Things That Matter

It’s Time For Men To Step Up And Call Out Their Homies About Sexual Harassment And Assault

At first, I was apprehensive to write a piece about what’s going on in the Harvey Weinstein case, because this conversation is so important and we need to be listening to women. We need to all believe women.

But it is also a time to turn to your boys and speak to them, to change how we all act, treat and support ALL women. It’s also time that we stop putting the burden on women to address the issues that WE have often created. 

The women who have come out and spoken publicly against Weinstein are far from alone. Their voices are echoed by the experiences of our sisters, mothers and close friends, and, if you’re listening, women everywhere. Because, fam, it’s literally all women.

You do not need to know someone specifically, or be connected to them, to understand, empathize and protect their safety. Or to care.

If you open your ears and your hearts, there isn’t a woman that hasn’t felt the fear of walking home alone at night, or being scared to not speak out at school or work when a boss or coworker does something awful.

It’s time to stand up for victims of sexual harassment and assault. Let me say that again: It’s time to stand up for victims of sexual harassment and assault, and to end rape culture.  

As the huge majority of perpetrators of harassment and assault, it’s men who need to do the most work here, and the first step is to realize we are all part of the problem, whether or not you have engaged in harassment (you have) or assault.

As a man, if you are not speaking up, speaking out and adamantly against harassment and assault of women, you are complicit in the sexual abuse and violence against them. If you’re not calling out stuff that’s problematic and contributing to rape culture, or backing up women when they do instead of arguing against them, you’re part of the problem.

Some of you think catcalling is fine. You think grabbing at a woman every now and then is fine. You think your boy is wild for slapping a girl on the butt without permission is fine. You might even laugh about it with him, even if you disagree with his actions. Or you think it’s all no big deal.

But you’re fucking wrong.

Don’t cat call.

Don’t touch women without their permission.

Tell your boys to cut their shit.

Even if you all aren’t out there harassing, assaulting or raping women, by saying nothing you’re encouraging and supporting a culture that leads to that. Rape culture is real and it starts and ends with men.

Credit: Angela Martini/ Flickr/ @feministapparel

Don’t come at me with the “but men, too.” We saw what Terry Crews said on Twitter last week about being groped by someone at a party. Yes, this is awful, and shouldn’t have happened to him or to anyone. But Terry Crews is an ex-football player and a towering man who gets hired to play action heroes and whoop ass because he can whoop ass. Most people wouldn’t mess with him.

Even if Crews wasn’t famous, he doesn’t have to worry about being catcalled in the street or that meeting up with someone from Tinder could lead to him being assaulted. He probably doesn’t have to worry that his ability to move up in his acting career is dependent on whether or not he watches a producer bathe. That’s likely never happened to him and probably won’t, but as we’ve seen, it’s happened to a long list of women and their male counterparts did little to nothing to help them.

No one is perfect, but by and large, men are the violent members of our species.

We start the wars, we have the dick measuring contests, we have toxic masculinity issues that permeate everything we do or don’t do. And even if you consider yourself as just a regular dude, who’d never hurt a woman, there are still plenty of ways you can be promoting patriarchal systems of power.

Like if you think you’re being romantic and aren’t causing harm when you’re negging a girl to get her to be in to you, or won’t take no for answer for drink or date, or play piano in the park until your ex takes you back. When you treat a women differently because of what she’s wearing or her size, or call her names behind her back because she wasn’t feeling it or did something all your homies have done and gotten high fives for. 

Those are all forms of harassment and you need to see it in order to stop it. You need to take a long hard look at yourself and your homies and think about what you’re doing.

It’s not easy to be the voice of reason in a group of guys. Like rapper Kendrick Lamar says in his song, “The Art of Peer Pressure,” “I’ve never been violent… until I’m with the homies.”

The pressure to be this idea of macho is amplified when you’re with other men. I get it, I hear you, you’re just joking around, it’s not serious. Well, it’s time for something different. Be the guy who stands up to your friends and calls them on their shit. Don’t makes excuses for them, because those excuses uphold rape culture and violence against women.

I’m no angel, I’ve done my fair share.

For example, as a teenager I’d hang out with a group of friend’s outside of McDonald’s and we’d all catcall women. We’d make a night of it. I used to sing to girls passing by. The song “Slow Down” by Bobby Valentino was a personal favorite. Sure the girls would laugh, but what else could they do while I’m rolling 10 deep and it’s just the two of them walking by? I had no malice in my heart. All I wanted was to make a pretty girl smile and maybe get her phone number, but using that power in numbers, finding myself in a position that made it easy for me to approach and hard for them to deny, that’s a problem right there. And without correcting it, it becomes the way you do things forever.

Harassment comes in many forms, like cat calling, not taking “no for an answer, coercing a woman into sleeping with you, threatening them and uninvited touch. And these are just a few.

Credit: Radu A. D. / Flickr

Let’s not kid ourselves, it doesn’t start when you’re a teenager. The groundwork for this behavior begins much younger. It happens when you teach little boys to whistle at girls. Or when you tell them it’s okay to be mean to girls they like. All of that shit needs to change. 

This behavior should not be the norm. For that to happen, we have to be the catalysts for that change ourselves so generations coming up after us can look to us as role models. Men often learn these behaviors from their fathers and uncles, emulating their words and actions towards women. When the next generation emulates us, let’s make sure their behavior reflects respect for women. So how do we do that?

Be friends to women, without expectations. Hire women and work with women, and keep your professional relationships professional. If you’re in a position to do so, help women level up in their careers, but don’t take advantage of it. Helping women should never come at their expense. Nobody owes you sexual favors, or should be subject to your advances or harassment, ever.

There are no professional (or other) circumstances under which anyone owes you a sexual favor.

Credit: employee justice/ Flickr

Most importantly, you don’t have to be related to a woman in order to see them as human beings who deserve to feel safe and be treated as equals with respect.

Listen, we’ve all said dumb things and done dumb things, but we have to acknowledge the privilege we have in this world, and to see the issues that affect women as issues we must care about, and to ensure we do our part to stop this problem. 

We’re all guilty, but there comes a time to separate yourself from that mentality – to grow up, and say “nah.”

And if you haven’t yet, let right now be that time for you.


READ: Here’s What Lin-Manuel Miranda And Quiara Hudes Have To Say About ‘In The Heights’ Being Produced By The Weinstein Company


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Senior Border Patrol Officer Gets To Retire After Allegedly Kidnapping And Sexually Assaulting Another Agent

Things That Matter

Senior Border Patrol Officer Gets To Retire After Allegedly Kidnapping And Sexually Assaulting Another Agent

customsborder / Instagram

On July 10, former senior Border Patrol agent Gus Zamora, 51, was arrested in Tuscon for sexually assaulting a junior agent. Zamora’s wife is Gloria Chavez, one of the agency’s highest-ranked female officers. Three weeks after he was indicted by a Pima County grand jury, the agency took the only action it has thus far: it allowed him to retire from the agency three weeks after being arrested. Customs and Border Protection defended its actions by telling The New York Times, it “holds its employees accountable and expects the entire workforce to adhere to the agency’s standards of conduct.” Zamora attended a pretrial hearing at the Arizona Superior Court in Tucson. He pleaded not guilty.

The victim, identified as R.W. in court documents, told police that she looked up to Zamora as a mentor, given their ten-year age difference and his seniority. Over the years, R.W. had ignored some of his advances, asserting her desire to remain friends. The night of the assault, they met up for dinner and Zamora bought her so many tequila shots, video surveillance shows her falling to her knees as Zamora brought her back to his hotel room where he would later sexually assault her.

Before their dinner, Zamora texted her to ask if she “dressed up” for him, according to The New York Times.

Credit: customsborder / Instagram

According to The New York Times, Zamora bought them five rounds of tequila shots, and at one point, she moved away from him after he placed his hand on her left thigh. The Daily Mail reports that Zamora told investigators that he offered R.W. a ride home, to which she declined, saying she didn’t want to be alone. Zamora alleges that she initiated the sex. However, hotel surveillance footage shows Zamora holding R.W. up. At one point, she fell to her knees, according to police documents obtained by The New York Times. 

Those police documents detail how R.W. said she blacked out, only waking up a few times to find herself on the bed. She told police she didn’t feel like she had the capacity to give consent. The rape kit results have not been made public. 

A few days later, R.W. reported the crime to the police, who then recorded her follow-up call to Zamora.

Credit: customsborder / Instagram

According to The New York Times, the detective on the case recorded a phone call during which R.W. informed Zamora that the sex was non-consensual. The detective wrote, “he told her to not go there and that it wasn’t like that,” that sex “was never on his mind. They had too many shots,” The New York Times reports. Effectively, Zamora tried to call him out and he just deflected the blame onto both of them. 

When Zamora was eventually called in for an interview, a detective told Zamora that R.W. was in no state to offer consent, to which he “said that he knows, but he wasn’t in a state to consent either,” according to The New York Times

Women make up 5 percent of Border Patrol agents.

Credit: customsborder / Instagram

The female agents who do make up the force have voiced their outrage at the agency’s inaction around sexual assault accusations. “There’s not a single woman in the Border Patrol who has either not been sexually assaulted, outright raped or at the very least sexually harassed,” former Border Patrol agent Jenn Budd told The New York Times. Budd’s since become an immigrant rights activist, and urges women to reconsider joining the Border Patrol.

Two days before Zamora allegedly assaulted R.W., Tucson police arrested Border Patrol agent Steven Charles Holmes, 33, for sexually assaulting three women over seven years. 

The agency is already under immense criticism for its high rate of arrest charges brought against Border Patrol agents when compared to other law enforcement agencies.

Credit: @CBP / Twitter

In July 2019, Quartz reported that Border Patrol agents are arrested approximately five times as often as other law enforcement groups. With a budget of over $15 billion and over 60,000 employees, it’s the largest law enforcement agency in the United States. Many critics say the agency is not held to account for its unconstitutional means of coercing migrants to sign removal forms written in English, a language they often cannot understand. 

A Customs Border Patrol spokesperson told El Paso Times that its Office of Professional Responsibility “will review all the facts uncovered to ensure all allegations of misconduct … are thoroughly investigated for appropriate action by the agency.”

READ: US Border Patrol Sent This Man And His Child Back To Mexico And Hours Later They Were Thrown Into Trucks And Abducted

Cardi B Shared Her Story Of Sexual Assault In An Emotional New Interview That You Have To Watch

Entertainment

Cardi B Shared Her Story Of Sexual Assault In An Emotional New Interview That You Have To Watch

Iamcardib / Instagram

Cardi B appeared on the first episode of Untold Stories of Hip Hop, hosted by Angie “The Voice of New York” Martinez on WE TV. The series, debuting on WE TV on Sept. 26, will highlight hip hop heavyweights like Cardi B, Snoop Dogg, Fat Jow, and Queen Latifah and never-before-heard accounts that changed their lives and careers.

The first day of shooting was literally the day after the Grammys, so who better [to interview] than Cardi B?” Martinez told the NY Post. “She had just won that big Grammy for Best Rap Album and it was a huge moment for her. She’s a hustler. She really works hard. I’ve seen people go hard but she goes super hard. Her work ethic is really impressive.” 

Like most interviews with Cardi, the “Press” singer ebbs from her charming humor with The Bronx grit to getting real about her hustling, struggles, and political opinions. In this interview with Martinez, Cardi reveals she was sexually assaulted by a photographer. 

As seen in the promotional clip for Untold Stories of Hip Hop, Cardi B is visibly flustered as she recounts the incident.

Cardi B spoke with legendary radio DJ Angie Martinez about the incident that happened early in her career. She went to a magazine photoshoot where the photographer exposed himself to her. It appeared the photographer was trying to coerce sexual acts in exchange for media coverage.

“I’ll never forget how I went to shoot for this magazine and the photographer, he was trying to get close to me like, ‘Yeah, you want to get in this magazine?’” Cardi said. “Then he pulled his dick out. I was so fucking mad.”

Cardi said she told the owner of the magazine, the person did not care.

“You know what’s so crazy?” Cardi said. “I told the magazine owner and he just looked at me like: ‘So? And?'” 

When Martinez asked if these incidents still happen to her, Cardi essentially said no one would dare these days.

“Oh, hell no, I put you on blast on my Instagram,” Cardi said.

Cardi B has no doubt that sexual assault happens to girls in underprivileged communities every day. 

The 26-year-old believes that girls at high-risk neighborhoods experience assault all the time, but simply put: nobody cares.

“When I see the #MeToo movement – there’s girls from the hood I know that went through the same type of treatment. They make you feel like you got to do a certain type of thing. It happens every day.”

In 2017, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said reports of sexual assault and domestic violence made by Latinx residents had decreased. The reason: they feared the risk of deportation under Trump’s immigration policy.

“Imagine, a young woman, imagine your daughter, your sister, your mother … not reporting a sexual assault, because they are afraid that their family will be torn apart,” Beck told the LA Times.

While the new immigration policy may have exacerbated these fears, they have always been present for the Latinx community. This makes it particularly hard to create an accurate picture of the frequency of sexual assault amongst Latinxs.

Moreover, because of how Black women are stigmatized as “hypersexualized,”according to Now.org, for every 15 black women who are raped, only one reports her assault.

Indigenous women also face disproportionately high levels of violence, according to Indian Law, 1 in 2 American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced sexual violence.

The facts make it clear: women, in general, are disregarded when it comes to sexual assault, but women of color face even more barriers.

Cardi has previously expressed concerns the #MeToo movement is not inclusive.

The “Money” rapper has alluded to sexual harassment on set before. Cardi, who identifies as a feminist, told Cosmpolitan that because she is a stripper her opinions or experiences on more serious matters are often dismissed. While she supports the #MeToo movement (which was founded by Tarana Burke, a Black woman, but was hijacked by Alyssa Milano, a white woman) that women of color are not heard with regard to sexual assault.

“A lot of video vixens have spoke about this and nobody gives a fuck,” she says. “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. 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.’“

Cardi doesn’t accept the dismissals of strippers. While she is richer and more famous than ever, she said she was happier as a stripper. 

 “I don’t want to sound like I’m ungrateful, but it’s exhausting,” she says. “I love my career now, but it’s like my spirit was happier before. When I was dancing, I had so much fun. I felt powerful in the club. I felt free.”

What Cardi’s experiences highlight is how women of color, especially ones who dare to be overtly sexual, are perceived to be deserving recipients of any abuse they receive.