Harvey Weinstein, Brett Ratner, Kevin Spacey, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Aziz Ansari, Andrew Kreisberg, and numerous other heavyweights in their profession have all had their careers tarnished or ended by the #MeToo movement and other women coming forward with their accusations of sexual misconduct. But noticeably absent in the #MeToo discussion are women from the hip-hop industry. There have been women speaking up about the mistreatment that goes on in Hollywood, journalism, the video game world, and seemingly every other major American industry — but not the rap world. None of the women that accused rap icon Russell Simmons of sexual misconduct were actually from the hip-hop industry. Amanda Seales recalled that Russell once made a sexually suggestive comment to her, but today she’s known more as an actress and media personality than for her previous hip-hop exploits.
The only woman in hip-hop who voluntarily spoke up on Russell was Foxy Brown, who pledged “staunch support” and blamed “salaciousness and scandal” for his exposure — instead of his own conduct. Foxy’s comments aren’t at all surprising.
Racial implications have worked to veritably exonerate Bill Cosby, R. Kelly, and countless other well-known men in the court of public opinion. Whenever news arises of Cosby’s misconduct, Black men specifically take to Twitter to defend him as if it’s a rite of Black manhood. They bring up the rumor that Cosby was set to buy NBC and his reputation “had” to be tarnished by orchestrated rape accusations. They mention that male entertainers could have any woman they want — without realizing that thought process can influence stalking and sexual misconduct. They try ad hominem deflection by mentioning white celebrities who haven’t had to go to court like Cosby. They echo comedian Eddie Griffin’s perspective that “Black male stars don’t leave this industry clean.”
That paranoia is rooted in the reality that we live in a country where Black entertainers receive the short end of the stick, but to paraphrase author Philip Dick, paranoia only links up with reality “now and then,” not by default. What good does it do anyone to primarily harp on racism in a dirty industry rather than the dirty industry itself?
In defending Nelly against his 2017 rape accusations, Akon surmised that, “half the time, (women) will set up a charge just for us to settle out” — which was a crude guesstimate based on what I’m sure is years of hard research. While it’s true that there are women out there who have falsely accused men of rape or target well-known people for money, the documented instances pale in comparison to the numbers of rape convictions. Only 2-8% of rape cases are falsely reported, but an estimated 15.8 – 35% of rape cases go unreported each year. Probably because 994 out of 1000 perpetrators walk free, as RAINN.org reports.
The trivialization of rape accusations as a mere weapon in an agenda to defame Black men is endemic of what sustains patriarchy and keeps men who rape free from accountability. It’s part of what keeps women from coming forward with their stories. But it’s not the only reason.
Cardi B recently told Cosmopolitan about the peril that she went through when she was working as a print model. “When I was trying to be a vixen, people were like, ‘You want to be on the cover of this magazine?’ Then they pull their dicks out,” she recalled. “I bet if one of these women stands up and talks about it, people are going to say, ‘So what? You’re a ho. It don’t matter.”