At some point, we as women are going to have to stop being active participants in something that drags us down, keeps victims languishing and suffering in the dark, dismisses our stories and creates a climate where men like Bill Cosby, R. Kelly and Brett Kavanaugh can be accused and/or convicted of sexual assault and still get a pass from everyone around them.
I am speaking, of course, about rape culture.
I recently wrote about some of my past experiences with sexual assault and sexual abuse, one of which I never even spoke about out loud until about a year ago. There are a number of reasons I did not come forward, and all of them are extremely personal. I cannot imagine someone coming to me and asking why I didn’t say something sooner, and quite frankly, I wouldn’t take it very well if someone did. In fact, I would probably react viscerally.
Similarly, it bothers me when I see women who are coming forward with their stories now being questioned about the timing of their accusations. As many people have pointed out, no one had a problem with all the men who came forward with allegations of sexual abuse within the Catholic church or the timing thereof, but the minute it’s a woman accusing a man with perceived power, suddenly we are in a dangerous territory as far as time is concerned.
This is most egregious, in my opinion, when I see those types of questions being floated around by other women. I always want to grab them by the arm and tell them, “Sis, we already have it hard enough out here. Do you have to add to it?”
I want to have that kind of talk with rapper Remy Ma right now.
If you haven’t already heard, Remy Ma launched into a full defense of Bill Cosby on Monday’s episode of State of the Culture, and she did so while simultaneously discrediting the more than 60 women who have come forward to accuse the disgraced comedian of sexual assault.
When the topic of Cosby’s recent conviction came up, Remy started her loud and wrong commentary by asking what evidence—besides the women accusing him—was there that Bill Cosby had ever committed any of the crimes that he was accused of.
Scottie Beam informed her that there are actual court records and documents that show Cosby himself admitting that he had drugged women in the past in order to take advantage of them sexually. This did not give Remy pause, however. In fact, it made her defend him even harder by saying something akin to the fact that when you are in a tough position within the criminal justice system, they will sometimes set it up for you to admit to doing something that you did not really do.
And while Remy may have an actual point, for Cosby that is not the case. He did not make a plea deal. He was convicted, and the reason the Andrea Constand case came to trial in the first place is because of statements he made in depositions related to Constand’s civil case against him.
Basically, Remy was loud, wrong and uninformed, but she pressed forward anyway and continued to say how it makes it hard to believe when women wait so long to come forward. She argued that women should come forward sooner rather than later because they have an obligation not only to themselves but to other women as well.
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is how women help to perpetuate rape culture.
A woman who has been sexually abused or assaulted does not owe any allegiance or responsibility to anyone other than herself, because she is the one suffering. She has to make sure that her own needs are addressed and taken care of before she can concern herself with the needs and well being of anyone else. She is no good to anyone if she is no good to herself.
Even as Scottie Beam—who is also a survivor of sexual assault—tried to reason with Remy and explain to her how hard it is for women who have been sexually abused or assaulted to come forward, Remy managed to miss her point, instead exemplifying one of the main reasons why the abused don’t come forward—she laid the fault at the feet of the victims, not the abusers themselves.
She didn’t want to listen to reason.
Understandably, Remy has had her own issues within the criminal justice system, and that surely plays a role in how she views the way the system works for people of color.
But she basically asserted that since Harvey Weinstein and other white men like him have been accused but not (yet) convicted, Bill Cosby should be free too. And that is a dangerous stance to take.
She is not the only one with that opinion, however. I have seen it parroted in many different forms all across social media by men and women alike. Stop this. Absence of justice in one case doesn’t mean justice should be abated in another. Please disabuse yourself of that notion.
Let me put it to you another way that may help you understand.
The police officers who killed Alton Sterling did not face any criminal charges in relation to his death. Does that mean the officers who killed Stephon Clark should go without punishment as well?
You cannot have it both ways; the world does not work like that.
My hope is that Remy Ma will take a listen to the way she sounded in Monday’s show and reevaluate her stance. My hope is that she will listen to women and believe them.
My hope is that she never finds herself in a position where someone is questioning her motives or her timing for coming forward with her story.
Rape culture hurts and kills women. Women don’t need to help facilitate that.