Category Archives: women

The Savage Ex Fenty Fashion Show: A Work of Art, Culture and Commerce SPOILER ALERT!

I am a Day 1 Savage Ex Fenty fan. I mean literally. I was one of the those people sitting in front of my laptop waiting for the exclusive website access I signed up for to begin when Rihanna’s line of lingerie first dropped, watching the minutes count down. I was so excited to be able to buy lingerie designed by Rihanna that catered to a broader range of sizes than I had ever seen at a Victoria’s Secret. I remember having to retrain my eye when I saw the range of varying shapes of full sized and “plus sized” models on the site. I was so used to giant skinny White women with flat asses, that it took me some time to adjust to seeing what real women looked like in lingerie. I signed up for the yearly VIP Membership as advised by my husband (heehee) and have never looked back. Over time, I’ve noticed that it’s often the fuller sized models who I look at to see how the lingerie might look on me. Body image for women in this world is such a colonized, white washed mind fuck that it can take months to deprogram your gaze from the damage of Victoria’s Secret print models.

The Savage Ex Fenty Fashion show that dropped on Amazon Prime streaming video last week took the concept of inclusion and Rihanna’s on brand strength, playfulness and sexual empowerment to a hundred and ten on acid!

Now I know that Amazon is a giant corporate monster but I’m not mad at Ri for  establishing herself as a mogul, getting that bag and creating an empire because she is also breaking the standardized mold of what we’ve been told sexy looks like as well as bringing art, culture, body positivity and non-conformity into the commercial world of lingerie. This fashion show was runway, was performance, was art, was dancehall, was concert, was furturism, was so many things! As each musical performance began you could click in the left margin to see the song that was playing and a bio about the artist. So you can buy the lingerie, the music, and discover and support some artists you may have never even known before Ri put you on.

Before it starts, there’s a behind the scenes look at the concept, vision for the show. The moment when Rihanna first sees Paris Goebel’s choreography for the opening of the show and loves it so much she decides she wants to be in it is just so exciting. The entire show is Rihanna from beginning to end. It’s strong, edgy, sexy, powerful and wildly inclusive. I’ve watched it three times so far and I get goose pimples every time.

Savage Ex Open

The opening lands like a chainsaw. It’s just sick. When these ladies go off, it’s like the Dora Milaje threw on sexy lingerie and decided to do a hip-hop concert. Rihanna’s Savage warrior spirit is on full display. The women she selects to channel their own version of that are pure fire.

The set, a collection of all white basic but theatrical shapes, landings, stairs, and several stories of domes to highlight the silhouettes of each dancer who inhabit it was a fantastic backdrop to set off the plumage of fantasy, funk, freakiness and fabulosity that graced the stage.

Raisa Verticle

Let’s talk about Raisa Flowers (above), a make-up artist who opens up part of the set for the first performance. I had no idea who she was before I saw this show but to see her is to know what she is about because her energy, her artistry and beauty are just beyond. I’m blown away by her.

Normani

There was a woman with a double leg amputation who did a fierce walk across the stage during one set. Mama Cax, a gorgeous model and just an amazing being who has a single leg amputation someone I know from being a fan of Finding Paola, was also featured.  And Normani who used to be with Fifth Harmony was all angles and hips and joint defying butterfly! She and the dancers in her set busted out and came to slay it all down.

I loved seeing Gigi Hadid walk out to  the intro of Big Sean’s “Clique” a song I really like despite the usual misogynistic lyrics. He and A$AP Ferg were a great choice to open.  Halsey was also amazing. I believe she lip synced her song because unlike the other musical artists who performed on stage alone, she performed with lingerie clad dancers who were part of her extensive set. Migos was a wondrous visual spectacle performing in a circle filled with shallow water. I loved how their futuristic metallic outfits and sunglasses reflected the multi-colored colored  laser lights that shot down towards them in slanted shapes like rain.  I also loved that Tierra Whack came on with DJ Khalid, Fat Joe and Fabolous to close it out.

I cancelled my Amazon Prime account last year and never find cause to order using their service any longer. But somehow I’ve still watched  the fashion show repeatedly since it came out. LOL!

If you don’t have Amazon Prime and are totally anti Amazon because of the shit they tried to pull, I totally understand. Just go get you a trial so you can watch and then cancel it later. LOL!!

No, seriously…go…now…

 

 

Shit Serena Doesn’t Say

I was scrolling through IG a few days ago when I saw this quote by Serena for the press conference after she lost to Halep in the Wimbledon Finals posted by USTA.

Serena Quote

I had watched that entire match and the press conference afterward with my mom and I saw right away how they left out the only words in that quote that I had hung on to. The complete quote is as follows.

Serena Actual quote

I knew even then that when Serena said made this statement that it was still vague enough for the media to manipulate and project it’s agenda onto. But wow, they just went ahead and took the whole damn thing out. When Serena said “People that look like you and me…” I feel like she was doing that old double consciousness balancing act that still haunts many of us as Black people to this day. Serena’s indications about people who look like her and the reporter (I’m assuming she wasn’t white?) were specific and yet leaving enough wiggle room for the customization of truth that is written by Whiteness. In fact, every conference I’ve watched Serena give during this Wimbledon tournament has made me wonder what anger, frustration and irritation lay unsaid inside of her as she appears to maintain a lo-key, laid back, non-reactive and non-threatening facade, the anti-thesis of her behavior during the now infamous Osaka match.

My husband made the interesting point that the media’s uproarious and favorable acceptance of Coco Gauff has taken a lot of pressure off of Serena this year. If not for Coco she might have had to withstand harsher focus from the media. It’s ironic really how Serena and Venus have clearly opened the doors for young Black female tennis players like Sloane and Gauff, who seem to be getting the kind of measured and unbiased treatment from the press and media which the Williams sisters were never afforded because of blatant racism. Its wonderful, strange and a bit concerning to me (double consciousness again) to watch Coco respond to the press by just being the young girl she is. When I think of that terrible “interview” Venus had to endure with that White a-hole who probably called himself a journalist when she was just 14 years old, I cringe. I know this is an experience like many others the Williams sisters endured which informed the women they are now, experiences they have had to surpass and transcend so that others who look like them might not have to. And although the Williams are revered as top tennis champions and hold a place in history as Black women who have persevered oppression and racism in the sport, the thing is, it’s not over. It’s not over and they know it in ways Sloane and Gauff may never know. That’s how it works after all.

Obama Translator

I studied Serena’s face when they dared to ask her how she felt her stamina compared with Roger Federer’s considering their advanced ages and I longed for the equivalent of the Key and Peele Obama translator sketch  ; a Black woman with nothing to lose could stand beside her and translate what Serena said unapologetically in explicit language that Black folk would understand and make racist White people uncomfortable with their implicit role in her frustration.

Muthafucka, Federer ain’t had to push out an entire fucking human being out his body and then almost die afterward! Who the fuck do you think she is? She slayed the Australian Open while she was pregnant bitches! Why not ask Federer if he thinks he could have pulled that shit off?

That’s what my imaginary Williams translator would have said if she was there with Serena that day. She would have also said the words Black women, not “people who look like you and I.” But fuck if I don’t understand why she didn’t say Black women. She would have to deal with all kinds of stories calling her angry and asking why everything has to be about race…

It’s fucking exhausting y’all.

Ya’ll Whiteness is fucking exhausting.

 

 

 

Baldie Revolution or Guess What? I Shaved My Head.

So after months of thinking about it and agonizing over it, I finally shaved my head  bald a few weeks ago. Though I do feel super liberated and in love with my bald head, I’ve had my share of insecurities, particularly since I’ve been challenged with some hair damage over the years but I’m kinda into moving past that right now and healing rather than harping. It has helped a lot to have the full support of my husband whose clippers I used to shave my head initially. He finished it off in the back and then smartly suggested that I go to the barbershop to have it lined up and neatened and stuff.

Shout out to Denny Moe’s in Harlem for never making me feel weird, awkward or shamed for coming in to cut my hair short and always making me feel welcome because I have heard some bad stories about the terrible treatment of women of color going to barber shops to have a big chop done. As if we don’t have enough problems!

Here are some things I have experienced since I shaved my head.

Continue reading Baldie Revolution or Guess What? I Shaved My Head.

Sex With Me So Amazing

Like so many things I cherish, Esther Perel was shared with me by our dearest Khalilah Brann. Esther Perel is a therapist and psychologist whose primary focus is relationships and erotic intelligence, which I think is so dope. Erotic intelligence. Just think about that term for a minute. What comes to mind. What do you think it means?

I watch a lot of Youtube y’all. A LOT! And I can click on just about anything where Esther Perel speaks and be completely engaged, enlightened, enthralled and just wowed by her wisdom and intelligence and understanding of human sexuality and relationships. I always think I have some idea what she will say on a particular topic but she always ends up saying some truth I never knew I always knew! LOL! And in a way I never could have imagined. In other words, she surprises and empowers me at the same time. Since that doesn’t happen very often, I know when it’s real.

In the latest Esther Perel video I happened to click on randomly, she talks about how a woman has to be turned on by her own self before she can feel like she wants to have sex.

NOW!

It took 1.1 seconds for me to know this to be true but I’ve always thought that this quality in me was narcissistic and wrong because of the messaging I get from society about the evils of that kind of “self pleasuring.” But Esther doesn’t mince words. She’s not here to judge. She’s just saying it plain and she even uses the word narcissistic. But she’s not saying it’s bad. She’s just saying this is what it is that women need. We need to feel like we are sexy in order to have sex. “If she doesn’t want to make love to herself, she won’t let anybody else do it either.”

Nerisa

Cut to another woman Khalilah turned me onto, a Sistah named Nerissa Nefeteri, the self acclaimed “FemHealth Activist” whose Nene Feme Yoni wash stays in my bath time and shower rotation, the Sistah who brought us Yoni Poppin. I follow her on IG, another social media tool I am immersed in as much if not more than Youtube. Nerrissa will post a sexy random photo of herself and or her and her man (father of her beautiful children) in whatever position, wearing or not wearing whatever, whenever she sees fit. I can tell she gets off on herself but it’s not remotely similar to anything I would compare with pornography because she does it for herself, and not a male gaze. She could give a shit about what men are watching, though she know fully aware that they are. But these images are for herself and she shares them with us in an effort to promote a self awareness in Black women that really challenges notions of how we feel about our own  bodies, both physically, spiritually, emotionally and practically.

I’m not gonna lie. I sometimes will catch myself feeling like damn! I wish I could use visual mediums to be that bold and liberated about my own sexuality but I do worry about what people will think and about having to ward off harassment and other unwanted attention. Because I think this kind of expression is truly beautiful and sexy as fuck in a deeply transformative way. Any super sexy photos I have taken stay strictly between me and my husband. But there are times when I wish the world was not so inclined to the violence and perversity and destruction of the unleashed female imagination.

Thanks to women like Esther Perel and Nerrissa Nefeteri, and Cardi B (did you catch her Grammy performance?) I don’t feel quite as ashamed of needing to feel sexy or seeking pleasure in my own sexiness as I once did. It’s okay for us to be in love with and creative with our own sexual power. As to sharing that with other people, social media has seriously changed the game on that front by providing permanent as well as temporary options to express our exhibitionist qualities whenever the mood hits. In this Snaphat seflie thirst trappy culture, the average person can’t help but take at least one or two sexy photos of themselves that go out into the internet galaxy. The option to keep it to yourself is also always a sexy option. The idea is not to feel pressured to express your sexuality in any way that does not make you feel…sexy and safe, to understand truly what sexiness means for you.

My hope is for a future that continues to evolve into a place where women can continue to be sexually fearless. Because our sexual liberation, self care and being comfortable in our bodies usually leads to pleasure, joy, creation and community for all.

To Live in Love in the Time of #metoo

fear and love don't go together

During an impassioned conversation about the #metoo movement that I had this week with CREAD colleagues, I mentioned a post that I cautiously put up on my Facebook page basically stating that I didn’t agree with the conversations, articles or statements which categorize Aziz Ansari as a rapist or assert that what he did on what was undoubtedly a terrible date as assault. I posted an article from CNN which supported these beliefs with a brief statement from myself and didn’t look at my page again for like two days. Because though I could not stay silent, I was afraid of the repercussions.

Continue reading To Live in Love in the Time of #metoo

Sean Carter Confessionals: Family Feud

The wretched of the earth do not decide to become extinct, they resolve, on the contrary, to multiply; life is their weapon against life, life is all that they have.

-James Baldwin

A man who don’t take care of his family can’t be rich. I watched Godfather, I missed that whole shit…

-Jay-Z

 

The year is 2444 The home is rich and lavish. The setting is coldness, anger and betrayal. Michael B. Jordan storms angrily into the bedroom of Thandie Newtown’s characteron a particularly “important day” loudly berating her capacity to be the head of a clearly powerful family only to find her in bed with a dude played by Moonlight’s Trevante Rhodes. I notice immediately how pale Thandie, Michael B. Jordan and X are. The only colors you see are like pale blues and yellows. But the paleness of their skin tone makes me think of sickness, deficiency, greed heartlessness and death. Sure enough, before the scene is done, both men are killed, Mark by Trevante and then Trevante by Thandie’s character, Game of Thrones style, because she wants the family “Throne” for herself.

2444

Both Anthony and Trevante are both wearing clothing at the waist inspired by garb worn by men in ancient Khemit. Thandie wears a scant bandage outfit nearly identical to the one Milla Jojovich wore in the “The Fifth Element” a film set in a future that opens in an Egyptian temple and where the planet is under threat of total destruction if an essential element, which is embodied by a woman is not recovered.

Jay Z Family Feud screen grab Credit: Tidal

In the year 2148 an indigenous woman, Bird and Jacob played by Irene Bedard and Omari Hardwick are joint world leaders hailing from two great families. They respond to questions from a citizenry council about violent events that have lead to Jacob’s rise in power. Jacob recounts the legacy of his family and their struggle to uphold and maintain law and justice throughout generations. He talks about how one of his ancestors who played a major role as one of the founding mothers.

Founding Mothers

She was the primary architect of something called “The Confessional Papers” in 2050 and revised the constitution with a group of amazing women, played by Janet Mock, Neicy Nash, Mindy Khaling, Rosario Dawson and Rashida Jones just to name a few.

His ancestor, played by Susan Kelechi Watson in the year 2050 by is none other than Blue Ivy Carter.

Now we’re in Blue Ivy’s  narrational 2050 memory as she recalls her father’s words, “Nobody wins when the family feuds.”

Beyonce-family-feud

Cut to 2018 which is basically now, where there the musical narrative of the video for Jay Z’s “Family Feud” begins. Jay-Z walks a present day Blue Ivy to sit in a church pew and then walks the front to start rapping before Beyonce who Amens at him from the pulpit in royal Blue, looking like a sanctified and sexy ass Popestress. She also appears in a black mini dress and billowy white sleeves behind the screen of a confessional as Jay speaks to her from the other side. The metaphor is plain to see now. And there is still so much left to unpack. I want this to be movie or a television series!

Blu ivy FF

I’m still on the floor!

I don’t know about you but I’ve already watched this video about five times now. I know I will lose count of how many times I watch it again and of how many other pieces of symbolism I pick out of this brilliant work of art and revolution made explicitly for the culture. I also know that 4:44 is a fierce, proud and unapologetically Black call to action to each of us who are about that life if there ever was one and I couldn’t have asked for anything better to arrive as 2017 comes to an end and 2018 kicks the door and our asses in.

Here’s to a Black Ass, Woke Ass 2018!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having Babies is Like…Natural

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Parikha Mehta vsco.com

Not every woman wants children. Not every women should have them. And through the years I myself have flip-flopped and yo-yoed over the possibility myself. But the truth is, I like kids. I’ve discovered recently that the fond memories of my childhood are what I use on a subconscious level to shield against a storm of negativity on a daily basis.  Also, pregnancy fascinates me. I think that because I’m married to a lovely and wonderful man whom I love being with and learning more about each day, I’ve been more and more preoccupied with the idea of adding to that loving number. That’s totally natural.

I’ve been having more discussions with mothers I know, friends, co-workers, my therapist and their experiences with pregnancy, labor and childbirth, have all been so incredible and various! There is absolutely no way to predict what one women’s pregnancy will be like based on another’s. The stories I’ve heard have ranged from the most miserable to the unbelievable. I’ve heard from a woman who vomited twice a day for seven months straight to another woman who had two babies, one literally behind the other in her stomach who could not stop eating during her entire pregnancy. She would eat and eat and eat and never feel full or satisfied. I’ve heard c-section stories, epidural stories. I’ve even heard from a new dad, a guy I really like about his nervousness, reservations and joy of being a new father.

Some of these families pay for childcare and are extremely underpaid at work. Some have their parents living in and taking care of the kids while they both work. Some share time taking care of their kids so that a dad will stay at home for a few years while mom works and then vice versa. Others appear to have stable enough careers that allow them not stress out too much over basic concerns with regard to childcare. All in all, they figured things out or are in the process of doing so.

The other thing I’ve realized lately is that my decision to have a child, while totally natural, will also affect others around me in ways that are beyond my control like so many decisions we make for ourselves. But the unique experience of bringing life into the world at least as far as I have observed is unparalleled. What’s been holding me back from the idea of having children, like many people, is the idea that I haven’t accomplished enough yet, haven’t done all I wanted, haven’t finished having fun. I remember a joke by the late comedian Bill Hicks, something like, “I don’t know with all the alcohol we buy if we can afford to have kids honey.” I still find that hilarious because of its perverse demonstration of the part of us that wants to control what makes us happy. The first time out doing anything that make you feel good, you want to have that experience over and over again. You might even think it’s just as good if not better than the last time. But the real significance is not in the comparison of the experiences to one another because they’re all different in their own ways. It’s about what you get out of them, what you learn from them, how the peel back your layers and whether or not you have the discipline it takes to moderate or discontinue practices that no longer serve you, that no longer challenge you.

I’m not saying I have finally found the discipline to do this in all areas of my life. But I do see what no longer serves me with regard to thinking a baby will somehow get in the way of all my fun and yet uncompleted accomplishments. I’ve also stopped thinking of myself as conceptually impregnable. I used to think of being pregnant (like many other things) as something only other women could do, and that the idea of me being pregnant was a very distant sort of abstract idea that I would often hold up to the light and examine but never really accept as a real possibility. But now I get it. Me pregnant would be just that. Me, but pregnant. Amazing, mysterious, adventurous, unpredictable, miraculous, ancient, ordinary and natural.

Visions of Oshun

Oshun Collage
We’re all here for Oshun so I equate that with Oshun being here.

-PBS Documentary on the Nigerian Oshun Festival

So I’ve been working on this project lately that has required a study of different illustrations of the goddess Oshun. Oshun is one of hundreds of Yoroba Orishas, a Goddess who embodies, beauty, sensuality, healing, abundance, harmony, divination and the feminine archetype. I am discovering that there are many different interpretations of what Oshun represents but essentially she is in some ways to ancient African religions what the Virgin Mary is to Catholicism, what Venus or Aphrodite was to Romans and Greeks. But unlike those latter mentioned, Oshun, to my unending delight, is represented primarily as a very dark skinned Black woman. Her colors are represented as a constant spectrum of gold, amber, yellow and orange. She can be found near bodies of water and always carries a mirror. She likes sweet things and is often shown wearing a veil which allows her to see the world eternally as a sweet heavenly vision of beauty. Doesn’t that sound dope?

It hit me yesterday as I looked at all the googled images of her, how powerful the symbols of her identity are with regard to visual interpretations. With all the different versions out there, there are those basic elements that never change. Like the Virgin Mary, Venus or Aphrodite, artists understand that key colors, elements in nature and symbolic objetcs are what communicate to the viewer who and what this woman represents. This is art 101 obviously but I never really even understood this even in art history class. I wish it had been taught to me in this way. A Picasso version of the Virgin Mary will not look like Carravagio’s, but the basic symbolical indicators will be there somewhere whether literal, obscure, abstracted or minimized.

Blue, white, rays of natural light. Yellow, gold, mirror water nature. When we wear these colors, spend time in specific natural spaces, we can recognize that certain religions and cultures would see us as invoking saints, goddesses, gods, spirits that are represented by these things. We attribute powers to elements based on both ancient practice and natural metaphysical laws.

Why do the colors deep blue and purple represent royalty? Why does yellow invoke joy and lightness? Most of us have been conditioned to an unconscious reflexive knowledge of white as representing purity. The color black however has had the worst rap ever. Buried in decades of negative association with death, evil, abyss, black actually symbolizes the highest seat of wisdom as seen in clergymen and ministers who wear all black or martial arts masters who acquire the Black belt in the various disciplines of Martial Arts. We all know that a Black Belt can only be acquired with intense hard work and commands great respect. For me, seeing so many versions of Oshun with this dark black skin is even more of a validation and praise of the color black. It sends the message to my heart that blackness is beautiful, is sacred, is virtuous. And every version of Oshun must be dark skinned in order for me to understand that she is Oshun.

It is said that in the Vatican, there is a black version of the Virgin Mary hidden somewhere and that this is the one the Pope worships behind closed doors. Oooh! My google search of Black Virgin Mary has produced such a range of beautiful renditions! The darker Goddesses are stepping out into the light.
We make it so.
-Team Urban Eve

Who Run the World?

My commute to work is not very long at all. Twenty minutes, maybe thirty if there are service delays. So this morning while I was immersed in the world of “Americanah” I got a little sad when I looked up and saw that I was already at my stop.

I had been listening to “Run the World” and “Superpower” on my phone while reading Ifemelu’s blog post on “Why Dark-Shinned Black Women–Both American and Non-American–Love Barack Obama.” I was still remembering the amazing time I had last night at Open Expression in Harlem. The feature, a powerful and giving woman, Naa Akua who was accompanied by two others, “Royalty” and “A Lyric” who sang a song about beautiful dark and cinnamon skin and invited us all to join in was still coursing through my memory. The second to last Thursday of every month for over two years now, we have come together to share and create and be inspired by our own worlds.

I remember raging against Beyonce’s audacity with everyone else when “Run the World” came out. I was tired of hearing women referred to as girls. Plus which, I thought it strange to assert something that to me was obviously a lie when we know who really runs the world.

But…ahem

I had never really listened to the song.

I ADMIT IT! OKAY? This was before my full on Beyonce love and appreciation.

But one evening this week I was playing Pandora on my stereo (I don’t listen to the radio anymore) and when “Run the World” came blasting on I stood at full attention. And I was up and dancing and totally elated, a reaction that has become very familiar to me with regard to many Beyonce songs. I don’t even think about it. I’m just up! When it was done, I bought it on iTunes. Heard it, believed in it, needed it on my life.

Needed it in my life!

And I thought to myself while listening to it, aren’t we supposed to act as if in this world if it’s not the way we need it to be?White people create their own realities constantly, without even being aware of it. They play their reality like a perpetual number one hit song, pumping it into the veins of the masses, which is how indoctrination works. It is not the sharing of any truth with the sacred intent of enlightenment and movement but a force feeding of falsities, and fabrications for the purpose of control.

In “Run The World” Beyonce is celebrating achievements made and yet to be made by girls and saying, fuck a day when! We run this now! How else will little Black and Brown babies believe if there isn’t someone out there powerful enough to sing their praises so everyone can hear it the way A Lyric did last night? My mom ran my world. And damned if mothers don’t run our worlds as children period! I mean, what if Beyonce is right? I think she is. I think that perhaps the reason why it’s so hard for us as women to believe it when someone tells us we run shit is because we don’t even understand our own power. We say it’s a man’s world because that’s what patriarchy requires us to do in order to reap empty promises. And we fall in line.

You know that old “Behind every great man…” line right? Everybody does. It’s meant to make women feel revered and recognized about being behind the scenes and never really being seen. “Yes, he was a great man but he would not have been anything without this great woman behind him.”

Well if women are so powerful behind the scenes, what would happen if we stepped out front? Oh that’s right. We would get torn down and ripped to shreds by other women, the women who still behave unconsciously on behalf of white male, patriarchy that is. That little white man dancing invisibly in our heads will never give us what we need. We have to create what we need for ourselves. But first we have to know what that need truly is. Figuring out what we need as women of color in this world is a journey, a work in progress which is changing the world with every passing minute.

Street Harassment or Public Flirtation? How do we define it?

“God Bless you darling”

“Have a good day dimples.”

Those are the two I’ve heard addressed towards me this week and I thanked them both politely and went about my day. I imagine that these comments might be unwanted by a different woman walking down the street and I can appreciate and respect that. But I would hope that she could also open her mouth and say, “No thank you.” or “I don’t appreciate that, will you please stop?”

Ever since the video of Roberts’ recorded experience of being addressed by strange men in the street was released, my nerves have been somewhat on edge whenever an online conversation flares up which generalizes or defines what occurred flatly as “Street Harassment” that should be criminalized. What is “Street Harassment” please? Who does it and what does the face of a possible campaign against it look like? Who would it serve?

“Hey Ma, my man over there thinks you’re cute and wants your number.” That’s one I used to hear endlessly in High School.

If you think the guy is cute, is it still “street harassment” because thousands of hook ups and even marriages begin this way.

When single women go to bars to meet men, those men are strangers. This game the sexes have always played has required men to be the initiators and for women to be the ones who decide whether they will respond affirmatively or with displeasure for what ever reasons.

For me, harassment whether in the street or in the office or in a bar, club, or wherever is what occurs after you have expressed the desire to no longer be pursued. Men will pursue. That’s what they do. That is what we have required them to do. And I don’t care how anti-feminist or offensive this sounds but it’s what many women like them to do.

I was hanging out with a male friend of mine yesterday and I asked him he felt about this issue. Interestingly he is the second Black male who told me he didn’t really care about it but started paying attention when he noticed that most all the men in the video were of color.

As to the question of how men would respond if it was the other way around and woman were always cat calling, whistling and making kissy noises at them, please! Does anyone need to take a poll or do a hidden camera segment to know what the overwhelming response to that would be?

That would save men like 80% of their time!

I’m not saying I haven’t had men say things to me in the street that I haven’t found infuriating. But I always chalk it up to that one particular guy or incident, not all men and certainly not all Black men. I can’t even imagine how I could! I guess I’ve just never found it to be an issue for me.

Now I get how patriarchy plays into our internalized normalization of this occurrence but as women with intelligence, voices, and power, we also have to be aware of the ways in which we contribute to the appropriation of gendered social cues. Because to me, there are situations in which the same women who hate to be called out in the street, require this same amount of assertion in a setting where they crave attention and flattery. Again, if the attention is unwanted and this has been made clear but still continues, you are now dealing with a harassment case.

Do I think a man is wrong or bad mannered or a rapist just because he says something to me I don’t want to hear in the street? No. But if he pursues me after I have made it clear I have zero interest, then he has a problem. And at that point, I have to do what I can to protect myself and my rights.

And finally, compliments from men I don’t know in the street have yielded feelings of positive reinforcement for me on several occasions. I’m not saying I know who is harmless or who is potentially dangerous. I’ve also gotten compliments from women in the street and love those as well! What I’m saying is, I wish there was more carefulness around the definition of “street harassment” and not this dangerous lumping in of “How are you today”s and “God Bless you”s and “You’re beautiful”s with a general sense of being made to feel unsafe.

Roberts also makes a general statement about places where people don’t experience harassment.

“People don’t put up with harassment at work, at school, at home. And we shouldn’t have to put up with it in the streets. I have a right to feel safe.”

WHAT????

Women get harassed everywhere and have been for ages! They’re being harassed this second. If she only gets harassed in the streets and not at school or in the office than good for her but that sounds kind of like a generalization to me. Who are these people who don’t get harassed at work or in school or at home? What strange new world does she live in and can I visit? I just feel like this issue has become about about one women’s experience and I don’t seek to undervalue her experience or her feelings but I worry that her testimony speaks for the experience of other women in ways that are not accurate and I hate it when one person speaks for others in even the smallest ways without checking in on them. There has to be an attempt at balanced and fair reporting that includes opposing viewpoints in order to have a truly constructive conversation about this issue.