Secondly, some big events happened recently: Meg the Stallion confirmed that Tory Lanez shot her in the foot, and the 100 year anniversary of White Women’s Suffrage just passed; and yes, I’m going to show you how both of those things are relevant to the overarching theme of this video which is BW being the most unprotected group in society. And contrary to popular belief, we struggle to find that protection in the company of Black men, and we especially do not have that protection in the company of white men or white women, even though allyship is the latest trend/performance to dominate our culture.
And on that note, I want to make super clear that this video is about hating or ridiculing anyone, it only serves to connect the dots between Black women’s experiences with intimacy and violence, which I have research on and lived experiences with that make that a TRUTH, not a figment of my imagination or that of other Black women’s. If you genuinely want to learn something, this video is for you. Thank you for watching it, I love you. But if you want to watch this video in order to argue about how my points are untrue, and how I’m making everything about race, please do not watch this video, and even better, fuck off.
But back to my last reason for making this video, which I’ve wanted to make for a long time; I feel a responsibility to myself to speak on these experiences that I’ve kept inside for so long, to make them feel more real to myself, and I feel a responsibility to the Black women who have had similar experiences to mine and the Black women I’m going to reference, and are struggling with trusting that they’ve had these experiences because they’ve been gaslighted so much and for so long.
I want to start with Megan Thee Stallion getting shot by Tory Lanez and Megan not reporting him immediately out of concern that the very aggressive LAPD would abuse, shoot, or kill Tory. As someone who has seen and heard the way LAPD interacts with suspects, over the 3 years that I lived there, I completely understand why she wouldn’t. Just last month, I was woken up by a frightening police stop that happened right outside my apartment, so it makes complete sense why she would fear the police.
Black women are not spared mistreatment by cops or police violence, yet when we talk about police violence in the US, it’s always within the context of Black men. In her report “African-American Women, Mass Incarceration, and the Politics of Protection,” Kali Nicole Gross in The Journal of American History states, “If the issue of black female incarceration is raised, it is usually as a tangential afterthought in discussions about the carceral experiences of black men—and even then the role of intraracial gender violence is rarely discussed.”
And culturally, these practices are perpetuated in the lack of media coverage of Black women’s killing by police vs Black men’s. Obviously, the goal is to have both Black women and Black men not be killed by police or experience state violence at the levels they do, but we also have to realize that why we hear about police violence against Black women. The way Breonna Taylor’s death has been made into memes, clickbait, and profitable events sharply contrasts to how the general public reacted to Ahmaud Arbery’s death. Please understand that these are both tragedies that never should’ve happened but Breonna Taylor’s murder is currently being profited off of by people other than her family, while people have had enough respect for Arbery to not do that.
The lack of protection of Black women is clear in stories like “Marissa Alexander [who] was incarcerated for three years though sentenced to twenty years for firing a warning shot during a confrontation with her estranged, abusive husband, whom she had a restraining order against. Gross’s report notes that “whereas [George] Zimmerman successfully used the stand-your-ground defense after taking the life of the unarmed Black teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012, Alexander was unable to invoke the same protections. No one died and no one was hurt at the hands of the battered Black woman, yet she received a twenty-year sentence.” Alexander’s story is not unique, as Black women like Catina Curley, LeToya Ramseure, Chrystul Kizer, and Cyntoia Brown, were also incarcerated for defending themselves against their abusers, pointing to a major flaw in the judicial system that still fails to see Black women as worthy of protection in general, and not even in situations wherein they’ve been abused.
And being of celebrity or affluence doesn’t shield Black women from abuse either, as we see with Meg Thee Stallion. After *months* of having one of the most streamed songs in the world that went viral on Tik Tok via the Savage challenge, there was very little media coverage on her being shot. Even on social media, the outpouring of love and support she received was overwhelmingly from Black women, even though everyone and their mothers were literally doing the Savage challenge on TikTok!
It brings me back to what happened when Chris Brown severely assaulted Rihanna. Though there was significantly more media attention than the Meg and Tory situation, Rihanna was dragged through the mud. People very openly debated, “what did she do to provoke him?” And flouted rumors that “she gave him herpes so he hit her,” or “she hit him first,” or “provoked him” in some other way. That’s how society treated the pain of a young Black women; and let me just point out that the silence has been more deafening in Megan’s case because she is not a slender, white-passing Black women like Rihanna, but we’ll break down how colorism comes into play soon. Both Rihanna and Megan’s treatment shows that no matter how high profile you are, as a Black women you’re still less likely to be heard, believed, or respected, while non-Black women who cosplay as Black women i.e. Kim and Khloe K, Kylie, YesJulz, Iggy Azealia, and all hundreds of non-Black Influencers who can’t stop blackfishing.
Yet, they get all of the support that they need. Their pain is acknowledge, their tears become other people’s tears; Black women do not receive that. And that goes for Black women around the world, not just in America.
But in America specifically, the level of sexual violence against Black women is high.” While Black people make up 14% of the US population, “40% of victims of human trafficking are Black.” Even worse, “traffickers interviewed for a study for Urban Institute overwhelming believed that trafficking white women would make them more money, but trafficking Black women would land them less jail time if caught, and traffickers are more than likely selling their victims to affluent and highly regarded Caucasian men.”
This disregard of Black women’s sexual exploitation has a long history stretching back to America’s colonies; “Virginia’s December 1662 decree (part of their Slave Laws) that the children of enslaved Africans and Englishmen would be “held bond or free according to the condition of the mother” meaning that if mom was a slave, the mixed race child would be too, if mom were free, the mixed race child would be too. Essentially, there would be no penalty for slave owners who raped Black women. Instead they could see huge profits through rape, leading to “countless rapes and instances of forced breeding.” So, “the rape of Black women was not acknowledged by early American law. Mainstream attitudes further negated their victimization with ruinous myths about Black women’s libidinous sexual proclivities.”
And that history is still with us today. research shows that “the demand for African Americans for sexual exploitation is higher than that of other races and the penalties associated with trafficking African Americans are less severe.“ For similar reasons, “missing white children receive far more media coverage than missing black and brown children, despite higher rates of missing children among communities of color.”
Even within the consensual sex, or the performance of consensual sex, the white gaze fixates on Black women. Culturally, we tend to uphold that the American South is‘more racist’ than other parts of the country, yet in 2016, Pornhub, a highly popular porn streaming site, revealed that “Ebony and Black” categories were the most viewed in states such as Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, and Delaware.” Yet, when it comes to serious relationships, “Black women are the only race of women who experience exclusion from both Black and non-Black men.”
I can’t begin to tell you how many experiences I’ve had that speak to this. I’ve dated many non-Black men, and the brunt of racial abuse has come from them, but I’ve found that the Black men I’ve dated have also used stereotypes against me, branding me “too independent,” and “too outspoken.” But, let’s talk about the non-Black men first. Most of my experiences have been enjoyable, but they’re also the antagonists in my really horrible memories.
My first experience that made me realize that dating would be different for me because of my Blackness came when I was 15, and had my first boyfriend. I technically wasn’t allowed to date at this point, and probably for good reason. I dated a white guy who went to another high school because the majority of the white guys I went to high school with were not interested in dating me, let alone asking me to go to a dance (unless they we were friends *that did happen once), let alone spitting on me if I were on fire. His parents found out that we were dating and they told him to break up with me because they didn’t want him to date a nigger.
The next big incident was probably my sophomore year of college. I went to London that summer to see my family but I stayed in a hotel for a week in the city center, met a Polish guy on Tinder. Initially he was sweet, just like another guy at the beginning of your contact with them, and we had a couple conversations after I had left, and I remember him saying that I am Black so he would never date me.
There was a Lebanese guy who I had a very short date with in LA earlier this year who kept trying to tell me that he’s never dated a Black woman, but instead of saying that, he would just say “I’ve never dated a ….*hand gestures*” I finally interjected and finished his sentence, and was just completely weirded out that he couldn’t even formulate the words Black woman.
There was a Mexican guy who fetishized my “Black” body [you can literally insert body part there]. When I called him on it and asked him not to do it again, initially he apologized, and then he asked me to help him understand why that was wrong, which was met with him completely invalidating my feelings. He told me that I was “making everything about race,” made a very weird comment about how he supports BLM and “everything you guys are trying to do, but found me calling him out for fetishizing, “taking things too literally,” and “to another level.” That one happened last week.
So all in all, I have 10 years of traumatic experiences in dating that have made me question if I’m lovable, what I’m doing wrong, and why society hates me and women who look like me, when we just want to be loved like anyone else wants to be.
And despite these awful experiences, I get A LOT of “…well, maybe it’s the guys you’re choosing,” from well-meaning friends (many of whom are non-black and will never experience race-related trauma in dating), and even my Black family, who sometimes miss the connection not just between racism and the treatment BW receive in intimate relationships, but the further breakdown of colorism and sizism within that too.
Do you know how many times non-Black men have wanted to play house with me, and know so much about me and my life, but never want to tell their family about dating me? Yet, no one wants to acknowledge how racism affects dating for BW?
Do you know how many times non-Black men have played house with me, and sold me all of these dreams, sometimes, even introducing me to their entire family, and promising me the heavens and the Earth, only for them to get into relationships months, or even weeks later with women who are with non-Black, or mixed, or white-passing? Yet no one wants to acknowledge how colorism affects dating for BW?
Many times, men of all races comment on how muchthey love my curves, yet I did not have the privilege of seeing women my size in mainstream media, let alone being celebrated for their curves. And I’m a US size 8/10, which is still pretty slender in the grand scheme of things. Yet, no one wants to acknowledge how fatphobia adds yet another layer to dating for BW, who are culturally generalized as fatter than non-Black women?
I don’t know how I can make the connections any more clear YET, society is constantly putting ME at fault for that. It’s “well, you’re bad at choosing men,” when realistically, there’s no way for me to learn about my dates’ biases until they show me that they have them, and honestly, it can be very subtle.
And then, I encounter the many Black men do not want to date me because I’m too Black for them, I’m not white-passing, or mixed, or white enough. Let’s talk about the cultural phenomenon that sees Black men date BW up until they ”make it.” Whether that’s obtaining celebrity, affluence, or even becoming more educated, there is a phenomenon wherein BM marry light-skinned, white-passing, or white women to signal their higher status. I am not taking issue with anyone’s marriage or dating life, I am merely acknowledging the existence of a cultural phenomenon.
In Gold Digger by Kanye West and Jamie Foxx, West says “when he get on he’ll leave your ass for a white girl,” and then…he did.
In Kanye’s case, this phenomenon feels even more icky than usual because he’s currently married to a non-Black woman who regularly cosplays as a BW and has profited off of her appropriation of Black culture for YEARS at this point. Do NOT come into my comments saying “she’s half-Armenian,” because yes, that makes her a white woman. Spare me.
Again, this is not just some wild coincidence, as Research conducted by Sarah Adeyinka-Skold, adoctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania revealed that stereotypes of Black women as ‘emasculating, angry, too strong, or too independent’ are *rampant,* so much so, that “both Black and non-Black men use the stereotypes or tropes that are popular in our society to justify why they don’t date Black women.”
Historically, these include the Sapphire stereotype, characterizing Black women as strong, masculine workhorses who labored with Black men in the fields whose aggressive and overbearing demeanor drives away her children and partners. The Jezebel stereotype of Black women as hyper-sexual in contrast to the “demure Victorian lady,” was also used to justify white slave owners raping their slaves, and breeding them with other slaves (which we already discussed re Virginia’s Slave Laws.) Then, there’s the Mammy archetype of a Black women completely dedicated to caring for a white family, especially the children, and though the Mammy is ultra-feminine instead of hyper-sexual, she is still undesirable by white and Black men because she’s typically overweight.
These caricatures are global, as Brooke Newman, associate professor of history and interim director of the Humanities Research Center at Virginia Commonwealth University argues in her piece, “The long history behind the racist attacks on Serena Williams,” published The Washington Post: “In late 18th- and early 19th century London, visual artists such as Isaac Cruikshank, James Gillray, Richard Newton and Thomas Rowlandson focused public attention on the unsuitability of women of African ancestry, not only as sexual partners for British men but also as free and equal imperial subjects. Caricaturists depicted African-descended women as simultaneously comical and frighteningly brutish, with jet-black skin, voluptuous bodies, thick lips and insatiable appetites. Black women, cartoonists suggested, posed a danger to the nation unless subject to white male control.”
Similarly, “The Golliwog doll originated in an 1895 children’s book by Anglo-American illustrator Florence Kate Upton called “The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls and a ‘Golliwogg.’ ” Inspired by caricatures of black-faced minstrel performers, the Golliwog had coal-black skin, unruly hair, large lips and leering white eyes and teeth. The Golliwog became associated with a number of now-defunct 20th century consumer products, from English marmalade to Australian chocolate biscuits.”
This isn’t to say that Black men still grapple with stereotypes that are perpetuated in media and society as well; the ‘Mandingo stereotype,’ is perhaps the most prevalent and depicts Black men as is having a huge penis. Now think about how many times you’ve heard or believed that one off rip. Another stereotype still at play for Black men is Uncle Tom, a Black man who is “perhaps simple-minded and compliant but most essentially interested in the welfare of white people over that of other Black people.”
Stereotype attribution happens most to dark-skinned Black women, as well as Black men, but of course, it is especially harmful towards dark skinned Black women. We see this in the public reception of The Williams Sisters (esp while they were children), but while Venus, who is more slender, received less scrutiny, her sister Serena, who is more muscular and curvy, has had to endure abuse that is even more racist and sexist than what she did. Serena has been called too manly, and too aggressive, even within the context of her love life, and even by Black men. And then after years of Black men degrading her, they had the freaking nerve to say that she turned her back on them by marrying a white man, who, mind you, loves her and celebrates out loud, unlike any of her previous Black partners. The attacks she has endured show that the hyper-masculinization of Black women takes place mostly with dark-skinned Black women who are not what society would consider ‘skinny.’
In sharp contrast, light-skinned Black women are coveted and protected at all costs due to their proximity to whiteness. This is a huge shift from the 20th century stereotype of the Tragic Mulatta, a white-passing Black women often showed as “mean, unsympathetic, sexually-attractive,” and determined to marry any unsuspecting, well-to-do white man; however, this stereotype gets a lot of play.
Let me make the connection between these stereotypes and Black women’s lives experiences even more clear with some research. In 2010, The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology conducted a study to see how well people remembered Black women’s faces. They showed White participants a series of photos depicting men and women who were White or Black. Results suggest that Black women are more likely than Black men or White men and women to go unnoticed by others in a group or social situation.
They examined whether Black women were also more likely to go unheard when contributing to a group conversation. In this study, participants overheard a conversation between eight people, including two Black women, two Black men, two White women, and two White men.
They found that participants were more likely to mix up comments made by the two Black female speakers, suggesting that they perceived the two Black women as relatively interchangeable
Participants were also more likely to misattribute the Black female speakers’ comments to the other speakers in the group
Compared to Black men, White men and White women, comments made by Black women are more likely to go unheard when made to a largely White audience.
I found this study so interesting that a couple years ago I decided to experiment on my own. I did a lot of walking in the cities I’ve lived in so I started to see what would happen if I always continued straight ahead no matter who was in my path. And it revealed to me 1) that I’ve been subconsciously taught to get out the way, and 2) non-Black people have been subconsciously taught to not get out of my way; I’ve experienced people walking into me on a few occasions but, like unlearning apologizing excessively, it’s something I’ve continued doing to this day.
So let’s bring this all super full circle because now this idea of “allyship” has really taken hold, especially among White women. There’s a long history of Black women being the afterthought when it comes to rewarding basic human rights, and suffrage. The, all-white, National American Women’s Suffrage Association was at the forefront of the Suffrage movement, and they avidly silenced and ostracized Black women, simply for wanting to be part of their movement. Black women, led by absolute legends Ida B Wells and Lucy Parsons, had to create their own spaces, without support from prominent white women like the ultra-racist Susan B Anthony, even though they were fighting for the same damn cause. Black women also advocated for themselves, again, without the support of prominent Black men, while finding support mostly in their Black male partners, brothers, and fathers, or “the everyday Black men.” Angela Davis’ Women, Race, and Class lays this out plain as day and with a landmine of sources.
So, overall ,”This lie or myth that it’s all about you, the individual, and your agency, simply isn’t true. Structures matter. The ways that governments make laws to marginalize or give power matters for people’s life chances. It matters for their outcomes. It matters for love.” Sarah Adeyinka-Skold concludes, and I concur.
So many of my experiences and the experiences could’ve easily perpetuated the self-hate that Black women are taught at every level of society–in media, education, politics, medicine, and even within their own communities. But, instead, for me, awareness has only made me love myself more, and made me give even more of my time and support to Black women. And because of that, I’m also big on calling out when Black women model misogynoir through their opinions and actions, which only perpetuates the harm that we face as a group. As the great Monique, who is one of my faves who deserves all her flowers, would say, “[Black women] I love us. For real.” I’ll keep fighting for us. Even if it makes me unlikable or less desirable, I’m proud of my Blackness, I love my Blackness, and I love yours too.
On some indiscriminate day, at some indiscriminate time, I listened to a radio interview that shifted my perspective. The celebrity guest, Ariana Grande, said something that hit me like a ton of bricks: “stop blaming women for the shortcomings of men.”
The 15-second clip felt like a homecoming, the vehicle through which I was finally able to make sense of the many things I had felt in my relationships with men, whether familial, platonic, or romantic.
Newly broken up from Mac Miller and not yet engaged to Pete Davidson, Grande’s clarity struck me as that of a young woman who had freed herself despite “going through it.” Her words, not a lyric to some man-hating anthem, but the haunting, underlying beat of an undeniable, unwritten truth within the patriarchal societies of the world: that the denial of male culpability in situations they are wholly responsible for, shifts blame to women, subjecting women to lesser qualities of life, harassment, sexual violence and even, death.
“Stop blaming women for the shortcomings of men….”
Not only did I write down her words, as I do with anything that moves me, I essentially uploaded it to my psyche. Grande’s words guide the analysis of my rumination that day, the day that followed, and so on. Then and now, they elicit breakthroughs on situations I am still not fully healed from. Then and now, they allow me to be gentler with myself when (inevitably) considering the smorgasbord of character flaws I encounter in men, explicitly said to be my fault, my cognizance and self-lovingness aside.
Finally, a powerful, universal one liner I could put my finger on: “stop blaming women for the shortcomings of men.”
Then, after the passing of one short summer, Mac passed too. The words are still so hard to write, let alone, to imagine as reality. His heart shined through his talent in a way few rappers I’ve listened to have been able to master and even when theirs did, his felt just that much more effortless. His death made me think about how lucky I am to be alive, after years of struggles with disordered eating, depression, binge drinking, an MDMA-induced overdose and suicidal thoughts, all of which led me into therapy for nearly three years, some months ago, instead of into a grave. I felt horrible that he his life ended in the latter.
The disbelief remains but after the initial shock subsided, I immediately thought of Ariana and her words, which couldn’t be more revealing of the female experience in our overtly man-handled world.
Scrolling through the vitriol people threw at her over the Internet, my stomach turned; her words were used to imprison her with culpability for his death. The commenters (many of them men), declared, “you killed him.” Others wrote, “they couldn’t take Demi instead??” My anger, pre-heating to the seven-hundredth degree, found me praying for her and even the heartless, often icon-less bozos on the Internet.
Then came the nausea.
So much like the nausea I felt after it became frightfully apparent that first man I was strong enough to love unapologetically and unconditionally, wasn’t the great guy he so desperately wanted to be–and painted himself as.
The ILY’s, introductions to members of his family and long-term friends that shouldn’t have been made and the intentions he spoke of, but took no action to make a reality, nauseated me for days on end. I was floored by the humiliation of the reality that “he couldn’t be all in with me now, but would be ready in two years,” in similar ways as I was by stupid people on the Internet. The only difference was, I hadn’t made what felt like a lifetime of memories with these people, or traveled the world with them as I did with him, and I certainly hadn’t engaged in multiple conversations about our lives and the life we could create together. At times, the magnetism between us was so strong that observers, whether friends or strangers, approached us to say that we seemed to be so in-tune, we could only see each other in a crowded room.
Furthermore, flashbacks to their being, words and actions didn’t confine me to my apartment for a week because I was so weak and so broken by everything that had happened that I couldn’t survive as much as a glance from a stranger on the street. I was terrified of what they would see when they looked at me; the feat that I would be as worthless in their eyes, as his actions and words suggested I was in his, kept me inside my tiny studio in Los Angeles.
And here I was, “the strong friend, the fearless daughter, an exemplary young woman,” pleading with God, blankly staring at walls, feeling worthless because I did exactly what Ariana said I must stop doing: allowing men (especially those viewing the situation from afar), to convince me that I am to blame for their shortcomings. As devastating as that experience was, I’ve heard of, and even observed by proxy, women loving men who were far worse than he was; a kind-hearted person I just happened to get involved with at the height of his self-sabotage.
I still hope he metamorphoses into the incredible person I had the privilege of experiencing so intimately, solely for himself and no one else, especially not me. Nowadays, I see my value so clearly that not only am I sailing the ship, I’m working on wrecking on it altogether. And though, I have forgiven and have come to terms with not being able to forget, I’ve wised up to the game he and so many men engage in: The Fe(Male) Blame Game.
The game occurs as follows: he, the flawed guy who “needs to grow up,” he, the guy “you’re too good for,” as per his faux-friends (often the ones waiting to take his spot–stay woke), or family, convince you that you should’ve known better than to give him the time of day instead of urging him to take responsibility for his actions and his struggles in life. Because how dare you show up in his life, trying to be the most positive, supportive person you could be to him?
How dare you ignore the inconspicuous warnings? How dare you try to assist in fixing all the leaks in his house, after discovering his house isn’t standing on the most stable of foundations? And to make matters worse, like the nightmarish, antithesis of Bob, The Builder, after all you’ve tried tohelp heal, he sets you on fire…only to expect you to mix the plaster he mindlessly slings at hole-ridden walls. Fed up with his lack of care, you start to realize that at the root of the this pernicious, cultural phenomenon is the male ego.
The same male ego that forces women into culpability for more than just our heartbreaks, but even for our character assassinations, for the limitless micro-aggressions thrown at us, for our harassment, and sadly, our rape, and our murder. The Fe(Male) Blame Game allows us to be the creator of our own downfall, while men are “just boys being boys,” or “didn’t mean any harm,” when they’re violating us and our personhood in stunningly harmful ways. By complex, men are entitled to the throne and more, even when they’ve ground up bones of women come and gone for the sole purpose of creating one to sit their undeserving ass on.
Save labeling me as an angry man-hating woman, for that I am not. I love the men in my life unconditionally, so much so, I unapologetically hold mirrors to them, and nothing more. What is revealed in doing so is their responsibility to fix. Instead, label me a mere observer of the patriarchal society that initially caused me to build a shaky foundation for my own house, until I gained the bravery to tear it down and rebuild one made of self-love, of the love of God, a faceless, nameless life-force and of the bravery to be seen and heard in a world that often shields and shuts me up: a house made to last
However, I am angry at the detriment the male ego continues to create in a society where #MeToo isn’t a witch hunt but a reality. Even beyond that, there’s the gender-wag gap, the perils of childbirth, the limit of opportunities that come with child-rearing, the daily mind f*ck that you absolutely need to look like that model, smile all of the time and embody vulnerability so that a man can swoop in to save you; an action you must then reward said savior with pleasure so good, he even starts to lose interest in his favorite pornstar.
This anger damn near caused me to implode this week, while listening to two stories play out on Capitol Hill: one of an exemplary woman, Dr. Julie Blasey Ford, who also bears the title, survivor of sexual assault, which per her testimony, robbed her of peace of mind that her body is hers and hers only, her spaces are safe and that her society values her–something she cannot get back; the second, of her abuser, Brett Kavanaugh, a man attempting to cash in on the white male privilege he received a number for at birth despite his arrogant attempts to dodge arbitration, his agitation in not being above the law and his aggression in lieu of the rightful realization his actions are choices he made that make him wholly unfit for the Supreme Court seat he petulantly seeks.
I am angry that the male ego residing within Kavanaugh also resides in so many of the men I’ve rubbed shoulders with.
Within the enclaves of academia, a young, white male had the gall to say to my face that the only reason I matriculated at Boston College was because I reaped the benefits of affirmative action with my black skin.
Within the enclaves of white, patriarchal society, the last boss I had before starting my first business, audaciously told me that quitting is a mistake, though the position was bankrupting me mentally, emotionally and physically. “You know this is the only chance you’ll get to be an entrepreneur,” he quipped; I retorted that I’d send him a signed cover of my Forbes cover.
Within this society, I am subject to catcalling, told to smile by men I don’t know, forced to grapple with being perceived as not so smart thanks to my large breasts, or gorilla-like, or always angry (because black women always are, right?), or too smart to date due to my inability to not have the wool pulled over my eyes.
As a woman in this world I have experienced weeks of sexual harassment from a black man I considered a friend up until that point. I have also experienced a black man fix his mouth to suggest that if I were “10 years older, I’d be his wife.” As a woman in this world I have experienced a black, male TSA agent loudly proclaim, “my fiancé is coming through,” as I made my way through a crowded airport security line. I was 13. And traveling with my grandmother. To say we were both horrified is an understatement.
Yet, I remember thinking, well, “maybe if my shirt hadn’t been so low-cut,” revealing breasts larger than the average 13-year-old, “this wouldn’t have happened.” My tendency to blame myself for the way men treat me had been programmed into my neurons long before I realized it. My tendency to blame myself for the way men treat me is still something that percolates but now, doesn’t go unchecked.
That tendency plays out everyday, for every woman just to varying degrees. It’s the need to double check that the skirt isn’t too short, or that you didn’t send the wrong idea by being “too nice.” It’s sharing your location with more than one trusted person at all times, just in case. It’s knowing not sitting on men’s laps after you hit age 8, even when they’re “trusted.” It’s the inability to go anywhere without looking over your shoulder and quite frankly, the reason I personally started boxing because when push, quite literally, comes to shove, I’ll do everything in my power to not be the one on the ground.
It’s the art of rebuffing advances with seeming graciousness as so not to be further harassed. It’s balancing growing into your own person while taking on the second and third shift. It’s considering your plan of action in the event that you fall asleep on an airplane and wake up to someone else’s hands in your shirt or pants. It’s being manipulated into friendship in the hopes that it may turn romantic, unbeknownst to you. It’s the ongoing threat of a physical attack in a public or private space at any point. It’s being taught to value financial independence so that if your male partner puts his hands on you, you have the financial means to leave.
Women are forced to subconsciously play The Fe(Male) Blame Game all of the time, over just about anything, because that is what we’ve been conditioned to do within patriarchal society. That’s why the actions of Dr. Julie Blasey Ford, Debbie Ramirez, Julie Swetnick and other unnamed survivors of Kavanaugh’s abuse, are so remarkable. In their speaking out, bravely offering their names, reputations and more, they’ve continued the devastating work of breaking the cycle of shame and blame, of “if you had only done x, y wouldn’t have happened.”
They are the few amongst the many, whether we know their names or not, who are working to correct society’s grandest transgression: misogyny. By honestly sharing their stories, women in our global society are inspiring others to do the same, revealing the multitude of ways the unchecked male ego has trespassed against us all, even men. Now, more fearlessly than ever, I’m happy to ally with women of all walks of life working to destroy what has destroyed us: a culture wrongly blaming, shaming and punishing women for the shortcomings of men we were never responsible for fixing, excusing, or loving in the first place.