Friday, June 6, 2008

He Said, She Said

I remember sitting in my dorm room freshman year with three other friends. We all sat around on the bed laughing and chatting like we had not a care in the world. The topic of sexual assault came up and I offered up a statistic I'd learned on Oprah just before starting school "1 in 4 woman are raped before they graduate college... so technically one of us could very well be raped before we leave here". We all looked at each other in silence. I later learned that it had already happened (my roommate had been raped in that very September weeks after starting her freshman year). That statistic really hit home.

Rape is very real for some women. For those who have been sexually abused or raped it is an experience you cannot be freed from, it is binding in that way. For other women the word "rape" is a weapon. It is an allegation they have chosen to hold in their palm, threatening to forever change the life of a man who has in some way scorned them. Studies show that an Alarming 41% of rape allegations are false.

This may be the reason why we stand behind our athletes and entertainers when they are accused. Men like Kobe Bryant, Mike Tyson, even R. Kelly proclaim their innocence and their fans remain supportive. "Why would her rape her? He can have any woman he wants".

We hear their side of the story and immediately jump to their defense. And I say "we" because I have certainly been guilty of it. Jah Cure has been one of my favorite reggae artists for years. I've spent many an evening listening to him pour out his soul on a song and wondering how a woman could ever accuse him of such a violent act.

This morning, I read her side of the story and it occurred to me what it must be like for these victims. If it was indeed him that raped her, how painful must it be to hear his music or hear people chant "Free Jah Cure"? How degrading is it when people offer you $$ to change your plea or drop the charges? What is it like to have your family threatened after you've already been through so much?

Jah Cure is on international tour and he's become more successful through this ordeal. His fan base stretched from the islands, throughout Europe and North America. And his fame is due largely to this rape allegation. If it is untrue, and she is part of the 41% of woman who have charged a man falsely, then his story of adversity is remarkable. If not, we have essentially praised him for ruining this woman's life.

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