realitybites (13041)

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Journal of realitybites (13041)

Saturday September 08, 07

chivalry is dead

02:03 AM

Degradation of women in music and video is no longer shocking or upsetting. We have seen so many of these images and read so many lyrics, that we are no longer disturbed by what we are witnessing. We have become numb. Earlier this year, the rap artist, Akon, dry humped a fourteen-year-old girl on the stage of a club. It was filmed. Clearly this girl did not consent to being degraded--treated like a piece of meat--while hundreds looked on and did nothing. Even security watched as if it were business as usual. Although the victim felt deeply humiliated, no one empathized with her. They saw nothing wrong. No alarm bells went off.

Then the video clip got posted on YouTube. I saw it. I was sickened. But apparently many weren't. His music label, Universal Music Group, demanded that the video to be removed but did not sanction Akon for his behavior. In fact, the only company to show disapproval was Verizon, who dropped his sponsorship.

How can someone watch this video and not see anything wrong? Has pornography desensitized us? Were these images pale in comparison to the exploitive ones we have seen so many times before? How can a crowd witness this and just stand there... or worse, cheer this asshole on?!

Even if this young lady was eighteen and had participated in this stunt willingly, would it have been acceptable? Would watching a large man mount and dry hump a woman on stage be OK? Would you want your kids to see this? Do you want to see this? Where do we draw the line? What happened to decency? Where are the men who value and respect women? Where are the women who demand to be treated with respect? Where there not any at this gig? Where there not any watching the video on the net? Are there not any in our homes? Chivalry is dead.

I'm scared.

Akon apologized to his wife(wives), children, and to the young victim.

But, what do we have to say for ourselves? For our apathy? For perpetuating misogyny? Oh yes, we are perpetuating misogyny. We help spread this social disease when we support Akon and his music. He is being rewarded this year with three MTV Music Video Award nominations. And, his albums continue to sell. What message does this send?

What should we tell our sons and daughters? What can we say to them to let them know that degradation is not a form of entertainment? There are real victims involved--not actors. This is real, not a movie. How do we explain to them that they must never become apathetic to violence and exploitation? For to do so would mean that we had lost our humanity.

I think Ellie Weisel says it best:

"I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."

Don't just stand there. Do something. Intervene. Protect those who need protected. Yell! Fight! Blog!

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  • "Protect those who need protected."

    All people need protection. I cannot imagine that black men don't feel they need protection, too--particularly from a system that condemns a significant percentage of their ranks to prison. It's not just a police/prison system at work here--it's an economic one. The allegations I've heard many (including high-profile) black people lay include the lack of earnest effort by the DEA to stem drug traffic (some really impassioned ones think the DEA is actually encouraging drug trafficking among black populations). I've heard the same charge laid with regards to AIDS. Additionally, many believe there is persistent racism in hiring, in lending, in arrest, and in trial. The New York times noted that half of black male high school graduates were not working (could not find work, were not seeking work, or incarcerated)*. I think these issues are far too complex to be adequately addressed here, but it suffices to say that black men need protection, too--not just women.

    As for the particulars of the Akon incident, you've alleged quite confidently that there was no consent given by the girl (who had pretended to be an adult to gain access to the show). I have not yet seen any evidence that there was no consent. Nor, have I sought any such evidence. Why would I? I'm not an Akon fan. I'm not going around with Akon t-shirts, singing Akon songs, or talking up the man. I'm not keeping a "Naughty and Nice" book, and I'm not a member of the peacekeeping or judicial process in Trinidad. If I were responsible for investigating this case, I'd be trying to figure out how I was going to establish clear evidence of lack of consent after the fact. If I was trying to make that case, I'd hope for some kind of culpatory statement to be made by Akon. I am not responsible, though, for investigating or trying any such cases.

    If there are criminal charges to be laid against Akon, I sincerely hope the authorities in Trinidad are collecting and using it. That is their responsibility. The fact that this incident took place in another country only muddies matters. If this had happened in this country, Akon would theoretically be entitled to a trial before being declared guilty.

    If I was sitting on a board of directors for a company that had been sponsoring Akon (or his tour) and I saw him doing what he did on stage, with even a documented adult with documented consent, would I find Akon's behavior a suitable agent for my company's product? Nope. Setting aside the particulars of the short, grainy video cip I saw, I find that kind of public behavior embarrassing and distasteful. Based only on the audio-less video clip I saw, I think Akon demonstrated a distinct lack of concern for the physical well-being of the girl involved. Is this the same as sexual assault? I don't think so, but I'm not a lawyer or a judge. If I were forced to lay a charge, I think reckless endangerment might be more apt. Whatever the appropriate charge, it would make me all the more certain of my lack of support of Akon as a sponsorship agent. Alas, I sit on no such boards of directors, and I fear that these board are actually only moved by what is profitable. In this case, I fear Verizon's board of directors believed it was more profitable to not alienate customers by their association with Akon and thus ended that relationship with him.

    In what little evidence I saw (not that it's my job to adjudicate the matter), I didn't recall seeing anything that suggested Akon was acting with malice or even genuine sexual intent. I didn't see him groping, licking, biting, pulling, or any of the other actions that would indicate to me something other than a pantomime (albeit a grossly exaggerated and recklessly executed pantomime) of sexual acts. If this matter were immediately relevant to me, e.g. I had a minor child who liked Akon and one who even wanted to see an Akon concert, I would be acting earnestly to admonish my child against Akon. I don't have a child who likes Akon, who wants to
    alainsane -- Sunday September 09 2007, @08:34AM (#273595)
    (User #460 Info)

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