[T]here are many hideous crimes that take place in our society, but robbery, murder, and rape are “the big three” in terms of punishable, violent crimes. The offense of rape has been front and center in the media for the past year, thanks to the 20 women who have accused Bill Cosby of slipping them a potent cocktail of drugs, in hopes of getting into the dazed ladies panties.
But, even before Cos’ misguided sexual exploits were making headlines, there were various high-profile incidents.
|Darren Sharper drugged and raped at least 10 women. He pleaded guilty to rape charges in multiple states.|
Athletes like Florida State University standout Jameis Winston, Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger, and retired NFL player Darren Sharper have been accused of the crime.
In fact, on March 23, 2015, Darren Sharper was sentenced to nine years in federal prison for slipping drugs into a number of women’s drinks, and then having sex with them.
In pop culture, Rolling Stone magazine just backed off of an explosive story that was published, which claimed that members of Phi Kappa Psi took part in a gang rape at the University of Virginia.
The same day Sharper copped his plea, (March 23), local police in Virginia abandoned their investigation into the alleged gang rape, because they could not find any witnesses.
In Hip-Hop culture, D.C. rapper Yung Gleesh was just hit with sexual assault charges at SXSW. A young woman admitted to accompanying the rapper to a friend’s home. Police said the woman and a friend passed out, intoxicated.
The friend woke up and found the rapper allegedly assaulting the unconscious woman.
Last year, the subject was just as controversial. Rapper Rick Ross lost a valuable endorsement deal with Reebok, when his lyrics from the song “UOENO” suggested that he drugged a woman and had sex with her without her consent.
Eminem was more direct with his song “Vegas.” The rapper warned that he would rape Australian rapper Iggy Azalea on the track.
Rapper Cee Lo’s career took a nose dive after he pleaded guilty to supplying a woman with ecstasy, allegedly without her knowledge. She claimed she woke up naked with the singer, unable to recollect what happened. Police were unable to file sexual assault charges against Cee Lo, because of the lack of evidence.
Even after his plea, things got worse for the Atlanta rapper, when he issued a series of tweets, which suggested it was not rape if the victim was not conscious.
“Women who have really been raped REMEMBER!!!” Cee Lo tweeted, before temporarily disabling his Twitter account and later, apologizing for the comments.
In 2014, rapper Haystacks was charged with sexual assault. In 2013, Sean Kingston was sued for gang rape and in 2012, artist Elephant Man was accused of the crime in his hometown of Jamaica.
“As a whole, it is difficult to deny that rap music does not encourage males to commit sexual violence against females,” Dr. William T. Hoston told CollegeHipHop.com.
[D]r. William T. Hoston is the author of “Black Masculinity in the Obama Era: Outliers of Society.” He is also an associate professor of Political Science at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. Dr. Hoston received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of New Orleans.
“The art form is saturated with such references,” Dr. Hoston said. “However, there is not a causation between rap and rape in the medium of popular culture. The crimes of sexual assault and rape are primarily male dominated and intraracial. Acts of rape would happen regardless.”
The rappers’ lyrics appear to be reflecting a reality that is occurring on campus and off-campus in the United States.
In fact, non-student females ages 18 to 24 make up almost twice (1.2 times) the number of rape victims.
That is more than double the rape rate for college student females of the same age group. Because of the fear and stigma, the victims are less likely to come forth and report the trauma that was forced upon them.
A number of victims were afraid to come forward because of the shame that would be attached to their names, letting their assailant off the hook, possibly to commit the crime again.
The negative publicity surrounding the victim of Jamies Winston’s alleged sexual assault had a “chilling effect” on rape victims not only from FSU, but from society at large.
To make matters more complicated, sometimes the victims know their attacker and don’t want to report the incident. Shockingly, 12% of student victims and 6% of nonstudent victims claimed the incident was not important enough to report to law enforcement.
According to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), the victims knew the perpetrator over 80% of the time. Stats show that 26% of nonstudent females and 23% of college females did not report the crime to law enforcement because they felt that it was more of a personal matter.
And, for both age groups, 70% of the rapes or sexual assaults took place in their home, or in a home of someone that they knew.
The numbers get higher when talking about African-American women. Stats show that 1 in 5 African-American women will be raped, yet the crimes go severely underreported for this particular demographic.
“There is a ‘culture of silence’ among black women in the community,” Dr. Hoston said. “Studies suggest that black women are less likely to report cases because it contributes to sexual stereotypes about them and feeds existing racial myths about black men.”
In his book, Dr. Hoston explains that rappers like Meek Mill, Tyler the Creator and DMX and many others have songs threatening to rape women.
He argues that these men, are ignorant of the facts surrounding the crime, which in turn, results in repugnant rap lyrics demeaning women.
“While Hip-Hop scholars have argued that rap music is simply a by-product of a misogynistic American culture, that excuse should no longer be tolerated,” Dr. Hoston told CollegeHipHop.com. “The art form is no longer being used primarily as an agent of cultural and social change, but a modern day minstrel show. Black male rap artists perform in indistinguishable black face and appeal to the stereotypes and stigmas of White America to hopefully generate album sales.”
During the 57th annual Grammy Awards earlier this year, President Obama recognized the important role musicians play in helping to shine a light on important social issues.
“Artists have a unique power to change minds and attitudes and get us thinking and talking about what matters,” President Obama told the audience. “And all of us, in our own lives, have the power to set an example.”