew in any way — because she just wanted “things get back to normal” for her daughter.

Thomas has never spoken publicly about this incident, until now. She says finding out that her mother knew all along was what freed her to speak.

“I finally find out that she knows, that Dad knows, that they are supporting me if I want to go public…Then it became full steam ahead, I want to empower people.”

“I was beginning to think though…that whole keeping-your-silence is a form of acceptance. It’s not supporting the women who are coming forward. It’s not helping … and if enough people make enough of a fuss, maybe we can get a culture that starts to listen,” Thomas says.

Reading her story brings tears to my eyes and enrages me. She remained silent because she felt no one would support her. And that’s what happens in our culture. People don’t support victims of sexual assault and rape. They blame them for their assault. They tell victims what not to wear, where not to go, who not to hang out with. They give all sorts of “advice” to sexual assault victims. But support? There’s far too little of that to go around. This is one of the reasons that many victims of sexual assault and rape stay silent. If no one is going to support you…if no one is going to believe you, why speak up? And this is something that flies over the head of Cosby’s attorney:

Cosby’s attorney has called the spate of sexual assault accusations against the comedian “ridiculous.”

Martin D. Singer said in a statement it defies common sense that “so many people would have said nothing, done nothing, and made no reports to law enforcement or asserted civil claims if they thought they had been assaulted over a span of so many years.”

Here’s the thing Mr. Singer-if you pay attention to what the victims are saying, you will learn exactly why they remained silent. But no, you don’t even have the decency to listen to them and actually pay attention to their words. You dismiss them out of hand. I’ve been trying to cut back on insulting others a little bit, but your callousness and indifference to the sexual assault of one woman, let alone three dozen, enrages me. You and your serial rapist client are morally contemptuous assholes who most likely have no compassion to spare for former models Linda Brown and Lise-Lotte Lublin, who recently spoke about their horrible encounters with Bill Cosby:

Brown said she was 21 when she met Cosby in 1969 at a restaurant in Toronto. She went to his hotel room, because he wanted to give her a gift, and when she got there he gave her a soft drink. She took a sip, blacked out, and woke up naked in bed with him, where she says she was raped.

“I felt like a rad doll and like a real-life blow-up doll for him” she said. “I felt dirty, ashamed and embarrassed,” and fooled into believing that Cosby was “nice, trustworthy and honorable.”

“I want people to know who Mr. Cosby really is: He has a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality and if you trust him then he has fooled you as well,” she said.

Lublin was 23 when she met Cosby in 1989 in a Las Vegas hotel where he sought to evaluate her acting skills. He insisted she have a drink to relax.

“I trusted him because of who he was, and how well he was respected around the world,” she said. “The taste was horrible and unfamiliar to me because I was not a drinker.”

She fell into a stupor, remembers Cosby wrapping himself around her and stroking her hair and then she passed out. She woke up at home with no memory of how she got there although her car was in the driveway.

“Bill Cosby appears to think that rape is a joke,” she said. “Let me tell you something, Bill, I’m not laughing.”

She vowed to lead a campaign to press Nevada legislators to throw out the statute of limitations for sexual assault. Such a change would not help in her case or in the cases of most of the women who have accused Cosby.

“I will do everything in my power to change the law that protects criminals and re-victimizes the innocent,” she said.

For his part, Cosby continues to deny the dozens of allegations against him. On Wednesday, he released a statement saying:

Dear Fans: For 53 years you have given me your love, support, respect and trust. Thank you! I can’t wait to see your smiling faces and warm your hearts with a wonderful gift — LAUGHTER. I’m ready!

I thank you, the theatre staff (Heymann Performing Arts Center), the event organizers and the Lafayette Community for your continued support and coming to experience family, fun entertainment. Hey, Hey, Hey — I’m far from finished. Sincerely, Bill Cosby.

Yes, we know you’re not finished (you are at NBC though). You continue to press on with your North American tour (which you laughably tout as “family, fun entertainment”). You do so because you still have supporters. You still have people who refuse to believe you’re a serial rapist. You still have people who think your carefully crafted media image represents the type of person you are. I know that there are many people, especially African-Americans, who are having difficulty reconciling the idea of a much-loved, well-respected icon being a rapist. The doors you’ve opened for others, the paths you’ve helped pave, the barriers you’ve helped shatter…these are things that people rightly appreciate. Hell, I appreciate the work you’ve done.

However.

In spite of your accomplishments, you are still a human being. You are not a peerless paragon of perfection untainted by human foibles. You are a complex, flawed, human being. Your flaws exist alongside your accomplishments. You are the first African-American to star in a weekly prime-time television series. You are also a serial rapist. You brought Cliff Huxtable to life and in the process, presented an image of African-American families that helped shatter racial stereotypes. You are also a peddler of the bullshit that is respectability politics. I recognize that it’s difficult for many out there to view you in this nuanced manner. You’re an icon. You’re an inspiration. You’re a hero. But there’s a problem with that.

Elevating humans to hero status often results in flaws being ignored. Commendable attributes are praised while flaws are rationalized, downplayed, or ignored. Biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins is admired and well-respected in the atheist community for (among other things) helping to lead people away from religion. And yet, he’s a Rape Culture apologist–a fact that many of his supporters deny. The late Mother Teresa is lauded the world over as a saint and a hero who did much to help poor people and those in need. In response to the question “Do you teach the poor to endure their lot?“, Mother Teresa once said “I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people“. Despite Mother Teresa’s endorsement of human suffering as a good thing (or any of the other criticisms against her), there are many people who still view her as a saint whose shit smelled like roses. Even after allegations of doping arose, fans across the world continued to idolize Lance Armstrong, refusing to entertain the idea that the seven-time Tour de France winner used drugs to enhance his performance. I suspect that even after his admission of drug use, he still has supporters. Elevating humans to iconic or heroic status brings with it the danger of their follies being ignored, rationalized, or even outright ignored. What’s worse, when that icon or hero is discovered to have done something decidedly unheroic-like say, sexually assaulting 36 women-it can be difficult for some to accept that the person they admired and held up as virtuous is actually a flawed human being. That’s a problem currently facing Lee Daniels, co-creator of the television series ‘Empire‘. Daniels recently sat down for an interview with CNNs very own peddler of respectability politics, Don Lemon:

“It is very, very hard, and what bothers me most is if there is an iota of truth to this … the one person of color that means the most to me is pulled down,” Daniels told CNN’s Don Lemon on Wednesday. “If he is guilty, it says that we are human, which is what I like to examine with every character that I breathe life to. We are not black, it is not white — it’s grey. We are all complicated, and we all like to point fingers and drag people down and drag people through the mud when stuff ain’t right. What’s fascinating is it’s not going to change. I pray for him. I pray for him. I’m sad. I am wrecked by it, I am gutted by it. He’s a man. And the victims, you know?”

Oh dear Isis, where to start? Oh yeah, with his doubt over the accusations. “If there is an iota of truth to this” indicates that Daniels is uncertain whether or not Cosby is a rapist. Unfortunately, that means he still has doubts about whether 36 women are being truthful. Remember upthread when I discussed believing rape victims? This is what Daniels needs to do. No one is asking him to place Bill Cosby in the mental file marked rapist for all time and never adjust his opinion of the guy. We’re saying “believe the women”. If it turns out that all 36 of them are lying, then he can adjust his opinion. If we’re ever going to see a reduction in incidents of rape and sexual assault, it is vital that we support victims.

Then there’s the confusing comment “if he’s guilty, it says that we are human…”. Whether he’s guilty or innocent doesn’t change the biological fact that Bill Cosby is a human being. He’s not some highly advanced human who no longer has flaws. He’s not an evolutionary offshoot of humanity. He’s not some non-human species of animal. This is exactly why it’s problematic to have heroes. No matter what he’s done, Cosby is still a human being. Understand that Mr. Daniels, and you might begin to understand how Bill Cosby can be both an inspiration and a sexual predator.

As for the rest, I’ll simply restate what I said elsewhere:

I’m sad too.
I’m sad for the 36 women who were sexually assaulted or raped by Bill Cosby.
I’m sad that according to Jennifer Lee Pryor (widow of the late Richard Pryor) Cosby’s actions were a well-kept secret in Hollywood.
I’m sad that people around the world are leaping to the defense of a man they know precious little about, and are taking his word over the word of 3 dozen women (implying in the process that they are lying and he is being truthful). Given the rape statistics which are readily available to anyone reading this, it makes far more sense to believe victims when they allege that they were attacked (and if it turns out that a victim is lying-which doesn’t happen anywhere near as often as too many people believe–you amend your opinion).
I’m sad that so many people still think of rapists as “men who jump out of the bushes and attack random women”, rather than people whom the victims know.
I’m sad that Bill Cosby likely won’t face the inside of a prison cell.
I’m sad that people think Bill Cosby is just like the warm, affable, fictional characters he’s played on television shows.
So yeah, I’m with you on the sadness. Not the prayer thing though. That’s a complete waste of time.

I’ll add one more thing: I’m not sad for Bill Cosby. He’s a scumbag.

I’m sad too, but not for Bill Cosby

I'm sad too, but not for Bill Cosby

As part of his October 2014 stand-up act, comedian Hannibal Buress reminded the country of the sexual assault allegations surrounding fellow comedian Bill Cosby. Referring to him as “the f–king smuggest old black man public persona that I hate”, Buress went on to say:

“He gets on TV, ‘Pull your pants up, black people. I was on TV in the ’80s. I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom,'” Buress mocked. “Yeah, but you raped women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches.”

Buress couldn’t have known, but his comments served as the catalyst for many of Cosby’s victims to speak up publicly about their assault at his hands.  While a handful of his victims had already publicly accused Cosby of raping them (Andrea Constand, Beth Ferrier, and Tamara Green), it turns out there were many, many more.  As the number of accusations increased, more victims chose to speak up publicly, some for the first time.  Barbara Bowman was among the first women to allege that Cosby sexually assaulted her. Days later, Joan Tarshis came forward with her own allegations. Then there was Janice Dickinson, followed by Therese Serignese and Carla FerrignoLouisa MoritzAngela Leslie, and Linda Joy TraitzMichelle Hurd, Renita Chaney Hill, Victoria Valentino, Joyce Emmons, Kristina Ruehli, Jewel AllisonJena T, Judy Huth, Chelan, Helen Hayes, P.J. Masten, Beverly Johnson, Chloe Goins, Lisa, Lachelle Covington, Shawn Brown, Donna Motsinger, Katherine McGee, Linda Kirkpatrick, Lynn Neal, Kasey, and Cindra Ladd.

Recently, three more women have spoken up, raising the total number of allegations against Bill Cosby to three dozen. Heidi Thomas decided to speak up and her story mirrors the stories of so many of Cosby’s victims. 30 years ago, she was questioning her career choices when she was given the opportunity to meet Bill Cosby. Seeing this as a way to further her career, Thomas journeyed to Reno, Nevada, in the hopes that Cosby would coach her and help her develop her acting skills.

Thomas says she was picked up by limousine at the airport in Reno. She questioned the driver because she remembered seeing the city lights behind her as they drove away. Thomas says she was confused because the postcard she bought at the airport showed Harrah’s as being in the middle of town.

The driver told her that a friend let Cosby use their house outside Reno so “he doesn’t have to deal with all of the paparazzi,” Thomas says.

Thomas says Cosby greeted her at the door of the sprawling house, and later, the coaching began.

She says she performed a monologue, and when she finished, Cosby asked her to do a cold read of a person who was intoxicated.

According to Thomas, Cosby wasn’t impressed. Thomas wasn’t much of a drinker.

“How are you ever going play an intoxicated person … if you’ve never been drunk?” she says he told her.

She says Cosby wanted her to relax, and he gave her a glass of Chablis.

Thomas admits that her memory of the next few hours is “foggy,” but she says that at one point, he may have asked her something like, (Are you) “feeling the part now?” or “Feeling the lines now?”

Thomas says that when she woke up, Cosby was next to her in bed, naked and “forcing himself in my mouth.” She says she remembers feeling like she wanted to throw up.

Soon after, Thomas says, Cosby was getting on top of her again and referring to himself in the third person.

“I’m your friend … your friend is gonna (ejaculate) again,” Thomas remembers him saying.

Rather than get angry with Cosby, Thomas says, she made excuses and asked herself, “What’s happened? Why am I here? Why is he naked? What did I say? What did I do?”

Thomas says she remembers eventually storming out of the room and slamming the door, and then apologizing for being “rude.” The next thing she can remember is riding with Cosby to his show. She says the rest of her memory is spotty: She recalls a cook offering her strawberries and having wine with Cosby before his show. But, she says, she doesn’t remember much more from the four-day trip.

Thomas says that months after the incident in Reno, she learned Cosby was going to be in St. Louis. She says she traveled there and was able see him backstage after one of his shows, but never talked to him about what happened in Reno. She was never alone with him, she says.

“There’s another thing I wish I could explain,” she says of the trip. “[The] closest thing I can say here is I just wanted to make this right … I’m still not thinking I’ve been abused. I’m thinking this is all my fault.” Thomas says she wanted to see if Cosby really thought she had talent.

That was 1984 — and Thomas says that she’s been haunted in the years since, thinking that maybe she’d brought it on herself. She chose not to confide in anyone, including her agent or the talent agency.

But Thomas says everything changed a few weeks ago when she learned that her mother knew something had happened in Reno. Thomas says she learned this from a friend; her mother had never mentioned a word of it to her in all these years.

Indeed, Johnson says Thomas called her from Reno back in 1984 after her first full day there and after the alleged incident. Thomas says she doesn’t remember making that call, but her mother has little trouble recollecting the confusion and anguish she felt hundreds of miles away.

“I remember standing in the kitchen thrilled to hear from my daughter. She was excited.” Johnson remembers making some small talk when she said Thomas said something very disturbing.

“I did something wrong and … I got away and slammed the door,” Johnson remembers her daughter telling her.

Johnson says she continued trying to get more information from her daughter on the phone.

“‘Did he rape you?’ She said, ‘No, I got away.'”

Johnson says she wanted to comfort her but didn’t know how. “I couldn’t reach her. I couldn’t touch her. I didn’t know anyone in Reno to send her to. She was on the other side of the earth.”

Thomas says she returned to Denver with no memory of the flight or the ride home with her parents.

“I don’t remember seeing them. What did we say to each other? How did she look? I-I-I have nothing.”

Johnson says she decided not to mention the phone call — or let on that she knew in any way — because she just wanted “things get back to normal” for her daughter.

Thomas has never spoken publicly about this incident, until now. She says finding out that her mother knew all along was what freed her to speak.

“I finally find out that she knows, that Dad knows, that they are supporting me if I want to go public…Then it became full steam ahead, I want to empower people.”

“I was beginning to think though…that whole keeping-your-silence is a form of acceptance. It’s not supporting the women who are coming forward. It’s not helping … and if enough people make enough of a fuss, maybe we can get a culture that starts to listen,” Thomas says.

Reading her story brings tears to my eyes and enrages me. She remained silent because she felt no one would support her. And that’s what happens in our culture. People don’t support victims of sexual assault and rape. They blame them for their assault. They tell victims what not to wear, where not to go, who not to hang out with. They give all sorts of “advice” to sexual assault victims. But support? There’s far too little of that to go around. This is one of the reasons that many victims of sexual assault and rape stay silent. If no one is going to support you…if no one is going to believe you, why speak up? And this is something that flies over the head of Cosby’s attorney:

Cosby’s attorney has called the spate of sexual assault accusations against the comedian “ridiculous.”

Martin D. Singer said in a statement it defies common sense that “so many people would have said nothing, done nothing, and made no reports to law enforcement or asserted civil claims if they thought they had been assaulted over a span of so many years.”

Here’s the thing Mr. Singer-if you pay attention to what the victims are saying, you will learn exactly why they remained silent. But no, you don’t even have the decency to listen to them and actually pay attention to their words. You dismiss them out of hand. I’ve been trying to cut back on insulting others a little bit, but your callousness and indifference to the sexual assault of one woman, let alone three dozen, enrages me. You and your serial rapist client are morally contemptuous assholes who most likely have no compassion to spare for former models Linda Brown and Lise-Lotte Lublin, who recently spoke about their horrible encounters with Bill Cosby:

Brown said she was 21 when she met Cosby in 1969 at a restaurant in Toronto. She went to his hotel room, because he wanted to give her a gift, and when she got there he gave her a soft drink. She took a sip, blacked out, and woke up naked in bed with him, where she says she was raped.

“I felt like a rad doll and like a real-life blow-up doll for him” she said. “I felt dirty, ashamed and embarrassed,” and fooled into believing that Cosby was “nice, trustworthy and honorable.”

“I want people to know who Mr. Cosby really is: He has a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality and if you trust him then he has fooled you as well,” she said.

Lublin was 23 when she met Cosby in 1989 in a Las Vegas hotel where he sought to evaluate her acting skills. He insisted she have a drink to relax.

“I trusted him because of who he was, and how well he was respected around the world,” she said. “The taste was horrible and unfamiliar to me because I was not a drinker.”

She fell into a stupor, remembers Cosby wrapping himself around her and stroking her hair and then she passed out. She woke up at home with no memory of how she got there although her car was in the driveway.

“Bill Cosby appears to think that rape is a joke,” she said. “Let me tell you something, Bill, I’m not laughing.”

She vowed to lead a campaign to press Nevada legislators to throw out the statute of limitations for sexual assault. Such a change would not help in her case or in the cases of most of the women who have accused Cosby.

“I will do everything in my power to change the law that protects criminals and re-victimizes the innocent,” she said.

For his part, Cosby continues to deny the dozens of allegations against him. On Wednesday, he released a statement saying:

Dear Fans: For 53 years you have given me your love, support, respect and trust. Thank you! I can’t wait to see your smiling faces and warm your hearts with a wonderful gift — LAUGHTER. I’m ready!

I thank you, the theatre staff (Heymann Performing Arts Center), the event organizers and the Lafayette Community for your continued support and coming to experience family, fun entertainment. Hey, Hey, Hey — I’m far from finished. Sincerely, Bill Cosby.

Yes, we know you’re not finished (you are at NBC though). You continue to press on with your North American tour (which you laughably tout as “family, fun entertainment”). You do so because you still have supporters. You still have people who refuse to believe you’re a serial rapist. You still have people who think your carefully crafted media image represents the type of person you are. I know that there are many people, especially African-Americans, who are having difficulty reconciling the idea of a much-loved, well-respected icon being a rapist. The doors you’ve opened for others, the paths you’ve helped pave, the barriers you’ve helped shatter…these are things that people rightly appreciate. Hell, I appreciate the work you’ve done.

However.

In spite of your accomplishments, you are still a human being. You are not a peerless paragon of perfection untainted by human foibles. You are a complex, flawed, human being. Your flaws exist alongside your accomplishments. You are the first African-American to star in a weekly prime-time television series. You are also a serial rapist. You brought Cliff Huxtable to life and in the process, presented an image of African-American families that helped shatter racial stereotypes. You are also a peddler of the bullshit that is respectability politics. I recognize that it’s difficult for many out there to view you in this nuanced manner. You’re an icon. You’re an inspiration. You’re a hero. But there’s a problem with that.

Elevating humans to hero status often results in flaws being ignored. Commendable attributes are praised while flaws are rationalized, downplayed, or ignored. Biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins is admired and well-respected in the atheist community for (among other things) helping to lead people away from religion. And yet, he’s a Rape Culture apologist–a fact that many of his supporters deny. The late Mother Teresa is lauded the world over as a saint and a hero who did much to help poor people and those in need. In response to the question “Do you teach the poor to endure their lot?“, Mother Teresa once said “I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people“. Despite Mother Teresa’s endorsement of human suffering as a good thing (or any of the other criticisms against her), there are many people who still view her as a saint whose shit smelled like roses. Even after allegations of doping arose, fans across the world continued to idolize Lance Armstrong, refusing to entertain the idea that the seven-time Tour de France winner used drugs to enhance his performance. I suspect that even after his admission of drug use, he still has supporters. Elevating humans to iconic or heroic status brings with it the danger of their follies being ignored, rationalized, or even outright ignored. What’s worse, when that icon or hero is discovered to have done something decidedly unheroic-like say, sexually assaulting 36 women-it can be difficult for some to accept that the person they admired and held up as virtuous is actually a flawed human being. That’s a problem currently facing Lee Daniels, co-creator of the television series ‘Empire‘. Daniels recently sat down for an interview with CNNs very own peddler of respectability politics, Don Lemon:

“It is very, very hard, and what bothers me most is if there is an iota of truth to this … the one person of color that means the most to me is pulled down,” Daniels told CNN’s Don Lemon on Wednesday. “If he is guilty, it says that we are human, which is what I like to examine with every character that I breathe life to. We are not black, it is not white — it’s grey. We are all complicated, and we all like to point fingers and drag people down and drag people through the mud when stuff ain’t right. What’s fascinating is it’s not going to change. I pray for him. I pray for him. I’m sad. I am wrecked by it, I am gutted by it. He’s a man. And the victims, you know?”

Oh dear Isis, where to start? Oh yeah, with his doubt over the accusations. “If there is an iota of truth to this” indicates that Daniels is uncertain whether or not Cosby is a rapist. Unfortunately, that means he still has doubts about whether 36 women are being truthful. Remember upthread when I discussed believing rape victims? This is what Daniels needs to do. No one is asking him to place Bill Cosby in the mental file marked rapist for all time and never adjust his opinion of the guy. We’re saying “believe the women”. If it turns out that all 36 of them are lying, then he can adjust his opinion. If we’re ever going to see a reduction in incidents of rape and sexual assault, it is vital that we support victims.

Then there’s the confusing comment “if he’s guilty, it says that we are human…”. Whether he’s guilty or innocent doesn’t change the biological fact that Bill Cosby is a human being. He’s not some highly advanced human who no longer has flaws. He’s not an evolutionary offshoot of humanity. He’s not some non-human species of animal. This is exactly why it’s problematic to have heroes. No matter what he’s done, Cosby is still a human being. Understand that Mr. Daniels, and you might begin to understand how Bill Cosby can be both an inspiration and a sexual predator.

As for the rest, I’ll simply restate what I said elsewhere:

I’m sad too.
I’m sad for the 36 women who were sexually assaulted or raped by Bill Cosby.
I’m sad that according to Jennifer Lee Pryor (widow of the late Richard Pryor) Cosby’s actions were a well-kept secret in Hollywood.
I’m sad that people around the world are leaping to the defense of a man they know precious little about, and are taking his word over the word of 3 dozen women (implying in the process that they are lying and he is being truthful). Given the rape statistics which are readily available to anyone reading this, it makes far more sense to believe victims when they allege that they were attacked (and if it turns out that a victim is lying-which doesn’t happen anywhere near as often as too many people believe–you amend your opinion).
I’m sad that so many people still think of rapists as “men who jump out of the bushes and attack random women”, rather than people whom the victims know.
I’m sad that Bill Cosby likely won’t face the inside of a prison cell.
I’m sad that people think Bill Cosby is just like the warm, affable, fictional characters he’s played on television shows.
So yeah, I’m with you on the sadness. Not the prayer thing though. That’s a complete waste of time.

I’ll add one more thing: I’m not sad for Bill Cosby. He’s a scumbag.

I'm sad too, but not for Bill Cosby

Men are part of the problem. Let's change that.

A new article and video over at Mic highlights some of the core issues at the heart of Rape Culture. The video, a joint effort between Vine star Chaz Smith and the One Student project, discusses the disrespect for and the entitlement to women’s bodies felt by many men. By way of a sports analogy, the video makes the point that a patriarchal culture (such as ours) filled with toxic ideas about masculinity teaches men to be the aggressors and women to be on the defensive. On the defense from what you might ask? Think about the following:

When women are catcalled on the streets, who is doing the catcalling?

When women are sexually assaulted what group commits the vast majority of assaults?

The answer to both questions is M E N (I dearly hope there are no fools reading this who think I’ve just said “all men harass and sexually assault women”, bc that’s not what I’ve done. If you are one of those fools, learn to read for comprehension). As men are part of the problem, that also means that men are part of the solution. An essential part. How is catcalling going to end unless men stop engaging in such harassment? How are incidents of sexual assault against women going to diminish without men making the choice to stop sexually assaulting women? The video raises questions of this nature (and more). Listen for yourself:

While watching the video, I was reminded of an incident a few years ago. But first:

Disclaimer:

I am about to share a story with readers.

A story with an ending I played a role in.

Before I share this story though, I want to make one thing clear:

I am not asking for a cookie. My participation in the resolution of this situation was wholly an attempt on my part to do what I felt was the right thing.

Back in 2012, a friend and co-worker of mine-Rachel (not her real name)-confided in me that she was sexually assaulted by the General Manager of the restaurant we both worked at. Our restaurant occasionally made deliveries of food and on this occasion, Rachel and GM went together. On their return trip, Rachel said GM attempted to kiss her. While he failed at that attempt, he did succeed in groping her breast. When they returned to work, Rachel told me what happened.

I did not ask her if she led him on.

I did not question her attire.

I did not blame her.

I did tell her that I believed her and asked what she wanted to do about it. She said she was unsure and I suggested contacting the Regional Supervisor of the restaurant. Rachel was hesitant at first, so I told her if she wanted I could ask the RS how allegations of sexual assault are handled by the company. She agreed to that, and shortly thereafter, I spoke with RS (but did not reveal anything about Rachel’s situation). He said the company takes such allegations seriously and encourages employees to speak up if they’ve been assaulted. I told Rachel this, and she agreed to talk to RS. After she told him about being assaulted, RS asked her to meet with him and discuss what she wanted to do. Rachel agreed to this on the condition that I be there in the meeting (she later said she wanted me there for support). RS agreed to that, as did I. During the meeting, I sat silently in a chair close to the two of them and simply listened. I only spoke when either of them directed a question at me.

The meeting happened on a Friday. Over the weekend, Rachel expressed concerns about her job. If GM was not fired or sent to another restaurant, what would she do? She didn’t want to remain at a job where she would have to work with someone who sexually assaulted her and might do so again. Would she tough it out and remain working there and deal with/try to avoid asshole GM? Find another job? Thankfully she didn’t have to give thought to those questions for long. The following Monday, when I came to work, I learned that GM was fired for sexually harassing Rachel. I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised given that allegations of sexual harassment and assault are routinely dismissed. Nonetheless, I was pleased at the outcome. More importantly, Rachel was very glad to know that GM had been terminated.

As with many men, GM displayed a lack of respect for a woman’s body and a sense that he is entitled to a woman’s body. If he had respect for Rachel’s body, he would not have sexually assaulted her. Without his sense of entitlement to women’s bodies, I doubt he’d have tried to touch Rachel in a sexual manner without her consent. His beliefs are a product of a culture that devalues women-their bodies, their lives, their accomplishments. These toxic ideas of masculinity harm women and men. They need to be countered, especially by men. We’ve been part of the problem for too long now. It’s time to be part of the solution and here are a few things that can help:

  • supporting and believing victims of sexual assault and rape
  • refusing to engage in victim blaming and criticizing those who do
  • educating yourself and others on bodily autonomy and the importance of consent
  • not harassing women on the streets and criticizing those who do
  • re-examining your beliefs about entitlement to the bodies of others
  • ensuring that all sexual activities you take part in involve consenting adults
Men are part of the problem. Let's change that.

Men are part of the problem. Let’s change that.

A new article and video over at Mic highlights some of the core issues at the heart of Rape Culture. The video, a joint effort between Vine star Chaz Smith and the One Student project, discusses the disrespect for and the entitlement to women’s bodies felt by many men. By way of a sports analogy, the video makes the point that a patriarchal culture (such as ours) filled with toxic ideas about masculinity teaches men to be the aggressors and women to be on the defensive. On the defense from what you might ask? Think about the following:

When women are catcalled on the streets, who is doing the catcalling?

When women are sexually assaulted what group commits the vast majority of assaults?

The answer to both questions is M E N (I dearly hope there are no fools reading this who think I’ve just said “all men harass and sexually assault women”, bc that’s not what I’ve done. If you are one of those fools, learn to read for comprehension). As men are part of the problem, that also means that men are part of the solution. An essential part. How is catcalling going to end unless men stop engaging in such harassment? How are incidents of sexual assault against women going to diminish without men making the choice to stop sexually assaulting women? The video raises questions of this nature (and more). Listen for yourself:

While watching the video, I was reminded of an incident a few years ago. But first:

Disclaimer:

I am about to share a story with readers.

A story with an ending I played a role in.

Before I share this story though, I want to make one thing clear:

I am not asking for a cookie. My participation in the resolution of this situation was wholly an attempt on my part to do what I felt was the right thing.

Back in 2012, a friend and co-worker of mine-Rachel (not her real name)-confided in me that she was sexually assaulted by the General Manager of the restaurant we both worked at. Our restaurant occasionally made deliveries of food and on this occasion, Rachel and GM went together. On their return trip, Rachel said GM attempted to kiss her. While he failed at that attempt, he did succeed in groping her breast. When they returned to work, Rachel told me what happened.

I did not ask her if she led him on.

I did not question her attire.

I did not blame her.

I did tell her that I believed her and asked what she wanted to do about it. She said she was unsure and I suggested contacting the Regional Supervisor of the restaurant. Rachel was hesitant at first, so I told her if she wanted I could ask the RS how allegations of sexual assault are handled by the company. She agreed to that, and shortly thereafter, I spoke with RS (but did not reveal anything about Rachel’s situation). He said the company takes such allegations seriously and encourages employees to speak up if they’ve been assaulted. I told Rachel this, and she agreed to talk to RS. After she told him about being assaulted, RS asked her to meet with him and discuss what she wanted to do. Rachel agreed to this on the condition that I be there in the meeting (she later said she wanted me there for support). RS agreed to that, as did I. During the meeting, I sat silently in a chair close to the two of them and simply listened. I only spoke when either of them directed a question at me.

The meeting happened on a Friday. Over the weekend, Rachel expressed concerns about her job. If GM was not fired or sent to another restaurant, what would she do? She didn’t want to remain at a job where she would have to work with someone who sexually assaulted her and might do so again. Would she tough it out and remain working there and deal with/try to avoid asshole GM? Find another job? Thankfully she didn’t have to give thought to those questions for long. The following Monday, when I came to work, I learned that GM was fired for sexually harassing Rachel. I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised given that allegations of sexual harassment and assault are routinely dismissed. Nonetheless, I was pleased at the outcome. More importantly, Rachel was very glad to know that GM had been terminated.

As with many men, GM displayed a lack of respect for a woman’s body and a sense that he is entitled to a woman’s body. If he had respect for Rachel’s body, he would not have sexually assaulted her. Without his sense of entitlement to women’s bodies, I doubt he’d have tried to touch Rachel in a sexual manner without her consent. His beliefs are a product of a culture that devalues women-their bodies, their lives, their accomplishments. These toxic ideas of masculinity harm women and men. They need to be countered, especially by men. We’ve been part of the problem for too long now. It’s time to be part of the solution and here are a few things that can help:

  • supporting and believing victims of sexual assault and rape
  • refusing to engage in victim blaming and criticizing those who do
  • educating yourself and others on bodily autonomy and the importance of consent
  • not harassing women on the streets and criticizing those who do
  • re-examining your beliefs about entitlement to the bodies of others
  • ensuring that all sexual activities you take part in involve consenting adults
Men are part of the problem. Let’s change that.

More faces of Rape Culture

Marshall University’s Women’s Center defines Rape Culture as:

Rape Culture is an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture.  Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence, thereby creating a society that disregards women’s rights and safety.

Rape Culture affects every woman.  The rape of one woman is a degradation, terror, and limitation to all women. Most women and girls limit their behavior because of the existence of rape. Most women and girls live in fear of rape. Men, in general, do not. That’s how rape functions as a powerful means by which the whole female population is held in a subordinate position to the whole male population, even though many men don’t rape, and many women are never victims of rape.  This cycle of fear is the legacy of Rape Culture.

The book Transforming Rape Culture defines Rape Culture as:

A rape culture is a complex of beliefs that encourages male sexual aggression and supports violence against women. It is a society where violence is seen as sexy and sexuality as violent. In a rape culture, women perceive a continuum of threatened violence that ranges from sexual remarks to sexual touching to rape itself. A rape culture condones physical and emotional terrorism against women as the norm.

In a rape culture both men and women assume that sexual violence is a fact of life, inevitable as death or taxes. This violence, however, is neither biologically nor divinely ordained. Much of what we accept as inevitable is in fact the expression of values and attitudes that can change.

Melissa McEwan of Shakesville helpfully gives an extensive (though not exhaustive) list of the ways Rape Culture manifests. Here’s an excerpt:

Rape culture is victim-blaming. Rape culture is a judge blaming a child for her own rape. Rape culture is a minister blaming his child victims. Rape culture is accusing a child of enjoying being held hostage, raped, and tortured. Rape culture is spending enormous amounts of time finding any reason at all that a victim can be blamed for hir own rape.

Rape culture is judges banning the use of the word rape in the courtroom. Rape culture is the media using euphemisms for sexual assault. Rape culture is stories about rape being featured in the Odd News.

Rape culture is tasking victims with the burden of rape prevention. Rape culture is encouraging women to take self-defense as though that is the only solution required to preventing rape. Rape culture is admonishing women to “learn common sense” or “be more responsible” or “be aware of barroom risks” or “avoid these places” or “don’t dress this way,” and failing to admonish men to not rape.

Rape culture is “nothing” being the most frequent answer to a question about what people have been formally taught about rape.

Rape culture is boys under 10 years old knowing how to rape.

Rape culture is the idea that only certain people rape—and only certain people get raped. Rape culture is ignoring that the thing about rapists is that they rape people. They rape people who are strong and people who are weak, people who are smart and people who are dumb, people who fight back and people who submit just to get it over with, people who are sluts and people who are prudes, people who rich and people who are poor, people who are tall and people who are short, people who are fat and people who are thin, people who are blind and people who are sighted, people who are deaf and people who can hear, people of every race and shape and size and ability and circumstance.

Rape culture is the narrative that sex workers can’t be raped. Rape culture is the assertion that wives can’t be raped. Rape culture is the contention that only nice girls can be raped.

Rape Culture exists in the United States. It exists across the entire planet. Attitudes surrounding Rape Culture are on display innumerable times, every single day. David Edwards at Raw Story has written about yet another example of Rape Culture.  A Florida man is defending his sexual assault of a 6-year-old girl by blaming her:

The Palm Beach Post reported that the girl told detectives that Andres Bartolome Juan grabbed her in her apartment’s laundry room on Jan. 31.

According to the police report, Juan shook the girl by both arms, and then he assaulted her twice.

The girl’s mother found her bicycle unattended and called out for her, interrupting the alleged attack. The mother said that her daughter ran out of the laundry room “with a panicked look on her face.”

The mother found Juan in the laundry room trying to escape through a back window, the police report said. The mother told detectives that Juan’s belt was unbuckled, and his pants were open.

The girl later told her mother that she had been touched inappropriately, but “was too scared to talk about the details.”

Detectives were able to identify Juan because he had once lived in the apartments. He was charged with two counts of sexual assault against a victim 12 years old or younger.

“I touched the little girl,” he reportedly admitted to detectives during an interview.

“It’s [the girl’s] fault this happened,” the suspect added while deputies were taking a DNA sample.

Juan was being held in the Palm Beach County Jail without bail.

This story is disgusting. Children  are not physically or mentally capable of making informed decisions in matters concerning sex. There is a reason that the age of consent in the United States is 18. I don’t care what Juan says–It. Is. Not. Her. Fault (I’ll add that even if the girl were an adult woman, what he did still would have been sexual assault).  He chose to sexually assault her. That decision was his and the blame is all on his shoulders. His victim-blaming is one of the many vile manifestations of Rape Culture.

A second example of Rape Culture comes in the comments section of that same Raw Story article. A commenter leaves this puke-inducing pile of shit:

Castrate the m.f.s.o.b.child abuser. He better not drop the soap in the shower once in jail.

Both sentences are an example of Rape Culture. The first sentence is an endorsement of retributive justice, akin to “an eye for an eye”. Answering sexual assault with sexual assault…meeting a violation of bodily autonomy with the violation of the bodily autonomy–this is not something any society, especially a civilized one should condone. How the hell can you condemn sexual assault and the violation of an individuals’ bodily autonomy while simultaneously expressing a desire to violate bodily autonomy and commit sexual assault?  It doesn’t matter what the justification is. Sexual assault is wrong. Violation of bodily autonomy is wrong. Neither act becomes “right” simply because of state support. Endorsing sexual assault and violation of bodily autonomy is most certainly an example of Rape Culture, no matter what the justification is.

There is an additional problem with this idea of justice by castration. Being castrated won’t prevent Juan from sexually assaulting anyone. You don’t need a penis and testicles to sexually assault someone (just look at the New Delhi rape case where-in addition to penetrative rape-the attackers used a metal rod to rape the victim). The commenter displays an appalling ignorance of the realities of rape.

The second sentence of course, refers to prison rape which is a huge problem:

The well-being of our prisoners isn’t a topic that often garners much sympathy. Perhaps that is why few Americans know that rapes and sexual assaults of U.S.inmates have reached epidemic proportions.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics confirmed this human rights crisis last month. It says that nearly one in 10 prisoners report having been raped or sexually assaulted by other inmates, staff or both.

That’s why the release of a separate report by the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, which was created by Congress in 2003, is so important. It challenges our society to take seriously a problem that has ruined many lives.

As the above article mentions, prison rape is not treated as a big deal. Far too many people dehumanize prisoners and think they don’t (or shouldn’t) have rights. The thing is, human rights exist for *all* people and that includes prisoners. Not just the “good” people. We can and should punish people who commit sexual assault and rape. But we shouldn’t adopt their tactics. We shouldn’t perpetuate the idea that rape and sexual assault are permissible under certain circumstances.  When we do so, especially when we try to speak out against rape and sexual assault, we completely undermine ourselves. Even the most repellent human being still has rights. The minute we start deciding that some category of humans should be sexually assaulted or have their bodily integrity violated is the minute we start descending the dangerous slippery slope of “only some people have rights” (hell, some people have already begun their journey down that slippery slope. Just look at the existence of so-called “corrective rape“).

More faces of Rape Culture

Utah lawmaker is a rape apologist

In The History of the Pleas of the Crown 17th century English lawyer and judge Sir Matthew Hale wrote:

But the husband cannot be guilty of a rape committed by himself upon his
lawful wife, for by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract the wife hath
given up herself in this kind unto her husband which she cannot retract.

According to Hale, a husband is entitled to sex from his wife, the signing of a marriage contract means a wife gives her ongoing consent to sex, and a wife cannot retract her consent so long as she remains married. In other words, husbands have a marital rape exemption. By virtue of being married, a husband has the right to demand and engage in sex with his wife, regardless of her wishes. Marital rape exemptions in the United States, which can trace their roots back to Hale’s treatise, were included in the criminal code of all U.S. states for most of the country’s history. In 1976-200 years after the founding of the United States-Nebraska became the first state to abolish the marital rape exemption, with other states following…very…slowly. North Carolina and Oklahoma became the last states in the nation to remove their marital rape exemptions-in 1993 (27 years after Nebraska).

Unfortunately, while the courts have criminalized marital rape, deep-seated cultural and religious beliefs about married women continue to persist in our culture. These sexist and misogynistic beliefs make it difficult for many people to recognize sexual coercion in marriage (thanks a bunch Sir Matthew Hale, for your role in perpetuating sexism and misogyny). As a result, despite the elimination of the marital rape exemption, the crime is infrequently prosecuted.

Though infrequent, prosecution for marital rape does happen. For Rep. Brian Greene of Utah, this is cause for concern:

A Utah measure seeking to make that legal clarification won early approval in a state legislative committee Tuesday, but some lawmakers qualified their support, questioning whether the law would designate sex with an unconscious spouse as rape.

“If an individual has sex with their wife while she is unconscious … a prosecutor could then charge that spouse with rape, theoretically,” said Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove.”That makes sense in a first date scenario, but to me, not where people have a history of years of sexual activity.”

Rep. Greene clearly holds the same disgusting, misogynistic beliefs about a woman’s “wifely duties” as Sir Matthew Hale. And he’s just as fucking ignorant. If your wife is unconscious, she cannot consent. Sex without consent is the very definition of rape. Marital status does not change that definition. Husbands are not entitled to sex from their wives and wives do not owe their husbands sex (or anything else for that matter). Whether you engage in non-consensual sex on the first date, or after 10 years of marriage it is still rape. It doesn’t magically become NOT rape if a husband has non-consensual sex with his wife. Thankfully, decent human beings spoke up in opposition to Greene:

Others disagreed. If a person is unconscious, having sex with him or her “is rape. Period. End of story,” said Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City. “Let’s make the statute clear. Let’s not dance around it.”
According to prosecutors, “consent is a decision that has to be made at the time of the act,” said attorney Donna Kelly from the Utah Prosecution Council. “You cannot give consent to sexual activity if you’re unconscious.”

Utah’s current law doesn’t adequately protect victims, advocates and others told the House Judiciary Committee at the Capitol on Tuesday.

“This is something that’s been a long time coming,” bill sponsor Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, said after the meeting. “At the end of the day, if someone’s unconscious or they’re a vulnerable adult, then the logical answer is: Don’t try to have a sexual relationship with them.”

Lawmakers parsed HB74 to understand the implications for sex between partners, husbands and wives and those who may be incapacitated by mental disabilities, medication or surgery. The legislation aims to clarify the definition of consent in sexual assault cases.

“I’m not at all trying to justify sexual activity with an unconscious person. It’s abhorrent to me,” Greene said. But he questioned whether sex with an unconscious person should be “rape in every instance — dependent only upon the actor’s knowledge that the individual is unconscious. That’s the question. That’s what I struggle with.”

If you’re trying to question whether non-consensual sex is rape, then you are arguing that not all rape is bad, and you have utterly failed to be a decent human being. I wonder if Rep. Greene’s Mormon beliefs play a role in his odious views on marital rape.

Nah. I’m sure there’s nothing in Mormon doctrine that says the husband is entitled to sex from his wife, or that a wife is duty bound to give her husband sex when he wants it regardless of her desires.


If you have been the victim of sexual assault or if you are a family member or friend of someone who has been victimized, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit them online for secure, free, and confidential help.

Utah lawmaker is a rape apologist