Michael Rainey Jr. was violated, and it’s not OK

OPINION: Men can be victims just as women can be predators, and it’s time we acknowledged that there is a dangerous double standard when it comes to these types of situations.  

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

By now, you’ve probably seen the viral video of “Power Book II: Ghost” star Michael Rainey Jr. being groped by a woman as he attended a live stream session with Twitch streamer TyTy James.

In case you missed it, the incident occurred Sunday evening as Rainey and others were in James’ home for a livestream being broadcast on Twitch. As Rainey stood in the crowd — directly behind a group of small children, I might add — James’ sister walked up to him and aggressively groped his genitals while appearing to say something to him.

Rainey is immediately visibly uncomfortable, and he turns away from her as he tries to remove her hand from his groin area. She appears to be persistent about it before finally relenting. It’s reported that Rainey left the livestream session shortly after the incident occurred.

The video was shared on Twitter, and Rainey himself addressed it Monday morning in his Instagram stories with the following statement:

At this point, everyone has seen the video circulating online. I am still in shock and don’t fully know how to process what happened last night. This is an unfortunate situation that I do not condone in any way. I can’t take it lightly because I know I would be in serious trouble if the roles were reversed. 

The fact is, sexual assault is never okay, regardless of gender or status. We’re all human, and we should respect each other. Most importantly, we should always respect ourselves.

According to People, James took to his own Instagram stories and issued an apology on behalf of his sister that included the following:

After the actions that occurred during my stream last night I would like to sincerely apologize to Michael and his family for what took place.

My little sister was completely wrong and out of line. What she did was very inappropriate and unacceptable. I am truly embarrassed and disgusted by her actions.

I completely respect whatever direction Michael wants to go in this situation. After watching the clip, I was completely taken aback by what she done [sic]. I will take extreme precautions with future streams to avoid similar issues and have banned her from participating in future streams. I do not condone any type of assault.

Someone must have gotten in his ear and told him to release that statement because his original response was to ridicule the people calling his attention to the incident and to defend his sister by saying she has never been around that caliber of celebrity before and just didn’t know how to act.

I guess he had a change of heart.

Similarly, 50 Cent took to his own Instagram account to make light of the situation. In a now-deleted post, the Queens rapper posted a screenshot of the TMZ article about the incident with a caption that read, “Wait sexual assault (sad face emoji) from a male perspective this was an aggressive advance. LOL He’s fine no charges are being pressed (shrug emoji).

Way to be dismissive of the lived experience of a 23-year-old man who has openly expressed his discomfort with the situation. Michael Rainey Jr. believes he was sexually assaulted.

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Do we not still believe all victims? Do we only believe victims when they are women? Do we only believe women can be sexually assaulted? Do we think women cannot also be predators?

Women can be predators. Men can be sexually assaulted.

According to an October 2023 report from the CDC, “over half of gay men (59.8% or 2.0 million) and bisexual men (56.4% or 1.1 million), and about 3 in 10 (29.3% or 32.8 million) heterosexual men in the U.S. experienced CSV [Contact Sexual Violence] during their lifetimes.” The CDC’s definition of CSV includes unwanted sexual contact or touching. Additionally, almost one in every three men “have experienced sexual violence involving physical conduct during their lifetimes.

“Researchers know the numbers underestimate this problem because many cases are unreported. Survivors may be ashamed, embarrassed, or afraid to tell the police, friends, or family about the violence. Victims may also keep quiet because they have been threatened or do not think anyone will help them,” the CDC site says.

If you were able to watch that video and come away not believing Michael Rainey Jr. was violated, I have to question your thinking on things such as consent, boundaries, and personal space.

In 2018, I was at an Erykah Badu concert at the Novo in Los Angeles. We were waiting for the show to start, and a DJ was spinning to keep us occupied while we waited for the main event. As I stood in a crowd with a group of people dancing and singing along to the music being played, a woman standing behind me wrapped her arms around me, grabbed both of my breasts in her hands, and proceeded to jiggle them.

It was aggressive, unexpected and disconcerting.

I stood there for a few moments blinking because I couldn’t believe what just happened. When I turned around to address her about it, she seemed to be taken aback that I was offended.

I said to her, “You just assaulted me.”

Thankfully, she accepted what I said and left the area, but that memory has stuck with me ever since.

I know she thought it was OK to do because she is a woman. Those types of actions are supposed to seem less threatening coming from another woman than from a man, and I believe that is a very backwards and dismissive way of thinking.

No one should be groping anyone, no matter their gender, sexual preference or intention.

If you don’t have consent to be grabbing someone or touching their genitals, don’t do it. It’s assault, plain and simple. There’s no other way of looking at it

50 Cent normalizing it simply because the person who did it was a woman is the ultimate form of gaslighting a victim.

As Rainey stated in his Instagram story, if the roles were reversed, he would be in trouble. We would be having an entirely different discussion right now, but because he’s a man and she’s a woman, we are supposed to overlook it, laugh it off, and say she was just making an “aggressive come-on.”

That’s b.s.

That woman looked and acted like a predator in that video. Michael Rainey Jr. looked and acted like a victim.

Michael Rainey Jr. was violated Sunday night, and it’s not OK.

It’s never OK.

Keep your damn hands to yourself. Period.


thegrio.com
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Monique Judge is a storyteller, content creator and writer living in Los Angeles. She is a word nerd who is a fan of the Oxford comma, spends way too much time on Twitter, and has more graphic t-shirts than you. Follow her on Twitter @thejournalista or check her out at thejournalista.com

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