Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

The case of Nate Parker: on rape culture in Hollywood

Nate Parker is an American actor, director, producer, and writer. His new film The Birth of a Nation premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January. Within days of the film festival, news of Parker's involvement in a multiple perpetrator rape whilst attending Penn State, in which he was found not guilty, began to make the rounds of social media.  Parker's roommate Jean McGianni Celestin was originally found guilty but was granted a mistrial after an appeal. However, the victim refused to testify a second time. She did win a complaint against Penn State for failing to protect her from harassment by Parker and Celestin who had hired a private investigator who revealed her identity by showing a picture of the victim on campus. She committed suicide in 2012 after two previous attempts.

Rather than a response to the allegations and subsequent media coverage ourselves, we have chosen to link to four articles which we highly recommend. All deal with issues of rape on campus, victim blaming, celebrity culture and and rape culture.

Rebellion: Against Hypocrisy, Gender Racism, & Rape Apologetics (content note)
via @writermrsmith

... Like Nate Parker at Penn State.

You can also understand why Parker’s involvement in his victim’s rape cannot and should not be swept under the rug simply because he is famous or he made a “good” movie.

You can understand, too, that silence doesn’t equal consent.

Parker’s victim didn’t “deserve” to get raped because she went to a guy’s dorm room, drank too much, or passed out.

They didn’t get a “pass” because she wasn’t able to say no. They took one. ....

Nate Parker. No Pass. at Black Girl Nerds

Nate Parker does not get a pass. Neither does Jean Celestin. Nor does the creation of a film of historic significance about rebellion, redemption and freedom. The success of the film, Birth of a Nation, was a testament to triumph and was a success before it was ever released. Now, it is a reminder that rape culture is real. It is a reminder that men who do not regard women as full and whole human beings are able to live out their lives and create success for themselves while destroying the lives of women.

33 years ago to this day someone attempted to take my life, my innocence, my virtue and my free spirit. I was called a homewrecker. I was called a whore. I was reduced to the sum of my parts by people I thought loved me. I was a nine-year-old girl in Baltimore.

As vivid and horrific as the memory and events of that day are, this is not about me. This is about Nate Parker parking his illustrious ass in my backyard, boasting about his freedom, his success, his love, his daughters, in the face of someone who has lived with the terror of the same act he violated another with. He is not allowed to shit on my lawn and call it love. He’s here to tell his story. He’s made his life about telling stories, but this one was kept quiet. Until now. Still, he’s here to tell his story. She is not. ...

Nate Parker’s Alleged Rape And The Limits of Hollywood Damage Control  via @annehelen

On Jan. 25, 2016, there was one ticket that everyone in Park City wanted: The Birth of a Nation. Written and directed by Nate Parker, who also played the starring role of Nat Turner, Nation had swiftly become one of the most buzzed-about films of Sundance. No matter that Parker had never directed, had appeared in just a handful of films, or that many in America had never heard his name: It could potentially reproduce the prestige and profits of 12 Years a Slave, which won three Oscars and grossed $188 million, and turn the handsome, charismatic Parker into the next black auteur.

The Birth of a Nation felt like the right movie at the right time, a perfect antidote to #OscarsSoWhite and continued controversy over the ways in which people of color have continued to be shut out, unrecognized, and otherwise excluded from Hollywood. It was certain there would be a bidding war. The question was how high it would go.

The atmosphere in the massive high school auditorium where Birth of a Nation was first screened was, as many reported at the time, electric. As I waited for the film to start, I read reports of his anti-gay remarks and the allegations of rape that took place at Penn State in 1999, when Parker was a sophomore in college. I’d been scheduled to interview Parker the next day and was doing my research — including reading his Wikipedia page, which, on Jan. 25, included a paragraph on the rape case under “Background.”  ...

On Nate Parker, Rape and the Perils of Double Consciousness  by Tarana Burke  via @colorlines

Often when I think about being a Black woman in America, I think of W.E.B. Dubois and the concept of “double consciousness” he wrote about in “ The Souls of Black Folk”:

It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.

This thought struck me again this week when I read about how actor Nate Parker and his friend and writing partner Jean Celestin allegedly raped a severely intoxicated freshman at Pennsylvania State University. At the time they were sophomores, roommates and wrestling teammates.

Parker is set to release “The Birth of a Nation” this October. The film has been deemed an epic telling of the story of Nat Turner and his 1831 slave revolt. Like most Black folks I know, I have been waiting years for a strong, well-written and well-acted story about Turner. I have also followed Parker since his 2007 appearance in “The Great Debaters.” So I was ecstatic to learn that after he wrote, directed and produced this film, it was not only picked up by Fox Searchlight at Sundance for a record breaking $17.5 million, but slated for a wide release with the full backing of a major studio. But—after reading every court filing, transcript and article about the 1999 case I could get my hands on—my heart is heavy. ...


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