Last week Charlamagne tha God gave himself a well-deserved Donkey of the Day for only recently realising that he had been raised in rape culture. In his daily monologue, he acknowledged that “I feel bad and extremely dumb that I didn’t realise this earlier in my life. I don’t care if it was Freaknik, Miami Memorial Weekend, Myrtle Beach, Black Biker Weekend, it was never normal to feel like you can grab a women’s ass just because it was fat and she’s got on biker shorts and daisy dukes. ”
He went onto acknowledge that he is guilty of participating in rape culture even on the Breakfast Club, where he has interviewed women celebrities and crossed the professional boundary. And while I do find Charlamagne problematic sometimes (mainly because of the way he talks to women on the radio show), he does make some very valid points regarding rape culture.
But wait, let’s not roll out the red carpet for Charlamagne just yet. If you’re a feminist, your reaction to his moment of self-awareness was like:
Especially considering that women, feminist and non-feminist alike, have preached this since the conception of feminism. But rather than express a sense of concern for an issue that is predominately taken up by women, we’re told by society, “Boys will be boys.”
I don’t know about you, but that sounds a lot like, “Boys will be allowed to exert sexual dominance over women in the form of language, behaviour and discrimination and we must not challenge it at the risk of disrupting societal norms.”
But let’s rewind for a minute.
What is rape culture?
According to Oxford Dictionaries, Rape Culture is defined as,
“A society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse.”
So in honour of Charlamagne’s delayed realisation that he and many other men perpetuate rape culture. Here are 5 examples of this phenomena to help you put it into perspective:
“You knew what you were getting yourself into.”
Whether you thought Bill Cosby did or he didn’t do it, there was a common theme online that these women somehow knew what they were getting themselves into. By suggesting that it is the fault of the person who was drugged and raped while they were incapacitated justifies the actions of the perpetrator, in this case, Bill Cosby. Rather than recognising that it is morally reprehensible to drug someone without their knowledge, the public persisted with the idea that the 40 plus victims were to blame for Cosby’s disgusting actions.
47-year old +14-year old = 31-day sentence?
Back in 2008, a 47-year-old Billings, Montana high school teacher was charged with three counts of sexual intercourse without consent against Cherise Moralez, a 14-year old student. When the news broke in their small town, Cherise was ostracised and cast out by people once close to her and blamed for what had happened to her. In fact, when Judge G. Todd Baugh delivered his sentence he stated that Moralez, “seemed older than her age,” and that she was, “as much in control of the situation,” as the man who abused her. Obviously excluding the fact that he was in a position of responsibility and had a legal obligation to protect the welfare of all children in the school.
He was given a 31-day sentence and she committed suicide nearly 2-years later. The fact that a law enforcer and servant of the public would consider a 14-year old child in control of a ‘sexual relationship’ with a man 35-years her senior demonstrates the kind of environment where sexual violence is normalised, especially when the victim is a woman.
“Don’t wear that if you don’t want men to stare.”
A cleric from Saudi Arabia said in a viral video, “A woman who leaves her house wearing make-up and perfume is an adulteress… I swear to God, women are the cause of harassment and adultery. ”
See how absurd that sounds?
That’s how crazy people sound when they tell you not to wear shorts in public.
By telling a woman, that she shouldn’t wear what she wants because it will attract negative attention is telling all women that if we don’t want men to assault us, we should cover up. And that then leads to, “Well what was she wearing?” or “You know how she dresses,” if someone were to sexually assault her. (God help me, if I catch you staring at my breast like a wild dog in heat, I’ll poke your eyes out. Control yourself. )
Electing a self-confessed predator to be President.
I don’t need to write a paragraph about this. America, this one is on you, you normalised this horny cheeto and rape culture when you elected him.
“It’s just a song.”
Music and rape culture go hand in hand. It’s been the centre of perpetuating violence against women for years, right underneath our noses and not many people realised it. Obvious songs like Rick Ross’ U.O.E.N.O, where he raps, “Put molly all in her champagne/She ain’t even know it/I took her home and I enjoyed that/She ain’t even know it.” And Robin Thicke’s not so obvious Blurred Lines, where he sings, “I know you want it, ” have been dubbed problematic.
But it’s not just the lyrics that allude to or depict rape that is problematic. It’s also lyrics like, “We might fuck yo mane in this bitch, we might run a train on that bitch,” (21 Savage, I love a lot of your music but that’s awful), that reduce women to objects that can be touched and tossed away at the will of men.
And lyrics like “Baby I’m preying on you tonight. Hunt you down, eat you alive. Just like animals,” Sorry Maroon 5, but women are already the prey in a society that normalizes violence against women.
All of these examples demonstrate how rape culture permeates our everyday interactions with women, with society and with the media.
How do we tackle it?
Well, Charlamagne seems to be on the right path.
The first step is acknowledging that there is a problem. We must recognise that what we’ve learned to be normal in relation to the way we treat women in society needs to be unlearned. We must accept that each individual is accountable for THEIR own actions and not anyone else. And we must teach our children that women are not objects for consumption, abuse and degradation.
Let’s keep these conversations going in our classrooms and in our living rooms, and work toward a society where women are not constantly threatened in music, advertising, at work, at the grocery store and pretty much everywhere else.