In November 2020, Port Of Harlem will celebrate 25 years of publication. As we count down to our birthday, we will republish some of our most popular articles from our print issues. Thanks for subscribing and inviting others to join you in supporting our inclusive, diverse, pan-African publication - - now completely online. We originally published this article in the May-July 2007 print issue
You may have heard a comic tell the joke about a woman who while walking down a dimly lit street is raped by a man. After the victim hesitantly reports the rape to the police, the police captures a suspect. In court, the suspect's attorney defends his client by questioning the integrity of the victim by asking if she provoked the attack. He asked, "Why were you walking down a dark street in a bright red dress, you must have been looking for something?"
In the adjacent room, the court tries another man for robbing a man of his gold diamond encrusted watch on the same dimly lit street that the rapist attacked his victim. Yet, no one suggests that the male victim somehow provoked the robber to take away his possessions.
In life, such is the case with the alleged Duke University rape victim. The media has reported that not only was she an exotic dancer and the mother of two, but pregnant with a third child. A second round of DNA tests revealed that semen in her body could have been from several other men who were not the alleged rapists. We know very little about the alleged criminals except that they are non-Black males from well-off families.
"Why does it take more evidence to convict a man of the theft of the sanctity of a woman's body than to convict a man of a theft of property?" rhetorically asked Jacqueline Elaine Featherston, a San Francisco-based equity and justice consultant and educator. Dr. Eddie Moore, Director of Diversity at Seattle's Bush School and founder of an annual White Privilege Conference, responded, "This situation reminds me of how good it is to be a heterosexual man in America. Honestly, this is another sad reminder of just how much systems and institutions across this great nation have, and continue to be, dominated and controlled by men."