Let’s start with some basic yes/no questions:
Is it sad that people died in a helicopter crash? Yes.
Is it especially sad that children lost their lives? Absolutely.
Is it devastating that families are now incomplete because of the lives lost? Of course it is.
If you answered no to any of the above questions, perhaps some soul searching is in order.
Is it true that Kobe Bryant was accused of rape in 2003? Yes.
Were the charges dropped? Yes.
Does that make him innocent? No.
Please feel free to read some excepts from both his accuser and Bryant’s statements for yourself here. For the purposes of this post I’ve done the legwork and read the reports and the statements.
Here’s a quick synopsis, first, Bryant:
1. Denied he did anything
2. Offered to buy her off when it became apparent this wasn’t just going to disappear
3. Admitted something happened but not exactly what
4. Hired a female to represent him – the optics here are simultaneously genius and horrifying… remind you of anyone whose name rhymes with Parvey Peinstein?
5. His representation subsequently questioned her mental health and slut shamed his victim into submission
6. Then he paid a fine and made a public apology where he kind of admitted he had done something, but not completely that what he’d done was necessarily wrong
7. Bought his wife a fucking ring to apologize
8. Got to move on
9. Lived his life lavishly
10. His career stayed intact, complete with adoring fans
In 2003, when Kobe Bryant was first accused of rape, I was a junior in high school. I didn’t know a lot of things. Like how to do my trigonometry homework or apply eye liner or that there would come a time in the not-so-distant future when men and boys just might be held accountable for their actions. I also had no idea that a strong intersectional feminist was lying dormant in my bones. It was right around that time, however, when I would have to watch not one, but two different men, on two separate occasions pull out their penises and stroke them while staring at me on the train. It was right around the time, however, when I started to become accustomed to men cat-calling me just for daring to walk down the street as a woman. I could go on, but I believe you catch my drift. The strong intersectional feminist was bubbling, growing, and gaining steam inside of me.
Which is why, when the news came through yesterday that the crash had left no survivors, I was one million percent appalled at the amount of “what a legend” he’s a cultural icon” “rip forever” “he’s such a hero” that popped up. As an intersectional feminist in the time of the #metoo movement, I have a very hard time with people idolizing this man. It feels a whole lot like we, women (cis and non-binary and all between), are cutting ourselves off at the knee by simply ignoring that all of this happened and continuing our idol worship into his death.
There are claims that he “turned his life around”. Do any of us know him personally or closely enough to say that without a doubt? And even if he did, does it matter that he turned into the golden child when he faced literally ZERO HARDSHIP for committing a brutal rape and ruining a woman’s life??
There are claims that “only God can judge” and, as an atheist, that means literally nothing to me. But if you’re going to take this route, please be advised that I’m already looking at you a LITTLE sideways because aren’t two of those ten commandments about idolatry (putting this man on a pedestal, and essentially worshiping him) and adultery (which he actively admitted to in his “apology”)?? Yet, here we are.
There are claims that “he’s someone son/husband/father” but so is Bill Cosby. So is Harvey Weinstein. So is Donald Trump. Will we say the same thing upon their demise?
Let’s end this with some more questions:
Is Bryant’s rape case inconvenient for people?
Does Bryant’s rape case taint or ruin the image that so many minds have created of the perfect athlete?
Do these questions make you uncomfortable? If so, maybe some soul searching is in order.
Am I dancing on Bryant’s grave? No. Of course not.
Is it sad people died in a helicopter crash? Yes. It is just as sad that people are dying at our borders every single day, but where are the tributes to them?
Does his death affect my life in any way? No.
This habit that we, as a society, have fallen into of “Immediate Retroactive Sainthood” needs to end. You know that term “don’t speak ill of the dead”? Fuck that. Sorry, not sorry.
We cannot pick and choose who a person is, alive or dead. We can only choose to do the right thing with the information we’re given – as hard as that may be – as big or small of a celebrity or public figure they may be.
And on that note – I’m gaining more material for my next post… Stay tuned!