We Still Don't Matter
I sat down at my desk this morning as I usually do around 9:00am and began purusing the headlines on my favorite website before beginning my day. This usually doesn't take very long becasue I am only looking for news that interests me, and most of what comes my way doesn't fit into that category. But today, I saw a headline that I have been waiting for: "Oklahoma ex-cop guilty of Rape in Sex Abuse Case."
I was surprised to see this story made it's way onto the main marquee. For the months that I have been following it, it has only appeared as a peripheral story behind important things like, "Donald Trump said something stupid...again. Leads all national polls!" or "Hey look another cops shoots an un-armed black man 17 times," or my favorites " Blah Blah Blah Kardashian Blah Blah Blah"
If you are not up to speed let me give you the gist. This police officer routinely skulked around under-served communities and preyed on women he knew couldn't or wouldn't go to the police." In other words, he raped and assaulted poor black women in poor black neighborhoods.
Now, two things struck me about this case. #1 No national out rage or outcry from the black community. None. #2 His entire defense appeared to revolve around the fact that all 17 of these women were liars because they were....well....poor and black. The jury didn't buy it and this man will likely spend the rest of his life in prison where he belongs.
It saddens me that we live in a society where things like this still happen. If I didn't know better I would have thought I was reading about something that happened in the 1950's when women were regarded as little more than property and sexual objects. Virginia Slim righteously declared in the 70's "We've come a long way baby!" But I am not so sure that is true. This police officer operated for years with impunity terrorizing vulnerable women. When the story "broke" there seemed to be very little interest. And it occurs to me, as we are about to enter 2016 that not much has changed where women are concerned. It seems that with sex, much like race in the country, we have been pretending. On the surface we hold up public examples of policies and people that allow us to pat ourselves on the back and tell ourselves how progressive we are. Look at that woman CEO, look at that Black President...aren't we cool?! Yet all the while, just behind the curtain, women are still paid less than men, men who abuse women rarely see jail time even when their deeds are caught on camera, (Oh that's right, I forgot, violence against women only happens in the NFL right? Shame on you NFL!!!!) and college educated black people are twice as likely to be unemployed as their white counterparts and I won't even discuss black unemployment in general.
The sad truth is, whether is 1916 or 2016, we still don't matter. Yet, I am expected to walk around with a smile on my face dancing through the streets like I live in a Toyota commercial and ring in the new year. Ok.