Archive for January, 2011

Facebook Friending Ghosts of the Past

January 18, 2011

A few weeks ago, I received a Facebook friend request from a man I’d known in college.

Someone I’d avoided for most of my college years.

It wasn’t always that way. [Name Redacted, or NR for short] was smart, funny and charming. And attractive. He was built like a linebacker, big and tall. We girls wondered if NR was big and tall all over.

I decided to find out.

After weeks of flirtation, one night NR invited me to his room. There was alcohol. There was an attempt – a fumbled, bungled and ultimately unsuccessful attempt. Equipment failure played a major factor.

There was the late night walk of shame back to my side of the dorm.

And the next day and the weeks that followed, there were the rumors of how wild I was, what a freak I was, how NR had been all up in that.

The big, baggy shirts I liked to wear at night provided unexpected grist for the rumor mill. I had taken a few of my father’s old shirts to college. At night, I would don one of Daddy’s shirts over a pair of shorts or sweatpants.

I was wearing shorts under one of Daddy’s shirts the night I went to NR’s room. Of course, the rumor mill said I went to NR’s room wearing just the shirt, with no pants or panties underneath.

I never knew if NR initiated the rumors or just went along with everyone else’s assumptions. I could have ruined his reputation by disclosing the equipment failure issue. But I just wanted to forget the whole thing. 

The rumor mill wasn’t about to let that happen. Thanks to the rumors, I started getting all sorts of unwanted attention from NR’s boys.

One of NR’s boys, however, appeared sympathetic. He claimed not to believe what everyone was saying about me. He invited me to his room to talk, and I tearfully confessed what really happened, and didn’t happen, with NR — all the embarrassing details.

Sympathy Guy claimed to be upset and angry about NR’s lies. He pretended to be a friend, a big brother.

And then Sympathy Guy raped me. He forced me to perform oral sex on him that night. I will never forget the gagging, choking, spitting; the feeling like I’d never breathe again. I felt lucky he didn’t force intercourse as well. I begged him to let me leave, and he did.

Although I didn’t press charges, I didn’t keep quiet about what Sympathy Guy had done. The rumor mill got the word out. I guess not even a ho deserved that.

I steered clear of NR, Sympathy Guy — the whole lot of them — from then on. Thanks to them, I also learned to stay out of men’s dorm rooms at night.

Although I can’t hold NR responsible for what Sympathy Guy did, they are forever linked in my thoughts. Sympathy Guy’s flawed logic went like this:

a) According to his boy NR, I was a ho.

b) A ho could be had, without the need to question whether she wants it or not. Either she always wants it, because she’s a ho, or it doesn’t matter whether or not she wants it, because she’s a ho. Therefore, he was entitled to shove his penis down my throat.

When I got NR’s friend request, I thought about accepting it, as a symbol of forgiveness. NR had made a stupid, young adult mistake. His lies led to Sympathy Guy raping me, but I couldn’t say he was the cause of the rape. And anyway, it all happened such a long time ago.

Furthermore, what does being Facebook friends really mean, anyway? I have over 600 Facebook friends, and communicate with less than 100 of them. Accepting NR’s friend request wouldn’t mean we have to actually become friends.

On the other hand, forgiving NR doesn’t require me to feel differently about what he did. NR let people think we’d had some kind of wild, crazy sex rather than admitting we didn’t have sex at all. I have a right to still feel some kind of way about that.

Forgiving NR also doesn’t mean I have to allow him access to me and my contacts — or expose myself to his. For all I know, NR and Sympathy Guy might still be connected, and Sympathy Guy is someone I have no desire to hear from ever again.

No matter how insignificant Facebook can be, it’s still a level of access to my personal life that I have the right to control.

While I mulled it all over, the friend request disappeared.

If NR tries to friend me again, perhaps I’ll link him to this post. I’m not seeking an apology. I’m not even sure an apology would change how I feel. His friend request reminded me of an unpleasant and painful learning experience.

My own daughter is only 4 years younger than I was when I had my encounters with NR and Sympathy Guy. I will share this story with her, in hopes that she can learn from her mom’s mistakes.

And if NR and Sympathy Guy have daughters, I hope they teach them to avoid young men who are like the young men they each used to be.

Our Bodies, Ourselves

January 2, 2011

So it seems Twitter gets a real kick out of posting pictures of grotesque female genitalia.

Especially when the genitalia in question belong to black women.

In 2010, I saw more pictures of sloppy vaginas than I knew existed.  Someone decided 2011 needed to start with another picture of an unappealing vagina.  No, I’m not linking to the pictures.  You can find them, if you are so inclined, by searching the hashtag #thatvagina on Twitter.

I don’t see the amusement value in these pictures.  If folks were posting pictures of wretched-looking genitals for equal amusement value — if I could count the same number of two-inch crooked penises as I could count human vaginas that looked like they could birth elephants, I’d be less offended. 

But no.  Whenever someone posts a penis pic, unless it’s a celebrity penis worth making fun of, it’s usually large and quite erect.  These posts usually elicit “ahhhs” and queries about the owner’s contact information, as opposed to the derision reserved for the vaginas.

The great penis pictures and the bad vagina pictures often are posted, commented on, and retweeted by young black women.  This baffles me.  I can’t figure out why young black women would make fun of women’s, and especially black women’s, anatomy.

As a med student friend of mine pointed out, some of the pictures could be used by students doing an ob-gyn rotation to illustrate a broad variety of medical conditions: hormonal imbalances or prolapsed uteruses, for example.  Some could benefit from better lighting or camera angles.  Some simply show the natural effects of age and childbirth.  A doctor would likely confirm that most of these pictures depict normal vaginas.

But that’s not fun.  Or funny.  So we pass the pictures around and say “ewwww!” and make jokes about what our own bodies look like.

The ignorance is staggering.

I had a great discussion with my Twitter friend @NOLAQueenD about this.  I am going to borrow her words, because she summed it up so much better than I could:

“Geez, where to begin? 1. We are sadly very ignorant of our anatomy. It seems like the only people that have seen more of it are our lovers and OB/GYNs. So many women won’t even look at their own stuff.

2. In our hyper-sexualized porn culture, we [black women] see more white women fully naked on display so we’ve become used to seeing pink ones and maybe even a few light brown ones but not ours so much, so maybe we view that as more ideal?

3. we fail to take into consideration the factors that may cause our stuff to look the way it does, like hormones. we don’t even know because we either never learned or weren’t paying attention when it was taught.

4. we’re so catty and so used to attacking each other that we just do it without thinking of the impact.”

@NOLAQueenD went on to say:

“I am a huge proponent of ‘listening’ to your body. the more in tune you become to your body the more you can sense the subtlest change, right down to feeling an egg release. Change in mood, change in skin, change in gastrointestinal functions, change in body fluid consistency. We all need to quit playin around and learn about these things.”

This has nothing to do with politics or traditional feminism.  For the record, @NOLAQueenD is a staunch anti-Obama conservative who frequently questions feminist messages on Twitter.  It has everything to do with logic, self-knowledge, and self-respect. 

If some white person were going around posting these kinds of pictures for sport, we’d have a fit.  People would go on for days about the Venus Hottentot and black women’s bodies being used for entertainment value and on and on…yet we’re doing it to ourselves.

And it really needs to stop.

Notably, Sara Baartman, the “Hottentot Venus,” was an object of European fascination not solely for the size and appearance of her buttocks, but for the size and appearance of her external genitalia, which were preserved for study long after her death at age 26. 

Today, Sara Baartman’s vagina would be posted and retweeted for laughs on Twitter by black women who have no idea what “normal” looks like, and who think Kegels can reverse the effects of nature.

I tweeted last night, “Imma need black female Twitter to study female sexual reproductive anatomy before posting any more vadge pics.” 

I’ll add history to that as well.

2010 In Review

January 2, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The average container ship can carry about 4,500 containers. This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2010. If each view were a shipping container, your blog would have filled about 4 fully loaded ships.

In 2010, there were 45 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 64 posts. There were 38 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 20mb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was July 27th with 409 views. The most popular post that day was Why Women Upgrade.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were twitter.com, facebook.com, blacknbougie.com, stumbleupon.com, and clareified.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for jamie mccourt, carolyn edgar, big booty, nicole suriel, and biggest booty.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Why Women Upgrade July 2010
13 comments

2

Child/Spousal Support Awards of the Rich and Famous, and You May 2010
15 comments

3

Upgrade Him? Girl, No July 2010
43 comments

4

Breaking Up (With Friends) Is Hard To Do July 2010
18 comments

5

For Colored Girls – A Review October 2010
10 comments