Bruh, for no reason?

Bruh, for no reason?

Several brothers around the blogosphere are engaged in an interesting conversation about Black women and rape. While some men turn a blind eye to the abuse women face at the hands of their brethren, a collective of Black male scholars recently penned an open letter to Dr. Boyce Watkins after he wrote an article about rape they deemed problematic.

Last December, Watkins wrote an essay titled, “How Sleeping With the Wrong Woman Might Turn You Into A ‘Rapist.’” In it, he wrote about meeting a woman whose son had been accused of rape. Although the man’s mother didn’t believe her son could do such a thing, the man had plead guilty.

Watkins explains:

COPY CODE SNIPPET

According to the accused, he slept with the woman during a one night stand, and the woman accused him of sexual assault as a way to get revenge.  She says that her son only took the plea deal because he was being tortured by having to stay in a jail cell with violent felons.  I listened to the story patiently, but since I was not the judge, attorney, or prosecutor, my opinion really didn’t matter.  The fact is that, no matter what I think or anyone else, in the eyes of society, her son is a rapist.

It doesn’t matter if he goes to church, if he has a family, if he is a medical doctor or even if he’s innocent.  The state has given him a label that he will never be able to shake for the rest of his life.  And for all I know, he might deserve it.  I wasn’t in the bedroom when he chose to sleep with that woman.

What does matter to me, however, is the answer to this question:  What if he really was telling the truth?  It’s not as if we don’t know about countless black men being incarcerated for things they didn’t do, it happens all the time.

Though Watkins points out that he wasn’t talking about actual rapists, he goes on to warn brothers to be careful who they sleep with because some women falsely accuse Black men of rape because they are “FLAT-OUT-CRAZY.”

My warning to young men is to be extremely careful about how, where and with whom you spread your seed.  The dumb a** music on the radio sends a message that every time a beautiful woman opens her legs for you, you’re supposed to “take it.”  They don’t remind you that some of these women may be diseased, and that stripper/jump off/random woman you slept with on a one night stand might possibly end up being the mother of one of your kids.

Even beyond the simple hazards that come with lying down with a woman who could destroy your life in a heartbeat is the fact that some women (not all) are FLAT-OUT-CRAZY.  You might think you’re in control because she’s sweet, sexy and hangs on your every word.  But you also run the risk that she may decide to punish you by dropping an ugly allegation that could send your entire life into a tailspin.  I won’t even talk about how often brothers go broke from paying a ton of child support.

While Watkins maintains he wasn’t suggesting most women falsify rape claims, a group of brothers saw it differently.

Writer and professor Kiese Laymon; mental health advocate and writer Mychal Denzel Smith; Filmmaker Kai M. Green; youth advocate Marlon Peterson; Duke professor Mark Anthony Neal; Cultural critic Hashim Pipkin; Former NFL player Wade Davis, II; and writer and activist Darnell L. Moore respectfully called Watkins out for his article, which they thought was “irresponsible, callous and willfully thoughtless” at best, and “hateful, misogynistic and deeply troubling” at worst.

The group writes:

There is not an index of sexual violence and rape in this country that suggest that the rates of such offenses could ever be equated with the number of false accusations.  Indeed the numbers tend to pivot the other way as cases of rape and sexual violence, especially in our own communities, are underreported, often out of the need and desire for many of the victims to protect their Black males assailants.  In other words, very often the Black women victims of rape and sexual violence are more willing to offer protection to their attackers, than you were willing to offer protection to those same Black women in your article.  Many of these issues are directly addressed by Aishah Shahidah Simmons in her important film No!: The Rape Documentary.

Right now, a Black woman somewhere in the US and around the world is having to confront real-time threats and acts of sexual violence at the hands of a male perpetrator. Right now, a Black woman—someone’s mother, aunt, sister, partner, friend—fears telling the truth about an act of sexual violence that has forever shaped her life because she believes that authorities and others won’t believe her report. Right now, a man is calling an act of rape a moment of great sex. And your unthoughtful article is excusing the inexcusable and furthering the problem of sexual assault, too often waged against our sisters, in a rape culture.

It is not without concern for the history of Black men being falsely accused of crimes, specifically rape, that we come to you. We all know this history very well. It is however, our concern that you are willing to turn a blind eye to the history and suffering of our sisters, to actively degrade them by name – “wolf in freaks’ clothing”—and  by action, based on personal anecdotes and a vendetta against white liberals. We are not engaged in the project of Black uplift if we choose to ignore that Black women are often terrorized by the Black men that claim to love them. This article you published excuses that terror.

Watkins responded to the group’s letter by writing his own open letter and recording a video defending his words.

I got daughters. Of course I don’t want men out here just raping women for no reason,” Watkins explains in the 24-minute video. “You’ve seen things I’ve written about R. Kelly; I can’t stand R. Kelly…I don’t like that there’s a lot of evidence that he did some things he shouldn’t have done. But at the same time, am I really the target that you’re aiming for, or are you aiming for something else?”

Watkins concludes his written response by saying Black male scholars need not be so critical of one another. He also argues the group’s letter was misplaced because he cares about Black women and the community as a whole.

It’s always easier for a black man to point the gun at his brother than to point it at the institutions that enslave us.  So, I’ll end this conversation by encouraging the men behind this essay to find the real enemy and realize that his name is not Boyce Watkins.  I have daughters, and was raised mostly by women, so my goal is to protect them.  But it was also the presence of a strong father-figure in my life which taught me not to bow down to pressure when I believe that I am armed with the truth.  These words are to encourage these brothers to let go of the temptation to go with the ideologies that are most popular and do what is best for their community, even at the risk of being deemed politically incorrect.

What do you think? Was Watkins’ essay ‘dangerous’ or are his thoughts what’s “best for the community”? Sound-off! 

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