say the profusion of flyers posted in the last week all over my neighborhood of Rockridge, Oakland. Caution: Armed and Dangerous, Black Male, 5' 8", 180lb. Generic composite image of black man in hoodie.
Why does this piss me off so much? A woman was raped - and that is a violation, anywhere, at any time, that sickens and enrages me. But I'm equally sickened and enraged by the selective tokenization of the crime that these flyers represent. The way they reinforce the myth that what women should fear most is attack by the stranger on a dark street at night. We know that the majority of assaults on women in this country are committed by men they know - partners, family, friends, acquaintances, dates, colleagues. We know that the greatest frequency of rape and assault outside the family and social network occurs within the most highly capitalized bastions of this country's power structure: the military, the prison system, churches, the invisible migrant and below-poverty-wage economy. So what does it mean when resources are concentrated on finding and punishing one individual, who happens to be black, in one wealthy neighborhood - as if that will make Oakland, or the Bay Area, or America, safer for women?
No, I'm not dismissing or trivializing the suffering of this particular survivor. I'm saying if we really take the violation of her person seriously, let's take it seriously for all women. Everywhere. Let's see flyers all over Oakland showing cops in uniform: Wanted for Rape. Soldiers in battledress: Wanted for Rape. Priests in robes: Wanted for Rape. Smug be-suited executives of Walmart, Taco Bell, every corporation that creates and sustains labor conditions where women workers are assaulted with impunity: Wanted for Rape.