Deeper Than Rape
Whenever rape is brought up, the room tenses. Silence seeps in. Niggas get shifty.
Energies begin to fill the air: pain, guilt, fear, avoidance, denial, anger, sympathy, dismissal.
I‘ve seen it happen. I’ve felt it happen.
I can’t count the number of rooms filled with mostly sisters telling devastating stories of harassment, assaults, rapes, and terrors. I would shake my head, clench my jaw, ball up my fists, sometimes, I would hold back tears. I would say to myself, “I’ll kill a man if I find out he did this.”
I would tell myself, “I couldn’t imagine raping anyone.” I could imagine killing some drunken, weak, crazy, aggressive, evil man who lured little children into vans, or held women down, or held knives to their throats, or snuck in their homes in the middle of the night, or put molly in their champagne. Yea, I would fuck them up. Bad.
But that was me hiding: Looking at the monsters in their memories while dodging the one inside me.
See, the problem that I was ignoring and the one that we must face together is deeper than the rape we say we would never do. It’s deeper than the rapists and monsters we say we would kill.
The problem we must face together is one that taught us to look away when a homie cussed out a woman for not falling for his line, the one that raised us believing that we’re entitled to a woman’s attention and affection, the one that told us that liquor was our friend, that asking permission was a clunky speed bump on the freeway to fucking.
The problem is an entire society built around the belief that men can have, do, say, take, be, fuck, own whatever we want, whenever we want, especially the weak, especially women.
The problem is the (rape) culture.
…and it’s all around us: our music, our films, our books, our sayings, our churches, our families, our government, our movement. Everywhere we look, it’s normal to rate women by their appearance, judge them off their body counts, harass them on our streets, blame them when we violate them, shame them when they offend our limits on them.
It’s not enough for us to not be “monsters.”
It’s not just about what we do when we are watched or even when we are with women. It’s the little things, the things between us men that will shift the culture. It’s checking each other for how we talk about women amongst each other. It’s the clear communication we have and the permission we ask for with our sexual partners. It’s the way we take responsibility for the ways we support media and music and movies that treat rape as casual and women as meat or eye candy.
We must be new men. Men who live with self-respect and possess a love that gives us no other choice but to build a movement for the well-being, safety, and independence of all African Peoples against all forms of oppression and yes…monsters.