Last week, during a segment on Fox News’ “Hannity,” writer and television commentator Zerlina Maxwell (pictured) refuted the idea that woman carry guns to protect themselves from being raped, noting that it is men who carry the greater burden when it comes to rape prevention.
Maxwell didn’t say anything puzzling. A rape survivor herself, she realized that carrying a gun wouldn’t alleviate the problem. As she explained, most of the time, women are raped by men that they know. And the military — where as many as one in three women are raped — should prove that gun access isn’t a quick fix to a systematic issue. Moreover, the idea of pushing guns on women leads in to the very sort of victim-blaming mentality that has long haunted victims.
But apparently, not pledging allegiance to firearms was the larger issue for gun owners who behaved as if she hurled out some sort of epithet at them. In response, a congregation of cowards — misogynists, gun lovers, and conservatives — hammered Zerlina with varying sorts of vileness via social media.
Some went as far as to tell her that she deserved to be gang raped and killed; some sickos even threatened to commit the heinous acts themselves.
The fact that that anyone would think that the threat of rape is an appropriate response all but confirms Zerlina’s point. Patriarchy still has a choke hold on society collectively, and while this is an instance of that in its ugliest form, the idea of a woman not being in control of her body and sexuality can continue being prodded out as a “joke.”
Days after watching Zerlina’s interview and the subsequent threats she received afterward, TMZ caught the arch-nemesis of suggested silence, singer Chris Brown, diving in to the ever-increasingly shallow pool of celebrity-generated relationship advice. Speaking before a crowd at the Emerson Theatre in Hollywood, Brown said that every man needs to let their girlfriend know that their crotches belong to them. He even created a little jingle to go with the idea.
n the video, obtained by TMZ, Chris said onstage:
“Every guy in this building has said one thing to their female … If you’re not an insecure n—-, and you let her have fun with her friends, I applaud you. But you gotta say that one thing to her, and
I made this s–t up. [sings] Don’t make me have to tell you again, that that’s my p—y baby! It is mine, baby, babe, mine. So you better not give it away!”
After that clip went viral, TMZ followed up with Christopher to ask whether or not Rihanna signed the deed over to her vagina to him per previous instruction. Chris, laughing it off, explained to the paparazzo, ”It’s a song…it’s a song…that’s all it is.” Yes, it is a song, and sure, you could argue that it was sang “in jest,” but I’m not convinced that it ends there.
I’m not suggesting Chris Brown is a rapist at all.
However, I do think it’s another example of how men come to view women, their bodies, their sexuality, and who is or isn’t control of them. “Just a song” or not, it’s trite in theory (and corny). These kind of reductive attitudes about women don’t pop out of nowhere. They are learned and to the extent in which a man behaves with them can vary, but since none of us can control how far a man goes with them, isn’t Zerlina right to suggest that we work together in shutting them down altogether?
Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer and blogger. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter: @youngsinick