Do I really believe Bill Cosby raped all of those women? Do I really believe that Bishop Long used his power to manipulate several young boys and young men into sexual relationships? Do I believe Michael Jackson molested those boys? Do I believe R. Kelly urinated on that girl? What about Cee-Lo (Check out this list of 13 rappers who have been accused of sexual assault: http://www.xxlmag.com/news/2013/10/9-rappers-involved-sexual-assault-cases/2/)?
A month ago, Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, also said some really stupid things about women not going after fair pay. Essentially, he said that we should not go after the working conditions and pay that we’re entitled to because the forces of the universe will just make it happen…eventually.
A few years ago, I used to attend a church whereby the pastor made some pretty sexist remarks about women. I decided to leave that church because I simply refused to accept many of the tenets of the church about women, and the pastor’s sermons on the topic were beyond upsetting, sexist and offensive (Now, I’ve decided to simply ignore the vast majority of church folks, men and women, on the topic in order to enjoy fellowship; however, that is another post). Before leaving the church, I spoke with an older couple about my thoughts and feelings on the topic, and the man of the couple said, “Well, everybody knows that he and his wife don’t have a good relationship.” I was like, “You’ve got to be kidding me! You and the rest of the church tolerated that unacceptable sermon because he has problems at home?” Lets suppose that the pastor that I’m talking was Joel Osteen and that he’d made comments about black people: he would have been apologizing for days and we would have burned him at the stake! Evenso, he wouldn’t have suffered any long term significant consequences, not in my opinion, that is.
I could point to many more instances whereby women are subjected to sexism. Unfortunately, I can also point to many instances where the behavior is justified by both men and women. Many women really believe that their God-given position demands that they “show power through control and let a man lead” while some men really do believe because they are physically stronger than women and have a penis that that authority is their God-given right. Oddly, this perspective is held by religious people and by people who couldn’t care less about God and/or the church.
So, what does this have to do with Mr. Cosby? Essentially, my point is that you can insult women and assault us, and society doesn’t really care (As common as rape is, I find it very interesting that common lore tells us that inmates rape and beat other inmates who are convicted of sexually assaulting children and women. Somebody has got to be a hypocrite). People are only focusing on Mr. Cosby because Hannibal Burress, a comedian brought it up in a comedy skit as a scathing critique of American culture. Now, all of a sudden people want to destroy the persona of being America’s favorite “Tell It Like It Is” black grandpa.
I am not saying Bill shouldn’t be punished if it can be proven that he did those things. I am saying that our society is full of hypocrisy on the topic. On one hand, we passively and actively accept the subordination of women and then we want to talk about gold-diggers. If you make gender the basis for making men superior, why should a woman not use her sex, both her gender and the act? Don’t tell me that women who do such are of questionable character when men who automatically assume their superiority are just doing what men do.
I think society has set itself up around a paradigm that is changing. Although the change is slow, the chickens are coming home to roost in an ironic way. Many people have taken what they believe is the role of the woman at home and failed to distinguish her home-life from her “other life” and made it basis for keeping her basic everywhere. This subordination has created a context whereby marriage and many other romantic relationships are are really financial relationships. Now that women are making some financial gains outside the home, men are reluctant to consider how their roles in the home are changing. If she doesn’t need you to be the provider and actually wants you to be present emotionally and not just sexually, can you handle it or now are you accusing her of not letting you lead and emasculating you?
So, let me bring it on home: I believe rape is an extension of sexism. Women will continue to face inequality, hostile work environments, prescribed roles at home (despite whether she wants those roles or no matter how ineffective she may be at them) and be targeted on the streets simply because we are women….and society is generally okay with it. We’re okay with women being treated negatively; we’re just hesitant to acknowledge what it leads to.