Tonight at the club, some guy put his hands on me. He wasn’t an acquaintance or a friend, but he was a friends, friends, significant other. Let me set the scene with as little petty as possible. We were coming down the stairs after the club shut off the music for the night. He and his girlfriend were already down the stairs and were facing the group coming down. As I walked down the stairs he pointed to my jacket to imply there was something there, I looked down and he flicked my face. Not with his finger but with his whole hand. I looked him in the eye, gave him a glare and walked away. He looked proud, his girlfriend said, “babe…did you just flick her face?” pushed him gently, playfully. Reprimanding him the same way a mother might reprimand her toddler for tossing a spoon on the ground at the dinner table. I turned away. Ignoring him. He proceeded to reach over the crowd to push my head, like a kid of a winning baseball team might do to a kid on the losing baseball team as they walk away. It was taunting, it was degrading, it was disrespectful, and it served no purpose, no purpose but to appease him, probably his lost drink, and his small ego.
Lets include some more context. This guy, we’re going to call him Misogynist 1. Had been with the group all night, through 4 entire stops. It was my friends celebration and we all went out to celebrate. I spent the night enjoying the DJ’s and playing designated driver. I was having a good time. There was a big group of us, probably 12, which dwindled down to about 9 as the night continued. Out last stop was this nightclub. Misogynist 1 had been looking at me all night, trying to catch my eye. I don’t know what he wanted, I’d smiled earlier and exchanged “common courtesy’s”. I didn’t know him and wasn’t paying him any mind. As the night went on he drank more. I was doing my cute lil’ sober dances by my lonesome on the side, occasionally joining in with the group for the current Top 40 hits. Halfway through the night he grabbed another drink, maybe 5th of the night. I was dancing near him with the group and he dropped his drink. I was closest to it. We all stopped, it had spilled all over me and the floor, it was whatever. No one apologized, he just stared at the ground. I moved away from the spill and kept dancing, “It happens.” A friend remarked to him nearby. The group laughed it off, Misogynist 1 and his girlfriend walked back to the bar, and came back with another drink. Misogynist 1 continued staring. We danced until the DJ stopped and everyone headed out down the stairs and out the door. That’s when Misogynist 1, waiting at the bottom of the stairs, looked at me, said “Hey, Look”, pointed to my shirt and did A and B. And do you know what happened next? After he reached across the crowd to push my head. You know what I did? Absolutely nothing. I didn’t smack him across the face. I didn’t cuss him out, I didn’t stop to give him a glare, I didn’t do anything. I just kept moving like women do. Like we have to do, because here is the truth. In that moment I was concerned for my image, and for my body. There was no space to defend myself amidst all of this consideration and self protection. By the time my mind caught up, the moment was over. Misogynist 1 won’t think of it ever again. I thought about it the entire way home.
First, I tried to brush it off. Ignore my initial feelings toward it, tell myself it wasn’t a huge deal.
This moved me into, “Don’t worry about it girl, he ain’t shit.”
Further, I tried to take a posture of forgiveness. Literally, praying for God to change his heart. I tried not to be angry.
Asking God to change his heart, moved into asking God to let his girlfriend find someone who is not, not shit, or at least help him change before he has daughters.
My thoughts paused. I thought again about how I felt in that moment, and it was vulnerable, unprotected. My thoughts moved toward my relationship status. My desire for a boyfriend. If I had just been there with a man none of that would’ve happened.
I brought this up with God. I mentioned, that I really wanted a boyfriend, like I’d mentioned time and time again, but instead of just wanting him for companionship I wanted him for protection too. It was just another good reason for God to send me the right guy. Because misogynist’s don’t respect female bodies like they do male bodies, and if i’d been there with a man Misogynist 1 wouldn’t have laid a finger on me.
Next, I held back tears, because I’m a strong black woman and this little shit wasn’t going to make me cry…but this shit isn’t little. It’s big as fuck. It’s bigger than Misogynist 1 and it’s bigger than my personal fears related to my image and the reclamation of ownership of my body.
Misogynist 1, displayed a blatant lack of respect for my body, my boundaries, and my personhood when he put his hands on me tonight. And it’s more than a lack of respect for my female body, but further my black female body. We were on the staircase hundreds of people below us, the club was well lit, the house lights were on. People saw him, and no one came to my aid. “The most disrespected woman in America, is the black woman. The most un-protected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America, is the black woman.” -Malcolm X. And it’s the fucking truth. Misogynist 1 knew that no one would say shit. He knew that I wouldn’t say shit. He was playing his only powerful role as a male, because he is actually small, lacking character, discipline, and humanity. M1AS (read- NAS- then replace N with M1…good job.)
He felt entitled. He felt entitled to acknowledgement, he stretched for that. Maybe he felt entitled, to “get me back?” maybe he thought I spilled his drink? Regardless, he exercised the right he felt he had to express his feelings onto MY black female body. This problem is monumental. It is the problem that sees to the senseless murders and assaults that are inflicted upon women who dare to express ownership of their own bodies, who dare to exercise authority over a Misogynist’s request about what their bodies will do and how they will function. It is the problem that see’s abusive Misogynist’s get away with anything and everything, it is the problem that fuels rape culture, it is the problem that silences churches, it is the problem that plagues our mothers and their mothers. It is the real reason that our elders tell us to cover up, not to our shame but for our protection. It was the only way they knew how to protect THEIR bodies in a culture that worshipped Misogynist’s. It is the inability of Misogynists to understand that the only body they will ever have any say or control over is their own. Their inability to understand that they are not owed or ENTITLED to ANYTHING-EVER. Not for dinner, not for an act of bravery, not for chivalry, not because you opened the door, not because you called me pretty, not because I smiled in your direction, not because you feel like you should’ve had an apology, or a second date… We do not ever owe you ANYTHING. Especially not our bodies. So don’t touch them, or worry them.
Note: In this article I use Misogynist instead of men and that’s simply because they’re not the same. I am fortunate to know some men. They are gentle, protective of others, humble, hardworking, peaceful, kind, and they posses self control.They understand that the only bodies they have a right to belong to them.
Misogynists will make a million excuses, and are not only or always Male. Matter of fact, 63% of women in Alabama may be Misogynist’s. Misogynist’s will read this article and ask for further detail, Did I ever do something, if I was drunk. They will say he was drunk and acting out of “character” they will lean on the side of empathy for Misogynist 1, but here’s the thing. That’s not the point. The point is this, Tonight, at the club some guy put his hands on me, and it was not in defense to immediate danger, or to catch me from a fall. It was for him, whatever need he needed to meet, and it was at my expense.
And that’s not okay.
Little things indicate bigger patterns. Call it out. MEN, call it out amongst your colleagues. Women, if you feel safe call it out, if you’re unsure get a man to do so. Misogynist’s. If you’re reading this post, thats a good first step.
Let’s be better humans.
Grace and Peace.