Photo via Álvaro Canivell on flickr.
Today I was browsing facebook at work (don’t tell my boss!) and I saw a status from a girl I went to high school with. Admittedly, I don’t know her all that well, but as one of the few other out-and-proud people I know to come out of that school, I feel some solidarity with her. Her status was:
niggas get salty as shit when they find out a female is GAY.get over it.if i was straight i wouldnt want your ass anyways. =) have a good day!
I nodded in agreement. Sure, I’m not entirely sure what it means to get salty, but if has anything to do with men getting hostile when you spurn their advances, I totally get it. I read through the comments, most of which were other women, both straight and gay, agreeing that men really need to take a hint when they are barking up the wrong tree, whether or not the ‘tree’ in question is queer. Of course, one guy told her “U bad n niggaz is gon holla get ova it gurl…lol.” Of course, an attractive woman of ANY sexual orientation really should just “get over it. ” Sexual harassment is just part of a woman’s life, like death and taxes.
Of course, I’m never content to leave well enough alone. I commented,
In reference to this comment: “U bad n niggaz is gon holla get ova it gurl…lol”
Geez, D—- [name redacted], don’t you know that as a women, especially a woman of color, your body is communal property for men to ogle at and, if they so desire, possess? Regardless of whether or not you ascribe to their misogynistic, heterosexist worldview. Duh.
Fuck that. T elling a woman to “get over” sexual harassment, especially harassment rooted so deeply in homophobia, is disgusting. Reacting poorly to the news that a woman is gay is essentially admitting that you view all heterosexual women as potential sexual conquests. Is that REALLY how you feel about 50% of the population?
Good on you, D—-, for calling that bullshit out
And I firmly stand behind what I said. Is it playing into the kyriarchy to interject my privileged white view of the situation into a conversation among people of color? Probably. But the beautiful thing about the kyriarchy is that it doesn’t oppress in a straight line. It’s impossible to say who comes from a place of more privilege when a white, queer woman challenges a statement made by a black, straight man. That doesn’t mean this statement didn’t get me into trouble:
@ M Wow. Not necessarily agreeing with the referenced comment but it would seem like most of the hollering happens before the guy finds out Danielle is gay. You might have picked the wrong example to use for your argument. Thats what her status is implying. If anything dudes trying to get at a girl is a testament to her attractiveness.
What does her being a “woman of color” have to do with anything? Is that your selling point so you can spew your empty rhetoric? People in general ogle and desire and eventually attempt to possess what they find appealing. I dont see that in anyway misogynistic.
With that being said I dont think men should get upset when a female tells you she is gay. Just respect it, brush it off and move on to one of the straight fish in the sea…”
Oh, you’re right. I’m sorry, it has nothing to do with homophobia. I forgot, women of all sexual orientations are property. And so, I replied:
T—, do a little research. Try googling “hottentot venus,” for example. There is centuries of precedent for women of color being eroticized as being “exotic” or exceptionally sexual. Literature of the early 20th century, especially, ingrained in American culture that black women were particularly dangerous in their excessive sexuality.
As for their “hollering” occurring before they know she’s gay — I acknowledge that. I don’t, however, rescind my judgment of that being misogynistic. When a man makes an unwanted sexual remark (and, in this case, won’t apologize, and is instead angry, when he discovers exactly how unwanted it is), he is exerting his social power over the woman. Studies show that EIGHTY PERCENT of women worldwide report feeling afraid or threatened on a regular basis by sexual comments from men.
Harassment isn’t a compliment.
And if it the phrase “women of color” that offends you, I apologize. I meant it only as a less specific term to encompass all non-white women. Think about the hypersexualized stereotypes of Latina women or the excessive use of Asian women in fetish pornography. The bodies of non-white women suffer exceptionally under the male gaze.
But I think T— and I got sidetracked. I don’t think men like T– will ever come around to the idea that repeated, unwanted advances are sexual harassment and that this behavior is based on the idea that women can be possessed and lack the power to say no. Or maybe I’m wrong and he CAN be enlightened, but ultimately, that isn’t what we started off arguing. The issue at hand here was that when a lesbian tells a man she isn’t interested BECAUSE SHE IS GAY, he gets angry. And that anger is on the same continuum with rage. The kind of rage that kills women like Sakia Gunn, a fifteen year old queer woman of color who was stabbed to death for rebuffing the advances of a stranger. The kind of rage that gives me flashbacks to waking up in the hospital when the last thing I remember is being outed to a group of men I didn’t know.
When a woman tells a man, “no thanks, I’m a lesbian,” he has no right to be angry. He does not own this woman or any other.