White Lies, Black Sheep: Rape Culture And Racial Privilege

Profile of woman and clouds
Profile of woman and clouds

Safe. Sane. Consensual. That's what sex should be -- always. Under no circumstances should anyone ever be coerced or forced into doing anything they don't want to do sexually. One definition of consent is: permission for something to happen, or an agreement to do something. Consent requires a green light from both parties, and either party can revoke consent at any time.

But America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, has developed, honed and now, as a result of the Turner ruling, appears to condone a rape culture. Rape is as old as time, and rape in America pre-dates slavery. White men raping black women was tacitly sanctioned by other white men, and generally ignored by the culture at large. It's been said that you can't talk about sex without talking about politics; truer words were never spoken. Today, when a black male is in the vicinity of a white female who makes accusations of rape, the black male - like Brian Banks who served 5 years in jail for a rape crime he didn't commit - is immediately a suspect. Raped of his youth, his freedom and dignity, and totally ignored, Banks states that he identifies with the woman Brock Turner recently sexually assaulted. Banks and Turner's victim suffered gravely because white privilege often trumps the truth. These victims are now societal black sheep - both of them blamed by a slanted judicial system: one for being black and the other for speaking out about her victimization.

The White Lies surrounding both of these cases cannot be missed. White privilege lies by omission; it minimizes, rationalizes and denies its behavior in service of maintaining its position of power. It's racist, misogynistic and takes what it wants, when it wants it.

Brock Turner, a privileged white university athlete may have grown up in a decent family (although that's dubious given his father's vile remarks.) But had he grown up watching violent Internet pornography images debasing women, we can assume he got a clear message that he can do anything he wants sexually. Turner, like many males his age, would have learned that you can hit, punch, choke, spit, sexually assault a female when she's unconscious, rape her anally, or throw her out of a moving vehicle - whatever you like goes. These images go hand-in-hand with how sexually inadequate Internet porn makes males feel due to the unrealistic ideas and expectations it imposes on them. This hypothesis doesn't in any way exonerate Turner from his actions, it just may explain why he felt emboldened to lead a drunk woman to a dumpster, deposit her on the ground behind it, and proceed to sexually fondle her.

Consent means authorization to proceed. Since when is a drunk person, or worse yet, one who's passed out, able to authorize anything? A good rule of thumb is, if you can't drive a car, you can't consent to sex. Next time you're at a party and someone is vomiting or has passed out, call 911 because you're witnessing a medical emergency. If you wouldn't put that person in a car to drive home, you shouldn't have sex with them, because they can't consent.

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Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-656-HOPE for the National Sexual Assault Hotline.