When it comes to the subject of rape, certain convictions ought to be fairly simple to comprehend and embrace.
Rape is a horrific violation of an individual’s autonomy. A despicable act performed by the malevolent, monstrous sect of humanity. Rape is a serious matter, therefore, not an issue to be made light of, like say, wishing rape on someone for no other reason than they upset you.
Nene Leakes forgot these lessons recently after footage of her telling a heckler at her comedy show that she hoped she gets raped by an Uber driver surfaced online — rightfully spurring outrage and quick condemnation.
On Monday, Leakes took to Facebook to offer an apology, writing:
I truly regret and apologize for what I said from the stage in Oakland over the weekend. Sometimes words can cut deep and hurt when you have no intentions of them doing so. As a woman and someone who has survived abuse, I regret the words that I used. I made a mistake and I should have known better. I hope people accept my deepest and sincerest apologies. I am sorry.
Unfortunately for Leakes, she sometimes doesn’t know when to leave well enough alone. On Thursday, The Real Housewives of Atlanta star confessed to “having a real breakdown” following the incident. That’s understandable to a degree, but she sadly somehow managed to make herself out to be the victim in all of this and shifted from her apologetic tone in favor of one far more defensive.
“Yesterday I got a little bit emotional. I have never said anything that the heckler said to me. All the girls on the tour with me know what happened. I plan on not letting anyone take my joy. I created my own show because I wanted to get out and express some of the things that I have inside of me.”
She concluded with:
“I don’t consider myself a comedian, I always say that. I’ve said that since the day I first started. I just consider myself a s–t talker, a funny lady. I never imagined ever, ever, ever stepping on stage and somebody screaming out ‘Go kill yourself’ to me. It literally took me somewhere else, I apologize. I’ve let that go.”
Here’s the thing about an apology: whatever your rationale is for saying the unconscionable is irrelevant. Leakes spent a solid portion of her time online lamenting about how unfair it is that people in the audience can say whatever they want. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but never forget that wrong is wrong. So, it does not matter what a heckler said to Leakes before she wished sexual assault on them. Regardless of what was said, Leakes could have handled the situation differently. She could have ignored the person altogether. She could have simply told them to shut their stupid asses the hell up. She could have stopped the show and demanded that security have the heckler escorted out or that she would end the show.
Leakes could have taken so many other actions to deal with a heckler than to stand on stage and declare that she hopes that person is raped. You’re not the victim here, Leakes. You’re the fool who let evil fly sharply and quickly from your mouth.
Our actions have consequences, which explains why in light of her horrific comments, Xscape released a statement saying they will drop Leakes as host of their reunion tour. There are rumors that Leakes’ return to The Real Housewives of Atlanta is now threatened. I highly doubt that considering the season is deep into production and set to premiere next month. However, that same confidence is not shared for Leakes’ current slot on Fashion Police and her future work as a host and actress. That said, Leakes made a mistake, and despite of her botching her own apology, should be allowed a second chance. That second chance comes with the caveat that she realizes no matter what people say, you don’t wish rape on them. I’ll write it a million times if it sticks in her mind.
Leakes could learn from another celebrity who has displayed a desensitized and overall despicable attitude towards rape: former Game of Thrones actor Jason Momoa, who played Khal Drago on the HBO show. This week, footage from Momoa’s 2011 ComicCon appearance resurfaced online. In it, Momoa was asked about the extreme lengths he was allowed to go to portray his character.
His disgusting answer:
“As far as sci-fi and fantasy, I love that genre because there are so many things you can do, like rip someone’s tongue out of their throat and get away with it and rape beautiful women.”
In response, Momoa took to Instagram to write:
“I awoke in Australia to the justified reactions by many people to a distasteful joke I made years ago in Hall H for which I am sorry. I am still severely disappointed in myself at the insensitivity of my remarks that day. I know my sincerest apology now won’t take away those hurtful words. Rape and sexual harassment can reach anyone and I have seen first hand its painful torment among members of my own family and friends. I made a truly tasteless comment. It is unacceptable and I sincerely apologize with a heavy heart for the words I said. All apologies, Jason.”
He’s set to say anything else and I doubt his publicist will allow it.
Still, what both of them need to understand that rape is no laughing matter and it is not a pejorative tool to use in retaliation of provocation. If these folks claim to be of decency, they best start acting like it.
Otherwise, get off the stage and never return to the screen.