Sunday, June 15, 2008

R.Kelly: Let's Discuss

I didn't want to. I don't think he's worth the internet pages on my blog.

But a discussion has begun between me and Locked With Patience, who left a comment on WAOD, and I wanted to do her response justice.

First the history. On June 13, What About Our Daughters hosted an R. Kelly Verdict open thread. Locked with Patience wrote:

all that i can honestly say is that I didn't see the tape. that's it. i don't know if that's him or not since i have not witnessed it. so i can't condemn him.

on top of htat, i think that in order to have an honest conversation about statutory rape... we really have to have an honest conversation. some of these girls DO lie and some of these girls DO portray themselves as older than what they really are. Now if a man does not know about their real age, what are they suppose to do? now, i'm not talking about the man who does and is still pursuing.

anyways, i just think that this whole story is sad. i'll never know the truth, that i know.
My response--in part to LWP, but also in general to the Kels supporters--was:
Locked with Patience (And Other Kels Supporters),

Girls make false rape accusations only 2% of the time. That's an FBI statistic. It's the same percentage as false accusations of other crime. And its inflated by the number of girls who are actually fudging certain parts of the accusation ("i didn't get in the car with him" when she did) to protect themselves from the media trollery that ensues when women confront their attackers and get called sluts....

The girl never came forward. The tape surfaced. The tape was clearly him. A video expert was brought in to give testimony that it was him. Why wouldn't she come forward you ask? She's his goddaughter--trouble enough when family gets involved. She's been paid--we know how the media/community treats rape victims who have even the SEMBLEANCE of supposedly "benefitting" from the rape. She was a CHILD--and child sexual assault victims rarely come forward because they are children, scared, freaked out, confused, and a host of other reasons on top of the usual reasons women don't come forward. This thing started as a media circus--we have grown women who don't admit rape in the most supportive of situations. And we expected her to immediately point a finger? To want her name dragged through the mud? With her godfather--oh, my bad, the King of R&B?

Girls do fudge their age (I was one of them). And maybe a 13 year old girl can fool an 18 year old. Maybe. But a 13 year old girl cannot fool a 30 year old man. A MAN knows the difference in the same way that a WOMAN of the same age knows the difference between a well developed 13 year old boy and one who is an adult. We are talking about grammar school here.

And while I think what you are saying is completely wrong and forgets that we are supposed to protect our little sisters, daughters, goddaughters and nieces from this--I know that the messed up part is that a number of folks in our neighborhoods and homes think the same.

So I'm not attacking--I'm just trying to clarify.

And I'm not surprised at the verdict for the same reason.

We need you and all those who think that way because you are our sisters, brothers, uncles, fathers, and children. We are a kind of family, after all. We need to lift as we climb.

And as pissed as I am (and as violated as I feel for myself, my sisters and my future daughter)--what are next steps? How do we make sure this conversation never has to happen again and these events--from Kelly to Bynum--never happen again?

WAOD is definitely in the vanguard of action...I appreciate that.
LWP came to visit the crib (i.e. Waiting 2 Speak) and left this comment:

I am not a kelly "supporter". THe only thing that I said was that because I have not been presented with the evidence, so i can examine it individually, I am going to refrain from calling him a rapist.

If you want to know the truth, that is what is wrong with the black commmunity. Us not wanting to examine the situation! Instead we take people's word for it and run.

Also I didn't mean to say that women lie about being rape (though there are cases). I meant to say that there are girls who lie about their age and portray themselves as older than what they really are.

Also concernign statutory rape, I too find it hard for a 30 year old to beleive that a 13 year old was a grown woman. BUT those aren't teh only cases of statutory rape. What do we do about 16 and 17 year old girls who lies to 20 year olds? Are we really calling a 20 year old a pedophile for sleeping with a 17 year old? Do you believe that nothing should happen to the 16 and 17 year old for their lies? We're not suppose to punish "victims".

Condemn me all you want and tell me something is wrong with me. I'm not some dumb black chick who is going to allow anyone to bully me into believing what they believe, all because I ask for evidence and until then hold out from giving my own verdict in such sensitive cases.
All caught up folks? Good.

So, to LWP (and welcome to the blog, btw),
"If you want to know the truth, that is what is wrong with the black commmunity. Us not wanting to examine the situation! Instead we take people's word for it and run."
I completely agree and don't condemn you for it.

In fact, I think that happens on both sides of this particular case and happens often within the black community all the time when celebrities (or media splashed cases) come up for discussion. Kobe, O.J., Clarence Thomas, Dunbar rapists (according to Sharpton), etc. We ("black community") either champion or vilify. What is problematic to me is that loudest voices are often in the championing side. They are also almost never on the young woman's side. With the exception of the Duke rape crisis, the "black community" appears (APPEARS) to put the blame, slander, greed and scandal on the female's side.

You are refraining form calling him a rapist. Congratulations. You aren't refraining from calling her a liar though? Or molested? Or abused? Or even remotely put in an unbalanced power situation because, as someone on WAOD commented--if it isn't Kels, it is someone over 30 years old and she is stll a victim. So, you aren't reserving judgement before you know the facts---you're just reserving judgment on him. Which, by default, actually makes her guilty of something--being too sexy, lying about her age, not acting like a child, not having the right parents, being a golddigger and getting paid for it...etc.

Statutory rape is one issue, one I am not prepared to get into a debate about. Like I said in my original comment, I am definitely one of the girls who lied about her age. And I definitely had friends who were in a range of relationships with men who could have gone to jail for being with them. In my personal opinion, each of those situations involved some kind of unbalance in power and I never felt comfortable about them. There was always something about the way those guys (even when they were just 20 and we were 16) flaunted their money, cars, clothes, and style as a way to keep our attention...even to let us know that they'd paid for us, so they deserved to get something for it. Still, let's clear up another little myth here--there was nothing innocent about statutory rape then or now. The 20 year olds knew they weren't messing with 18 year olds, even when we lied. I'm sorry, I'm not convinced. They may have decided to let themselves be convinced, or to ignore it, but they weren't ever 100% sure that we were of age. And we weren't greedy harlots trying to raise our age by a few years to snag a man. We were kids, acting like kids. And they were men (20 = man) and should have been acting like men.

Hmm...kinda like a recently famous 13 year old may have been?

That issue aside, and since it seems to me that we at least agree that a 30+ man can tell the difference between an 18+ young woman and a 13 year old girl, then in what way do we not pronounce her a victim? And, if we need to, how does this relate to our reluctance to see 16 year old girls who raise their age a couple of years as victims of also of being taken advantage of, physically or sexually abused by 20 year old men? Why do we ("black community") seem to jump immediately to the defense of the young man and not the young woman.

What would happen if we centered her experience? If, instead of saying, "there's no proof it was him on the tape" we saw in the tape (or in the news hype) a girl who was abused by first an older man, then the media circus, and now the criminal justice system? Instead of behaving as though we needed proof that she was a legitimate victim (whatever the hell that is), what if we just took her side immediately, and said, "alright, my dear. Let's roast the fuckers who did this to you."

Okay, I have an ambivalent relationship to the criminal justice system. So maybe not that exactly. But this is part of my point--almost no one in the mainstream "black community" seems to say that. Black women in particular. Their first response is to protect the black male celebrity and condemn her for whatever we imagine her slight was.

And I don't think that is an issue of being a dumb black girl. If I were to call you that I'd have to call me that as well. Because these aren't attitudes that will change over night and I don't claim that I'm above them either. Just the other day I was dogging out Kim Kardashian and got checked by a friend of mine who noted that, whatever she did, it seems like she's in a commited relationship now with a man who loves her. I felt kinda salty about that. It's not related, but I definitely let the media influence what I thought of her instead of centering her as a woman.

Just four years ago I was on Kels. defense. I am Chicago born and bred.

So it's not a "I've been Bamboozled" thing. I think it's just an issue of growing up in a racist patriarchal society. And I think it's doing leaps and bounds of damage to our young girls and their self image and its giving free reign for older men (just like Kels) to do what they want--because SHE shouldn't have worn that around you, or SHE shouldn't have lied about her age or SHE got paid for it.


Alright Waiting 2 Speak readers....What say you?

(And thanks to LWP for engaging me in conversation on this as well.)


Archivist said...

Where to begin? You have faulty stats. The two percent is not an
FBI stat.In "Until Proven Innocent," the widely praised (praised even by the New York Times, which the book skewers) and painstaking study of the Duke Lacrosse non-rape case, Stuart Taylor and Professor K.C. Johnson explain that the exact number of false claims is elusive but "[t]he standard assertion by feminists that only 2 percent of rape claims are false, which traces to Susan Brownmiller's 1975 book "Against Our Will," is without empirical foundation and belied by a wealth of empirical data. These data suggest that at least 9 percent and probably closer to half of all rape claims are false . . . ." (Page 374.) Yet the crime of making a false rape report has become so embroiled in the feminist sexual assault milieu that it has been largely, and improperly, removed from the public discourse about rape. Sexual assault counselors often disingenuously refer to false accusations as a "myth." Denigrating the experience of the falsely accused by dismissing their victimization as a myth is not merely dishonest but morally grotesque. Check my Web site:

Anonymous said...

I never called her a liar. I was only speaking of statutory rape in general, and how there are osme girls who do lie.

You're the one who is calling her a liar because she's denying that it is her. I guess htat you have seen the tape (illegally... so what does that make you?) and her face as well?

I'm not calling the girl, whoever is in the tape, a liar at all.

You're confusing me for others who are labeling her, whoever the girl is in teh video, as a golddigger (though it is you who is saying that she took money, not me) and ruthless person. My comments haven't even alluded to that. Especially when for all I know it could be the case that the girl, in the video, may have told the man that she really was 13!

Yes, I agree that 99% of the time I believe that a man can tell a 13 year old is underaged. But I have to say that we must agree to disagree when we begin to talk about 16 and 17 year old young women. Do you know that there are 18 year old men still in high school, With 17 year old girlfriends? Are those boys pedophiles too? Even teh ones who aren't having sex.... the ones who are just holding hands, flirting, and kissing in the car? Pedophiles? And their girlfriends "victims"? You think on the extreme note--- 30 year olds with 13 year old. I think on the note of very young men, barely out of their teens, who often still socialize with people several years younger than them--- these laws affect them too.

You ask why can't we center her experience. I don't know. I'm not the one who is shouting over this case. I've merely commented on it. I was never on Kellz side, but neither was I one to condemn him and say that he did it. Also, it's not her on trial and facing jail time. So even if she did say that someone raped her, I'm not going to condemn the person she accuses immediatly. Let that play out in court! And for this case, it has played out in court. Now what?

I think that what we SHOULD be concerned about how the black media jokes about this case. Jokes about Kells being a child molester. That is what is disturbing! and I'm not saying that it's disturbing because they are calling someone a pedophile--- but they are laughing at such a horrible situation! Poeple can joke about rape? molestation? Even use "rape" as slang... "I'm going rape this game!"

That's why black women have such a hard time, because our community laughs about these situations!

Anyways, I don't see what else there is to debate about this. I agree that black people look at these sitautions too lightly and pass off young black girls as just being fast.

But I still feel that our laws need to change concerning what age groups can have sex with eachother. And on top of that I feel that girls who have lied should get in trouble!

ThummyB said...

I miss you so much.

I'll just briefly say that this has truly been one of the most disappointing moments in Black history. As you have noted, the lack of willingness for the Black community to treat this young lady as a victim and this man as a predator is baffling to me. Most don't even take a middle of the road stance and say "I'm not sure what the truth is." Instead they automatically begin to explain away his actions and accuse the child of being 'fast' and 'loose'. It is completely shameful that we have continued to purchase his music, attend his concerts, and blast him on our radios. It is not just the courts that have done this young woman a disservice, but rather the entire Black community.

Celishia said...

This is definitely an interesting back and forth. I'm not surprised at all by the verdict. Once they said the alleged victim said it was not her on the tape, there is definitely reasonable doubt that it is him. That, however, does not change whether he is in fact guilty but that is our criminal justice system.

I have never been able to understand our quickness to come to the defense of a black man often at the expense of a black woman. It happens in all kinds of cases, famous/public or not. At a job I had in high school, a young women who was not even out of high school accused a manager of sexual harassment and he was fired. I heard about this, not from her or anyone in her defense but from older black women who said SHE shouldn't have done that to him because HE had a family to care of, including a wife I believe. Since when did his family, his job, his career, or his money become HER responsibility to protect? I think it goes back to a discussion I have had with our friends and maybe we even talked about it in NYC. We as black not only have higher expectations for each other than we do black men and we often hold each other accountable for black men and their actions. Blaming the victim is an issue in every community when it comes to women and their bodies but like a lot of other issues it seems more pronounced in our community. I'm not sure what to do about it but it definitely is a part of the patriarchal system where women get labeled sluts, fast, loose, etc. and men are just being men.