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SOMETIMES, FOOTSTEPS IN THE DARK ARE NOT ALWAYS A GOOD THING!


By Regina N. Bradley

Monday, March 7, 2011.

I heard them nightly, and knew who he was. I remember his weight, I remember him grunting. I remember being afraid to scream because I was supposed to be asleep and going to school the next morning. I remember repeating the mantra of "I'm a good girl. I don't tattletale." And I remember him clumsily pulling my panties back up and scurrying out my bedroom door.


I remember that bastard and his bullshit excuse of an apology. I was nine and in fourth grade. I didn't want to be that girl who ruined people's lives. I just wanted mine back.

As I perused twitter a few months back and saw the tweet trend "It Ain't Rape If...." that little nine year old girl came back screaming. And continued to scream when I saw the rape episode of South Park. My anger was raw. Mounting. Justified. And all consuming.

I'm utterly disgusted by the desensitized affinity for rape "culture;" though I am hesitant to call it such because I associate the term with sophistication and progression. As a rape survivor it pisses me off to see pop culture trivially throw rape around like a fad.  

It is alarming to suggest that rape pathology is celebrated because it is profitable and easy to market. Why is there such a critical distance from what rape signifies and how its demonstrated in popular culture? Are taboo subjects hot commodities for entertainment purposes?

What's even more troubling is how this rape discourse infests (yes, infests) and distorts our understanding of reality. Comedian Lil Duval's runaway tweet trend "It Ain't Rape If..." didn't lose interest for days. Participants gave stupid  suggestions about how women dress, their physical and mental condition when they told a man no, and other trivial shit that nulls any logic that suggests her sincerity to not engage in sexual activity.

Duval attempted to defend himself but failed to realize there was no guarantee that all the people going in (participating) on this topic were smart enough to realize "these is jokes." There is Forrest Gumpage out there that consumes everything for what it is at face value.

With regards to rape "culture" and blackness, there is a frightening (mis)understanding that they are inextricably linked. Still. Black womens' bodies are, as Abbey Lincoln so fiercely put it, the outhouses of black and white men. Black men's bodies are bestial and sexually insatiable. What we share in common is possession of sex as a power move, and we lack in its ownership. Still.

I still nurse that little nine year old girl's wounds and cringe like she cringed in the dark that night when I see rape politics so easily dismissed instead of dismantled. Are we as a society so fixated on entertainment and scapegoating that we purposefully ignore the ticking time bomb planted in our social interactions?

What will it take? If rape aint rape, what the hell is?

 Regina N. Bradley is a doctoral student in African American Literature and Culture at Florida State University. She earned her MA in African American Studies from Indiana University Bloomington. Currently, her research interests include performance and gender identity, popular black culture, late 20th and 21st century black literature, and Hip Hop.

Ms Bradley blogs at Red Clay Scholar.

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