That time When Rolling Stone Schooled Us about Sexual Violence

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I know. We got schooled.

Rolling Stone did a huge piece about sexual assault on UVA’s campus. Allegedly, members of a fraternity attacked a female student.  Now Rolling Stone is retracting the story.

Well, I  sure hope that we all learned some lessons. The right ones though.

Otherwise, we’ll be repeating this thing over again and I was kind of hoping to graduate on time.

5 Lessons We Can All Learn

If we can avoid talking about the specific incident and the issue at the same time, perhaps we can keep the conversation out of the ditch.

Fact: Sexual violence is an issue. Sexual violence is a crime.  Sexual violence is an epidemic.

No matter the outcome of any single case in the news that fact is not going anywhere until we bring all of the best of ourselves together and make changes. News stories ought to help us to pay attention to and alter some barrier habits. The comfort zone is a myth, and a con anyway.

1. Seek education. Use news stories as prompts to remind yourself to fill in your knowledge gaps.

In school, while we were getting all educated, we learned good stuff. Great stuff. But little to nothing about sexual violence. Some of what we learned were not healthy or helpful.

And they gave us the wrong directions towards the path to healing.

They didn’t mean anyone any harm. Someone gave them the wrong directions.

Update your knowledge. Often.

About 3% of men and 1in 6 women have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. (Not certain if this includes all acts of sexual violence) Keep in mind that the majority of the time sexual violence is under-reported.  We may never have a complete picture.

Still, even with what we do know. Yeah, you probably know someone who is healing from sexual violence. Why not take the time to find out: How can we assist others in our lives? How can we prevent sexual violence?  Why do so many people suffer in silence? etc…..

2. Okay. So.  The “S” in ESPN does not stand for “sexual” anything.

Remember that cases, allegations, victim’s experiences are not sporting events.  A sexual violence case is not some gladiator event that they used to view in coliseums.  

You can resist the urge to “cheer” for or against someone involved in a sexual violence case if you are not directly involved or connected. 

You can resist the urge to hashtag off into teams.

Yes, you can resist the urge to start name calling and making threats.

Seriously, this thing is killing us.  We must start coming together and finding solutions to this epidemic.

3. Everyday people. My people.

Let us try to separate sexual violence issues vs. the specific case that everyone is talking about.

(I’m cc’ing myself on this memo cause I can get emotional about this issue and crime.)

Remember, there is always going to be quite a bit about these cases that we will not have information about. Even if we obsessively inhale every detail on every media platform, there is information that can’t come forward.

Sometimes lawyers have to make a hard decision that a witness wouldn’t make a “good witness” in court. Sometimes you just can’t present certain evidence or testimony in court.

For this reason, I think that we should focus on what lessons we can extract from cases in the news that can help us in our efforts in battling the epidemic of sexual violence.

 Speaking of……..

4. Avoid being led by the entertainment.

Too many celebrities use their influence and power to insert themselves into sexual violence cases.

Too many celebrities use their influence and power to insert themselves into specific sexual violence cases.

This is an inappropriate use of their power and influence.

Hey, if they know anything contact law enforcement. They’ll probably come to the house. You being famous and all.

As a former court advocate, I can tell you that most of what I hear celebrities say in the media about specific sexual violence cases isn’t helpful in the process of fact finding or justice.

It also fans the flames amongst the general public.

Usually, Jane/John Doe celebrity has nothing factual to add.

They merely want to amplify myths about sexual violence or myths about victims/abusers/rapists. Most often they prefer to serve as character witnesses.  In a court of public opinion rather than a court of law of course.

All of this side show stuff may be entertaining, but it only makes it more difficult for everyday folks to have necessary conversations.

So, it also ain’t helping us gather solutions to deal with this epidemic of sexual violence.

( Thank you to celebrities like Gabrielle Union & Mariska Hargitay for example who do [icon name=”thumbs-up” ]).

The way I see it, if you are not helping, you are harming.  

5. There was another final lesson around that Rolling Stone piece.

Whoopi Goldberg once said something to the effect that folks in Hollywood think that all black people in Hollywood are acquainted with one another. It is the same thing when you work in some organizations. I even started secretly calling myself “The Black Whisperer”.

So off I went to reach out to random young adult black males. I was in late my late 20’s, at the time I was single. But sporadically mingling because I also had a young son.

This was pre-social media. Shoot, pre-I have a home computer that is connected to dial-up.Shoot, pre-I have a home computer that is connected to dial up.

I cold called the leaders of a few local black Greek fraternities. On each and every phone call, I got an enthusiastic, “yes.” They reached their members and young people that they were mentoring.

They were among my most dependable, loyal, and enthusiastic supporters.

According to the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence,  1 in 6 boys reported sexual assaults is against a boy. 1 in 25 is against a man.

Remember, if you place people in deadlocked roles, they might actually them.

Inside of fraternities, there are Survivors. Inside of fraternities there are solutions, be there Survivors or people who care.

If you always do what you always did, you gone always get what you always got. ~Moms Mabley


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