My inbox is full of people asking some version of “So what do YOU think about what your friend said?” If you missed it, he said THIS.
I didn’t give my opinion in the original post for a few reasons:
1. Hell, I didn’t want to. I just wanted folks to read it and have the same "WTF?" reaction I did hearing it last week. Maybe you’re well versed in that kind of perspective and those kinds of escapades. I was not. I was shocked.
2. My friend's POV isn't popular to most women. It is to MANY guys and it's part of the reason many of them are so defensive about Parker. I wanted women to know what guys were saying when their words wouldn't come back to haunt them on social media.
But I’ve caught a bit of flack for not giving context, and my lack of a public opinion about what my friend said has led folks to just lob any stupid train of thought and assign it to me.
If they asked, I would have answered. Just like I’m answering the people who actually did ask.
But first, some context:
I’ve spent the last week or so having discussions online about what I’ve come to call “the Nate Parker fiasco”, mostly on Facebook and Instagram. You can read them HERE and HERE and also HERE. I also published a story on my site that ran on HuffPo about my conflicted feelings about supporting Parker now, because of his responses to said fiasco in a series of recent interviews with Deadline and Variety. (The Hoteps came out full throttle for me over that one.)
There were men and women participating in the discussions and no matter which aspect of the case we discussed there was a VAST difference in how most men and most women perceived the information. In those particular discussions, most—but not all—women thought Parker, who was exonerated, committed rape. Most—but not all—of the men adamantly defended Parker. We argued for days, and got frustrated and angry and exhausted. At one point I declared that most of my male followers sounded like “latent rapists” for all the meandering twists of logic they were making to excuse or defend Parker.
After that, I took a step back. I really wanted to understand the male POV here. In my most frustrated moments, I wish I could dismiss the way guys think, but they are the other half of the population. If women-folk have any intent of getting along with them, it might be helpful to understand where they’re coming from. I also thought it might be better to engage when I wasn’t combative. That had become impossible with the guys online.
I called up some male friends I know pretty well and asked them about Nate Parker. The thought was that these were men in my circle who I trust and they would give me a breakdown of their thoughts that wasn’t about posturing for other men in the forum or saying sassy ish for RTs and likes. They were honest. Too honest for my comfort sometimes. I thought I was prepared after battling with men online.
No. I was not.
But I made the calls, and that is how I ended up discussing the Nate Parker rape charges with my boy.
If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably read HIS TAKE, which is… a lot. I asked him what he thought, and I let him answer. No interjections, no debate. The purpose wasn’t to change his mind or get him to think as I do. It was to listen. And Lawd, I got an earful and exponentially more.
So what did I think after I hung up the phone? For the first two minutes, I stared out the window wondering, “WTF? WTF? WTF?”
Regarding his experiences during college, there’s nothing to agree or disagree with. They are his experiences. And while I heard about some wild ish that went down on campus when I was in college a long, long time ago, I never heard anything quite like that. I’d considered that he was exaggerating until I ran his story past some other guys and they said, “yup, sounds about right”. And then they hit me with more stories, some of which are even worse (I’ll share soon).
But there are some very troubling aspects to my friend's POV, which I’ll point out.
I don’t agree with his kick off statement that white women are wh--es. (I can’t believe that needed to be said, neither that he said it nor that I need to state I don’t agree.) He even knew that was too much and cleaned it up immediately: “not every white girl is a wh--e. I shouldn’t say all of them. But on a college campus and around black athletes? I never met one that wasn’t.” That’s his experience.
I also don’t agree with his blanket statements about white women do this, and black girls do that. You can never “win” making blanket statements about any race of people.
Are there some cultural differences in the way black women and white women think about sex? I wouldn’t say the actions are all that different, but I would say the cultural response to them is. White woman does some wild ish, she decides to “turn a new leaf” and all is forgiven (not that it needed to be). (See Jenny McCarthy, Kim Kardashian, Kendra Wilkinson.) Black girl does not even the same thing, she carries the stigma of it forevah (Kardi B voice).
Also, in college, I knew white girls and black girls alike who had a lot of sex and gave a lot of blow jobs. (On the other end of the spectrum, I also knew black girls and white girls alike who were saving sex--- all forms of it-- for marriage.) The biggest difference I could ascertain between the white and black girls having sex was how freely they spoke about it. I found some truth, based on my own experiences, to my friend’s perspective that many white women don’t carry the same hang ups about sex that many black women have. In college, they do seem to have more sexual freedom and less guilt.
His perspective had some baffling moments, particularly the way he conflated his tales of consensual sex with the Jane Doe in Parker’s situation. The women he spoke of, the ones that would perform oral on a room full of guys, or be cool with breaking off the homie(s), or show up to an apartment ready to engage in an orgy? Even if you don’t get why some women would do that, they were willing. That isn’t rape— at least for the ones who weren’t drunk. He didn’t elaborate—and I didn’t probe—about how much liquor was consumed by the women in his stories.
Because this also needs to be said: drunk women can’t consent. For the guys reading, even is she says “yes”, err on the side of caution, and say “no”. Wait until she’s sober. And while you’re at it: before you have sex, ask her if she wants to have it. “She didn’t say ‘no’” is not the same as saying “yes!”
In Parker’s case, yes, he was exonerated. And his friend who was found guilty, appealed and the second trial never happened. And still, reading those transcripts, particularly those of Tamerlane Kangas, it sounds like rape. He walked into Parker’s bedroom saw him on top of a woman and didn’t see Jane Doe move. He didn’t hear Jane Doe say anything. Was she conscious? Jane Doe says she wasn’t. And Kangas’s description backs her up. And then Parker invited his boy in to have sex with her. Ugh!
My friend, God bless him, doesn’t see it this way. For starters, Kangas’s testimony said Jane Doe only had one drink while with the guys. (A story from The Daily Beast said she had several before she met up with Parker and friends.) But after reading the transcripts, my friend wondered how were the guys supposed to know how drunk she was?
Her story also sounded too familiar to him. The way she casually performed oral sex on Parker when he went by her room a prior time, was “evidence” to him that she was a “down for whatever” girl. And the scenario when she got drunk, then went back to the apartment with Parker and his friends, sounded familiar too. He assumed Jane Doe was like the women he’d encountered in college. And that’s a problem. Jane Doe’s actions may have sounded familiar, but she is an individual and just because every woman that you knew who acted like her did so with consent, doesn’t mean their consent transfers to Jane Doe, especially not when she’s drunk or passed out. That’s not how any of this works.
I was also troubled by the way he was so dismissive of a rape accusation by a white woman towards a black man. Without knowing the details. He has a pre-written narrative in his head that says the woman must have done something she regretted and is using a rape charge to absolve herself or seek revenge. In his eyes, the black guy’s crime isn’t rape, but not following protocol by treating the woman decent in the following days. And that’s bullsh--. While acknowledging the American history of white women making false rape claims on black men, we should also acknowledge, some of those black men actually did that sh--.
Most commenters on the post focused on the more salacious details of the sexcapades. A few delved deeper to denounce my friend’s thought process. There were two things that stood out to me that no one in the comments section addressed. One was the weird higher expectation on Black women to not behave like the girls my friend spoke of (which obviously I don’t agree with). He said when black girls acted like that, everyone still participated, but wondered, “who raised you?”
Look. I’m one of those “it’s your ass, do what you want with it” people, as long as everyone is legal and consenting. But it’s weird that even for the black girls who were pleasuring him—and his friends-- he was still trying to push her into the “Black girls don’t do that” box, after he came, of course.
The other thing was something my friend brought up in a separate conversation. At another point in his rant, my friend talks about being obligated to treat white women decent the day after. And he’s not sure if white guys do that, but black guys have to because, “You know the dynamic of black men and white woman and how quickly that can go wrong. You never forget that part.”
It struck me when he said it, and I’m still struggling to articulate why exactly. It has to do with the shift in power between the sexual encounter and the following day. Like in the dark, guys get to treat willing white women like their personal playthings, but the following morning, the power dynamic shifts where the person they desire becomes the person they also fear.
Maybe that’s part of the appeal for everyone involved.