Last week was the straw that broke the camel’s back. In the midst of explosive revelations, I learned it’s a lot easier to detach from ideas and people than I thought. It’s not that I didn’t know but more so I felt I had to be agreeable and considerate so I didn’t step on anyone’s feelings. I lived by the “the customer is always right” ideal and applied it to my interactions with anyone. No matter how ignorant I thought someone’s opinion was, I told myself everyone is entitled to an opinion. That is until I got sick of seeing the complete asinine opinions about sexual assault and rape. Every time I think I’m done writing about these topics, they come back up and I realize it’s not the words that trigger me anymore. It’s the opinions and conversations people have about them. But I never said too much because I didn’t want to be labeled as weak, militant, combative, angry or “unhealed.” So I silenced myself and buried my fury.
First thing’s first. I was not raped by white men. My rapists were very much so black men and it’s a detail I’ve never talked about until now. I honestly didn’t think it mattered, but 9 years later it’s a detail that suddenly loomed in the forefront of my mind as I watched various people defend a black man who admitted he drugged someone to have sex with them. As you can imagine, the LAST thing I can stomach is the idea that someone shouldn’t get in trouble for sexual assault when another person hasn’t. Look, I’m not blind to the fact black men come under harsher scrutiny and are often punished more so than white men but this is where I drawn the damn line. Heinous crimes are heinous no matter who commits them. Quite frankly, I’m not giving anyone a pass who has spent a lifetime of abusing others.
Do you really think people are excited that other men haven’t been convicted of sexual assault? Do you really think it’s fun to know that because some people have lied about being sexually assaulted that anyone who dares to speak their truth is immediately doubted and called all sorts of names? Do you know how many people never even went to the police to report what happened to them? How many men, black and white, do you think haven’t gotten in trouble for sexual assault and rape? How many women haven’t gotten in trouble for this? How many family members have swept sexual assault and rape under the rug because one family member molested another family member? How many people in the church have molested children and the church didn’t report them to the police? Do you know how many people already blame themselves for what happened to them and nasty opinions can drive that knife in even further? I am way over pretending that it doesn’t send me into a rage when people don’t even seem to try to understand the weight of their words. It’s like, “did you even try today or did you pull this one straight out of your ass?”
I’ve worked tirelessly not to be controversial and it makes me sick to know I’ve been trying to be considerate of other people’s feelings when they show their ass on this subject every single time. All of the opinions I’ve been afraid that people will have? I learned they will have them and some of them will be so outrageously nutty that you start to realize you might as well give yourself permission to speak whatever truths you have. I don’t know if people are afraid that their perception of someone is shattering or what. Maybe, just maybe, people have defended abusers in their lives before so it’s second nature for them to defend one on a much larger scale.
It has taken years but what I’ve experienced is no longer my prison guard. It is my ally to give toxic masculinity all the hell it’s spread into this world and figure out how I can be better supportive of those who have experienced horrors at its hands. And I’m not being slight in this fight because I know women are capable of regurgitating toxicity too. We see it often with the, “this is what sets me apart from hoes” posts and “maybe if women treated themselves with more respect then men wouldn’t…” Do you tell black men that when they’re treated horribly by the cops even if they have multiple degrees, a high paying job or do everything in their power to comply with the police? Exactly. We see you and you’re a part of the problem too.
I think it’s telling of how people act and what they say when someone chooses not to be silent about their trauma. I think it’s even more telling when someone chooses to still support a person who is guilty of doing horrible things. God forbid the person we thought was reputable and upstanding is actually capable of doing monstrous things. And God forbid people choose to speak up about it, inciting others to dish out nasty opinions. It speaks volumes but I think we are coming into a time where people are tired of hiding and silencing themselves out of fear of what others will say. I’m reminded of a quote by the late, great Zora Neale Hurston,
If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” – Zora Neale Hurston