"Don't touch my hair." -Solange
First, this blog came little too easily.
I am an educator and recently, I've been thinking about the ways in which educators lay the foundation for an individual's long-term success. Educators, especially early childhood and elementary school educators, are tasked with ensuring the academic preparedness of our students. However, early childhood and elementary school educators are particularly important in that our role is to also assist in the creation of the social and mental preparedness of our students. In our students, we impart more than just mathematical knowledge, but lifelong tools for success that (we hope) will assist in the development of well-rounded children and eventually, adults. I mention these rules now, because although the majority of them were learned in infancy, they can (and must) be applied in our adult life in order to produce successful, socially capable, and boundary-minded adults.
I have two older brothers so interacting with other children was not only something I did at school, but at home, too. Growing up, many of the rules that I learned in school were often repeated at home. For example:
If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. This rule was never difficult for me when I was younger, but the older that I've gotten, the more I've had to be conscious about the power of the tone of my voice, my facial expressions and my language.
Mind your business. I'm still working on this one, so let's just move on...
Say "_______." This is an important one! Let's be real, children can be rude, but it's not because they're bad people, it's because they probably haven't been taught the importance of having manners. When a child wants something that you have, they usually try grabbing it. When they want to be heard within a conversation, they do so by inserting themselves into the conversation without giving anyone notice beforehand. Growing up, being told to say "please," "excuse me," "may I," and "thank you" made a huge difference. It's a skill that transcends childhood. In fact, the best adults use these words on a daily basis (go figure!).
Ask nicely. Honestly, this was more of a pro-tip than a lesson in manners. Chances are, if you ask for something nicely, you'll increase your chances of getting it. Duh.
Keep your hands to yourself - especially at the club. Okay, so maybe the adults in our lives never added in the last portion of the phrase. However, I do know that at some point in our developmental stages, we've all heard this phrase. Whether it was directed to us, or to the touchy child who sat next to us; I guarantee that all around the world, no matter what language, adults and children are familiar with this phrase.
I mention phrase #5 because I think it's time to discuss club etiquette. Now, I've only recently started going to clubs. I'd probably say that I started clubbing within the last year or so. The highlights of my clubbing experiences were in Madrid, Malta, and most recently, Miami. While all three cities presented starkly different and intriguing club scenes, each retained one glaringly obvious similarity: all of the men at these clubs don't follow rule #5. Maybe I'm generalizing here, maybe. However, I feel confident in saying that drunk men, and sober men for that matter, love to touch women while at the club. While some touches that women experience while at the club are completely consented to, many are not. It's important to note that not all touches are the same either. There's a few different types of touches that occur at the club: the fetishization touch, the "let's get it on" touch, and the "you're standing in my way" touch. The latter isn't really the issue here, I'm definitely guilty of using this touch when trying to make my way further into, or out of, a crowded club. My issue is with the fetishization touch and the "let's get it on" touch.
Now, if you're a WOC, you have most likely felt the fetishization touch during a variety of your clubbing experiences, both within the U.S. and abroad. For me, Madrid was where these touches occurred most frequently. Apparently, Black people are an oddity in Madrid (we're really not, we're there just in small numbers) and because Madrileños don't seem believe in the concept personal space, I found myself experiencing quite a few fetishization touches. For example, one night a group of friends and I were at a club called Joy. We were dancing and minding our own business when a (very) drunk man bumped into my friend, nearly knocking her over. He then thought it was acceptable to apologize, for nearly knocking my friend down, by petting her on the head. Just to make sure the apology was well-rounded, he then proceeded to run his hands through her braids. I'm telling y'all... I can't make these things up.
The former, however, is a touch that I think all women have, or will experience at some point in their lives. This touch bothers me the most because it doesn't stem completely from ignorance like the first touch. This touch stems from sheer entitlement. The "let's get it on" touch requires for the person touching you (let's call them the Toucher), to assume that you (let's call you the Touched), want to interact with the Toucher. It's a confident move that completely disregards any notions of personal boundaries. It's an encroachment on your mental and physical well-being, and to be blunt, it's annoying and overdone. Usually, there's no context to these touches. There's never any flirting that went on previously or any prolonged eye contact that might have been misinterpreted somewhere along the night (not that either of these would make this touch acceptable). This is another level of "shooting your shot." At least, with shooting your shot, there's an understanding that missing the shot is completely possible. With the "let's get it on" touch, that doesn't really exist. Moreover, when a woman recoils from a either a "let's get it on" touch or a fetishization touch, it's usually the Toucher who has the audacity to act insulted. It's as if you offended them by expressing your disinterest and exercising your autonomy.
I'm tired of being touched at the club. I truly am. I love the drunken dances, the loud music, and the rush that you get after once you're in the club for the first two hours. Still, I think I'm allowed to want to not be assaulted on the dance floor. I'm prepared for those who will comment, "if you don't want to get touched, then don't go to the club," but I wonder.... is that why y'all go to the club - to get felt up? If so, I would reassess. Clubs are definitely places of sexual liberation. However, more times than not, clubs seem to be places of sexual assault and I am 100% over it.
When I'm at the club, do not touch. Keep your hands to yourself, or you might get popped.
*Disclaimer: God's good grace brought this blog to life.