Rape Culture and Women: Supporters and Opposers and how Racism and Power Ties Into It

2016 Updates:

  • In a new BuzzFeed report in January 2016, sexual assault survivors from Spelman wonder why more isn’t being done to punish the perps from Morehouse College, their brother school.
  • While she was posting on Twitter, another student at Howard sent her a tweet saying she was raped by the same man in his car on campus last May. A police report filed in October documents an accusation of a May rape in a parking garage at Howard University Hospital– across the street from the same residence hall.

 

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By the late 1700’s in the United States, women, seemingly one by one, recognized the powerlessness of women in the face of male domination in the educational, social, political, and economic institutions of this emerging nation. – Polly Poskin

My Thoughts: I don’t know about some of these cases I wrote about below, I believe some and not others. But as a woman, I am terrified of my surroundings during the day or night.  I know that I can be a target by policemen or men out in the street depending on the day because I’m black and I’m a woman.  Whether race or gender, women are targets in social, economic, or political waters.  We are taught to be “extra” vigilant, not to put yourself in harm’s way, carry mace or a gun, and not to wear certain things or flaunt your sexuality.  A women can’t be too domineering, or emotional; we are told to silence our mouth on different issues regarding women because we are not thinking about our race or system.

Rape culture teaches me that rape is normalized and acceptable in this and other cultures. It’s excused in the United States and in many countries and continents because we are women.  We are often silenced because of the “justice” system, victim blaming, false accusations and such. There are 293,000 sexual assaults that happen each year on victims age 12 and older.  47% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.  68% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.  Lastly, 80% of victims are under the age of 30 and 44% of them are under the age of 18.  As you can see by the statistics the need to say, the word rape is not used.  We say, sexual assault because some people are hesitant to label forced sex especially between acquaintances because of the following circumstances: The man initiated the date, the people previously has sex before, they knew he was married and still decided to go to his studio and meet for drinks, they have kissed on many occasions, she is very active sexually, or “no” was not explicitly verbalized.

As a woman, I don’t like false accusations because the women that have been raped or sexually assaulted….their voice is lost.  And I feel for the victims of these crimes because your sense of safety, comfort, and living can be wiped away in a few minutes or hours because of what happened to you.  Rape of women has historical roots and women were considered the property of men and since women were property, they had no rights, so rape was not viewed as a crime.

Justice is blind!!!  Whether rape, sexual assault, murder and/or rape by police officer…the system lets us know that women are still considered property, ignorant, and wanton. Black boys and men who are murdered by police are still profiled and considered dangerous, savage, and violent while walking down the street, catching a cab, or playing with a fake gun.  Black women are still in many ways politically invisible.  Know the framework, the history of politically invisibility, racism, white fragility , wealth inequality, and the white patriarchal system we follow that teaches us that being white and male in America has more power than any other race, creed, color or gender. – AcademicHustler1975

 

“Throughout the anti-rape literature there is a recognition that the system sometimes helps ‘legitimate’ victims – a white, married women who fought their [stranger] rapist and was visibly injured. Other victims – women of color, poor women, single women, women who dared to be out drinking or walking the streets late at night, prostitutes, women raped by judges or doctors – would never be consistently helped. Nor would the racist use of the rape charge, which helped whites brutalize the black community, ever cease without major social transformation. Exactly how rape was to be eliminated remained a difficult question. Profound social struggle would have to attack the sexism, racism and class domination in our society in order to end rape.” – Susan Schechter, Women and Male ViolenceFour Stories of Rape 

 

Four Stories of Rape

The rape of African American woman Joan Little in August 1974, by a guard at the jail in Beaufort County, NC, galvanized public focus on the horror and terror of rape. Joan Little, a black prisoner in the Beaufort County Jail, was attacked by the white jailer, Clarence Alligood. Joan broke away from her rapist, killed him with an ice pick he had taken into her cell, and then broke free from the jail. She was caught and charged with murder, and Angela Davis led the national outcry to bring justice to Joan Little. Eventually, Joan, her lawyers, Angela Davis, and public support prevailed and she was acquitted.

There was a story in NY a few days ago that spoke on a gang-rape by five young boys of a 18-year old woman.  The dad was there and the perps told him to go by gunpoint.  The dad left and they boys allegedly raped her until the father was able to get the cops and return to the scene of the crime.  Now we see different articles saying, she was in the playground having sex with her father and the boys asked to join in, in which the drunken father replied, yes and left the scene completed wasted.  I don’t really know what the story is, but it’s pointing to the 18-year old girl and what really happened….was it consensual or was it rape?

In 1983, 21-year old Cheryl Ann Araujo (click here name for a 1999 article) was gang-raped at a neighborhood tavern.  She was asked to leave with them and she refused, then she was grabbed, held down on the pool table and gang-raped by several men.  Some bystanders of the crime were “egging” the perps on and she could hear people “laughing, cheering, and yelling.”  It was a huge case back in the 80s and the defense lawyers treated her as though she was a willing participant.  No doubt because of her age and her Portuguese ethnicity.   Her name was given out to the media and community even before she testified, abandoning policies barring the publication of rape victim’s names.  Four of the men were convicted and eventually released.  Cheryl died at the age of 25 in a car accident in 1986.  Her story turned into a movie, The Accused featuring Jodi Foster and Kelly McGillis.

The we have Amber Amour, the rape activist who claim to have been raped while in Africa over several weeks ago.  She became “Instagram famous” because she decided to detail her rape right after it happened.  Something about being invited to take a hot shower by a man she kissed on a separate day and time and when they came into his room she was raped and passed out.  Then when she awoke, he “finished” her off and raped her again.  There has been a lot of people on both sides of the fence who find her story incredulous or real, but she has been defending the victim blaming on Facebook and Instagram for weeks now.  More developments came out by her saying, she was raped two other time at the age of 12 and 24, and now at 26 in Africa.  I recently looked at her Instagram and seen a post which featured a picture of all of the times she was “assaulted sexually” throughout the years based on supporters “jogging her memory.”

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I admit the comments have been harsh because a lot of people do not believe her and her story seems to be getting more complicated with her various postings and remarks.  Most ask, that as a rape advocate and teacher why would you put yourself in a position like tat to be raped.  What happened to all the advice you give others?  If you were already raped twice before wouldn’t you know to be more vigilant?  I am definitely flummoxed about this story, but something is not right and I hope we get the answers we need.

Lastly, we have Bill Cosby and over 50 women that came out and said, they were raped by him.  This spans over 30 years and a lot of people are trying to reconcile whether “Heathcliff Huxtuble from The Cosby Show, the pudding pop man, our father if you didn’t have a father growing up man could be capable of drugging and raping women?

 

Rape was initially considered a crime only in terms of the property violation of another man. Punishment was delivered to a man who damaged the husband’s property – his wife – by rape. Very often the raped woman would also be punished as an adulteress, regardless of her lack of complicity in the assault. For instance, ancient Hebrew women who were raped were considered defiled, and stoned to death. – Polly Poskin

 

There’s an article that spoke to me this morning by Ta-Nehisi Coates called, Bill Cosby and His Enablers.  The article speaks on rape and the framework that we may not know or understand.  He also mentions how the Tamir Rice case shows that if you are not familiar with racism and its framework, then you will not understand how it could happen and possibly why no indictments against the police.

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Rape is about the threatening, intimidating, and forceful behavior of (at least) one person against another. Rape is about the misuse of power; rape is the enforcement of domination and control. It is why men primarily rape women and adults rape children and not vice versa. – Polly Poskin

Change the word rape to racism from the quote above and you get the same energy and thoughts of a black person and how their life is treated in this society too.  Be the change you want to see and understand the framework behind these crimes.

 

Sources: 

A Brief History of the Anti-Rape Movement by Polly Poskin, http://praxisinternational.org/files/praxis/files/Rural%20Project/2%20A%20Brief%20History%20of%20the%20Anti-Rape%20Movement.pdf

Bill Cosby and His Enablers by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic, http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/01/bill-cosby-and-his-enablers/422448/, January 12, 2016

The Accused Analysis Blog by Paul Edward Parker, Juries hear Bid Dan’s Rape Case, November 1, 1999, http://theaccusedanalysis.blogspot.com/p/articles.html

 

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