When I read that my baby sister in my head, Gabby Douglas, had made some not-so-great comments regarding women and sexual assault, I was disappointed. In reference to her teammate, Aly Raisman, opening up about the alleged sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of Olympic Dr. Larry Nassar, Gabby tweeted: “It is our responsibility as women to dress modestly and be classy.”
Gabby’s response was issued shortly after Aly tweeted:
Instead of showing solidarity with her teammate and alleged abuse victim, Gabby victim-blamed:
And the internet backlash was swift and brutal. First, teammate Simone Biles called her out with this viral tweet:
And then the rest of the internet let her have it:
Cancel Gabby Douglas. Anybody can get it. She’s not immune. Plus, weren’t her fellow gymnasts assaulted by the team doctor? Attire is entirely irrelevant in every single case, including here. pic.twitter.com/bZD4ogdm3s
— April (@ReignOfApril) November 17, 2017
Gabby Douglas was cancelled the moment she decided to do this on national television. Drag her pic.twitter.com/V6khLIF0TM
— Baby A (@ariusxo) November 18, 2017
To insinuate that a woman is inviting sexual assault/harassment based on what she’s wearing is the EXACT culture and mindset that makes victims afraid to come forward. I am beyond disappointed in you @gabrielledoug.
— katie 🐠💫🗝 (@dwtsfishovskiy) November 17, 2017
Gabby Douglas is so disgusting. Aly was a minor when their team doctor sexually assaulted her. Your choice of clothes does not and should not matter. If a man or woman does not know how to keep their hands off of children or adults, the victim is not the one who shares the blame
— OG (@tattedpoc) November 18, 2017
I’m not going to lie. Gabby hurt my feelings. I’ve been on her side ever since black twitter felt that her edges being laid was of greater importance than her status as an Olympic gold medalist. Her comments regarding her teammate and all victims of sexual abuse, however, are wrong. That being said, Gabby is 21 years old. And folks are out here acting like we literally didn’t just start believing women who say they’ve been abused. Hell, I have women on my facebook page right now refusing to accept Tamar’s mother’s abuse allegations again Vince.
Folks still defend and support Chris Brown, and mothers are still allowing R. Kelley to “mentor” their daughters. Most Black girls/women didn’t want anything to do with feminism until Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie appeared on Beyonce’s self-titled album in 2014. Yet, we need to cancel Gabby Douglas? A 21-year old girl raised in a society/culture we have all perpetuated?
We live in a patriarchal society, and we have always placed the onus on women to keep themselves safe from harm. If she is a child who has been abused, she was “too fast,” if she is an adult, “she shouldn’t have been dressing like a slut.” Gabby, at 21, is simply regurgitating the message we have all been fed all of our lives.
When I scroll over my facebook timeline from 5-10 years ago, I too, am embarrassed by some of the things I’ve said in the past. I recall making a statement along the lines of, “If Rihanna wants to be treated like a lady she needs to act like one. She shouldn’t have hit him first.” Yes, I made that statement. I was wrong, I will forever be wrong for it, and today I use my platform to atone for some of the egregious things I’ve said about women. I have realized, albeit late in life, that this world is not set up for us, and patriarchy is one hell of a drug. I am not cancelling Gabby. You can, if you want to, but I submit we have all, men and women alike, been party to misogyny at one point or another.
Let’s talk “cancel culture.” Personally, I am willing to give a lot of grace to young Black girls simply because the world doesn’t. I wasn’t born reading bell hooks. I had to grow. So does Gabby Douglas. And so do some of you.
— Shanita Hubbard (@msshanitarenee) November 18, 2017
Gabby has also issued this following apology:
Are you cancelling Gabby? Or are you willing to allow her to grow and learn like the rest of us?