*Warning for graphic images of lynching.This is one of those conversations that is not being had in mainstream media, and I don’t ever expect that, considering who owns the media. The idea that maybe there’s a reason White men are panicking about being falsely accused of sexual assault. Would that reason have anything to do with being participants in the false accusations against men of color? White man after White man has written article, after article, and endless op-eds, calling for the end of this movement, praising the backlash against it, and calling it an extremist movement that seeks to destroy all men.
From a historical perspective, it is only men of color who can have a this legitimate complaint against this movement, but they don’t own the newspapers which keep printing op-eds about the movements destruction, or own the media conglomerates that give air time to White men in a panic over whether or not they will face accusations from some virulently man-hating contingent of women.
For decades now, White men have witnessed (and been participatory in) the vigilante attacks that occurred whenever a Black or Brown man was accused of rape or sexual assault, by a White woman. They have been the strongest advocates for the incarceration, terrorizing, and brutal killings of Black and Brown men, simply for the crime of existing near the White women, over whom they claimed ownership. Do they really think they’re going to be on the receiving end of such behavior from women, or are they just protecting the “good name” of those who have historically been the perpetrators of sexual assault against everyone: Black men and women, White men and women and children, both girls and boys?
The Real Reason Why We Can’t Just Believe All Women
Carolyn Bryant. It’s a name everyone should know.
To know her story is to know why women of color do not have the luxury to just #BelieveWomen without question. To know her name is to know that we live in a world where sexual assault is both real and politically weaponized. To know her name is to know that the boundaries of sexual morality are drawn so that white men are able to claim that all accusations made against them are false, while simultaneously asserting that no accusation made against a person of color go unpunished.
The #metoo movement was started by a Black woman named Tarana Burke, but has slowly been taken over by White women in Hollywood, like Rose McGowan, who has promoted herself as a spokesperson for it. A lot of the people standing up for this movement are White privileged actresses. I can’t help but see in them the kind of women who, historically, have most benefited from lobbing false accusations of rape at men of color, to cover for the assaults perpetrated against them by White men, in order to protect them, or to cover up their own duplicitous behavior.
Its also exceedingly precious to me that White men are in such a clear panic about being falsely accused of rape and sexual assault, since historically, those men have been the ones most likely to have engaged in it, while laying the burden of that sin onto the backs of Black and Brown men. I’m not claiming that Black and Brown men never commit sexual assault, but that it is White men who created the racist stereotype that they’re the only ones who do.
One of the many horrors of American racism has been the persistent effort to criminalize black men and the convenient utilization of this racial narrative by some white women to cover up their personal failings or to incite white male rage… Texas is the latest example of a white woman inexcusably putting black men’s lives at risk for violent retribution, incarceration or death.
According to a hundred years of popular media, at least since the release of D.W. Griffiths Birth of a Nation in 1915, it is only Black and Brown men (and Indigenous men) who are willing, and capable of the sexual assault and rape of White women. Naturally, Black and Brown women, Asian women, indigenous women, transgender women, they’re victimization isn’t considered in this discourse, because they do not matter to such men.
They are considered, by the White men who rape and assault them with impunity, to be un-rape-able, because of convenient stereotypes that have been created about them, by White men. These stereotypes, and accusations, that Black women are hypersexual, Asian women are submissive, Latinas are hot and spicy (and all these women are just begging for it) has regularly been espoused by a White male owned media, in movies, TV shows, books, and song, in order to absolve White men of their sexual improprieties towards them. (It is also interesting to note that the stereotype of the “Angry Black Woman” has reached popular prominence only after the prolonged period, from the 70s onward, in which Black women felt they could sexually refuse White men.)
According to mainstream media, no crime is too awful, too atrocious, or too heinous, for a Black man to commit. And the prevailing thought is that once a man of color has been accused that he should be thoroughly punished for it. Such is not the case with White men, who have developed a variety of strategies to help them escape the consequences of any crimes they commit.
Whether it’s a woman in Michigan falsely claiming that a group of black men kidnapped, beat and raped her; another woman claiming a black man kidnapped her 3-year-old and 14-month-old sons(whom she actually killed); the infamous Amanda Knox accusing a black man of the heinous murder she was initially convicted of; or even a man claiming that black men stabbed his wife to death (whom he actually killed). In each instance, the initial story was believable because of the troubling belief that a black man is capable of such a thing.
White men have lead a very successful propaganda campaign of equating rape and sexual assault with Black and Brown men, and the mainstream media has always aided and abetted this, since it is, in fact, owned by White men, who have a vested interest in not having their race be equated with any of the criminal sexual behavior in which they have historically engaged.
Where does the cognitive belief that black people are dangerous come from?
Partly, it comes from the media. A new study by Color of Change found that, while 51% of the people arrested for violent crime in New York City are black, 75% of the news reports about such arrests highlighted black alleged perpetrators.
Even now, Trump is a perfect example of this phenomenon, in microcosm, a media mogul who attempts to portray an entire culture of Brown men, (Mexicans) as violent rapists, in order to deflect public attention away from the sexual assault accusations that have been dogging his footsteps for over two decades.
“Many media outlets reinforce the public’s racial misconceptions about crime by presenting African Americans and Latinos differently than whites — both quantitatively and qualitatively,” concluded the report, “Race and Punishment: Racial Perceptions of Crime and Support for Punitive Policies.”
“Television news programs and newspapers over-represent racial minorities as crime suspects and whites as crime victims. Black and Latino suspects are also more likely than whites to be presented in a non-individualized and threatening way – unnamed and in police custody. . . .”
In 1915 the movie Birth of a Nation was released. Directed by D.W. Griffith, it is one of the highlights of cinematic history, but one of the horrific side effects of this film was the equating of Black men with miscegenation, and the rape of White women, (even though it had been largely White men who engaged in both). That stereotype has been the foundation of the demonization of Black and Brown men ever since. Suspiciously, it was not until after the Civil Rights Act was passed, that the idea of Black criminality (equating the word “thug” with Blackness, for example) became firmly cemented in mainstream media and popular culture. The word “crime” became synonymous with Blackness, in a way it had not before the Civil Rights Act was passed. People can’t say n****r without pushback, but they can call Black men “thugs”, and mean the exact same thing. They can’t call Black men rapists without censure, but they can call them”super-predators”, and have that mean the same thing, thus has such a successful connection been made between Black men and sexual assault.
According to Marc Mauer however, although African Americans have been consistently stereotyped as “biologically flawed” individuals who have a general tendency towards crime, the depiction of African Americans as criminals became more threatening only in the 1970s and early 1980s- with the evolution of the stereotype of African American males as “petty thieves” to “ominous criminal predators”.
I will say that I do not trust White women to be the head of this new movement. For far too long they have historically not called out (and even in some cases, been complicit with) white men who have been accused of assault. 68% of White women voted for Alabama representative Roy Moore, who had been accused of sexual misconduct against teenage girls.
In fact, women who regularly interact with misogynistic men are frequently praised and rewarded by those men for their complicity. When they ridicule other women who take to the streets to challenge inequality, they’re praised for being “real” women. When they brush off vulgar comments about other women as mere “locker room talk,” they’re praised for knowing how to “take a joke.” When they question the veracity of sexual assault allegations made by other women, they’re praised for sending a clear message that they stand by and with the men in their lives, no matter what. When they openly support candidates like Trump and Moore who seek to silence women, they earn praise for their ability to see past trivial “women’s issues.”
This is just one of the problems with this movement which no one is discussing: The racial implications to Black men, and White men’s reasons for panicking at the thought of the movement’s success. The White female proponents of this movement are not taking into account the effect this particular movement would have on men of color, and that it could be weaponized to victimize Black and Brown men, even more. Or that what this movement appears to be doing from the point of view of panicky White men, is move the burden of sexual assault, and rape accusations onto those to whom it truly belongs: White, cis-gender, straight men.