T.W. sexual abuse, predator.
Once upon a time, there were two girls; one had long blonde hair and blue eyes and lived in a home with parents who loved and cared for her. Her name was Victoria. Victoria was 6-years old when she met her best friend, Jezebel. Jezebel had short hair and brown eyes. She lived far away from Victoria, but they attended the same school.
Jezebel also had loving parents, and though her parents tried their best, they lived in a tiny house and didn’t always have food to eat. Victoria and Jezebel’s parents worked hard to give their girls everything they could afford.
The girls were close, and Jezebel would often spend weekends at Victoria’s home. The girls would talk about their favourite tv shows, school, their dreams and promised to be best friends forever.
As time went by, the girls grew up and started high school. Both of them decided that they wanted to join the swimming team. The coach accepted them, and soon they were both chosen to represent the school in a swimming gala.
The coaching required their parents to give written permission for them to participate. Victoria and Jezebel’s parents wanted the “best” for their daughters and willingly signed the permission slips. They would practice for an hour after school. Both girls were excited and worked hard to please the coach.
After gaining their trust, the coach asked the girls to stay after school because he felt they needed “extra coaching.” The first day went well, but the next day was a different story.
While Victoria and Jezebel were in the shower, the coach snuck in and sexually assaulted the girls.
They were both in shock, and life after that trauma would never be the same.
Victoria got home and told her mom, who immediately called the police and opened up a case of sexual assault against the coach. The police officers were sympathetic and suggested the mom send Victoria for trauma counselling. They patiently took down Victoria’s statement, and as difficult as it was, she was brave enough to tell all. There was no doubt in the police officers minds that she was a victim. Seeing how pale she was when recounting the trauma, the officers felt deep anger towards the perpetrator.
Jezebel also went home and told her mom what happened inside the shower at school. The mom was angry and sad for her daughter but immediately called the nearest police station. The officer who took the call explained that there were no vans available to come to their house. The officer then told them to wait or find their way to the police station. They had no vehicle, so they waited until the police officers arrived. They arrived 2 hours later. The one police officer asked Jezebel to recount what had happened. She did, whilst stopping to catch her breath and cry. The other police officer asked Jezebel why she needed to swim? Did she not know that being in a swimming costume would be tempting for the coach? Does she have a boyfriend? After the umpteenth question, her mom interjected and said, “it sounds like you are interrogating my daughter.”
The first police officer responded that often parents think their children are angels and yet have no idea what the children do!
They took Jezebel’s statement and left, assuring the mom they would be in touch.
Though the above is fictional, the lived experiences of Black and Brown women and young girls are the same. They are judged based on the “Jezebel stereotype.”
The “Jezebel stereotype” dates back to slavery, where Black women were often violently abused, raped and assaulted. Because of the shapes of their bodies, slave owners sought to justify the violence and rape. Black women and young girls were seen and treated as promiscuous, as “wanting it,” as always being turned on ready and waiting for the master, his sons, brothers or friends to “ravish” them.
Unfortunately, this stereotype has continued to thrive, but, unlike the days of the white slave owner only, now we have our own people vilifying and judging victims such as Jezebel in this story. How often have you heard how “fast” a Black, Brown or Indigenous girl child is? How often has doubt been placed in your minds that Victoria, Jezebel’s white friend, is “largely believed” by authorities and hardly ever do they look at her body thinking she must have “asked for it?”
Racism teaches us that Victoria is the victim and Jezebel is the perpetrator, the siren, who lured the coach into doing things he would not ordinarily do.
As Black, Brown and Indigenous people, we need to understand that our unconscious and subconscious biases are harming the victims of our society.
(Please do not give me the one or two incidences where Victoria or Jezebel happen to be treated differently because that’s the exception)