When KKD was accused of raping a teenager last year, the public jury’s verdict was divided along gender lines. Most men believed he was not guilty. He was just a victim of a culture where victimhood was increasingly being glorified. The sex was consensual and the girl at the centre of it all saw the situation as an opportune moment for her to grab fame or even some pecuniary recompense. “she trapped him!” most of us exclaimed.
With the women, the sentiments was not monolithic. Some echoed what the men were saying. They felt like there was no way a girl almost into her 20s could not resist a man who was “trying to force himself on her”. “What at all was she doing in his room” some queried.
And then there were those women who were vocally behind the alleged victim. They fought for the girl and confronted those who were hell bent on shaming the girl and plastering her image on every social media space.
With the Bill Cosby situation, we are seeing something similar but more nuanced. The schism of public opinion is not only based on gender but on race and to an extent economics. On the perfunctory, men generally think the man is innocent while women think he is not. Once viewed through the racial lenses, it all changes. Most black people are of the view that Cosby is being crucified for his supposed anti-establishment moves. Having graced TV screens around the world as the iconic Cliff Huxtable and inspiring black people in America by playing head of a well-educated and successful black family, his ardent admirers see the allegations against him as a textbook “bring the successful black man down” ploy.
As of date, over 50 women have brought forth allegations of rape, sexual assault and sexual misconduct against him dating back to the 60s. It certainly has taken far too long for most of the allegations to pop up but whispers of Cosby’s alleged sexual predation has been around for as long as his charm has been on TV.
Of those who see him guilty are some black women. Unfazed by the backlash and name calling they face from their communities, they stand behind the women. To them, society has for far too long deified the man. Man is seen as always right. His sexual drive can be quenched without the consent of the woman and if there ever is a case of rape, the woman is to blame. Her short skirt was an invitation, her smile was suggestive, and her tight fitting dress was too fitting. She is always to blame. So even though they are wary about the potential of an absolute support for victims of rape cases increasing a culture of victimhood, they remain resolute behind alleged rape victims. After all, society is predisposed to be sympathetic to the man. Someone needs to always stand up for the woman.
What the Bill Cosby and KKD rape allegations have shown is how the alpha status of males is still intact. Those trumping Cosby’s innocence rarely engage the merits of the case. It is all peripheral issues and conspiracy theories. They talk about how the status of limitation of most of the cases has expired and an agenda by white America to bring down a successful black man by using white women to destroy his legacy. But they do not ask the “did he drug these women”, “are the women lying about a lack of consent” and “did he really rape them” questions. And this is in 2016 America, a society which is supposed to be in its 4th wave of feminism.
What was the case in Ghana with KKD? Not much different really. It was the “what was she doing out at that time” “why was she in his room” and “ why would a man like KKD force himself on a teenager when he can have any kind of woman he wants” questions.
As already stated, always believing everyone who shouts “ RAPE” is a very dangerous thing. It gives people a perverse incentive to falsely charge others, especially celebrities and increases a culture of victimhood. There are examples of people who have fallen prey to this culture. There is Brian Banks, an ex NFL player who was falsely accused of rape by a woman who was awarded over a million dollars in damages. Banks football career which was on the ascendancy quickly plummeted and was imprisoned. And there is one of the sons of the motherland, Eric Frimpong a once promising soccer player for UC Santa Barbara, who was convicted of rape but whose story once read and appreciated clearly shows that of an immigrant who was bound to be found guilty by the powers that be. Do read his story when you have the chance!
The challenge is in responding to issues like rape and sexual assault without being influenced by our biases or desire to keep our privilege intact. For our failure to do this will only lead to victims being mute and perpetrators getting relentless. And if we want to end this creeping culture of victimhood, then we might as well stop the slut shaming for victims who come out these days will have their supporters.