Getty / Mark Wilson

Sex & Gender

What you’re not gonna do is tell women to shut up about abuse to save your fave’s ass

December 7, 2017
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What line would you cross to get what you want?

Most people would probably like to believe that the ease with which they draw this line at rape or murder makes them a good person. But that’s only because we have a terrible habit of viewing these forms of violence as singular, isolated occurrences, rather than the systematic abuses that they often are.

That’s why although many people might admittedly take issue with carrying out a rape or assault themselves (and even that population is much smaller than you might think), they have no problem ignoring rape allegations just to get the music or the votes or whatever they think they can get from those who may have committed the act.

But when you ignore sexual violence for any reason, you are part of a culture of rape that breeds it in the first place.

Liberals and progressives who have been exposed to various forms of feminism particularly claim to cherish their commitment to women and girls and other victims of rape culture, but this week so many showed their whole ass following the news that Senator Al Franken (D-Minn) might resign after facing at least 12 allegations of sexual harassment (his resignation was confirmed today).

In response, self-described Democrats used the same arguments they claim to despise when people like Roy Moore or Donald Trump use them to skirt accountability for their own sexual violence, such as that these 12 women shouldn’t be believed or that their abuse is less important than having Franken “on our side.”

Others argued that, even if Franken was guilty of these horrific acts, his “progressive policies” would do more for women in the long run. This senselessly overlooks the likely possibility that the predilections of a person in power affect how they might use their position to ensure they remain protected while promoting other feminist successes to cover their tracks.

As Son of Baldwin often points out, this is the same hypocrisy regularly displayed when it comes to singer R. Kelly, whose multiple cases of sexual violence against Black women and underage girls has barely dampened his career, if at all.

A lot of people believe that rape is a crime of opportunity, but what they don’t acknowledge is how we make that opportunity possible with our complicity.

As my sister and public health researcher Ganga Bey explains, “the contexts of ‘opportunity’ encompass more than chance encounters with inebriated, unresponsive future victims or an unlocked door, but also broader legitimizing myths of the male right to the female body” (untitled, forthcoming). What this means is that by supporting the patriarchal system that says men do not have to be held accountable for sexual violence, particularly men with power, we are actively a part of that same system.

If you can only win by supporting a rapist, perhaps your form of “winning” should be re-analyzed. If it is absolutely imperative that an unapologetic sexual violator be on “your side,” then perhaps you’ve chosen the wrong side.

Perhaps our priorities—winning elections or listening to certain music—should be re-structured. Perhaps the most abused and alleviating the struggles facing them should always come before a person’s vote or discography. Maybe when that happens the Black women and femmes and queer people who bear the brunt of white supremacist patriarchy might finally find some sanctuary.

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