Within the comments section of my post “Black Women x The Streets x Harassment” , which Latoya has up on Racialicious, Gregory Butler explained the connection between being protected and being dominated in a straight forward and profound way. He writes,
It took me years to reach the point where I could defy the social pressure to ?Be a Real Man? ? and it was not an easy process to learn how to treat women like human beings rather than objects.
That?s a sad commentary on how masculinity and manhood are defined in our society ? but yet and still that is very very real.
And for the men of our race, devalued as we are in all other areas of life, it?s easy to cling to being a ?Real Man? and all the abusive sexist bullshit that goes along with that.
Incidentally, that whole ?protecting? women by walking on the outside when you walk down the street, holding doors ect is part of that same sexist idea about ?being a Real Man? ? so I wouldn?t be so quick to embrace that form of patriarchal masculinity either.
Just read the discussion thread on this article http://bit.ly/9g2Y00 and you?ll see men defending that man walks on the outside custom basically because that position makes it easier for them to fight other men
Of course, when guys fight over a woman, it?s really not about ?protecting? her at all ? it?s about a man asserting and defending his property rights over that woman when those property rights are being infringed on by another man
Again, I apologize for misunderstanding your post ? but I stand by my opposition to chivalry, which is NOT the opposite of sexism, but merely a more polite form.
This hit home.
I once had an ex who said that if a dude said something to me on the street that he wouldn’t fight him.
I thought this was absurd.
I also come from a place where people get socked or even shot at for stepping on the wrong persons sneakers or giving the wrong person a mean mug or looking at the wrong persons lady friend.
Violence was always ready to pop off in East Oakland, California.
Lets hear this again,
when guys fight over a woman, it?s really not about ?protecting? her at all ? it?s about a man asserting and defending his property rights over that woman when those property rights are being infringed on by another man her at all”
This issue of ownership is what my ex was talking about at the time.
The basic assumption that he was challenging was that I was not a piece of property to be defended or fought over. This seemed like it made sense on one level, but on another level it was absurd, because it went against much of which I was socialized to accept.
However knowing what I know now, in 2010 about the legal history of women White women and Black women as property in this US society? (I just completed a class on Race and Conquest in Colonial America), I KNOW that there is connection between ideologically women being seen as property and women being legally treated as property,? which is rooted in English Common Law doctrine La Feme Covurt.
According to Wikipedia the? La Feme Covurt doctrine says that,
…husband and wife were one person as far as the law was concerned, and that person was the husband. A married woman could not own property, sign legal documents or enter into a contract, obtain an education against her husband’s wishes, or keep a salary for herself. If a wife was permitted to work, under the laws of coverture she was required to relinquish her wages to her husband. In certain cases, a woman did not have individual legal liability for her misdeeds, since it was legally assumed that she was acting under the orders of her husband, and generally a husband and wife were not allowed to testify either for or against each other.
Keeping the legal history in mind I am going to back to the streets and patriarchy.
Over Memorial day weekend, I was reminded of this notion of protection
and domination isn’t clear cut.
My intuition is cold, and so I try and follow it as often as a can.
On Memorial day, I was walking up 8th ave to 14th street to
get my favorite taco’s from the taco truck with my gentleman
I was scantily dressed. Tank top, poom poom shorts, flip flops.
It was about 90 degrees that day.
I saw a man walking towards us, kinda bent, at the spine at a 40 degree angle.? He was off his meds and on something else. Disheveled. Thin. But lightweight diesel. Kind of like a zombie with a moderate “pimp” walk.
He reminded me of that reoccurring junkie character in the Spike Lee movies.
I knew that if he was close enough to me, he would try to touch? or grab me.
I also knew that if he did that somebody was going to go to jail that day.
Within a split second, I told Pepe, “Blood move to my left side” and we switched places.
With the quickness (and I was glad b/c sometimes he can’t hear me and I would have hated to have had to repeat myself.)
I was closer the street. Pepe was between us. Pepe ain’t a little dude.
As the addict man walk by us he yelled out “Man you suppose walk on the outside her near the street.”
I was relieved.
I followed my intuition.
My rationale is that if he was willing to talk to a grown man like that then he would also be willing to try me.
I had a few questions in my head after this happened.
How was patriarchy working in this situation? Did I have to choose between the possibility of one person dominating me and being protected by another?? In some ways yes.
Do I feel like I did the right thing?? Yes. Under the circumstances.
I also think about how these issues are not clear cut.
When was the last time, maneuvering on the street that you followed or failed to follow your intuition? What happened?
What do you think of Gregory’s idea that “when guys fight over a woman, it?s really not about ?protecting? her at all ? it?s about a man asserting and defending his property rights over that woman when those property rights are being infringed on by another man”?
Any other thoughts?