Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Why we really need to talk about that Zendaya rape meme

Any actual human being thinks that rape is one of the most violent, repulsive, and otherwise terrible acts one human being can commit upon another. However, there are that subset of humans who think that making rape into a joke is a completely acceptable behavior. 

Case and point, a recent meme and corresponding discussion thread created yesterday on Twitter by user “Ogxbenson” and other Twitter users, including musician, actress, and activist Zendaya Coleman. The meme, featuring images of Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, and Zendaya, asked “If the purge was real who y'all raping?” siting recent release of "The Purge: Election Year" movie.

As I wrote on Blasting News on Monday, Zendaya responded to the Twitter user, saying in two separate tweets “This is absolutely disgusting and you should be ashamed of yourself. Is this really what my generation thinks is ok? People are sick…”

The user, Ogxbenson, more excited about the fact that celebrity Zendaya both saw and responded to the tweet instead of focusing on the content of her response, responded himself by saying how “lit” it was that Zendaya responded.

Zendaya then responded by saying “ the only thing that's lit is your immorality and inhumanity young man. I pray you find some sense.

Ogxbenson, following several failed attempts at petty exchanges to rope Zendaya into a public Twitter battle with the celebrity, has since deleted the initial tweet and its thread, and offered a (quite flippant) apology.

But "sorry" isn't good enough. As the adage goes, the best apology is changed behavior. Mere words over a Twitter feed won't make a woman feel any better that her image was offered up for rape, even if it was a hypothetical. Its hard to see a meme like that as a joke when that initial offending tweet had over 250 likes and 140 retweets before it was removed, meaning there could be a total of 400 punks who feel the same way as the initial jerk who created it. It is hard to really consider this type of behavior as a joke when you get responses to sexually violent tweets from their supporters like this one from another Twitter user: “Zendaya looks young probably haven't had a good smash yet. Always have had thirst for young flesh.” If that doesn't sound like a proud pervert, I don't know what does.

But this goes beyond a ridiculous meme some loser on Twitter poorly created on his phone and posted, only showing his own desperation for attention and affirmation because obviously in real life, he's not getting it. This is just one example of the many recent events showcasing the realities of rape culture within our very own culture.

The same audacity this little punk had in order to create such a post is the same audacity that makes a man feel like he can holler whatever he wants at a woman and she's just supposed to take it. It is the same audacity that films a woman's butt as she walks by just so he can "see that ass one more time." It is that some punk takes when he sees a drunk girl passed out and decides he can have his way with her because she cannot physically say no. It is the same audacity that will rape a woman or a girl. And that audacity must die.

How do we stop behaviors like this? We keep challenging them, beyond just the level of emotional disgust. We penetrate deep to the logical reasons, to societal reasons, even to personal reasons, why men in our culture feel that this behavior is just ok. We keep holding up examples like this and pronounce in a loud and clear voice that this behavior is not okeydokey and will no longer be accepted or tolerated. We keep doing the work as both women and men, together.

And maybe if we do the work now, our sons won't turn out like ogbenson, and our daughters won't have to embarrass them on Twitter.