Just in time for Domestic violence month! This time the topic involves rape and a movie. There is controversy surrounding actor, Nate Parker and rape allegations from his University of Pennsylvania days that was brought up in light of the release of the film he starred in, Birth of a Nation. Many Black males want to scapegoat Black women for the box office flop of the movie but I believe much of this scenario plays into a deeper lack of reciprocation from the Black male collective. Rape culture, normalization of the mistreatment of Black women and girls in the Black collective along with the lack of reciprocation from Black male collective plays a pivotal role in the ”flop” of the Birth of a Nation.
Up and coming actor, Nate Parker was looking forward to the release of the film, Birth of a Nation, which he had starred in. Then old allegations of rape from his college days came to surface. Apparently, he was involved in raping a young woman at a house party. His friend, Jean Celestin was also involved in the incident. The case went to trial and he was acquitted but the woman involved was devastated and negatively affected by the whole scenario. She dropped out of college and committed suicide in 2012. Though there isn’t any evidence of her rape and subsequent trial causing her to commit suicide, it is heartbreaking to hear about a woman being so traumatized by being sexually violated that she took her own life. Worst of all, Nate Parker’s smug and arrogant display of lack of remorse for raping the victim when he appeared on Good Morning America and was interviewed by Robin Roberts.
How does this controversy play a role in the gender relationships between the Black male and the Black woman?
This Black male journalist, Roland Martin blamed Black women for the reason Birth of a Nation didn’t do well in the box office. In his tweet, he stated that it was a shame that Black women refused to support the film because Nate Parker is married to a White woman. Then he backtracked and said that his intention wasn’t to blame Black women but to state a point. He also mentioned that he was fine with Black women not supporting the film due to the rape allegations, which I am one of those Black woman. Personally, I do not care if he has a White wife but I am disgusted by these rape allegations. I refuse to spend money watching a movie with a rapist in it. If a prominent and educated Black male like Roland Martin holds such a distorted view of Black women; that all Black women are envious of White women being married to Black males, imagine how the average Black male views Black women?
Roland Martin’s response also signifies the lack of reciprocation Black males show to Black women. Black males look out for themselves and their own interests first. Many if not most of them see themselves as males before they see themselves as Black. Building a community and protecting Black women is often times last on their agenda if it is on it at all. Collectively speaking, Black males do not cater to the needs and issues that affect Black women. Yet they want Black women to support them whenever they have a project or movement up. Much of the responses blaming Black women for the failure of the movie refers back to the how Black males and people want Black women to support and uplift ”da Black man” at all costs. They felt that an individual Black woman, like myself, not supporting a rapist is somehow aligning with the White supremacist system to bring down the Black male. And I refuse to do for them what they refuse to do for Black women and their communities!
Like I have stated, upholding of rape culture and misogyny is very present in modern day culture. Every two minutes, someone is sexually assaulted. 288,820 people are victims of sexual assault each day. Statistically one in six women have experienced attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. Most rape victims are women and tend to be in the age brackets of 18-24 though there are some male victims of rape as well. Unfortunately, 98% of rapists never serve time for their crime and acquitted due to lack of evidence. Many people in society tend to shame rape victims and blame them for their own assault. For example, many people didn’t believe that Bill Cosby could have raped all of the women that came out to speak about being sexually assaulted by him. After all, he was supposedly a respectable man, that ran a successful sitcom, The Cosby Show and made clean comic acts. How can someone like him rape all of these women? Well, those who uphold rape culture and misogyny allow Bill Cosby to get away with his crimes. The same people who shamed Bill Cosby’s victims and called them liars looking for money are the same people who support Nate Parker. These people are overlooking the pain and agony the victim of Nate Parker went through in order to maintain a false sense of ”Black loyalty”.
Rape culture and misogyny is very prevalent in the Black collective and is used as a tactic to uphold patriarchal notions of masculinity and womanhood. This same kind of misogyny is used to shame Black women into supporting all Black causes and people for the ”betterment” of the collective. And shame them into submission and control over their body, mind and resources. The reason why many Black males and people are supporting Nate Parker is in hopes that a Black male can be vindicated of rape the same way White male is. They want to have the same patriarchal power to get away with dominance and mistreatment of women that White men have been getting away with for centuries. That is why mistreatment of Black women and girls has been normalized. Black male has to find someone to control and maintain dominance over and to him, it is the Black woman.
Fortunately, the flop of the movie, Birth of a Nation gives me hope that the topic of rape allegations isn’t overlooked. And that the awareness of the effects of rape is discussed. Hence the implication that rape culture, lack of reciprocation from Black male collective and normalization of the mistreatment of Black girls and women plays a role in the controversy surrounding the movie and rape allegations.
Links to the page: