by Dr. Boyce Watkins, KultureKritic.com
I was deeply concerned about the recent rape conviction of Oklahoma State University basketball player Darrell Williams. Williams broke down in tears in the courtroom, an understandable reaction in which he expressed outwardly what many of us would feel on the inside. He’s going to prison, and getting a life sentence. While his sentence is not technically going to incarcerate him for life, prison has become a life sentence when you consider the permanent psychological damage, the STDs spread from prison rape, and the lifelong marginalization from economic and political systems of America.
In that regard, going to prison for even 24 hours can be tantamount to a life sentence.
I can’t let Williams off the hook for what happened on the night in which he allegedly committed his crime. If he did indeed do something illegal, then prison time should be a consequence. But one of the statements about the story that concerned me the most was one I found on ESPN:
Defense attorney Cheryl Ramsey referred to the case as a “he said, she said situation” during her closing argument. She noted that no one heard anyone scream at the party, saw any struggles or reported anything inappropriate. Neither of the women suffered any cuts or scratches, and no clothing was torn after the alleged incident.
Forgive me for saying this, but when we make a legal decision that will ruin a young man’s life, we should probably have more evidence than the statements made by an alleged victim at a party where everyone was probably drinking. If I go to the police department and say that someone groped me, it’s hard to imagine the authorities sending that person to prison without surpassing the standard of unreasonable doubt. In the case of Darrell Williams, doubt is beyond reasonable.
The second thought that went through my mind after hearing about the incident is one about the consistent threats to your freedom and livelihood that can occur when you head off to college. Every single year, hundreds of women are raped on college campuses (not just groping, but actual rape), and many of these sexual assaults occur when there is alcohol somewhere in the background. The idea that college is a place where you get drunk off your butt every weekend is antiquated and dangerous. Simply letting the chips fall where they may at one drunken party after another is a good way to find yourself dead or in prison for a very long time.
Here are some quick tips to men who want to go to college and NOT get convicted or rape:
1) Avoid alcohol if you can or at least minimize your consumption of it: People do things when they’re drunk that they might not do otherwise. It’s quite possible that reduced inhibitions led to Williams or some of his friends feeling that they could touch women without their permission. People are flirting and everyone’s just hanging out, so it’s also quite possible that the women allowed themselves to be touched. When everyone’s been drinking, almost no one has very much credibility in the court of law, because decision-making is horrifically flawed.
2) Don’t sleep with women you don’t know very well: If a woman wants to sleep with you on the first date or after a night at the club, understand that you are putting your entire life and future in the hands of a complete stranger. Rather than jumping for joy at the chance to have meaningless sex, you might want to jump out of bed and run for the hills. If you don’t believe me, just ask Kobe Bryant, the married man who decided to sleep with a woman he barely knew with no condom back in 2004. She almost sent him to prison, took all his money, ruined his family and stole everything he’d worked for over his entire life. No sex is good enough to be worth that kind of risk, and Kobe should never have been there in the first place.
3) No means no, no exceptions: There was a time where men and women could play the cat and mouse game – she plays hard to get and you consistently chip away at the barriers in order to get her to do the thing that you and she both know that she wants to do anyway. Whatever man, that crap is for the birds. In the age of political correctness, “no” always means “no.” I don’t care if her eyes are saying “yes,” and she’s entirely naked, licking her lips with her legs spread out. If she says “no,” then you need to say “no thanks.” Real women don’t play stupid games that might destroy your life.
I hope that Darrell Williams can recover after this incident. Groping is wrong, we know that. But it’s hard to say that he deserves to go to prison with evidence this sketchy. The key point to keep in mind, however, is that it’s not simply a matter of Williams being sent to prison for a crime he did not commit. Rather, its a matter of us understanding how to avoid these kinds of situations in the first place. College is not a place for drunken parties, court cases, and a pile of broken dreams. It’s a place to get an education and create bright future for yourself. All that other stuff is just a pile of meaningless distractions.