Last week, Daniel Holtzclaw, an Oklahoma City police officer, accused of raping and sexually assaulting at least thireen black women, was convicted on 18 counts, inlcuding 4 counts of first degree rape. The conviction was read on his birthday, and in true, entitled fashion, Holzclaw broke down into one of the most confounding, sobbing, self-centered tatrums ever before witnessed.
Considering the heinousness of his crimes, and the overt racism that played into his violent assaults, the majority of the population reveled in watching his drawn out sob-fest. At one point, after rocking back and forth, sobbing like a toddler who’d just had his birthday cake taken away, he even looked at the jury and mouthed, “how could you do this?”
It didn’t take long for the memes mocking his reaction to roll out:
If you’re like me, you might have reveled just a little bit in this public meltdown. And giggled a little too long or too loud over those memes.
If you’re not there, maybe you want take a moment to read over the thirteen testimonies of the brave women who came forward to tell their stories of assult at the hands of Holtzclaw. Trigger warning, it’s chock full of racist language and sexual violence. It’s all right here.
Go ahead, I’ll wait.
It’s okay if you’re still not there – still not able to callously and smugly watch him cry, or giggle at the public mockery.
Let me tell you why I am, and why I’m here for it.
This man is so full to the brim of his racist, male entitlement that when his judgement is read, his sole reaction is to sit there and wail about the ‘injustice’ of being sentenced for heinous crimes against people that he has deemed are worthless.
He is not remorseful, he is not owning his actions – he is sitting deep in, and unable to see over his own stinking pile of privileged excrement. In his reaction, he embodies all male authorities that have abused their power under systems that repeatedly protect them.
When I watch him I see the OB snipping an unwanted episiotomy, while verbally assualting a woman for refusing. When I see him, I see the judge describing a woman’s beating and assult by her former boyfriend as an “act of love.” When I see him, I see the frat bros dropping out their “Freshman daughter drop off” and “Go ahead and drop off mom too” signs. In him I see Darren Wilson and George Zimmerman, Brian Encinia and Jason Van Dyke and countless others who violate people of color and abuse their power every day.
The history of police brutality against black people
Holtzclaw targeted the most vulnerable people – black women living in poverty. He targeted them because a.) he didn’t believe that they mattered, and b.) he didn’t think anyone would believe them. After all, as one of the victims said:
What kind of police do you call on the police?”
That Holtzclaw would mouth to the jury, “how could you do this?” reveals how secure he sat in his ability to continue to assault women and get away with it. In the moments of his conviction, he could only sit in the ‘atrocity’ of a punishment he never thought he’d face.
The low rate of rape convictions and rape apologists
According to RAINN, 68% of sexual assaults are not reported, and 98% of rapists will never spend a day in jail.
Stigma, shame, and the gueling reporting process, which leaves many victims feeling re-victimized, makes the unreported rate so high. And rape apologists dominate a narrative that blames victims for crimes committed against them. What she was wearing, what she was drinking, where she was walking — all can be used against her as evidence she was “asking for it.” In the Holtzclaw case, some of the victim’s drug use and sex work was used as evidence that they were not reliable witnesses, and they were accused of “having their own agenda,” by the defense.
Holtzclaw’s expectation that he would be exhonerated was statistically in his favor. He exists in and was indoctrinated by a culture that values the white male authority over almost everyone else.
When’s the last time you saw a person of power cry like this over injustice?
This person is a human, yes.
But he is not a victim, and absolutely not deserving of sympathy or martyrdom. I’m not sad for him, but I’m sad for who he is. I’m sad for what countless women have been subjected to because he exists.
I feel vindicated by the public mockery of his sexist, racist, and self-centered tantrum because, for years, women – especially women of color – have been subjected to the endless abuses of the bro’s of the world who feel entitled to women’s bodies – from their smiles, to their emotions, to their reproduction, to their sexuality and their ability to hold and maintain power.
His display embodies WAY, way more than this isolated case or this single police officer. His outburst demonstrates a cultural deficit in human value systems and in structural oppression.
I’m here for that public spectacle.
And I’m here for the reaction to it.