This Nate Parker Situation Has Me All Kinds of Conflicted.
On the one hand, I really want to be supportive of his potentially masterful and inspirational film Birth of a Nation. It is soooooo relevant to the current plight of black healing. On the other hand it’s hard not to become overwhelmed with disgust whenever I think about Mr. Parker’s recently unearthed 1999 rape charge and his response to it.
Truth be told I am a very forgiving person. I can honestly forgive anybody for anything as long as they are genuinely remorseful and determined to never commit the offense again. I am a dog lover that flushed all ill will toward Michael Vick down the toilet after he admitted his wrongs and attempted to make amends. And yes, I have also forgiven people for wrongs committed against human beings that I personally love dearly.
So yup, I can forgive anything. But I need you to want to be forgiven.
It’s great that Mr. Parker is “open” to discussing his past, but trumpeting “I was cleared of all charges” over and over again is not the same as saying “I did not rape that woman.”
Now, if he knows that something did happen that night, as it seems, then it’d be better for him to just come out and say, “look, I did a terrible, terrible thing that I’ve regretted everyday since then. I didn’t mean to hurt her, but I did. I thought that because we had sex once, she was open to sex anytime, but I was wrong. So wrong.”
If he said that… coupled with a squeaky clean 17 years following the incident, with zero instances of any kind of violence against women… and his wife vouched for those 17 years (like truly vouched for him)… then I think I could actually forgive him and patron his phenomenally important film.
But he didn’t do that so I’m not sure that I can.
In the interest of full disclosure, I admit that I have an incredibly intimate relationship with situations like this. I myself once had to stop a friend from taking a nearly unconscious woman into a bedroom at a party. And when I tried to explain to him why I did it, he didn’t understand that what he was about to do was rape either.
We actually had an argument about it afterwards which included him calling me a “cock blocker” and “jealous” and a “hater” and everything. So seeing yet another male of my generation who thinks a woman’s lowered guard means it’s “open season” on her vagina, kind of strikes a cord with me. Some people just don’t seem to get it. And I just don’t get that.
Which is why I think its so important for Mr. Parker to send the clear message that unconscious sex, even groggy sex, is not sex, it’s rape. He is obviously not the only guy who’s ever believed otherwise.
And that’s why it’s funny to me that every time a rape story becomes public, we always worry about our daughters. Well I don’t have daughters. I have two sons. One of whom is in high school. And reading about this story, makes me worry about them. I worry that a prominent male celebrity insisting that he did nothing wrong by having sex without a woman’s full consent, just because she agreed to have sex with him once before, is going to influence my teenager with raging hormones to also say, “fuck it. She nodded and smiled didn’t she?”
No son. That would be rape.
And when the violated woman gathers the courage to turn him in, I worry that my son might be confused like “but I don’t understand… she was totally into me last weekend, how could she say I raped her last night?”
Despite my son’s good heart and positive intentions… that frightens me.
So Mr. Parker I want to see your movie, I really do, but I don’t want that scenario to happen to anyone’s son (or daughter, obviously). And if I was sure that you didn’t want that, I’d feel a lot better about investing in the great things you have on the horizon for our people (or really just our men, because our women cannot mean much to a man who is unwilling to admit that unconscious sex is rape).
But as it stands, my desire to support my people’s cause cannot come at the expense of another’s cause.
I’m sorry you are not sorry.