When I was seventeen and preparing to leave for university, my mother’s only brother saw fit to give me some advice.
“Just don’t be an idiot, kid,” he told me, “and don’t ever forget that boys and girls can never just be friends.”
I laughed and answered, “I’m not too worried. And I don’t really think all guys are like that.”
When I was eighteen and the third annual advent of the common cold was rolling through residence like a pestilent fog, a friend texted me asking if there was anything he could do to help.
I told him that if he could bring me up some vitamin water that would be great, if it wasn’t too much trouble.
That semester I learned that human skin cells replace themselves every three to five weeks. I hoped that in a month, maybe I’d stop feeling the echoes of his touch; maybe my new skin would feel cleaner.
It didn’t. But I stood by what I said. Not all guys are like that.
When I was nineteen and my roommate decided the only way to celebrate the end of midterms was to get wasted at a club, I humoured her.
Four drinks, countless leers and five hands up my skirt later, I informed her I was ready to leave.
“I get why you’re upset,” she told me on the walk home, “but you have to tolerate that sort of thing if you want to have any fun. And really, not all guys are like that.”
(Age nineteen also saw me propositioned for casual sex by no fewer than three different male friends, and while I still believe that guys and girls can indeed be just friends, I was beginning to see my uncle’s point.)
When I was twenty and a stranger that started chatting to me in my usual cafe asked if he could walk with me (since we were going the same way and all), I accepted.
Before we’d even made it three blocks he was pulling me into an alleyway and trying to put his hands up my shirt. “You were staring,” he laughed when I asked what the fuck he was doing (I wasn’t), “I’m just taking pity.”
But not all guys are like that.
I am twenty one and a few days ago a friend and I were walking down the street. A car drove by with the windows down, and a young man stuck his head out and whistled as they passed. I ignored it, carrying on with the conversation.
My friend did not. “Did you know those people?” He asked.
“Not at all,” I answered.
Later when we sat down to eat he got this thoughtful look on his face. When I asked what was wrong he said, “You know not all guys do that kind of thing, right? We’re not all like that.”
As if he were imparting some great profound truth I’d never realized before. My entire life has been turned around, because now I’ve been enlightened: not all guys are like that.
No. Not all guys are. But enough are. Enough that I am uncomfortable when a man sits next to me on the bus. Enough that I will cross to the other side of the street if I see a pack of guys coming my way. Enough that even fleeting eye contact with a male stranger makes my insides crawl with unease. Enough that I cannot feel safe alone in a room with some of my male friends, even ones I’ve known for years. Enough that when I go out past dark for chips or milk or toilet paper, I carry a knife, I wear a coat that obscures my figure, I mimic a man’s gait. Enough that three years later I keep the story of that day to myself, when the only thing that saved me from being raped was a right hook to the jaw and a threat to scream in a crowded dorm, because I know what the response will be.
I live my life with the everburning anxiety that someone is going to put their hands on me regardless of my feelings on the matter, and I’m not going to be able to stop them. I live with the knowledge that statistically one in three women have experienced a sexual assault, but even a number like that can’t be trusted when we are harassed into silence. I live with the learned instinct, the ingrained compulsion to keep my mouth shut to jeers and catcalls, to swallow my anger at lewd suggestions and crude gestures, to put up my walls against insults and threats. I live in an environment that necessitates armouring myself against it just to get through a day peacefully, and I now view that as normal. I have adapted to extreme circumstances and am told to treat it as baseline. I carry this fear close to my heart, rooted into my bones, and I do so to keep myself unharmed.
So you can tell me that not all guys are like that, and you’d even be right, but that isn’t the issue anymore. My problem is not that I’m unaware of the fact that some guys are perfectly civil, decent, kind—my problem is simply this:
In a world where this cynical overcaution is the only thing that ensures my safety, I’m no longer willing to take the risk.
When you, like Perez Hilton, equate being ‘fierce’ with black womanhood, you are not simply complimenting black women’s perceived awesome sassiness. You are saying that we are overtly strong, both emotionally and physically, which leads to us being denied the facets of femininity that white women are so easily given. This is dangerous in ways I cannot completely describe, but I’m going to try: Black women are raped more often than white women, because our ‘fierceness’ is linked to ideas of sexual promiscuity – rapists believe we ‘want it more’. When we are raped the police believes us less than white women, because our ‘fierceness’ makes them think we could have fought back if we really wanted to. When we are beaten by our partners, the same applies. When we argue with people, we are seen as immediately aggressive. If we raise our voices or get angry, it isn’t because you’ve done something stupid, it’s because we are black and we are female and our innate ‘fierceness’ makes us unreasonable and unworthy of being listened to. When we lose our children to violence, when we have to survive on food stamps and benefits, even when we go to prison, it’s all a-ok because black women are the fiercest of the fierce and so none of that is a problem and we can handle anything that’s thrown at us – and all of this has lead to a point where when we knock on a door to ask for help because our car has broken down, we are not given hugs and a cup of tea. We are shot in the face at point blank range because we are fierce, and therefore aggressive, unpredictable, and worthy of the mocking, fear and scorn that the world looks at us with.
Quote is from her good essay The ‘Fierce Black Woman’ Inside You Doesn’t Exist on Poejazzi, in response to Perez Hilton’s racist, misogynoiristic tweet “Inside every gay man is a fierce black woman!” Must read essay! Now, the very lazy response is for people to pretend like Perez is the only White gay man who has ever said this (as White privilege involves persistent attempts to individualize systemic issues as to deny accountability) or pretend that his specific awfulness (and yes, he’s awful) is the issue, not misogynoir itself which makes this is a common thing that many Black women hear every single day. I (that would be me, @thetrudz/@GradientLair) directly tweeted him too. His response to every Black woman was ignorance that got increasingly worse over time that day, including him eventually enacting Godwin’s Law.
If you notice carefully in this conversation, no one suggested that gay men do not experience homophobia or that when the conversation is about some Black women who treat gay men as “sidekicks” (which of course is wrong) is discussed, it should be discussed. So that derailment in the name of intersectionality (while of course ironically ignoring intersectionality origins) is not needed when it only happens as a gay man is being called out for misogynoir. As for the other predictable derailment, Perez having a Latina mother does not mean this is not about White supremacy, that he no longer has White-passing privilege, that his male privilege has evaporated nor means he is incapable of misogynoir and anti-Blackness. Finally, the derailment via male privilege and misogynoir—that Black women are empty and just “copying” and appropriating gay men—is not needed.
I know Perez thought this was an acceptable response to Pia’s video and she’s a Black woman but that is irrelevant. Privilege does not evaporate based on who you know that doesn’t have it.
Black women are not costumes to be worn or objects solely for consumption, period.
u can say what u want about brendon urie but the story about a little mormon boy that decided he wanted to be a glittery bisexual weed-smoking emo stripper really fuels me
“We’re so bad at sex and then we wonder why women aren’t like, really aggressive about sex. We think it’s cause they don’t have as much desire as we do. That’s how stupid men are, that we think ‘they’re just weird, women are like fucked up in the head cause they don’t wanna just fuck all the time. If I was a women, I’d just fuck everybody. Why don’t they wanna fuck all the time? I do’. Of course you do, cause when you fuck, you get to fuck a woman! When she fucks, she has to fuck a guy! Wildly different experiences. For a man, 100% of the time, it’s the greatest thing that ever happened in his entire life. For a woman, about 40% of the time, when she’s being fucked by a guy, she’s thinking ‘I’ll get over this in a week. It’s not the worst thing. I’m not gonna cry this time’
“Another thing that proves how bad men are at sex is that after sex, you’re looking at two very different people. The man just wants to lay there, be cool and the woman wants to cuddle…’Why is she so NEEDY?’ She’s not needy you idiot, she’s horny, because you did nothing for her. YOU DID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. HER PUSSY IS ON FIRE BECAUSE IT’S GONE UNFUCKED COMPLETELY. Of course you’re fine, you climbed on and went “KFHGSKG” and rolled off. And she’s on you because she’s like ‘WH-at SOMETHING ELSE HAS TO HAPPEN, THIS IS BULLSHIT!!” If you fuck a woman well, she will LEAVE YOU ALONE. ‘Thanks a lot buddy, zzzzz’”