Serena Williams’s Rape Comments Should Make Us Think About Alcohol and Parenting. : ThyBlackMan

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Serena Williams’s Rape Comments Should Make Us Think About Alcohol and Parenting.

June 20, 2013 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Sports, Weekly Columns

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( This week, Serena Williams caught the ire of fans around the world by giving her honest opinions on the Steubenville rape case.  The case received national media attention after the two teen boys videotaped themselves engaged in a great deal of highly inappropriate activity with a 16-year old girl who’d passed out drunk.

The young men were convicted and sent to prison for what they did.  But the case fueled a broad debate on whether or not the boys should have been incarcerated for their unfortunate and highly problematic choices.

There are some who argue that no one has the right to victimize another Serena_Williamsperson, no matter what their condition.  There are others who’ve stated that it makes little sense to say that the girl has no responsibility for her actions while under the influence, but to simultaneously argue that the boys should be taking full responsibility for their actions, which were also committed while under the influence.

Serena Williams jumped into the debate by giving her unsolicited opinion about the situation, appearing to argue that the girl should never have put herself into that situation in the first place.

“Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid, but I don’t know. I’m not blaming the girl, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you

— don’t take drinks from other people,” she told Rolling Stone.

“She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember? It could have been much worse. She’s lucky. Obviously I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.”

When I read Serena’s remarks, they appear to be somewhat off-the-cuff and not entirely thought out.  But Serena Williams is a free spirit, the kind of woman who says what’s on her mind and does what she wants.  After all, she was the woman who chose to do the Crip Walk to celebrate her Olympic gold medal last year (the dance was either cool or tacky, depending on which “set you’re claiming”).

To see Serena’s remarks in white or black terms might not make much sense.  That would effectively mean that you’re playing for a political football team that decided on the guilt or innocence of the boys before fully understanding the details of the situation.   I’m not a fan of politicizing a situation that has affected a group of young people who didn’t know that their actions would put them in the middle of a political firestorm.

Unless we conclude that Serena Williams is completely stupid or misguided, we must confess that there could be some element of truth to at least some piece of Serena’s admittedly sloppy remarks.

Nomalanga Mhlauli-Moses, who writes for the site, says that Serena’s comments can actually be empowering for young women, instead of convincing them that they are meant to be victims:

In fact, I submit that Serena’s question is much more empowering than calling the girl who was r@aped a “victim”. When we teach young girls and women that they are “victims” we rob them of their power. Of course the boys who r@ped the girl committed a horrific act but it does not remove the questions that need to be asked of the 16 year old girl or any other teenager who thinks that getting so drunk that she doesn’t know what is going on is a way to conduct herself.

I appreciate Nomalanga’s perspective, since it communicates that by suggesting ways that the girl can keep herself from being victimized, we are not simultaneously exonerating predators of their guilt.

When I speak to my girls, all of whom are college age, I tell them, very clearly, to make sure that they don’t go out and drink to the point of losing control of their decisions.  When I advise young college students about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, I tell them the same thing.  Over my 20 years of teaching on a college campus, I can’t tell you how many r@pes, assaults, drunk driving accidents and other poor decisions occur as a result of excessive alcohol consumption.

In fact, every time you open the newspaper and read about some rapper getting locked up or shot at the club, it’s usually because he was drunk.  When you read about someone who did something crazy or horrible to a child, it’s usually because they were drunk or high. I had a friend who was a world class track athlete who did something so horrible while he was drunk that he was given a 40-year prison sentence with no chance for parole.

It is after witnessing the manner through which alcohol has served to destroy so many men in my own family that I made the decision to avoid the stuff at all costs.  I’m sure there’s a reason that people love their liquor so much, but I don’t even want to know what I am missing.  The dark side of excessive alcohol consumption is just too much to bear and more dangerous than we are willing to admit.

While we must certainly remember that the boys deserve the blame for what happened at the party that night, we cannot presume that they deserve 100% of the responsibility.  A large percentage of the blame must be placed on the adults in our society who don’t warn young people about all the horrible things that can happen when you are under the influence.

Because this 16-year old girl may have made the decision to make herself vulnerable, she is going to have to spend the rest of her life dealing with the fact that she is the victim of s-exual assault.  This holds true whether or not one believes that the boys deserved to be sent to prison.  Even if the culprits are held accountable, I do not want my daughters to go through this, so I teach them how to protect themselves.

The point here is simple:  Serena Williams was partially correct that we should warn our kids to avoid putting themselves into situations that will cause them to make bad decisions or lead to unfortunate outcomes.   But judging and condemning the victim of s****l assault is a highly unacceptable tradition in American culture.  This girl was a victim of both the boys who took advantage of her and the adults who chose not to take responsibility for her.  As a result, several young lives have been ruined.

Staff Writer; Dr. Boyce Watkins 

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition.  For more information, please visit



3 Responses to “Serena Williams’s Rape Comments Should Make Us Think About Alcohol and Parenting.”
  1. Papacool says:

    Serena’s comments just exemplifies what goes on all the time. People are always quick to form an opinion of something without thinking about how what they do or say will impact of someone else. All I know is I did not get raped, why, because I was not there. In order for anything to happen to anyone, all one has to do is be at the wrong place at the wrong time. What started out as fun and partying had negative results due to going to the extreme. Although it happened, no one deserved in to raped. once again jail time is the solution and life goes on. I wish that people will one day have the courage to explore why things happen from all the possible points of view in an effort to openly discuss why things go wrong as a result. I think that America owes Jocelyn Elders a big apology and a big thank you for trying to encourage the open use of condoms and talk about the sex revolution in an adult manner. But she was quickly condemned wrongly for trying to do the right thing. We need to face reality, as sex is not going to go away no time soon. It is promoted, both privately and commercially, and to some extent even glamorized. If a special on transmitted diseases were to be shown without cutting out any parts, I bet you would see a change of attitude towards the subject. One must remember that Serena herself came from dire circumstances to make it on the big stage. While she has accomplished much, she is not a national spokesperson for anyone except herself. Children are having children, therefore dimming the parental expectations of society. Being grown before one’s time has some serious disadvantages than we all end stop paying for in one way or another somewhere down the line of life. Until we decide to tackle the problems with some solutions, we are just going to keep getting what we have always got. Peace out, Papacool.

  2. The Soul Man says:

    Not only Ms Williams has a point…she has free speech …last time I checked this is not a Communist country …the point is if I don’t make dollars it don’t make sense and evidently that’s what her peeps taught her and the stupids parents should have taught them and if you were birthed by a two legged sperm donor/incubator then you need to take responsibility yourself unless you got one eye in the center of you’re forehead and if you do then after waking up realizing you have been well Fu_clef you find them and eat everyone of them that hid the sausage because if you believe Ms Williams statement is a fairy tale then you can believe what I just fed you …if you pity the young lady that much then advise her to go seek some of that Reverend Herman Cain & Abel Help

  3. so sad says:

    The entire situation is unfortunate. Parents warn children about the consequences of their bad behavior. Ultimately it is a child’s decision to heed the warning just as the 16 year old girl is also a victim of her poor choice.

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