I Love Erykah Badu Like Newports And Chai Tea, But Her Victim Blaming Is Dead Wrong
One of the bravest acts of artistic rebellion ever performed by Erykah Badu was her “Window Seat” video in which she stripped down and walked naked around Dealey Plaza, the site where former President John F. Kennedy Jr. was assassinated in 1963, to protest groupthink.
She didn’t care if folks thought the act sexual in nature.
She didn’t care that there were small children around (at least according to a complaint filed with the local police department who later charged her with a misdemeanor).
She didn’t even care that some folks thought she only did it to sell albums.
As she once told Wanda Sykes (and as reported by MTV News), “My point was grossly misunderstood all over America. JFK is one of my heroes, one of the nation’s heroes. … John F. Kennedy was a revolutionary; he was not afraid to butt heads with America, and I was not afraid to show America my butt-naked truth.”
Right on, sis!
And in the interest of combating groupthink, I feel the need to get to the bare-bones truth of things too. In particular, the ever-popular idea that grown men with the ability to think just can’t help themselves – because of nature.
As reported by the New York Daily News, Badu made some pretty regressive comments in support of officials at a New Zealand school who told girl students that “they must wear their skirts below the knee in order to keep from distracting boys and male staff.”
More specifically (and as reported by the News):
“There was an article ruling that high school girls lower their skirts so male teachers are not distracted. I agreed because I am aware we live in a sex I-driven society,” she explained as she kicked off her controversial social media stream.
“It is everyone’s, male and female’s responsibility to protect young ladies. One way to protect youth is to remind them we are sexual in nature and as they grow and develop it is natural to attract men,” she continued.
The mother-of-two was inspired to launch her tirade after she saw an article about how a New Zealand school mandated girls wear below the knee skirts to keep from attracting the attention of boys and male staff.
“Men automatically are attracted to women of child bearing age,” she tweeted, adding the “nature” of men is to be attracted to young women in skirts.
Throughout her many tweets, the 44-year-old seemed conflicted, taking different sides throughout the long lasting argument. At one point, she contradicted herself and said she wants her daughters to wear “what they like, yet be aware.”
For the record, I read her entire Twitter feed for her remarks on this topic. And still, I have to ask: What about the public awareness surrounding men who abuse young boys?
We always want to gloss over little nuances whenever this stupid ass question comes up about what grown folks’ responsibility is to not f–k children – because that is what we are ultimately talking about here. The children.
In short, let’s stop asking this question. Or else, be prepared to explain where your version of nature and science and sexual violence against young boys fit into the prevention narrative.
Like for real, what should boys who traditionally wear pants be doing to ward off the unwanted – in some cases wanted – advances of grown a– men who should know better than a child?
Should they talk in more baritone voices?
Should we get rid of skinny jeans?
Again, what male version of modesty can we institute that will protect our boys from men who “naturally” can’t help themselves?
If men can’t help themselves because of a natural inclination to sexualize everything – including small people – and many scientists believe that the male biggest erogenous zones are in a dude’s anus,
So young boys start walking through school hallways backwards? You know, for the safety of the children?
Crass, harsh, and downright reductionist. I know.
But you know what? So is thinking that draping women in heavy and oversized fabrics is an answer to sexual violence. That thinking has not worked in countries where this style of dress is law. If anything, that cultural attitude has made the reporting and prosecution of rape and sexual assault so much harder.
You know what is the answer, though?
To stop making excusing for grown a– adults who harm children.
Stop being so pessimistic about men.
Stop saying things like, “It’s in their nature. They can’t help it” and relating to men like they are animals with no self-control. (You can train a dog not to go on the carpet, but men with bigger brains can’t be taught not to have sex with children?) We have to have more faith in the brothers than that.
Stop reinforcing, progressing and championing narratives that are social and political as much as they are allegedly biological.
Stop thinking that because society has oversexualized women and girls for economic, social and political reasons, that we must continue to live that way and not push for better treatment.
Holding those who abuse children accountable.
Teaching boys and men – and grown folks in general – that it is not okay to rape.
As no matter how a kid dresses, talks, looks or acts, we as grown a– adults should know better. We’re excepted to know better because our brains are fully functioning. Because we can navigate and fully reason the consequences of our actions. Because we are in positions of power and authority.
Because that should be in our nature too.
Girl, I love Badu like Newports and chai tea lattes, but if she thinks about going back…