Open Season On The Help

I'm trying to think of the last high profile case where a black woman alleged rape or sexual harrassment and got justice. I think it was back when Mike Tyson went to jail  for raping Desiree Washington and that only happened because no stereotypes were threatened. Tyson was the hyper-sexual, brutal Mandingo that did the expected but even in such a clear case, his victim was maligned as stupid, at fault and out for profit.  Black women can look at recent history to see that America is not ready to let go of the idea that their bodies are open invitations to rape.


Even after Oprah, the dominant media portrayal of black women tends toward the maid, the mammy or the prostitute.  In the current Box Office top ten movies, there is only one that even has a black woman with more than 2 lines. It is X-Men, first class, where our beautiful subject plays a stripper. It turns out she has wings and can spit fire but even with these powers, she does sex work which she does not seem to especially enjoy. It goes without saying that this portrayal stems from slavery, when Black women were fixtures in white homes and their bodies were abused at leisure with no  repercussions.


This image of black women is not benign but plays itself out anytime a black woman alleges sexual abuse. When an immigrant, maid at an upscale hotel recently accused  Dominique Strauss-Kahn of rape, I had the sinking feeling that even though it was probably true, it was the worst thing she could have done for herself.  It took less that a week for the prosecuters to come to the conclusion that she not the model citizen and unless you live a life without blemish, your rape allegation is worthless. Maureen Dowd wrote an intelligent piece called When a Predator Collides with a Fabricator:

To get political asylum in America, the woman, an African immigrant, lied that her husband had died by torture at the hands of police officers and soldiers in Guinea. She told investigators, falsely, that she had been gang-raped there. To get a bigger break on her taxes, she claimed a friend’s child as her own. To impress the grand jury, she said that after the attack by DSK, she had waited in a hall for him to get an elevator before reporting it to her supervisor. 
But as the red-faced apologia filed by the D.A.’s office on Thursday revealed: “The complainant has since admitted that this account was false and that after the incident in Suite 2806, she proceeded to clean a nearby room and then returned to Suite 2806 and began to clean that suite before she reported the incident to her supervisor.” 
She was involved with a drug dealer jailed for possessing 400 pounds of pot; she talked to him about whether she could profit from pursuing charges against DSK, noting that he had a lot of money. Prosecutors say she may have links to people also involved in money laundering. 
Law enforcement officials say privately that they still think DSK sexually assaulted the maid. But the case relied on her credibility, and that’s gone.
She concludes:
Her evidence, he said, includes stockings with holes ripped in them, a torn shoulder ligament, a hospital picture of a bruise on her vagina, and the DSK DNA in the room — all, she claims, from the violent attack. 
“Until today, it was white versus black, rich versus poor, man versus woman, Jew versus Muslim,” said Elaine Sciolino, a Times correspondent in France and the author of “La Seduction,” assessing the French reaction and the fraying of the Gallic Anita Hill moment. “Now it’s going to be this man who would have been president taken down by this nogoodnik who has a druggie boyfriend in prison and who lied from the moment she tried to get into the United States.” 
When a habitual predator faces off against a habitual liar, the liar will most likely lose, even if it is the rare case when she is telling the truth.
So she lied about stuff in her past and had a roughneck boyfriend.  She weighed the pros and cons of the allegations before she made them and since she knew the cons would be many, she was motivated by the possible financial profit.  So Mr. French Political Royalty gets a get-out-of-rape-free card and licks his wounds at a five start restaurant over a $600 meal. Men with a history of sexual aggression know how to strategically pick their victims.  If she took the stand and retold her story, her entire life would come under scrutiny, possinly leading to her being brought up on criminal charges unrelated to the rape . With her "credibility" being an issue any testimony she gave about the rape could have opened her up to possible perjury charges and if she lost, there would have been the inevitable defamation charge with civil (read financial) losses. This is the legal and public whipping given to Black Women that have the audacity to The surprise here is that she made the allegation in the first place. Her lawyer sums up the situation that she now has to endure:
"This woman made some mistakes, but that doesn't mean she's not a rape victim," he said. "She told me 'I will go to my grave knowing what this man did to me. I have nothing left now. I am going to come out and tell the world what Dominique Strauss-Kahn did to me'." source
Back to the Anita Hill moment that was mentioned in the Dowd article. If any victim was beyond reproach, it was Hill.  She was and still is like a poster child for Black History Month but that was not enough to give weight to allegations against Clarence Thomas, who went on to become a blight on the Supreme Court.

There is no rest for the weary. In the American imagination, the weary are the poor men that come into contact with black women only to be later accused of assault.  Although only 2% of rape allegations are untrue, there have been no convictions of a black women that has accused a high-profile man of misconduct that I can remember.  Maybe a reader can jog my memory as I'm sure some reader will state that the woman the accussed Strauss of rape was obviously lying. As if a consensual sexual encounter would have ended in a torn shoulder ligement and a frantic rush to leave the country.  The New York Post took this line of thinking one step further already.  Some annonymous someone implied that the victim was a prostitute so the Post made this their cover and as we know, it is impossible to rape a prostitute.

Just think back to the Duke Lacrosse case where a black female stripper at a Lacrosse team party said she was raped.  In the aftermath, the moneyed elite of Duke raised a cool million for PR & legal firms to fight the charges, Lacrosse team members had their moment on Oprah to speak out against the injustice against them, and the prosecutor in the case was disbarred for misconduct.  Any questions? Her name is now public knowledge, along with what DNA tests on her genitals revealed about her sexual habits but they were generous & understanding so they did not put her in jail.
Cooper also announced that Mangum would not be prosecuted, stating that investigators and attorneys that had interviewed her thought "she may actually believe the many different stories that she has been telling" and "it's in the best interest of justice not to bring charges" source 
Black Women and sex workers are in the same sinking boat when it comes to sexual assault.  There is forgone conclusion that we are so sexually available that sexual assault is just a misinterpretation of our inevitable sexual engagement. I am left thinking about the woman that accused the Lacrosse players.  Word was that she had 2 kids and was enrolled in college.  How did she pick up the pieces? Anita Hill has moved on well but the general response when she sat dignified in the Senate chamber was not "We don't believe you." but "What did you expect."  I'm most concerned with the Strauss-Kahn accuser.  She is most likely out of a coveted job, and may be deported since her immigration application came under scrutiny.

The Frenchman has revealed the hypocrisy of the American justice system that is not equipped to contradict the status-quo.  When Dominique Strauss-Kahn was pulled off of the plane to face charges and his position as head of the IMF was endangered, I'm sure he thought "How dare they!?"  but now we know that it was all just useless theater because honestly, they would not dare.

No comments:

Post a Comment