Trigger Warning: violence and sexual assault will be discussed**
This past week, the news and social media were in a frenzy about all of the horrible things happening in our country (well, there’s always horrible things happening in this country). The topics that resonated the most with me, however, are all of the stories that involved women, be it Black women, Asian women, other women of color, or white women and the harm men have caused them. Each story triggered an emotion that I’ve felt in the past with men. The events were: 1.) the six Asian women murdered in Atlanta, 2.) the rape and death of Christine Englehardt, the woman from Pennsylvania who was visiting Miami, Florida for spring break, and 3.) Da’Naia Jackson, the wife of self-proclaimed relationship guru, Derrick Jackson.
Living in a patriarchal society, we’ve been socialized to believe that men are the end all be all when it comes to power. We see how men, regardless of race, are treated in various settings versus women. Look at what’s happening at the NCAA Tournaments for March Madness. The male athletes have state-of-the-art workout equipment while the women have a few free weights and open space. Women still make less than men across a number of careers with Black women being paid less than white men and Black men. By design, our nation was built for men and women continue to fight for our rights and our right to be safe. All while the fight for equity is still happening, we continue to see men abuse and harm women in some of the worst ways possible. The three aforementioned situations are just a few examples.
Now, before I get into these, I want to acknowledge something. The way Black women experience life is not fully the same as other women due to our race, gender, and life experiences. Not all of the women I reference here are Black but I resonate with them from the standpoint of our one shared identity of being women.
- The Murders of Six Asian Women: Since the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic, there have been approximately 3,800 hate crimes committed against Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities around the United States. As we all know, that number is probably significantly higher but there may be fear of reporting these acts of violence. Xenophobia is as American as baseball. It existed long before COVID-19. Google can tell you some cliff notes on what happened but I urge you to do your own research. But what stood out to me most was that many of these stories about these attacks were about women, not all of them, but many. I began to think about how sexism played a role in these attacks. In a patriarchal society, we believe women to be the weaker sex and unable to defend and fend for ourselves. Because of these messages being fed to us literally every day, our biases towards women play out in the violence against them. These attackers may have thought these women were an easy target. And it’s terrible to think about. Then the news about the six Asian women who were gunned down in their salons by a white male terrorist really broke me. Why would this cowardes man kill them? I wondered if those women felt helpless or if they had time to think at all. I mourned and I thought back to the times I’d been violently attacked by a man and how helpless I felt in those moments. I’m anxiously waiting for the state of Florida to mail me my concealed carry license so I can carry my legally purchased firearm with me to protect myself when I’m out.
- Christine Englehardt, the woman from Pennsylvania who was visiting Miami, Florida for spring break: Christine Englehardt was a 24-year-old white woman from Pennsylvania who traveled to Miami, Florida this spring break. She was alone and met two, young, Black men who ultimately drugged her, raped her, robbed her, and probably killed her. An autopsy is underway to determine if the drugs they gave her aided in her death. They met her at a restaurant, drugged her, went back to her hotel room as she was stumbling, and committed erroneous crimes against her. Those men belong under the jail forever. I think about how many times I’ve traveled alone or been out by myself and have been approached by men. I recall how nicely I try to let them down and communicate that I’m not interested. I remembered a time when I was at a bar in Wisconsin, this man kept touching my thighs while he was talking to me. I politely asked him to stop and he proceeded to call me “bitch” and he questioned why he couldn’t touch me. He berated me some more after I told him he doesn’t have a right to my body and then he finally walked away. I then thought back to the sexual violence I experienced in my past. The type of violation that no one else can feel. I mourn for Christine the same way I do those Asian women in Atlanta.
- Da’Naia Jakcson, the wife of self-proclaimed relationship guru, Derrick Jackson: First of all, when I saw people on twitter talking about Derrick Jackson the other day, I rolled my eyes so hard. If you don’t know who Derrick Jackson, just Google him and go on YouTube to watch him give trash advice to women about what type of man they need in their lives. This man has been around for years making these videos and I never fell into the trap. I knew it was all cap all along (“It was Agatha All Along”). So, Derrick allegedly got caught cheating, he made a video saying it was a sexual relationship with one of his former women but it wasn’t a sexual relationship. It sounded as strange as I typed it. But then he comes out with an apology video with his wife, Da’Naia, by his side. I mean he was squeezing the hell out of this woman’s hand. Da’Naia was dressed in a Black shirt, some sweatpants, a bonnet, and had this uncomfortable look in her eyes. And I’m watching this video and feeling a tremendous amount of second-hand humiliation. I was humiliated because I’m listening to Derrick parade his actual sexscapades around, barely letting Da’Naia speak, and I’m feeling all around angry at the entire situation. First, it’s like, “don’t you dare film me with my bonnet on while you over here ‘cleaned up’ for the ‘Gram.” And then it’s like Black women we do not have to stay in relationships with serial cheaters. We don’t have to take them back. I understand, I’m single, I probably shouldn’t have an opinion on this, BUT, I do have an opinion. There’s no rule saying that you have to stay with someone or in a marriage after infidelity. Every relationship I’ve been in, I’ve been cheated on and I chose to stay. I remember how hard it was to work through that situation and how diminishing it felt. I stayed because I thought I had to because good women are supposed to stand by their man. But we don’t have to stand by and pretend we’re fine with what happened. You can forgive someone and still not continue to be with that person. I get that it works for some and many couples can bounce back. Beyonce and her husband, for example, went through a whole situation and no one knew about it until she forgave him. The Queen is a strong one for that, to be honest. But I’m saying that there’s no reason for us to have to stay. I genuinely believe cheating is a choice and if you chose to cheat on me, then you don’t respect me. But, in that same breath, I mourn for Da’Naia’s ultimate healing within herself and whatever she decides to do moving forward.
Although these are only three instances, there are so many more. I know that all men aren’t like the filth we’ve seen from these three instances but the conversation has to be had. The physical and emotional abuse women have to endure at the hands of men is tired.
I love being a woman, a Black woman, at that. It’s a privilege AND it’s risky business.
We have a lot at stake as far as safety and our reputation. Regardless, we need to be protected at all costs. We’re going to always try and protect ourselves but parents who have male identifying children need to assist in teaching non-violence, consent, and respect.
❤ Queen T