Rape culture refers to society’s systematic attitudes and actions regarding consent, rape, and the victims of rape or sexual assault. These attitudes lead to the normalization, excusal, and tolerance of sexual harassment, assault, rapist behavior, and rape itself. Rape culture is reinforced by media, law enforcement, and is perpetuated and upheld by society. The disregard for consent and blatant victim blaming that are the main issues within rape culture create a society in which rape is not always seen as rape, and victims’ personal decisions and actions are blamed for “getting them raped” when the blame should fall on the perpetrator.
[ TW: Discussions of rape, racism, oppression. ]
The past few days, I have been reading many comments/commentaries in regards to Bill Cosby’s recent arrest. I’ve responded to a few, but if I continued to respond to each and every misogynistic, homophobic, rape culture perpetuating comment, I would have no time for anything else.
After reading several articles and posts, It’s safe to say that we have some real issues going on. Honey…. yes, white supremacy is real. The systematic exclusion & discrimination towards Blacks and other minorities is real. But guess what…. so is rape culture. Bill Cosby is not your father. He’s not your father figure and he damn sure is not a leader of the Black community. He is a serial rapist. Cosby’s NBC deal didn’t start this “scandal”, his predatory nature did. Don’t attempt to use Blackness to excuse rape. Defending rape/rapists is the characteristic of a pseudo-rapist. Defending him, excusing him, creating conspiracy theories to explain why he’s being “targeted” is DEFENDING AND PERPETUATING RAPE CULTURE.
I’m disgusted at the immense amount of seemingly educated, #BlackLivesMatter chanting Black people that are rallying behind Bill Cosby. They’re coming together to blame rape victims and discredit their statements. This is the type of hate that deters women from coming forward about rape. In order to fully comprehend anything else in this article, you must NOW disassociate Bill Cosby & Cliff Huxtable (you know, the same way you separate Raven Symone & Raven Baxter)
Before writing this, I wanted to make sure I was well-informed on the subject matter and I was presenting with a clear position. So, I sat down and watched his infamous “pound cake” speech for more insight. I’d heard it before but honestly, I didn’t pay much attention to him. After watching it again and again, I took notes, reviewed them and eventually began searching the internet. The hashtag #BillCosbyHatesYou was popping on Twitter and I also found that BuzzFeed had released an annotated version of his Pound Cake speech. Bingo.
After reading their annotation and comparing it with my notes, I believe that the reason he was going so hard on the Black community then was simply for deflection purposes. It was his way of making himself feel better or somehow justified for the disgusting acts he was committing.
Despite his “legacy”, I don’t understand why people are so quick to defend Bill Cosby. Many of these women made their allegations over twenty years ago. The only reason their allegations resurfaced was because Hannibal Buress mentioned him during his set in 2014. As a result, more women came forward because people were suddenly paying attention again. Cosby ADMITTED in a 2005 transcript that he obtained a prescription for Quaaludes to give to women he wanted to have sex with. What more proof do you Cosby stans need?! I’m literally seeing people, men & women, all up and down my timeline DEFEND this man with no empathy for the victims and no research to back their claims.
I want to briefly discuss rape outside of the “Bill Cosby scandal” context. First, let’s define rape. Simply put, rape is any form of non-consensual sex. To elaborate, I would say that many rape occurs
- When your partners says no, doesn’t want but you persist and “take it”.
- When your partner is asleep or unconscious or otherwise unable to say yes.
- When your partner pushes you away.
- When you have to try to convince your partner by whining and/or pretending to be sad/bothered because they don’t want to.
- If they start crying out of pain and telling/begging you to stop but you don’t.
- If they are drunk or drugged | The possibility & plausibility of consent is automatically voided when incoherence is a factor
I’ve realized that some rapists seriously don’t know that they are rapists. They will brag and talk about their sex stories and not realize that what they are describing is actually an instance of rape. Rapists think that 1) “going out to get wasted and then finding and having sex with wasted girls” is consensual, 2) that putting your hands in someone’s pants while they are sleeping is consensual, 3) that pressuring/coercing someone when they are being hesitant and afraid is consensual, 4) that even if someone is disassociating and uncomfortable, if they do not audibly say “no.”, it’s consensual.
This brings me to my next major point. Consent education is really important. Saying society needs to teach people not to rape doesn’t necessarily mean the literal message being given right now is, “You should rape people.” However, that’s still the overall affect of advising women on how not to get raped. It would make more sense to teach people that rapist behavior will not be accepted and/or tolerated. If people know they can get away with a crime, the crime is more likely to be committed. Therefore, if there is a society that makes it clear that “rape isn’t okay… BUT, if you do rape someone, we will first ask them a bunch of questions/accusations about whether it is their fault, (did you drink too much? Did you let him buy you a drink? Did you flirt with him? Have you had sex with him before? Why did you invite him in, what else would that imply? Why were you wearing that low cut shirt?) and assume you might be making it up”. Then, it not only sends a message to victims that they might potentially be re-victimized simply in reporting their crime- but it also sends a message to potential perpetrators that it is not a serious crime.
Life for a woman is hard. Especially a black woman. We are expected to be strong and make things happen. We can’t have emotions. We have too much to do, but when we don’t show emotions, we’re the b word. If we do show them, we’re being dramatic. Life is crazy for a black woman. – T.L. House
You’re Not Pro-Black if You’re Not Pro-Black WOMAN
Personally, I’m sick of this “White men are doing it too”speech when discussing Black men and rape. I’m by no means denying that rape and race often go hand in hand. 13 Black women came forward during the Daniel Holtzclaw trial. Black people (clearly) wanted him thrown in jail with no trial. But now that Cosby has been accused by 55+ women, that just isn’t enough. You aren’t pro-Black if you’re willing to put Black women and children in danger to keep a Black man with a HISTORY of assault out of jail. Oppression & systematic racism are NOT reasons to defend Bill Cosby. He uses his seat at the table of White Supremacy to belittle Blacks, lecture Blacks and hide his disgusting crimes. IF YOU DEFEND A BLACK MAN WHO PREYS ON BLACK WOMEN & HARMS BLACK WOMEN, YOU ARE NOT PRO-BLACK. YOU ARE NOT HERE FOR YOUR PEOPLE. The people screaming and posting about #FreeBillCosby are the SAME ones who refuse to turn in Cousin Ray Ray for being the family’s resident child molester. A lot of y’all aren’t defending Bill Cosby, you’re defending yourselves! You’re excusing the time you grabbed a girl’s behind as she walked past you downtown.
You’re defending the time you ignored the whispers of her saying “No”. You’re ignoring the time that you convinced a girl to pop pills before she passed out and you assaulted her. You’re defending your own acts of rape. You’re defending Cousin Ray Ray and Uncle Tom who scope out the young girls at family reunions so they can stop by Grandma’s a week later and grope them while they’re outside. I see you. I know what you’re doing and you’re sick.
Common sense and common DECENCY won’t allow you to defend a man you’ve never met against allegations from three dozen women unless you’re afraid that when you look in the mirror you see that man glaring back at you.
Rape culture does not exclusively mean that one lives in a society where the rape of women is legal and socially acceptable. Rape culture means that one lives in a society where…
- men are laughed at and not being taken serious when they are talking about their experiences with sexual harassment, sexual abuse or involuntary sexual objectification
- people think that women are incapable of raping
- the female body has been hypersexualized to the point that non-sexual and necessary act of breastfeeding a newborn in public is causing an outrage
- jokes about the violent, traumatizing act that is rape are considered funny
- underage girls in school are being taught that they need to follow a dress code, because boys and male teachers can’t control themselves and will be distracted by their body – and that this is more important than their physical wellbeing, education and freedom of expression
- female rape victims are asked in court what they’ve been wearing, because showing off skin is a provocation and you can’t expect people to respect your bodily autonomy if you do so
- people who did not have sex up to a certain age are being shamed and put under pressure, because sex is of so much importance that “dying a virgin” is a worst case scenario
- a woman’s worth is being determined by how many people she had intercourse with after the first dick inside of her already deprived her of her purity
- people think they owe their partner sex, just because they are in a relationship
- the concept of consent is not clear to everyone
- people are being told they are overreacting when it comes to the topics sexual assault that they are downplaying their own experiences like “he only groped my breasts once when we were watching TV, just a stupid incident, even if he didn’t stop right away he’s still a nice guy and I am being overdramatic I guess”
- people are convinced that they don’t need to stop during intercourse once they got a yes or that it is a no-go to interrupt their partner during intercourse because they already gave consent before
- violating someones physical boundaries is romanticized, for example if a woman angrily pushes a man away and he pulls her back and kisses her, or a woman wants to flee the place and the man grabs her wrist
- there’s the stereotype that rape is only valid if someone brutally raped and heavily injured the victim in the progress, invaliding other acts of rape as not being “actual rape”
- there’s the stereotype of the rape victim that spends most of her time crying in the shower and is incapable of living, invaliding other survivors experiences who are recovering and vocal about it (“if you had ACTUALLY been raped, you would/wouldn’t…”)
…there is a lot of misconception about BDSM going around, thanks to trash like 50 shades of grey, such as that BDSM is a free ticket to acting violent towards someone and ignoring all of their needs without their consent.
If you presume to dictate what constitutes “real rape” is, you hate women.
If you presume to dictate what constitutes “real abuse”, you hate women.
If you presume to dictate what constitutes “real harassment”, you hate women.
If you presume to decide a woman must be lying about her rape or abuse or harassment because you don’t like her, you hate women
If you say oh it was just a finger just a lick just a grope just a photo just a video
Yes you hate women. Yes you’ve abused women. Yes you’ve assaulted women. Yes you’ve raped women. You are guilty for DISMISSING this.
YOU are what’s wrong with the world. YOU are what creates a permissive environment in which women can be assaulted and raped and then laughed at and dismissed. YOU are the ones who assault and harass women and then say you’re innocent because those “hoes” had it coming and what you did wasn’t “real” because you determine on your own terms what is “real” anyway and that it could never be anything YOU did. And anyone who claimed it was real is just “trivializing” the “real” victims” anyway.
Just like all the others.
Let’s be real: Janice Dickenson doesn’t need Cosby’s money, neither does Beverly Johnson. What’s their reason for coming out the blue and supposedly “making it up” from thin air? It seems that since so many of us grew up to and aspired to be like Cliff and Clair Huxtable, that he will always be the “perfect doctor, husband and dad”. Snap out of it, everyone! People are forgetting or simply ignoring the fact that he was reciting a script on that show and not leading a real life! Who the hell in their right mind is going to dismiss what 50+ women are saying just to keep the image of Dr Huxtable untainted. This isn’t a White Supremacist scheme to keep us distracted and to bring another successful black man down. It’s all out in the open because of Bill Cosby. Black people sometimes can neglect facts while living in denial and it is not a good idea. I would really like to know where some of these people were when that rapist cop was on trail, I did not see them upholding the women and girl in these situations either. This is typical misogynoir by black men and some black women are misinformed and misguided enough to feed into it. None of these women are asking for money but most of these folks don’t look up facts or evidence they just go by old news stories and Twitter. There hasn’t been a single person on my TL defending Cosby who has also been able to acknowledge that has given us a deposition of assaulting women.
I decided to text my best friend and ask him what his thoughts were on the Bill Cosby case (left). I simply said “Thanks” after his text and began formulating this article. Today, I reached out by texting him “I hate Bill Cosby supporters” and another brief conversation ensued (right). What he is failing to realize is that the victims of rape don’t owe anyone, especially him an explanation. At one point, he asked me “Do you really think he raped all those women?” Truthfully, I don’t care if he raped 1 or 51. He is a rapist. 55+ women are not lying about being sexually harassed by this old geezer. Black boys/men, specifically my friend in this incident are defending a man who doesn’t give a damn about them! Bill Cosby’s deflection was so cleverly done that he has caused Black men to highlight their own insecurities to uplift him now that he’s in trouble. Until I see evidence that proves these women had sex and drugs with him without their consent, Im standing by him! Nicely played my friend. *rolls eyes*. To show that many of these people are BLINDLY supporting Cosby, as I mentioned earlier, he CONFESSED to buying drugs for this very purpose.
Rape Culture is American CultureI have too many friends and family members that are victims of sexual assault. It’s like someone robbed them for a piece of their light or soul. And each time when they told me they’re stories I feel the worst pain in chest. I see that void of light and missing piece of their spirit in their words and eyes. Listening to the details is excruciating and almost unbearable but I think of the courage it takes for them to repeat the experience. The courage it takes to not let the assault and predator have ownership of them is immense. Whether they sought to seek justice or not the personal battle they fight daily is sheer bravery. The heartbreak I feel for them brings tears to my eyes and as soon as the tears appear I’m filled with rage. I get filled with anger knowing these disgusting excuses of humans are still free to violate other women, that police aren’t like the detectives on Law and Order SVU that fight tooth and nail for the survivors, or that we live in a culture that largely accepts rape. We live in a culture that will scrutinize a woman’s sexual history, question her attire, her sobriety, her social media posts before seeking to punish her attacker. Men walk around not understanding the meaning of consent, who use alcohol and other drugs as tools to coerce sex from women, men who take no as an invite to try harder. There are survivors of assault who couldn’t survive the life after, that turned to suicide because our society teaches her that the fault is her own and she dies believing it. I could go on for days about how vile this subject is because with all that I’ve mentioned it’s not even a quarter of the issues the trife epidemic encompasses. I convinced we hate our women, I’m convince rape culture is American culture. – Tumblr user
A lot of these boys idolizing him had no father growing up, so they clinched on to Bill’s fictional character. So it’s sad because they’re clinging on to him and his “legacy” like it’s their daddy… but he isn’t. He’s a rapist who’d probably turn away from these brothers that are so hell bent on defending him- Rayven M.
My best friend is the victim of sexual assault. She had been experiencing it for years and only told me during our last year of high school. I’d known this girl for years and despite all that we went through, she wasn’t ready to tell me. I was afraid for her, I cried with her and I promised her I would do whatever I needed to do to help. Her reasoning for not telling me? She was afraid that he would come back and no one would believe her… again. I will NOT allow anyone to disrespect and discredit the INNOCENT victims of rape in order to uplift and support someone who is contributing to the overall downfall of a community. I have seen firsthand the effects, mental, physical and emotional, of rape. When commenting on a trial such as this, be careful what you say aloud because your words regarding rape could be giving someone just one more reason to stay silent. For what it’s worth, to all rape survivors who have to scroll past ignorant statements made by people who have been so ingrained with rape culture and misogyny/noir, that a man’s career becomes more important than the humanity of ALL the women who have been physically and mentally violated, I want you all to utilize this safe space. I see you. I value you. I am hurting for you and I apologize for the trauma you’ve experienced. There are those of us trying to do the mental and emotional work of unlearning violence and the perpetuation thereof. We’ve been taught by a society that normalizes valuing certain lives over others. Sexual assault victims get about just as much justice as the Black community and that’s just a fact. Police departments are throwing away rape kits as we speak. 400,000 was the number of UNTESTED rape kits last year and sadly, that’s the minimum number of women, children and men that didn’t receive justice.
I feel like he’s a serial rapist but this story and the way it’s being handled in comparison to other white, famous predators is weird. He needs to pay for what’s been done but it’s unfair to take down everyone who ever worked with him in the process. He’s a predator and should be treated as such. But as a person whose close family member is on trial for rape now, we are already paying for their sins in more ways than one. No need to drag everyone down with him. – Kalyn R.
During the “Pound Cake” speech, Bill Cosby asserted that “We (Black people) cannot blame white people.” He said that. So while MOST and MANY of you are trying to blame this on “the system” and “white supremacy”, Bill said not to. So, I blame him. 110%. Bill Cosby is guilty.
(note for anyone else: please remember that rape is not gendered and men can be victims and women can be rapists, discussing specifics of one type of rape doesn’t mean anything other than that is implied)
- Bill Cosby sexually assaulted me. I didn’t tell because I didn’t want to let black America down. by Jewel Allison
- Navigating Consent: Debunking the “Gray Area” Myth
- 25 Everyday Examples of Rape Culture