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Derrick Rose and friends found not liable in gang rape case

Another victory for toxic masculinity, rape culture and patriarchy

5:30 PM“Do you have an understanding as to the word consent?”

“No. But can you tell me?”

Those were the words of New York Knicks point guard Derrick Rose when he was asked by lawyers in a June 17 deposition about the sexual assault case involving him, two friends and an ex-girlfriend. On Wednesday, Rose and company were found not liable of rape charges by a Los Angeles jury, one that featured two men and six women. The decision was another victory for toxic masculinity, rape culture and patriarchy. Why? Let’s explain.

At the most basic level, Rose and his lawyers went to the most basic of defenses to get their client cleared. All of this was done openly, playing their man card, which historically, fundamentally and in practice is designed to set a higher burden of proof on women to prove they were raped. On a basic level, that is reason for pause from a decent person’s standpoint.

Off the break, Team Rose was trying to not only out the accuser’s identity, but also paint her somehow as a sexually deviant person, another notion rooted in basic forms of misogyny that is often applied in sexual assault cases as a way of rationalizing awful behavior by men. It’s the courtroom version of “she was asking for it.”

“Of special note, plaintiff is publicly portraying herself as sexual,” lawyers argued in pretrial meetings. “The production includes photos from plaintiff’s Instagram account that are sexual in nature. In these images, plaintiff is dressed in provocative attire, is in sexually suggestive poses and is in photographs indicating that she engages in sexually charged encounters with more than one man at a time. Plaintiff’s use of Twitter and other forms of social media further belies her apparent desire for anonymity.”

This is not OK on multiple levels. Putting aside the specificity of Rose and the plaintiff right now, this has nothing to do with consent. No. 1, consent can be given or taken at any time, no matter one’s history. Period. Point being, going into this ordeal legally, Rose’s lawyers were relying on one of the biggest fallacies of rape as a way to discredit the claims. The judge immediately called B.S. on that.

More importantly of note during the deposition, Rose made a statement so shocking that it cut right to the heart of what patriarchy is all about. Unless otherwise stated, the desires of a man trump (pun intended) any civil, personal or physical rights of a woman. It should be noted that a toxicologist estimated her blood alcohol content was 0.20, which is more than double the legal limit. Follow this exchange:

Q: So they just said, ‘Hey, it’s the middle of the night. Let’s go over to plaintiff’s house’ and they never gave you a reason why they wanted to go over there?’

Rose: No, but we men. You can assume.

Q: I’m sorry?

Rose: I said we men. You can assume. Like we leaving to go over to someone’s house at 1 a.m., there’s nothing to talk about.

Q: All right. Is there  —  within what you just reviewed in those text messages — is there anything within them that would lead you to believe that plaintiff wanted to have sex with you and the other two defendants on Aug. 26, 2013?

Rose: No.

What Rose is saying is that up until the very point of actual sexual contact, all consent is presumed, assumed and given. This is rape culture. The notion that unless otherwise stated, sex is always an option on the table. It is not an opt in for you to have access to a woman’s body, she must opt out. The fact that he can’t seem to even wrap his head around that notion is precisely the kind of mindset created by toxic masculinity.

During the trial, Rose took that even further, saying that he didn’t actually think he’d done anything wrong in this situation. Which, again, is not how consent works, but is how courtrooms allow men to portray things in their favor to put a higher threshold on women to prove the truth. This is where the larger matter moves away from Rose specifically and gets into the larger problem. Never mind the fact that the NBA is apparently teaching rookies to keep used condoms.

“I took [the] claim very seriously, but a couple of things stood out immediately. The first was she didn’t go to the police. She chose to sue Rose. The second was that she waited two years to do so,” Robert Littal at BlackSportsOnline.com wrote. “I can understand that with any traumatic event it may take time to become strong enough to speak out on it, but if someone raped you and you truly wanted them to pay for their crimes, why wouldn’t you want them to be in jail?”

Littal, who reports frequently on athletes’ sex lives, went on to report that the plaintiff needed the money and thus concocted a wild story as a way to potentially draw a settlement out of Rose to make the story go away. Which, even if true, doesn’t hold water. The rule of law does not always make right, and in this case, the details of whether or not this woman was as honest as George Washington became more important than making a determination based on what both sides admitted happened.

Rose didn’t know what consent was. She was too drunk to give consent. He found a way into her home and had sex with her along with his friends. This. Was. All. Admitted. In. Court. So why did Rose walk free? In short, he’s a man. Eventually the jury felt that, because her story, she lied about all the details.

According to Deadspin: The jury initially declined to speak to reporters, but later two jurors —identifying themselves by first name only — agreed to. Jared said Jane Doe “didn’t do any of the steps to prove her own case” and “nothing added up to a correct statement.” Jared felt like Doe “was playing us,” and he believed witness Gabriel Chavez, who testified that Doe was a liar. In contrast, Jared said Rose and his friends seemed “genuine” and “honest.”

For sexual assault victims, these must be the most triggering of cases. Ones in which because a woman might not have had the instant wherewithal to follow every specific step necessary to prove something in court where the rules are stacked against her — not only does that suddenly mean it didn’t happen, but she’s also suddenly a terrible person for not being able to figure it out on her own.

After the civil trial ended, Rose posed for pictures with jurors. The judge even wished him well, saying good luck to him with the Knicks, except when they play the Los Angeles Lakers.

The specific details of Rose’s case here were obviously important to this trial. In many ways, this whole situation from a larger standpoint isn’t even about him specifically as a bad guy. If he legit thinks she lied to extort him, fair enough. If she says she was violated, understandable.

But the tactics, method and manner of the proceedings here are important. This could have been anyone. The justice system, the same one which finds way to exonerate police officers for killing unarmed citizens, isn’t suddenly fool-proof for sexual assault.

A woman who believes she was raped confronted her accusers. The accused openly admit what they did, under the guise that if she can’t prove it was wrong, then it shouldn’t matter at all. Jury sides with men. Toxic masculinity, rape culture and patriarchy. Wash, rinse, repeat.

A tale of two covers

Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant don different looks

3:30 PMThe best storyline of the NBA season, for my money, is going to be Russell Westbrook’s coming out party in Oklahoma City. Now that Kevin Durant is gone, the Southern California native can fully express himself without being in the shadow of his teammate. Of course, this will take on many forms. He might just end up as the MVP of the league because he basically doesn’t have to pass to anyone. But that’s only on the court.

Off the court, Westbrook has made his mark as a fashion icon. His game-day outfits were often the most interesting parts of watching the Thunder play last season. His style is not “I happen to employ/am friends with/related to a good stylist.” It’s more “I wear whatever tf I want because that’s what cool people do,” and we’re here for it. Durant has had his style moments, as well, for sure. The backpacks everywhere thing was something he popularized, and his sneakers have had all sorts of fire colorways for years.

But this week, both players released magazine covers with two ENTIRELY different looks. We’ll start with Westbrook.


There’s a couple of things here. First, I need that basketball. Forget the clothes. If you come to the court with a leopard skin rock, ready to ball, you are automatically the man. Secondly, let’s talk about his jewelry. That combo is solid, and as far as accessories go, it’s a far better look than something useless, like say, a watch. Also, switching up between the traditional link and the more standard fare plastic band is dope. It’s a look that says, sure, I might buy a bracelet every now and again, but you might also find me at a local music festival.

Anyways, there’s the suit, too. Personally, this is a lot. Three-piece tweed AND the tie? You can’t rock that unless it’s the dead of winter or else you’ll be sweating crazy, but his pattern game is very strong. Pocket square game could use a tad more color, but that’s just me. Point is, Westbrook is going a bit off-board here. We’re used to seeing him in slightly wackier patterns, so this boardroom forward approach is fun. After all, it is a GQ cover. His looks on the inside, in the actual story, are certainly worth checking out, too.

Now, let’s move on to Durant.


I mean, OK, pleighboi. Note the very regular basketball. And the very basic watch. And the lack of a belt. And the extra slim tank top. And the chain. If I’m being petty, this look screams, “I don’t need to be extra to be great,” which is far more fun to interpret as a direct shot at his old homey. Durant took all sorts of heat for joining the very team that last knocked him out of the playoffs, but who cares.

Let’s be clear. A friendship gone awry through team affiliation is EXACTLY the rivalry that the NBA needs. With social justice leading the way for what appears to be a groundbreaking season in the league, we will still need some on-court drama between players. To be clear, we like this Durant. But even more, we want to see Westbrook and Durant throw shots at each other personality and style-wise, never mind on the court.


Anyway, this look from Durant is him beating Westbrook at his own game. Cali Kev is ready to be great.

Daily Dose: 10/19/16

The first lady slays for one last state dinner

1:00 PMAs someone who’s worn Vans to White House functions on not one, but two occasions, you can imagine how happy I was to see Frank Ocean adopting my look for his trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Welcome to the club. I go lace-up, tho.

Damn, Donald, back at it again with the stunts. This time, for the third and final presidential debate, the Republican presidential nominee has reportedly decided to bring along President Barack Obama’s half-brother, which is beyond hilarious. What effect he thinks this will have on his opponent, I don’t know, but the last time I checked the president does not plan on being in the building. Trust. We fully expect this particular iteration of verbal combat to be completely absurd. And it’s in Vegas. ABC News has five storylines to watch.

Speaking of President Obama, he hosted his final state dinner Tuesday night. The first family hosted Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his wife, Agnese Landini. Mario Batali cooked the food, which from the looks of the menu, sounded delicious. Perhaps most importantly, Michelle Obama looked incredible. Of course, this is not news. She slayed in The New York Times Style Magazine last week and Tuesday night, her dress was off the chain. Seriously, look at this thing. ABC News reports on the details and the dope guest list.

If you don’t care to watch the debates Wednesday night, there is another option. Of course, if you like your cartoons with a large dose of sardonic humor delivered via the wittiest children on earth, then you’re in luck! Wednesday night, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown airs on ABC. There’s a small part of me that loves this movie from a nostalgia standpoint, but I must admit that I don’t think I ever really understood the story when I was a kid. I’m still not sure that I do. But, it’s worth noting that the special is now 50 years old. There’s a corn maze to prove it.

It’s going to be a big season for Draymond Green, after his extremely unfortunate NBA Finals, in which he completely lost the psychological battle to LeBron James and got himself tossed from a game. Then, throw in a couple of off-court incidents, and it was awkward. Sure, there was the Olympics, so that went well, but now that we’re back to the NBA season, there’s a real question about which Draymond we’re going to get. The Warriors need him, but they also have Kevin Durant now, so … who knows. Ethan Sherwood Strauss investigates.

Free Food

Coffee Break: When it comes to mental health and police work, very often things do not work well together. We’ve seen so many scenarios in which cops show up to deal with a person who is emotionally disturbed, and end up killing them. It happened again in New York City, this time with a 66-year-old woman who was naked.

Snack Time: My admiration for Janelle Monae knows few bounds. She’s one of the most well-rounded artists and thoughtful people in the entertainment world and, now, she’s trying to redefine what an Oscar contender is.

Dessert: 2 Chainz, Quavo and Gucci Mane on the same track? Yes, please.

Khloe Kardashian talks about her new clothing line

Good American is designed to expand the body positive experience

5:15 PMSay what you want about the Kardashians, when it comes to reframing what America finds acceptable, they excel. Now, Khloe Kardashian has teamed up with Emma Grede to create a new denim collection called Good American, set to be featured in Nordstrom. The two talked with the department store’s fashion blog about why it needs to exist. We need not go on about the perils of what are essentially white, Western standards and ideals of beauty that some have accused the Kardashians themselves of disrupting by stealing from black culture.

That aside, what’s clear is how social media has democratized what people decided to take seriously when it comes to the concept of what looks good. So, while it feels like every rapper who’s ever set foot in Los Angeles now has a clothing line, when it comes to women, there are still obvious holes in the market, never mind our understanding and appreciation for what we call pretty.

“We started Good American because we want women’s shopping experiences to embrace the new body ideal,” Grede said. “It’s just crazy that we still have plus sizes and are splitting up friends who go shopping together into different departments based on their size.”

Five years ago, the term “Twitter/Instagram Model” was basically considered an insult for someone who was never going to make it in the mainstream fashion industry. But, overall, it’s clear that’s sort of the whole point here. Those spaces weren’t designed for certain people, but that doesn’t mean those people don’t deserve to be seen.


Reviews are a tad mixed, but we also happen to love the name of the brand. The clothes will cost you, though.

This Jose Fernandez mural is sad, but dope

Giancarlo Stanton decided to get up for his late teammate in Brazil

5:00 PM

As an East Coast kid of the ’90s, graffiti murals to fallen heroes are basically a thing I’ve seen all my life. They’re always sad, but the cathartic nature of their creation and existence is obvious. This week, Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton was in Brazil and painted a mural with some friends to honor his fallen teammate, Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident in September.

Fernandez was 24 years old.

Daily Dose: 10/18/16

Let’s have a discussion about what the word ‘consent’ means

12:33 PMIf you don’t know, I used to work at The Washington Post. So, when my old buddy Chris Cillizza asked me to be on his new quiz podcast, I said yes. It should be up later today.

Derrick Rose’s situation is a real problem. The New York Knicks guard has been accused of rape, and the trial has been unfolding over the past few weeks, with some rather sordid details coming to light. That aside, beyond the so-called titillation factor is the more important concept of consent. Rose apparently has no idea what that even means, which is terrifying on a couple of levels. We all know what happens when things come down to “he said, she said” matters in a court of law. Maybe this time it’ll be different.

I can’t wait for this election to end. If for no other reason that I can stop writing about Donald Trump every day, but alas, this is where we are. Every day, the Republican presidential nominee says something else that’s just so hilariously absurd or inflammatory that it’s news. In the latest episode, The Donald insinuated that Paul Ryan has a problem with him because he’s a hater. For real, he actually said that because Ryan’s camp had the audacity to note that claiming an election is rigged sets very dangerous precedents for everyone. ABC News reports.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a thing I forget about every year until the new nominee list is released. It used to be the coolest thing in Cleveland for years until LeBron James changed that, but let’s be honest, it was never that dope anyway. Never mind the fact that the “Rock Hall” has co-opted all sorts of other genres for its apparent importance, but that’s another matter. The latest people on the ballot are Tupac, Pearl Jam and most importantly to me, Bad Brains. Here are the details.

Every once and again, an NFL team does something that you can’t really knock. The New Orleans Saints happen to be rather high on the list for this, assuming you want to just dismiss the whole “Bountygate” situation that basically ruined the franchise a couple of years back. Anyway, they decided to surprise a kid fan with an offer that I’m sure a reasonable amount of grown adults would likely jump at the chance to do. They’re making a sick kid their “hype man” for the week, which, frankly, is awesome.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Azealia Banks stays in these drama streets. Look, if what she’s alleging did happen, which nobody has any real reason to believe it didn’t, then fine. But if you’re in her camp, you have to wonder why it seems like she only makes negative headlines. Let’s just hope this situation with Russell Crowe works itself out peacefully.

Snack Time: I like Murs, but I’m not sure I love Murs. I’ve always respected his game, and the way he approaches hip-hop has always been novel. And he just recently broke a world record for rapping, and the story is insane.

Dessert: I’m just going to leave this here for you. Zadie Smith makes your life better. Always.

Please let JaVale McGee make the Warriors

He’s legit one of the most entertaining players in the NBA

4:30 PMEver since JaVale McGee stepped in to the NBA in 2008, he’s been an up-and-down enigma who most people felt only really played basketball because he sort of had to. He was a lovable enough goofball, who occasionally did something sensational on the court, but was largely too much of a knucklehead to be considered an actual franchise cornerstone.

He’s bounced around the league for a variety of teams, but now, he’s tearing through the preseason with the Golden State Warriors, and for the sake of everyone, we hope he makes this team. McGee’s antics are basically the patron saint of the best segment in all of sports, “Shaqtin’ A Fool.” If he’s paired up with the best team in all of basketball, the results are destined to be glorious.

Can you imagine Stephen Curry throwing lobs to this dude? (Getting dunked on in practice by Anderson Varejao doesn’t exactly help his cause.) There’s a small part of me that’s always felt bad for McGee. He’s been getting clowned for some time on national television and, as a result, no one particularly takes him seriously. He’s legit battled injuries throughout his career, but every time he shows up with a new haircut, the immaturity comments come back, even though he’s a 28-year-old man.

He told the The San Jose Mercury News last week that it still bothers him.

Shaqtin’ a Fool became popular. McGee was its unwilling star. It morphed into a label he couldn’t shake. Strangers chided him about it in public. McGee privately seethed, most upset, he said, that it was on the league’s network.

“Fans think it’s real, like that’s real life and they think I’m a dumb person,” McGee said. “It’s just really disappointing that grown men, 50, 40-year-olds are having America’s funniest home videos of a player. And then making it a hashtag and really just trying to ruin someone’s career over basketball mistakes.”

The NBA needs more guys like McGee for more reasons than just bloopers. He’s a young man who’s happy to be where he is and looking to contribute on a squad that he genuinely gets along with. If the Warriors can find a way to make him work, it might be worth getting NBA League Pass just to watch their bench antics, never mind the actual basketball.

Long live Pierre.

WWE wrestler tweets support of Black Lives Matter, Ava DuVernay documentary

Seth Rollins surprised everybody Monday afternoon

3:53 PMWWE wrestler Seth Rollins spoke out Monday afternoon in support of director Ava DuVernay’s new Netflix documentary 13th and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Rollins, whose real name is Colby Lopez, tweeted out “Watch @13THFilm. #BlackLivesMatter” to his 1.6 million Twitter followers, a reference to DuVernay’s (Selma) documentary on the history of slavery, Jim Crow, mass incarceration and the 13th Amendment that was released on the streaming platform on Sept. 7. He also used the hashtag that’s often used in support of the current grassroots civil rights movement taking place across the world.

The two-time WWE world heavyweight champion — who is half-Armenian and half-German and Irish, and competes on the Monday Night Raw brand for WWE — much like most wrestlers in the company hasn’t been known to speak about social issues in the past. In fact, Rollins recently broke up with former WWE girlfriend Zahra Schreiber, who was fired from the company in 2015 for posting anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi artwork on her social media accounts. Rollins, 30, never publicly disavowed Schreiber’s actions and continued to date her for at least half a year after her firing.

What’s most shocking about Rollins’ statement is that it comes from within a company known for it’s complicated history in regard to race and African-Americans. Not to mention, the WWE is run by staunch Republicans who belong to a party that openly rejects the Black Lives Matter movement, and some who even compare the group to the Ku Klux Klan.

This tweet comes just weeks after fellow WWE wrestler Randy Orton disavowed the actions of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others who kneel for The Star-Spangled Banner. In late September, the 12-time world heavyweight champion tweeted “Courage? Lol riiiight. Courage. Thats what it takes to stand up and fight, not raise a fist” in response to those who choose to protest the national anthem. Orton followed that up by stating, in response to a tweet about black men dying at the hands of police officers, “Americans are dying. Pigment of skin doesn’t matter. American people matter.”

Rollins competes Mondays on Raw on the USA Network.

Adrian Gonzalez does not appear to be a Donald Trump fan

The Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman refused to stay at Trump’s hotel on team trip

3:00 PMRemember when Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said that Mexico was sending drugs, criminals and rapists to our country? I’ll bet Adrian Gonzalez does. The Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman, whose homer was the difference in a win over the Chicago Cubs in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series, refused to stay at Chicago’s Trump International Hotel back in May, eschewing the option his team had used for years, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.

Gonzalez, who is of Mexican descent, said “I had my reasons,” as far as why he chose not to stay with the team during the road trip. But let’s be clear, the reason is obvious. In June of last year, Trump was just at the beginning of his string of outlandish statements on his way to the GOP nomination. But they were also some of his most pointed.

“The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems,” Trump said at his campaign announcement. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

It was a stunning entrance into a race that many thought he was running primarily as a public relations stunt. Now that we’re a couple of weeks away from the presidential election, the reverberations from his rhetoric are spilling over into the sports world in more ways than just hotel accommodations. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is doing everything he can to sidestep controversy whenever his friend Trump’s name is brought up. The list of athletes who do have Trump’s back is not short.

This isn’t the first time he’s gone afoul of a group of athletes, however. Earlier this month, he made fun of NFL players over the new concussion protocols. Mind you, this is a guy who once tanked an entire football league on his own, basically. Something tells me that if he’s elected, those team visits to the White House might go a tad differently than they have the past eight years.

Daily Dose: 10/17/16

The clown foolishness is completely out of hand

1:00 PMToday is apparently National Pasta Day. My favorite pasta is linguine, because I’m boring. But if I had to choose a pasta I thought most represented me, it would be tagliatelle.

By proxy, our nation is back at war. The military offensive on Mosul, Iraq, is underway, which means that the fighters the United States has been training for years are finally trying to take back one of the main cities that was captured by the Islamic State group. As far as people interested in war go, it’s a huge deal. On the other side of that of course are all the people who will be displaced, never mind killed, as a result of the fighting. You can expect far more refugees to begin pouring out of Iraq and into Syria. This will get worse before it gets better. ABC News reports.

If you haven’t been paying attention, Hillary Clinton’s emails are very outchea. While Donald Trump has been actively destroying his own campaign to be president, on the Democratic side of things, there’s all sorts of correspondence out there, courtesy WikiLeaks. Republicans can’t seem to understand why people care far less about this than they do a screaming real estate magnate. Here’s a quick breakdown of a few of the things that you can find in those correspondences if you don’t have the time to go sifting through thousands of documents.

Pardon the pun, but the clown situation in this country is officially insane. Things have gotten so hectic regarding people dressing up as clowns and terrifying neighborhoods that Target has officially decided to pull masks from shelves in some places, prior to Halloween, which is one of the craziest things I’ve ever heard. That comes second only to the fact that there was an actual Clown Lives Matter march that was supposed to happen over the weekend, which was summarily canceled, due to death threats. Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

I’m starting to worry about Odell Beckham, Jr. On Sunday, he had a big performance against the Baltimore Ravens, but it was what the New York Giants receiver did when he wasn’t catching the ball that was noticeable. For one, he’s taken this bit with the kicking net waaaaaay too far. Secondly, his touchdown celebrations have started to become more akin to a child acting out during a temper tantrum, rather than a professional celebrating an achievement. Which is all fine. I just wonder if this is eventually going to cost his team. It almost did Sunday.

Free Food

Coffee Break: The story of Kalief Browder is one of the hardest to swallow. He’s the guy who was held at Rikers Island for three whole years as a teenager without ever being convicted of anything. He eventually killed himself when he was released. Now, his mother, who championed his cause, has died of a heart attack. So, so sad.

Snack Time: Colored pencils are the jam. Back in the day, if someone came to you with a set of them for you, it was like a confession of love. These days, though, adults are back at it, too. That’s why this set already has a wait list.

Dessert: You like podcasts, right? Well, you can check out ours. Here’s another list of good ones from 2016.