If you follow events on the intertubes, you may have heard of the sad case of Amber Cole, a 14-year-old girl who was videotaped giving oral sex to a boy the same age, as one of his friends watched. The other videotaped it, of course; then, being a massive douche, he uploaded it to Facebook. From there it went viral, because I guess child pornography is okay now.
If you’ve followed reality for the past ever, you know exactly how this has gone down. Amber Cole’s name has been spread far and wide across the internet. The boys in the video remain anonymous. Amber’s transgression is viewed as totally awful; the boys — well, they’ll be boys, amirite?
Meanwhile, there’s been not enough of a strong defense of Amber — who is African American — from the white feminist community. I’m not sure why, though I suspect it’s a bit of fallout from the Slutwalk whitesplaining debacle. This needs to stop; Amber Cole doesn’t deserve to have me know her name and her teen sins, and that is something that any decent human should say without reservation. We can do that without wading back into the Slutwalk controversy (such as it is — anyone with the vaguest understanding of white privilege knows what went wrong there, and why. It’s not so much a controversy as Exhibit Q for the proposition that being liberal does not make one automatically anti-racist.)
So yes, we should vocally defend Amber Cole. Not to say that there aren’t potentially interesting things we could talk about regarding intersectionality, the way that African American women who are sexually active are treated differently than white women, and the marginalizing of non-white voices in the feminist community. These are all important and serious issues that we should deal with in an open and honest manner. And we could use the Amber Cole case as an opportunity to do so. I’d love to see, say, Jezebel post something by an African American writer regarding this debacle. And lo and behold, they have!
This is great. Or it would be great, if the writer in question was, say, Pam Spaulding or Renee Martin. But it isn’t. No, the writer in question is Jimi Izrael who, you may have noticed, is a guy. Now, being a male feminist, that’s not so much a problem. What is a problem is that Izrael is not a feminist. He’s an unrepentant MRA whose main take on the Chris Brown attack on Rhianna was to talk about how Rhianna shouldn’t have been reading Chris’ text messages. He’s best known for a book in which he castigates African American women for being too picky and choosing handsome alpha males instead of Nice Guys™.
So yeah. This should be awesome, if by “awesome” you mean “horrifying.” And the “awesome” starts right with the headline.
I Am Amber Cole’s Father
He’s…he’s not going to pretend he’s Amber’s dad, is he? That would be…that would be awful. Tell me he isn’t going to….
I am Amber Cole’s father. I am angry, confused and completely at a loss. I love my daughter. I want to guide her without suppressing her. That is not always easy. Children need protection from their worst inclinations. That is not always easy.
Oh, fuck me.
I am trying to convince her that the world will still love her if she keeps her clothes on. I do not know if she can hear me, or if she is listening. She would listen to her mother, if her mother was not busy. Doing something, anything that is not parenting. I want her mother to spend less time being “empowered” and more time being aware and engaged with our daughter. I want her mother to be a better role model, not a BFF. It takes two.
Correction: fuck you.
Where the hell did that come from? Where in God’s name did Izrael come up with that half a paragraph? There’s been no evidence put forward that Amber’s mother is particularly disengaged or a bad parent. No evidence that she failed to talk to Amber about anything. No evidence that she’s anything other than a good, dedicated parent. Near as I can tell, this sequence is just pure, free-floating misogyny projected onto a situation that Izrael knows very little about. It won’t be the last.
Anyhow, Izrael’s first paragraph was about attacking Amber’s mom. Hopefully, he’ll mention the boys who, you know, videotaped this and uploaded it to the internet. After all, we know they did something wrong.
I am Amber Cole’s father and this should go with saying: I am angry with those boys.
Well, okay. That’s…
But I knew those boys. Those boys were my friends. I grew up with those boys, hung out with those boys.
You know what I would never, never, never say about boys who intentionally degraded my daughter? This. I can assure you, if God forbid anyone should ever violate my daughter’s privacy and trust like that, my vengeance will be swift and awesome. I will not muse that I knew boys like you; I will do everything in my power to make your life miserable.
No father could reminisce about his childhood while talking about his child being shamed. No father worth a damn, anyhow.
But I was always The Other Guy – the boy you do not see on the tape. The one who, because of religious beliefs, self-respect or common sense decides to have no parts of such a thing. He is a nerd. He is an outsider. He is long gone, at home reading and writing. I want to meet The Other Guy and shake his hand. I’m trying to raise The Other Guy. But it is not easy. Girls don’t like The Other Guy. Being the Other Guy is not as cool as being one of the boys. I want to raise my boy to not be that kind of cool. Being a gentleman is cool. I want him to get the chance I did not have. I want him to to wait for that special girl.
Oh. My. God. He did not just pull out a Nice Guy™ whine in the second fucking paragraph of his post on how he loves his fake daughter, did he? He did? Kunapipi, take the wheel.
And by the way, you know how you can ensure that your son doesn’t grow up to treat women with respect? Tell him that women don’t respect decent guys — but that he should be one anyhow. That’s a message that is going to have 50 percent effectiveness.
I am Amber Cole’s father and I have seen the video.
You know what I will never, never, never, never, never do? Watch a sex video with my daughter in it. Ever. Period. Seriously, I’d rather blind myself.
You probably have too.
Nope. Not into kiddie porn. Especially when it was uploaded specifically to shame a 14-year-old girl.
I would like to ask her mother’s boyfriend, Karrine Steffans or Kim Kardashian where my daughter learned that. How she became proficient at such a difficult act.
Now, I’m not going to run down blowjobs here. They’re great, and I think most men enjoy receiving them from their partners. But let’s face it, they’re not rocket science. I’ve never given one, but I think if I for some reason decided to, I could figure it out. Indeed, billions of men and women have managed to figure it out just fine, even before Kim Kardashian was born!
I want to know who has been teaching my little girl how to act like a woman while I have been trying to teach her to be a young lady. Teens don’t have the tools they need to express, explore and comprehend the consequences of careless intimacy. I want to know what kinds of people we are allowing to look after our children when we are not around. I want to know why my 14 year-old knows so much about oral sex.
Look, Amber and her partner are ahead of where I was at 14, but not by much. I knew what a blowjob was at 14. I hadn’t had one, but I wouldn’t have turned one down, either. Now, I was too young to engage in that level of physical intimacy, but like roughly every 14-year-old on the planet, knowing that probably wouldn’t have stopped me.
I think it’s good that we tell our kids about sex. That we set them up to learn what it is and what it isn’t. I’m not going to pretend that I think Amber or her partner made good choices here — if Amber made her decision freely, it wasn’t a good one, and however things went down, her partner made a bad one. But I’m not going to pretend that nobody was making bad choices about sex twenty years ago, or two hundred, or two thousand. Romeo and Juliet were about 14; teens have been making bad decisions about sex forever.
Of course, this supposes the act was consensual. It might not have been, not fully. Which takes this out of “bad decision” territory and into “rape” territory. This should go without saying; certainly, Izrael doesn’t say anything about it. But that’s because he assumes his not-daughter was behaving like a slut. Any other possibility never crosses his mind.
And now, let the dynamite go boom.
I am Amber Cole’s father, and I am not raising a slut. White feminists can teach their own little girls to find empowerment through their crotches – my brown little girl cannot afford to be that carefree and cavalier with her life choices.
A few commenters on Jezebel defended this part. I’m not going to. Oh, Izrael is right that African American women do not have the freedom to be as open about their sexuality as White women do, at least for now. But that’s not a good thing; that’s something that hopefully will change someday. And I don’t know any women, not even the most sex-positive of the sex-positive, who are arguing that they’ve found “empowerment through their crotches.” What they’ve said — and what I believe — is that what they choose to do with those crotches is their own damn business, and that doesn’t define whether they’re worthwhile or not.
But — and this is the important part — Amber wasn’t giving quasi-public blowjobs to her boyfriend to empower herself. If rumors are to be believed, she was doing it to win back an ex. Or maybe win a boy’s affection. She was doing it to get attention from boys. If other sources are to be believed, she was coerced into it. If Izrael was serious about caring about Amber, he’d ask why his not-daughter felt she had to use sex to hold onto a relationship, or worse, why she had no choice but to engage in a sex act. And why we teach our sons that this is a price they can demand.
But he’s not interested in that discussion. He’d much rather bash white feminists.
Slutlife is the hard, lonely vocation of rich, educated, privileged white women who will fuck The World, contract social diseases and still, somehow find a husband. No black woman ever got far being a slut. I want to know what kind of women “slutwalk,” while young impressionable girls of all kinds look on with wonder and admiration. I want to know why these same women run to protect Miley Cyrus but just shrugged, nonplussed for my little brown girl. I want to know what the fuck those dumb bunnies are thinking. Most of them do not have daughters. I want my daughter, the woman, to have healthy, vibrant sexuality. My little girl should have other priorities. I am her father. I will protect her and every woman in my life with my life.
That paragraph is all over the map. White feminists are sluts who won’t stick up for my not-daughter! And they’re also stupid and don’t have daughters, unlike me with my not-daughter, who I want to have a healthy sexuality! I don’t want her to care about sexuality. I’m her not-father, and I’ll protect her with my life, but I don’t really care enough to get mad at the boys who were involved here.
And that’s the rub. There’s far more vitriol in this column for white feminists, Kim Kardashian, and a fictional representation of Amber Cole’s mother than for the boys who actually and certainly videotaped this act and uploaded it to the internet, and may have pressured her into the act itself. Women suck. Boys will be boys. But boy, Izrael sure cares about Amber, so much that he’s gonna bring it home with a pure MRA rant.
I am Amber Cole’s father. Don’t ask where I was that afternoon, because you already know. I was at work, just like you. I do not live with her, cannot always talk to her, cannot always be there. Not the way I want, and there are few laws to help me. To protect me and my rights. No one cares that I cannot be the kind of father I would like to be, until my daughter is a link, a hashtag, a trending topic. A punch-line. The subject of what may be the most widely seen piece of child pornography in history: A 14 year-old giving oral while two other boys watch and laugh. You say what you would do, what you would say, but you have no idea. We are all great parents with other people’s children. You blame me. Do not judge me. I love my daughter as much as you love yours. I am doing the best I can. I need the help of a partner who at times seems to be modeling the kind of behavior I am discouraging. We are fighting. Pushing and pulling, in no one’s best interest. Why can’t this be about my daughter? No, this is not about blame. It takes a village that starts with parents – all parties must be accountable. But parenting? Yeah. To do it well–even after all these years –it still takes two.
And again, we go back to the projection of what Izrael sees as the relationship between Amber’s parents, a relationship that he has no connection to whatsoever. Amber’s mother and father may be together. They may be split up. I don’t know, and a quick Google search doesn’t tell me. Maybe they are split up. They could be.
But if they are, there’s no evidence that Amber’s mom is fighting with her dad. No evidence that Amber’s dad is shut out of the relationship in favor of the mom. And not for nothing, but sometimes, despite the best parenting in the world, kids screw up. If the act was consensual, I don’t really blame Amber and her partner for it. In the grand scheme of things, they did nothing that millions of 14-year-olds haven’t done, and if it was a bad decision, it’s a bad decision that they share will many, many others.
As for Izrael’s questions — what would I do? What would I say? I don’t know. I feel awful for Amber and for her family. I wouldn’t substitute my judgment for theirs. I hope I could find a way to be supportive, while keeping myself from murdering anyone. But I don’t know how Amber Cole’s family works, and I won’t pretend I do. Unlike Izrael, who’s decided her family works like every MRA’s fever dream says it does.
Bring it home with the awful.
Kid sex is as old as time, but that realization doesn’t make me feel any better. Amber Cole is my daughter.
I am Jimi Izrael. I am not really Amber Cole’s father. But she is my daughter.
You do not think so. But she is your daughter too.
No, she isn’t. And she isn’t your daughter, either.
Do you hear me? She isn’t your daughter.
Amber Cole doesn’t need you as a father. Indeed, thank God she doesn’t have you as a father. At a time when she’s had an intimate act spread across the internet, had her name plastered up on YouTube and Facebook and Twitter, had her morals questioned and her technique critiqued, she needs parents who actually will try to support her. I don’t know if her parents will. But you sure as hell won’t.
You’re too interested in moralizing and lecturing and blaming women — over and over again — to give more than a passing nod to the greatest lapse of judgment in this sad, sordid affair. Not Amber giving a blowjob, nor her partner receiving one, assuming it was consensual. Not even the act being done with his friends around. But the decision — willful, premeditated, and with malice aforethought — to videotape the act and upload the video to the internet, where it was bound to spread. Giving in to sexual urges? Nobody who’s done so can truly claim that it’s a decision made completely rationally. But choosing to intentionally shame someone? That’s a choice. And a horrible one.
If you were really Amber’s father, the first thing you’d have written would be names — three names, to be specific. Yes, they’re minors, but so’s your daughter, and the whole world knows her name now. I’d be screaming the names of the boys who violated her. Telling them to anyone who would listen. I’d tell people this should be the called Adam, Billy and Chuck video. Wasn’t Adam a partner in the sex act? Wasn’t Billy watching? Didn’t Chuck hold the camera? Why aren’t they getting attacked? And by the way, given that there were three boys there, and one girl, and the boys were friends — how willingly did Amber consent? You never even to ask the fucking question. That would be my first question, and the first question of any decent father.
If you were Amber’s father, really Amber’s father, you’d be angry at YouTube and Facebook for keeping child pornography — child pornography — online after you notified them about it. You’d be angry at the school for not having their property adequately monitored. You’d be furious at the boys who at best merely violated her privacy, and at worst raped her. And you’d be focused on helping your daughter heal, not yelling and screaming about how bad her mom is. Because when your child is hurting, if you’re any kind of decent parent, that’s the only thing that matters.
You’re not Amber Cole’s father. She has a father. And he’s angry — about his belief that his daughter was coerced into doing this. He’s angry — about the way the video providers drug their heels after being asked to delete it. He’s pushing for charges to be filed against the boy who videotaped the act. He’s focused on those who hurt his daughter.
That’s what a real father does. Not slut-shame his daughter, or attack her mother. No, a real father goes to war to defend his daughter, goes full-tilt after those who wronged her. Fortunately for Amber Cole, she has a real father. And fortunately for her, Jimi, it isn’t you.