The Patriarchy is Still Personal

My context for street harassment is a little bit different, and I’m hoping that will change the conversation.

When I see women in the street, I’m insulted. Beautiful women command your attention. Taking time out of my day just to ponder the mystery of beauty, the possibility of limitlessness. It feels like a disaster, and neurons crash into each other, and yes I enjoy every second of it. Yes, women make me feel like that. And yes, I fall in love at least once a day.

Not love at first sight. Not puppy love. Real love. It’s true. That kind of love that shows you yourself, is honest about flaws, and still loves on. Women every day all over Beautiful Brooklyn give me this, and they don’t even know it. As a woman-loving woman, this is real love. As a masculine body, this poses a problem. I’ve had to question every street interaction I’ve ever had with women since really coming into myself.

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh – Stop Telling Women To Smile

See even as a woman I can’t make all of the compliments and thoughts of first dates into a coherent line, and bring it to another woman without her being put off. 

And I really thought it would work whenever because I’m a woman. But it doesn’t. Rarely. Yet I’m still drawn to them, that doesn’t go away. And I’m torn between the feminism yelling at me it’s street harassment and that feeling of living life on the edge that says just go after what you want.

Just for clarification: There’s a difference between going after what you want, and going after everything you see just to go after something.

Still I want to win, she got my attention so I want hers. This is the Patriarchy. If I never open my mouth will she ever know how utterly beautiful I think her hair is today? This is a false narrative of how relationships *should* work.

If I never stop and holla will she ever know that I think she’s attractive? This is none of our business.

Yeah, right. I know my own endgame.

There’s always more wrapped in a compliment coming off the street. And the bottom line is, if she’s as flawless as I’m making her out to be, she has someone, multiples probably, telling her this already. And if she’s anything like the women I actually want to date, she does not need me, a stranger, to tell her in public. People that know her, care about her, and are in her life let her know.

And unfortunately if she’s really, Gawd, sooooo beautiful, she’ll also be catcalled by someone else, today.

That’s the reality. I’m never going to be the only one saying it. I’m ‘competing’ with men of all types, guys she knows at work, people in her neighborhood. Fine. I try to talk myself up anyway, because I’m a woman, it’s different.

I’m different, because I want to make black women feel special. But really, that’s not any better. The problem is patriarchy. That sense of entitlement that comes with a being born with a social advantage. The idea that I can impose anything I think, feel, or feel obligated to say, onto any woman at any time, in any place without consequences.

Even when it’s obscure, patriarchy is threatening.

I’ve done it recently. I guise myself, thinking it’s better coming from another woman, but I still have the privilege of walking home at night and not hearing cat-calls and minimizing the very real danger of rape or abduction.

As long as that threat exists for women, in the everyday environment, none of my comments will be welcome.

As a sociologist I’m fascinated by the exchange. What goes through me, every time I see women that stop my entire world that I want to stop theirs. Isn’t once enough? In other situations, I’ve actually stepped in when women were being catcalled. When I’m with my friends it is even more grossly contradictory. There’s a part of me that is *still patriarchal (after all this time..smh), ready to throw my values away or at least deflect.

There is potential in every meeting.

Unfortunately, women aren’t allowed to take it, because it could be roofied. We of the masculine persuasion kill the seeds of beautiful pleasant interactions all the time. I’d love to live in a world where women walk up to me, ask for my number based on my attractiveness and her feeling just right.

That could exist! But in this world, why the hell would women ever feel comfortable when everything that comes out of a man’s mouth is condemned by patriarchy?

So the ultimate question for me and maybe some men, is what to do? I know that we actually can make a difference and offer security when asked, or when harassment happens around us. We can also keep holler’n and keep trying to make the magic happen. But really ‘how many times has it actually worked, and after that, how many times has it worked out?

And after that how can we put our desires above the women we court and call ourselves their equals?

That conversation between brothers, of all types, needs to happen in public. As long as public spaces feel unsafe for #yesallwomen we’re all losing. For now, I’m keeping my urges where they need to be, off of the public streets and into mutual places where women can opt-in to my conversation. In the meantime, I hold on to the complements and the suave, because the right time and place is never on the street.

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