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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Deaf Students At A Catholic School In Argentina Are Telling Their Story Of Abuse And Neglect By Priests

Things That Matter

Deaf Students At A Catholic School In Argentina Are Telling Their Story Of Abuse And Neglect By Priests

Jon Tyson / Flickr

Justice may soon be on the horizon for as many as 20 victims who say they were sexually abused, including cases of rape, between 2004 and 2016. Priests Nicola Corradi, 83, Horacio Corbacho, 59 and a former gardener Armando Gomez, 49, are all facing charges of sexually abusing deaf children in their care. The shocking case has sent shock waves through Argentina’s society and the Catholic church. The terrible acts occurred at the Provolo Institute in Mendoza, a Catholic school for deaf children that was founded in 1995 and in which Corradi headed until his arrest in November 2016.

People in Argentina are looking for answers and are asking how this horrendous crime could have happened?

Credit: @revistasemana / Twitter

The two priests and gardener appeared in court Monday to face their long-awaited charges of sexual abuse. The three men face prison sentences of up to 20 years in some cases, up to 50 years in others. The trial, which is expected to last two months, will hear testimony from 13 victims who suffered negligence and abuse between the ages of four and 17, relating to 43 offenses.

News of the abuse at the school broke at the end of 2016 and created a huge scandal. The scandal grew when it became clear that Rev. Corradi was behind the charges. It has been reported that Corradi was accused of similar allegations at the Antonio Próvolo institute in Verona, Italy. Pope Francis, an Argentine, has since been notified that Corradi was behind both allegations but has yet to comment publicly despite on the matter despite his close affiliation. 

There has already been one sentencing in wake of the scandal. Jorge Bordón, an institute employee, was sentenced to 10 years in prison last year on charges of rape, sexual touching, and corrupting minors.

One of the victims has spoken up about his emotions going into the trial and his search for justice. 

Credit: @news1130 / Twitter

Ezequiel Villalonga,18, is one of the victims of the pedophile priests, says that he was preyed upon at the school as a minor. Villalonga is deaf which makes the case even more heartbreaking. Now, he’s getting the chance to tell his story as the trial goes to court.

“I think that everything in the Church is fake. Everything they made us read, recite, the way (they said) people should live,” Villalonga told the AP in sign language right before the start of the priests’ trial on Monday. “I think they lie and that they’re demonic.”

Villalonga was sent to the school when he was 4 years old after his mother found out her son was deaf when he was only seven months old. For many of those years at Provo, he was only allowed to go home on weekends and spent the majority of his days there inside a massive building with little to no contact. Despite the school’s specialized mission in helping deaf children, he didn’t teach him how to speak during his time there. It was until he was an adult he learned sign language. 

“Life there was terrible. We didn’t learn anything, we couldn’t speak to each other because we didn’t know sign language,” he said. “We would write without knowing what it said, and when we asked other classmates, no one understood anything.”

Things haven’t been easier for his mom, Natalia, who says her family has had to pause their lives due to the case and the horrors that have happened to her son. 

“I am super-nervous, anxious and I hope for justice; that this ends soon so my son can move on to a new stage because this is very hard,” said Natalia Villalonga told the Washington Post.

While the trial is just getting started, the trauma and disbelief for many of the young victims have gone on for too long.

Credit: @Crux / Twitter

Paola Gonzalez’s daughter, Milagros, who is now 16 years old, had been one of those 20 abused while attending the Institute. Gonzalez was shocked and angry when she found out what had happened to her daughter at what she considered at one point, a prestigious institution. 

“You should have seen her little body when she went into (the Provolo). She was so small,” Gonzalez told the AP. “I don’t understand, I can’t imagine such evil. How could they do so much harm to such a fragile creature?” 

READ: A Brazilian Gang Leader Thought He Could Use A ‘Scooby-Doo’ Tactic To Escape Prison

A Judge Denied R. Kelly Bail After He Pled Not Guilty, Is This The Beginning Of His End?

Entertainment

A Judge Denied R. Kelly Bail After He Pled Not Guilty, Is This The Beginning Of His End?

Nuccio DiNuzzo / Getty Images

On the heels of Dream Hampton’s “Surviving R. Kelly” series on Lifetime, which detailed multiple sexual abuse allegations against Robert Kelly, it appears the alleged pedophile may finally face some consequences. Hampton’s six-part docuseries, along with the hashtag #MuteRKelly created a firestorm of renewed public interest in what might be at least three decades of possible abuse from the singer R. Kelly. Since February, Kelly has been indicted on multiple criminal charges, spanning incidents across four states: Illinois, Connecticut, California, and New York. 

However, the Eastern District of New York’s federal case against Kelly is just one of many legal battles the singer is up against as he faces what many feel is an overdue reckoning. 

R. Kelly is “irritated” by bail denial according to his lawyer. 

R. Kelly was denied bail pending his trail during an arraignment hearing at the Eastern District federal court in Brooklyn, New York today. The R&B singer pleaded not guilty to a host of charges, including sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, forced labor, and racketeering. U.S. District Magistrate, Judge Steve Tiscone, who was “extremely troubled” by allegations that Kelly intimidated witnesses, ordered him to remain in custody until the trial. 

Prosecutor Elizabeth Geddes argued Kelly should be denied bail. Geddes alleged Kelly paid off witnesses to not appear in court while out on bail during the 2002 child pornography case against him. It should be noted Kelly wasn’t acquitted until six years later — that’s quite a while to be out when charged with such serious crimes. 

The judge agreed with Geddes. Later, Anton told reporters Kelly was “irritated” about the denial. Nevertheless, Kelly will be flown back to Illinois by U.S. Marshals within 48 hours of the hearing. 

Kelly’s alleged victims have waited a long time to see justice. 

The 52-year-old has dodged rumors and allegations of sexual assault since 1997 when Kelly, then 27 years old, was rumored to have married the 15-year-old pop star Aaliyah in secret. Kelly has denied rumors that he married or dated Aaliyah for years. However, in Surviving R. Kelly, Jovante Cunningham, a former backup singer of Kelly’s, claims he saw the two together firsthand. 

“On a tour bus, there really aren’t many confined spaces. When you get on the bus there are bunks and so these bunks have little curtains you can pull at night if you don’t want anybody to see you sleeping,” Cunningham recalled

“So it just so happened we were all laying in our bunks and the curtains are open, everybody’s communicating, laughing,” Cunningham continued. “When the [room] door flew open on the bus. Robert was having sex with Aaliyah.”

 In 2002, Kelly was indicted on 21 charges related to child pornography but was acquitted of all charges by a jury in 2008. Gloria Allred, who represents three Jane Does in the Eastern District’s case, said there are reportedly 13 victims in total involved with all of Kelly’s cases.

It appears the tides are turning for R. Kelly after decades of organizing and sounding the alarm largely by black women. 

The “Ignition” singer has multiple cases against him. 

In February, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in Illinois charged Kelly with 10 counts of aggravated criminal abuse which alleges that from 1998 to 2010, Kelly filmed himself engaging in sexual acts with minors. In July, federal prosecutors in New York and Chicago indicted Kelly on 18 charges including child exploitation and violating the Mann Act by coercing and transporting women and girls across state lines for illicit sexual activity or sexual assault. 

Not everyone is convinced of R. Kelly’s guilt. 

While many have joined the #MuteRKelly movement, others remain unconvinced of the singer’s guilt. Kelly’s two girlfriends Azriel Clary and Joycelyn Savage appeared at the arraignment. They weren’t his only supporters — a group of women, one wearing a “Free R. Kelly” t-shirt, appeared in solidarity outside of the courthouse. 

One of the women, 50-year-old Ruthie Castro, told CNN, “I’ve always supported him for many years,” and remains convinced of his innocence.  

Many believe that Kelly uses his fame and falses promises of stardom to attract young, vulnerable girls only to coerce them into joining a cult-like harem. Kelly’s “mind control” techniques were revealed in a BuzzFeed News exposé, which seemed to further fan the flames of public and legal fury in the singer’s direction. 

In an era where we have a racist reality TV star as President of the United States, it is all the more important we remain critical and ever-scrutinizing of any man with a cult-like personality who adorns himself with young, starstruck women. 

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