What It takes to doubt a woman’s innocence
ITEM Black 15-year-old Tawana Brawiey daimed she’d been gang-raped by white racists, stuffed into a plastic garbage bag, and covered with excrement5 But a doctor testified that there was no evidence of either rape or assault And a woman testified that she had seen Tawana dimb into the plastic garbage bag of her own accord. Then cotton wads were found in Tawana’s nose so she wouldn’t have to smell the excrement Nevertheless. Governor Mario Cuomo of New York said. “You can’t tell me she did it to herself unless you give me some motive."
In fact. Governor Cuomo was given a motive: Tawana and her mother were trying to provide an excuse to the mother s live-in companion for Tawana’s failure to return home But perhaps the governors need to see a woman as innocent and his fear of being called racist and sexist did not allow him even to acknowledge hearing what turned out to be the motive.
The country recognized only the racism behind Tawana Brawley’s hoax, not the sexism of two women conspiring to concoct a story of multiple male perpetrators/single female victim No one confronted her for perpetrating the stereotype of male as rapist. Or men as gang rapists. Or of playing into females’ fears of men; or of forcing every man to have to prove himself even more before he becomes worthy of a female s trust. The racism was visible; the sexism, invisible.