Black Male Sexual Abuse - What No One Wants To Talk About

8 years ago

Did anyone know that Rapper L'il Wayne was sexually abused as a child?

Do we even care? I do.

In March, Lisa from Sociological Images posted a video clip from the Jimmy Kimmel show where L'il Wayne was a guest. The rapper, covered head to toe in tattoos, piercing and had quite an impressive mouthful of diamond-encrusted teeth, was there to promote his new album. The questions that Kimmel's producers, whom clearly did a half-ass research job, provided a glimpse into what middle America thinks about Rappers - all about the bling, dumb as f$%k, and basically a throwback from the good o'l minstrel days. Kimmel did not take the man seriously, and it showed.

So when Kimmel asked Wayne (who was sitting with fellow guest, journalist/reporter Charles Gibson) about reports that he lost his virginity at 11 to an older teenager, it was centered on the black male stereotype - black men are hyper-sexual, sexual animals whose morals around their sexuality are loose - if they exist at all. When posed with the question, Wayne first laughs it off, but as you can see in the video, he is clearly uncomfortable when asked if what he experience stayed with him.

Excerpt from video (courtesy of Sociological Images:)

Kimmel: I didn’t know you could lose your virginity at 11-years-old.

Gibson: Well, we can’t, but he did.

I had head of the story before but the conversation between Kimmel and Wayne made me feel uncomfortable. It was like the 'joke' wasn't really a joke - that Kimmel had made a mistake in assuming that Wayne's first sexual experience was something that to brag about, but was actually an experience that had had negatively shaped Wayne's thoughts about his sexuality.

After sensing Wayne's hesitation to the questions about his first sexual experience, Kimmel then asks Wayne about the virginity status of his four-month old son.

Feministe writer Cara Kulwicki wrote a provocative post on her blog The Curvature which investigates the difference in public perception between male and female sexual assault reports:

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.

In the comment section from Lisa's post:

I also know two men who were sexually assaulted by women at a young age, and both were traumatized by the experience. I too feel for Lil Wayne to have been forced to relate his story on national television and have it trivialized. I think this reflects a lack of acknowledgment in mainstream society that 1) men can be raped by women and 2) losing your virginity is not always voluntary. With the second point, I’ve often felt the inquiry into someone’s virginity status is intertwined with privilege, as well as race and class (and gender, of course).

The Advocate recently reported on Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, an 11 year-old African-American boy whom, after months of being taunted because of his alleged homosexuality, killed himself:

Walker said her son had been the victim of bullying since the beginning of the school year, and that she had been calling the school since September, complaining that her son was mercilessly teased. He played football, baseball, and was a boy scout, but a group of classmates called him gay and teased him about the way he dressed. They ridiculed him for going to church with his mother and for volunteering locally.

"It's not just a gay issue," Walker (Carl's mother) said. "It’s bigger. He was 11 years old, and he wasn't aware of his sexuality. These homophobic people attach derogatory terms to a child who’s 11 years old, who goes to church, school, and the library, and he becomes confused. He thinks, Maybe I'm like this. Maybe I'm not. What do I do?"

Is race an issue? Many believe that entho-cultural communities are more sensitive to homosexuality - and sexuality in general than Anglo communities. The connotations surrounding sexuality are heavily tied to social stereotypes and signifiers about one's intelligence and worth in society. Within black communities, masculinity and sexual prowess tends to be seen as important values that men use to retain their self-esteem in a society(ies) that commonly devalue their authenticity as human beings. Because of this, when black men discuss being victims of sexual abuse, the responses are more complicated than one would like to think.

But men in general, have a rough road. In Kulwicki's post, she references the Red Hot Chilli Pepper's singer Anthony Keidis, whom in his biography, Scar Tissue discusses losing his virginity to his father's 20-something girlfriend - at 12. As I read the book, I must say that I scratched my head when I read that Keidis asked his father if he could have sex with his girlfriend, and his father consented.

Now, I would say that Keidis does not see himself as a victim of sexual abuse and in the book, he romanticizes his experience. But was he still a victim and the perpetrators were his father's girlfriend and his father. Keidis's personal persona is manufactured around his perceived sexual prowess, and as a Peppers fan for many years, I cannot remember anyone who has had a problem with it.

Check out Salon's It's Only Rape if the Victim's a Girl?

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