The rape of black women by black or white men is no laughing matter.
I don’t believe any sane African man does not know this already, but let me say it one more time: the rape of black women by black or white men is no laughing matter.
Why would anyone make jokes about it? I don’t know. It could be the chase for money, power and fame at whatever costs. It could be porn culture. It could be that nothing is supposed to be out of bounds for comedy. It could be that the memory of the debauchery of violence against black women (and men) under slavery or apartheid where white men raped black women without consequence is dimming. It could be all of this and many other things besides.
That is why a piece such as this by Hope Wabuke remains necessary. Because some men and women may believe rape isn’t that bad. It is not uncommon to hear voiced the idea that some women deserve to be taught a lesson, and that some of them a whores anyway.
Men need lessons on why women need respect because they do need on-going education how to treat others, and themselves.
The first two lessons in this education, according to Wabuke, are:
1. Do not rape us.
2. Don’t make jokes about raping us.
This is not joke. Rape is not a laughing matter. Why is it hard for some men to get it? Isn’t it obvious that another’s body is best enjoyed when freely given? That your body feels best when wanted, not forced to do wanted it doesn’t want to do.
The next three are:
3. Do not abuse us.
4. Do not jail us if we do defend ourselves from those who try to rape and abuse us.
5. Do not deny these things have happened, these things are happening. Do not deny that this is the painful legacy of 300 years of American slavery from 1619 to 1865, followed by 100 years of apartheid until 1965, followed by the 48 years of institutionalized racism that lives on today.
Because the lessons listed by Wabuke are primarily addressed to all men and women in the United States, not only African American men, not African women, and not African men, there is a need to talk to African men about rape.
If we are doing an anti-rape campaign and addressing African men, the main lesson remains, Don’t rape black women or any other person.
However, if the movement is for a better society, a society in which black women enjoy the same freedoms as black men, free from fear and hurt, free to be whatever they want to be, what must come first is not a prohibition.
To make males to treasure, work for, and defend females’ freedoms, rights to their bodies, and equality with males, what come first is a yes. Wabuke is not blind to this. She puts the lesson at number 88 though. She states:
Understand we deserve love. Understand we have the right to love ourselves. That, as June Jordan said, “self-love is the most revolutionary act.” That we are no one’s slaves, no one’s victims.
The first commandment particularly for black men when it comes to violence against black women, when it comes to unlearning the rape, murder and other types of violence against women, is love.
The first instinct of black men when it comes to black women must be love. Love her. Love without possession, without violence, without anger, fear and, from a certain age, without neediness.
That is the first lesson fathers and mothers of black boys and all of society needs to inculcate in young males: Teach love.
It is out of the lesson of love that as African boys (and girls) grow up understanding that living in harmony with ourselves, others and nature is better than living under conditions of violence, slavery, rapacious exploitation, and abuse.
Living in peace with inner selves and conviviality with others and the environment arises from lessons in primarily childhood and throughout life to deal with anger constructively. In turn, learning to soberly and constructively handle aggression feelings and thought supports non-violent relationships with women and girls.
In addition, to learn non-violence we also have to learn to deal with fear, anxiety and other negative feelings without running away, pulling down the shutters, turning inward, or lashing out.
Above all, we have to learn to learn true love we have to stand in the shoes of the black woman as a grandmother, mother, sister, wife, daughter, lover, neighbour, leader of black people.