Rape Culture in the Black Community: The Victim Needs Saving, Not the Attacker

By:Aisha Naantaanbuu

In light of Bill Cosby’s December 2015 arrest (and bail because you know, he got it like that), the black community has been extremely divided on their opinions of Cosby. What’s concerning me the most are the black men and surprisingly black women who are coming to bat for him.I really want everybody to know what “rape culture” is so that it’ll be easier to understand where I’m coming from. According to Women Against Violence Against Women crisis center, rape culture is a term that was coined by feminists in the United States in the 1970’s. It was designed to show the ways in which society blamed victims of sexual assault and normalized male sexual violence.

“They’re just trying to bring a black man down.” Let me stop you there. Now I’m very much so a “conspiracy theorist” and even I’m not claiming sabotage with this one. Bill Cosby has brought himself down by HIMSELF. Yes, he created shows that provided us with positive, healthy images of the black family. Yes he has been successful in the entertainment business and had once been considered an icon. However his real character is despicable, he’s a monster, and he is nothing like Cliff Huxtable.

Let’s rewind to Cosby’s 2005-2006 deposition where he admitted to giving Quaaludes to women prior to having sex with them (keep in mind that he was not under the influence).

cosby pic 1cosby pic 2

He even admitted to premeditated plans of using the drugs for other purposes besides his bad back, which was what they were prescribed for. Just in case? Was he expecting them to have a bad back also or…?

I’ve seen many people on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram claiming that these women accused Cosby in efforts to sabotage his projects with NBC, that did get dropped because of the allegations; however, he has been accused of rape almost 10 years before that… so that presents a problem with that theory. And let’s not forget that he ADMITTED to drugging multiple women (all while being a married man).

I’m just going to say that people don’t know about the deposition documents from 2005-2006, but then again it’s on them to do the research before they defend a sexual predator and attack women who have been sexually violated. Cosby supporters and defenders have often said, “Why did it take them so long to come forward?” as if rape is something exciting to announce, like a pregnancy.

What people don’t understand is, that when you attack a rape victim for speaking their truth, you discourage them from putting their attacker away, you discourage them from getting the justice they deserve, and you add on to their emotional pain, embarrassment, and trauma. What people also don’t seem to understand is that everybody deals with trauma differently. Whether it’s rape, death, drug abuse or whatever the situation is, everybody isn’t going to deal with is head-on.

Sometimes it takes people years to admit to themselves that it happened, let alone confronting it. It’s no secret that rape victims often feel ashamed because they always feel that it was their fault or that they could’ve done something to avoid it. And there’s always the fear of being accused of lying… and that’s exactly what Cosby’s accusers are enduring now. Imagine being violated by someone you trust, or someone period, and being faced with the extremely difficult task of having to relive that moment on the witness stand while all eyes are on you.

To be brave enough to come forward is commendable at best, and to attack the victim and not the attacker is despicable, disrespectful, insensitive, and downright soulless. So why do some women wait so long to admit that they’ve been assaulted and pursue justice? Well the misogynistic behavior like that being shown by Cosby defenders are prime reasons why.

It appears that part of the black community doesn’t want to believe that he’s a rapist because of his monetary success, philanthropic contributions, and mogul status. I get it. He’s a black man that gained success in a world that doesn’t want to see us succeed. However, that does NOT make him exempt from committing sexual assault. Some of the worst people may do a good deed every once in a while, so him doing a plethora of good deeds does not make the allegations impossible from being true.

I really want people, male and female, to grasp is that any man can be a rapist. Any man. Big, small, black, white, famous, unknown, rich, poor, friendly, shy, loved, or hated. It doesn’t matter. A man’s public status, public opinion, and public deeds do not prevent him from being a sexual predator.

The black community has become so hungry for one of our own to succeed (which is fabulous, don’t get me wrong), that we will try to save someone we see as “the one who made it” at the expense of the one who was/is hurt. Another issue with the sabotage conspiracy is that every successful black man isn’t being accused of rape because well… every iconic black man isn’t out here raping people… so there’s that.

Let’s take a step back from Bill Cosby’s allegations and observe rape culture in the black community as a whole. Men have always been protected at the expense of their victims, when it comes to rape and molestation. One of the biggest flaws in the older black community is the refusal to address rape.

I love and respect older black people with all of me, but a lot of them had it bad with brushing sexual abuse under the rug. “Don’t talk about that no mo’,” “Don’t tell anybody,” “He didn’t do nothing to you,” and the worst, “What did you do to make him do that? What were you wearing? Were you being a fast lil girl?” as if a woman or little girl is responsible for the actions of a man.

Why is it always the woman’s fault? Short, tight, and revealing clothes have always been associated with women being promiscuous, which honestly sometimes the two do correlate, but it does not excuse nor does it grant permission for any man to force himself upon a woman.

Rape is way more common than most people think, so the chances that a woman is telling the truth about an attack is bound to be higher than her lying. It’s so crucial that men and women try not to hurt victims even more, but rather help them heal. Let them know that they’re not alone. Tell them that they do have the right to speak out about their suffering.

Most importantly, always remind our girls, teens, and women that it’s okay for them to bring any man down for hurting them, no matter who he is. People often say that the alleged victim may be lying, but what they seem to forget is that there’s also a chance that she may very well be telling the truth. I think it’s so much easier for people to be dismissive of rape victims because everybody feels that they won’t be a victim. It’s one of those things where people are insensitive until it happens to them or someone around them.

With that being said, let me leave you with this thought. If your mom, sister, aunt, daughter, or friend came to you saying that someone as influential as Bill Cosby raped her, is she too a liar? Would you still advocate for that man’s innocence then? It’s just something to think about. No one is invincible to possibly falling of victim to a sexual attack. The only thing that keeps us women blessed enough to not have endured such tragedy is the grace of God.


(photos from CNN )

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8 years 16 days ago

Great read, I definitely can relate to this article on a personal level.

7 years 7 months ago

During the past year, I read an article by a black man named Darnell L. Moore titled “The Bill Cosby Scandal Proves Why Black Women’s Lives Still Don’t Matter.” In this article, he cites how even black victims of Cosby’s were met with suspicion and hostility when they came out with their stories of encounters with him. He cites Beverly Johnson as the prime example of this. He also talks about how hypocritical it is that a movement that professes to be pro-black ignores the misogyny within black communities. He cites the “dangerous limitations” of a movement whose “lack of… Read more »

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