After co-opting #MeToo, white feminists and liberals continued to frame sexual assault as individual instances rather than as a systemic issue. TW/CW: This article discusses sexual assault, victim-blaming, anti-Blackness, and anti-indigeneity. As the Tara Reade allegation came to the forefront in recent
The “Black man's image” is not, never has been, and never will be more important than the safety of Black women.This essay contains discussion of sexual violence against minors and child pornography Black men find new ways to tell the world they hate Black women every day. It's hard to talk about this. Not just because it involves talking about how harmful misogynoir is, but because it's dangerous for someone like me to tell the truth about this harm and how prevalent it is. It's dangerous in the same way that it's dangerous for us to tell the truth about white supremacy in public, because there is always the chance that we will be met with reactionary white violence and attempts to silence us, and because the way Black men treat us often feels so similar to how white people treat us. Sometimes, it feels worse. A week ago, a private screening for Lifetime's “Surviving R. Kelly” docuseries was canceled after the the theater received a gun and bomb threat. The theater was filled with survivors and parents of survivors of R. Kelly's sexual and misogynistic violences. “Me Too” founder Tarana Burke was in attendance. As was #OscarsSoWhite originator, April Reign. “There is no question in my mind that this was a deliberate attempt to intimidate R. Kelly survivors and their supporters," Reign stated, and I agree wholeheartedly. In response to the threat and the canceled private screening, Burke said, “[F]rom being a survivor and my work with survivors, I think that it's really hard to get into a consistent healing process when there is always the threat of being re-traumatized. And so that's the worry I have is that people who are trying to put it behind them, trying to move ahead get railroaded in ways like this, you know, it's just detrimental." The writing has been on the wall about R. Kelly for a very long time, and it has taken more than two decades for people to finally start listening to the Black women who have been organizing against him and understand how dangerous he is. Even before his high profile relationship with Aaliyah, marrying her when she was only 15 years old and he was 27, he was a known predator in the Chicago area. From there, he went on to violate multiple underage girls and young women, often promising to help with their music career, with at least two videos with evidence of his statutory rape of Black girls surfacing and a large collection of child pornography being found at his home. Somehow, he always managed to escape accountability and prison time for these things, and this has allowed him to now become the leader of a cult where he keeps young women under his complete control, “dictating what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep, and how they engage in sexual encounters that he records.” One former assistant testified that the women around him even have to ask for food and get his permission to go to the bathroom, and if they break his rules, they are punished with physical and verbal assaults.
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As long as our culture refuses to hold the Depps of the world accountable, there will always be women like Heard who will be tasked with watching their abusers prosper.[TW/CW: discussion of domestic violence, rape culture and mentions of sexual assault.] New York Magazine's July 27th, 2015 cover is still as harrowing as it is iconic. Just beneath the bold red lettering of the publication's moniker are 35 women—the victims of Bill Cosby's serial sexual abuse—dressed in black and seated calmly in their chairs. The uniformity of their open poses and solemn, forward-facing expressions portray a shared preparation for public scrutiny, a feeling all too familiar to anyone who has ever spoken aloud of the abuse they have suffered. Seeing these women congregate in one image is an impactful sight on its own, but the standout element for many of us sits at the end of the last row: an empty chair. It remains unoccupied by all of the women who, despite the presence of nearly three dozen fellow survivors, still didn't feel supported enough to tell their stories. That doubt— something that so many silent survivors harbor—is substantiated by a society that not only continues to interrogate, mock, and ultimately gaslight victims of abuse, but also protects their abusers when they are especially powerful or popular. Johnny Depp is an immensely popular actor. When he and actress Amber Heard divorced in 2016, Heard detailed for the court a history of physical and psychological abuse at the hands of Depp. Her testimony included pictures of her bruised face and a detailed witness account from a friend who had to physically shield Heard from Depp's assault. When his legal team claimed that Heard's accusations were false and motivated by possible financial gain, she promised to donate her entire settlement—$7 million—to charity.
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For Tiffany Haddish to make light of Cosby’s wrongdoing is nothing short of disappointing. The situation is no laughing matter.By Jessica Dulaney Fresh off the release of the hit film Girls Trip, comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish has been charming audiences around the world while working the press circuit. She appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live to gush about her escapades with her co-star Jada Pinkett Smith; she was featured on The Breakfast Club to share her story of surviving domestic abuse and poverty to help raise her younger siblings and she dazzled on a recent cover of Essence magazine. Suffice it to say Haddish has been glowing in this newfound spotlight. Throughout her promotion for Girls Trip, Haddish has proven herself to be hilarious, down-to-earth, and downright likable. Celebrated as the breakout star of the film, she seems poised to take over Hollywood as the new comedic it-girl. However, a disturbing answer to a routine interview question now threatens to erode her newfound good graces in the eyes of the public. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times released last week, Haddish outlined her unlikely path to fame from foster care to comedy camp to sitcom scenes. She was one of eighteen black women comedians interviewed about their careers and the state of the industry. When asked to name some of her comedic inspirations, Haddish took an unexpected turn with her comments and named–of all people–Bill Cosby. For those out of the loop, in the past year, nearly sixty women have come forward to accuse Cosby of sexual assault. Cosby himself has admitted to extramarital affairs that included the non-consensual use of Quaaludes. While the court case ended in mistrial, the Cosby controversy is far from over, and the world is still reeling from the horrific revelation of a formerly beloved icon’s true character.