And the Insensitive Asshole Award Goes To…

20 03 2009

Cara over at The Curvature posted an excellent article today about Jimmy Kimmel’s recent interview of rapper Lil’ Wayne.  In the interview, Kimmel repeatedly mocks Lil’ Wayne’s experience, which according to the few details that Lil’ Wayne reluctantly supplies, clearly seems to be rape (around 2:40).

By claiming that Lil’ Wayne “lost his virginity” at age 11 and laughing at an experience which Lil’ Wayne clearly states affected him negatively, Kimmel and his audience imply that Lil’ Wayne somehow “wanted it.”

The incident plays into rape apologism and stereotypes of hyper-sexualized African-American masculinity.  As Cara notes:

In the majority of sexual assault cases, where a woman is the victim of a man’s violence, rape apology is rooted primarily not in the denial that male violence exists, but in the denial that male violence means something and needs to be stopped.  Conversely, in cases where a man is the victim of a woman’s violence, rape apologism is strongly rooted in the denial that women’s actions can count as violence at all — and especially that their actions can count as sexual violence against men, who are routinely construed as incapable of being victims.

The incident is downplayed and mocked, also possibly partly because the perpetrator in the assault was a 14-year-old girl.  Cara says:

While 14 is significantly older than 11 (since age differences matter more the younger you are), I’m not sure that the majority of people would be comfortable outright calling it rape based on that age difference.  If we were talking an 11-year-old girl and a 24-year-old man?  Most people, though of course certainly not all, would probably call that rape.  And I know for a fact that significantly fewer people would call it rape when we reverse those genders.

Because Cara’s post is so well-done, I really recommend you read it in its entirety.

Rape and sexual assault are NEVER funny.  Lil’ Wayne plays the issue off as a joke, but is clearly uncomfortable with the line of questioning.  I cannot believe the amount of insensitivity displayed by the two men on stage as well as the audience members.  But, as Cara notes, Kimmel has a whole culture to back him up.  This is a larger issue than one host’s insensitive remarks.  This is a societal issue of race, gender, age, and victim-blaming.  And this culture of rape apologism is simply unacceptable.


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