So, am I the only one who finds the YouTube’s “viralization” (yes, I made up a word) of the Bed Intruder Song deeply unsettling and problematic? Every time, I check my Facebook newsfeed I see, yet, another “remix” of the Bed Intruder Song. For those of you who are not familiar with the song, it tells the “real life” story of a young black woman who experienced “sexual violation” (yes, I know she was not penetrated, but that does not mean that she did not experience sexual trauma or sexual violation) when a man climbed through her window while she was sleeping. However, the attack was stopped by the young woman’s brother, Antoine, who helped to scare the man off. And, who, vocally stated on the local news the following evening:
Obviously we have a rapist in Lincoln Park, he is climbin in your window, he’s snatching your people up. So y’all need to hide your kid, hide your wife and hide your husband cause they rapin everybody out here. We got your t-shirt you done left your fingerprints behind and all. You’re so dum, you’re really dumb for real. You don’t have to come and confess what you did, we’re looking for you. We, we’re gonna find you. So you can run and tell that homeboy.
I want to begin be saying that I honor the voice of Antoine and his sister, Kelly, for speaking out, fearlessly, against their attacker. Often, when sexual violations happen silence is a safe response for both men and women to take in order to cope with their abuse. So, I applaud both, sister and brother, for speaking out. And, let’s be honest when was the last time we’ve seen a black man with fierce passion and determination speaking publicly about confronting sexual violence against black women (I took this from M. and other black feminist)? The answer would be: “Not in my recent memory.” So, I have no issue with Antoine and Kelly speaking out.
But, what I take issue with is how the Gregory Brothers and other YouTube celebrity enthusiasts have taken this story of sexual violation and brother’s response to his sister’s sexual violation and have turned it into, yet, another “Chocolate Rain” internet sensation meaning people are taking the words of Antoine Dodson and making all types of music and acting videos mostly caricaturing Antoine as a “homo-thug” and making Kelly Dodson a back-up singer to her brother’s lead singing. I agree with Womanist Musings and Jezebel that Kelly’s survivor story has been completely erased from the narrative and that the reason why her brother, Antoine, is so entertaining is that people see him as, yet, another gender queer black man like Dwight from Atlanta House’s Wives whose sole (i.e. double entendre) plight in life is to entertain people with his “funny” (i.e. double entendre) acting ways. This is extremely problematic on the intersecting levels of homophobia and capitalist racist consumption of black performing bodies. Not cool.
Overall, what people miss in addition to hearing the voice of Kelly is what it means to live in a disadvantaged neighborhood context were people especially black women and girls are constantly at higher risk of being physically, sexually, and mentally violated without justice and retribution. Just look at the black man in Cleveland who was able to rape and kill black women for decades simply by stuffing their dead bodies in the wall of his house or the Grim Sleeper who was able to rape and kill black women who were allegedly street workers for 20 years. There was no public outcry for these stories because they involved devalued poor deviant black female bodies who lived in what sociologist would term disadvantaged neighborhoods.
So, when Kelly Dodson says, “I was attacked by some idiot from out here in the projects”
and her brother Antoine says, “What people fail to realize . . . is our family, we don’t run around crying and acting sad, know what I’m sayin’, we just dust our shoulders off and keep on movin,” they tell a story of what it means to live in a place where stuff like this happens daily and you learn to deal with the problems “individually . . . we will find you,” not the Police who are often themselves perpetrators of crimes against poor brown and black bodies, not the NAACP because they do not get involved in black on black crime (i.e. their response to the 2007 Dunbar Housing Project Rapes), not CAPS which is more about policing us then helping us, not the local Rape Crisis Center that is underfunded and overworked, not the local churches because they are stretched as well, not anyone. “So we will find you.” (Of course, this is not to say that these local institutions are not helpful or needed, but it is to say that neighborhood context which is shaped by larger structures of racism and capitalism shapes the resources available to confront acts of violence against black women and girls).
But, of course some people have suggested that because of the “viralization” of the Bed Intruder song, Kelly Dodson will receive more help than she would have if there was no Bed Intruder video. And to that I say “cow dung.” Once again, the video is not about Kelly’s story. It is about the entertainment of black bodies, consumption of black bodies, website visits, and ad revenues. Because I know for sure that the Gregory brothers, the first group who made the video, did not ask Kelly Dodson if she wanted any portion of her story made into an auto tune video or if she needed help connecting with her local Rape Crisis Center or if she wanted a portion of the money generated from people visiting their website to view the video. I know they did not offer help or resources generated from the creation of the Bed Intruder Song.
Then as if the last suggestion was not bogus then someone else suggested that I should be happy that “at least” people are talking about rape in cyber space. And to this I also say “cow dung.” People are not talking about rape because everyone I talk to about it says she wasn’t raped. But, then I say that just because there is no penetration does not mean that she was not sexually violated. A man who breaks into your home and forces himself upon you is sexual violence. It is. So, though people have made 750 Bed Intruder Song’s videos, I am pretty sure none of them talk specifically about sexual violence and sexual trauma.
All that I can say is this The Bed Intruder Song is not an R. Kelly Jam. So, stop bobbing your head to Sexual Trauma!!