The ongoing news coverage of resurrected assault cases from Hollywood’s shady past is making a steady wave into our current times. From the numerous women coming forth with rape allegations against Hollywood icon Bill Cosby from over thirty years ago, to the success of the NWA movie shedding light on the violent occurrence between hip-hop veterans Dr. Dre and Dee Barnes – it appears that the stigma can no longer be swept under the rug, especially in cases involving high profile celebrities.
The ugly truth of social insensitivity towards domestic and sexual assault is still prevalent and more blatant. Back in the day, these particular cases were secluded to local neighborhoods and gossip columns. Nowadays, social media invites worldwide opinion to place judgment on these private and sensitive matters before all the facts can surface. Even with the presence of politically correct censorship placed upon media outlets, public opinion is all that seems to matter, and violence against women claiming these attacks are still a modern taboo.
After discussing this topic with various elders in my life, I’ve discovered that its inevitable existence was always difficult to unravel. From a legal perspective, domestic and sexual assault cases were heavily based on hearsay before the technological advancements of rape kits, DNA testing, and public surveillance were used in criminal investigations. Without reliable witnesses those cases were difficult to prove. Also, depending on the social and financial status of the aggressor (usually male), the public tended to cast a judgmental gaze on the reputation of the female victim. Many high-status men that were accused of these alleged assaults were usually wealthy, good looking, and have made influential contributions to society, thus, it was easy for the alleged male aggressor and the public to view the woman claiming assault as a liar seeking money, attention, or revenge. I truly believe in this unfortunate truth and it saddens me because women who are actual victims are automatically placed under this same judgment.
Yes, there are many women who lie about being raped or beaten for their own shady advancement. But, everyone tells lies – men, women, and children. When the public is aware of an alleged domestic or sexual assault against children, the child is immediately viewed as a victim, and the alleged attacker is immediately put under scrutiny. For example; when global icon Michael Jackson was charged with different cases of child molestation, he was quickly seen in a negative light. Majority of the public automatically believed the families involved, and there were very few people in Hollywood that came to Michael’s defense. Since then, it has come to light that many of these alleged child victims who are now adults have confessed that their parents told them to lie about being molested by Michael Jackson solely for financial gain.
This unbalanced public perspective on assault shows that many people still possess this “angry mob” mentality when expressing public opinion. Until all the facts have surfaced, it’s simply unfair to jump to conclusions on these highly publicized matters. There are always many factors to consider and both sides deserve equal examination. We all fail to realize that this insensitivity towards the alleged victims can run deep for people who have actually experienced this traumatic reality. For example, when highly acclaimed comedian and mogul Damon Wayans was interviewed on Power 105.1’s Breakfast Club radio show and asked about his view on the Bill Cosby rape accusations, he expressed that many of the women were “un-rape-able”. I realize that he comes from a generation where comedy was much harsher, but there are certain things that you leave to private conversations. He has the right to express his views, but the looks of a woman has never had anything to do with being a victim of rape or any other form of assault.
What’s sad is that after viewing the responses from the public on social media based on Damon’s statement; I saw that many men believe this super ignorant and superficial perspective. Yes, Dr. Cosby was a handsome, wealthy man who could’ve had any beautiful woman he desired without any force or effort. But, there are some men that realize this social favoritism, and may abuse it’s parameters amongst naive or misguided girls and women.
Largely, all people abuse power at some point. People of high status may abuse their authority, and those who are lower on the socioeconomic chain can dilute the honesty in actual abuse. Both domestic and sexual assault are a sad reality experienced by anyone despite your looks, status, or gender. We all must take responsibility in growing empathy in these matters because at any moment it could happen to any of us or our loved ones.