I didn’t want to write this. It feels like I’ve been having different versions of this conversation for the past few years. Between Rick Ross’s rape lyrics on “U.O.E.N.O” and the resurrection of Bill Cosby’s alleged drugging of women for sex, to more recent discussions of actor Nate Parker’s rape trial and acquittal while a student at Penn State, America—and in particular Black America—has been having a very polarizing conversation about rape and consent. The alleged and confirmed misdeeds of entertainers has moved their fans to take sides about one of the most injurious crimes a human can commit against another. A crime that is already mired in legal ambiguity now has the added layer of recreational drug use and the role it plays in impairing judgment and assigning blame.
I’m hesitant to write about these things because I’m not a lawyer or sociologist. I don’t feel qualified to speak on these things with authority. I have dope ass interviews I’d rather be cutting or transcribing. But as a man I’ve learned that remaining silent can only be more injurious. When the Nate Parker news reached a head in the news cycle, I resisted putting my thoughts in an article and instead vented my frustrations on Twitter. Not so much to Parker but to those who defended the act he was accused of. It burned in my chest that men were so cavalier about their attitudes toward a woman’s consent. Even in 2016 all of these unwritten rules about a woman’s implied intentions are still disturbingly prevalent.
But these same men cry foul when the police violate them solely based on how they dress, speak or where they were at a given hour. The double standard makes my head hurt. Why is it so hard for men to see it? It is the definition of male privilege to never have to think about what someone will do to you sexually when you’ve had too much to drink or smoke. The very notion is considered so far-fetched that it has has been the fodder for jokes in movies like The Hangover. But there isn’t a man alive that would excuse away being penetrated without his expressed consent while he was under the influence. The “Well, everyone was drunk” defense wouldn’t fly. Neither would the “Well, you were there late at night. Why else were you there?” excuse I see getting Tweeted. You would want to KILL someone…Or yourself. And this is the reality thousands of women face. But I could write about this point forever.
What specifically moved me to write was now seeing that rapper Freddie Gibbs has been formally charged for a sexual assault in Austria. Amidst the details in the charges is that his accuser was drugged before a yet to be disclosed sexual impropriety — I’m being intentionally vague because we don’t know what specific act happened. While many fans expressed regret and dismay at the possibility that Gibbs actually did this, his defenders insisted that he simply isn’t capable, it’s not in his nature and that women throw sex at entertainers all of the time. The only defense we haven’t gotten yet is that Gibbs was trying to buy NBC and this is a conspiracy, but I’m sure it’s coming.
No one wants to believe that someone they respect and admire is capable of a crime, especially one as heinous as rape. And if you know them personally it seems even more unlikely in your mind. We should all stand by our friends, especially if they haven’t been convicted of anything yet. But what you can’t do is dismiss and condemn half of the population because you know of a few instances where women have lied about being raped. You sound exactly like the politicians who are ready to build entire walls to keep out a country of people because of what they think they know about a few of them. You sound exactly like the officers (and overzealous private citizens) who justify shooting Black people down in the street because a fraction of us have indeed committed crimes. Basically, you sound like an asshole.
Lastly, while it may make you uncomfortable, you have to accept that your fave may not be shit. Admitting that your man is capable of rape is like saying that you’re capable of rape. And that is precisely the point. You ARE capable. We are capable. EYE. Am. CAPABLE. And being capable is not being guilty of it. Or even likely to do it. But you DO have that power. Especially if you are a celebrity. But this applies to every 9-5er reading this. You are capable in the same way that people with white skin enjoy an inherent advantage just standing next to you. All other things being equal they are less likely to be stopped by police, passed over by a cab or denied a job. And they can exert that power and privilege over you if they feel like it. It’s just the way it is. And it is the same thing with you as a man. The way society is set up now, in sexual situations men are not burdened with responsibility in the way a woman is. But the sooner we acknowledge this, the sooner we will be proactive and not put OURSELVES in situations where we can end up on the wrong side of a judge. Most of us can think back to social situations where we made an in the moment assessment that this may not be in our best interest, but we don’t apply that thinking to sex or sexual partners because we don’t think we have much to lose. But as these news headlines pile up it’s becoming apparent that men have as much to lose from perpetuating rape culture as women, and we have to take the necessary steps to correct it. And the first step is to stop acting like it can’t happen.