Last night I went out to see a friend’s band at a BBQ joint in Pilsen. I expected to chill with my homegirl and laugh the night away as we always do. I expected to sneak and eat some brisket though I swear I’m vegetarian. I expected to see and connect with a few work friends. It all happened. Kinda. There was laughing, brisket and colleagues, but there were a couple of other things, too. Insert: The obnoxious guy who couldn’t stop making comments about my looks. “She reminds me of the movie Purple Rain and I keep thinking of Lake Minnetonka” or “Look at Janet [Jackson] over there.” I ignored it. I’m used to those who don’t know me (and the history of this thing called fierce) feasting upon my artistic swag. It’s nothing.
It became something at the end of the night, however. The band, Groove Witness, was in full flow, jamming. We wanted to stay and listen more, but it was hours past my ten o’clock bedtime and my homie had church in the morning. So, we got up and said our goodbyes to the new and old friends. I doled out hugs, as I usually do, but when I got to the guy who’d been making asinine comments half of the night, he hugged me by placing his hand under my coat and grabbing my ass, whispering some drunken babble like, “If only you didn’t have a husband.” My instinct kicked in and I grabbed, well, pinched the shit out of his hand, smile still plastered on my face whispering “get yo hands off me.” He then slapped me on the back as if we were both drunken old chums and quickly walked off. I said the rest of my goodbyes, while others were none the wiser about the quick exchange.
I told my girl immediately and she and I rolled our eyes and cussed fervently about “brown girl fantasies” and the fetishizing of our bodies by others. We soon parted in separate cars and I went home, fuming. I am usually asleep by ten. I got home by midnight. I couldn’t sleep until two-ish, then woke up at 7:34 in the morning, still incensed. Did this motherfucker really touch me? Did this motherfucker violate my precious body? Did this motherfucker lose his mind? All the yeses. He did. No one has touched me since I beat down a punk in college for doing the same. Clearly, he doesn’t know that he got the wrong one and that he missed a thrashing because I had my work face on. I was taught by my mama long ago that my body is mine. I have all the rights to it and I relinquish that power to no one. The irony is that I had just had “the talk” with my thirteen year old daughter earlier that day about her right to her body and her right to say “no.” A further irony is that I direct The Vagina Monologues in five days and the whole show is about ending violence against women. Here I am trying to empower the women around me and create loud, safe, beautiful spaces for our voices and a fool steps up to try and disempower me. Welp. That’s not how it will go down. Ever.
Do not let my work smile fool you. I give zeros fucks about calling you out. I will not be silent. I will not be your victim. Never touch my ass or any other part of my body again. I am furious and there will be consequences. You do not have a right to subject me nor any other person to your harassment and it is indeed sexual harassment. As a professor (or former one) at such an esteemed institution, I would have thought you knew better, were better. Alcohol is no excuse for your depraved behavior. You are grown. You should know better and if you don’t, you will very soon.
Now let me go somewhere and process this shit some more and calm myself and my husband down.
Angry Vaginas Unite. One.