a little link love 8.6.14

Renisha Mc Bride1. it’s an age-old strategy that defense attorneys attempt to criminalize the victim of a crime. however, in the murders of unarmed black people this strategy has been a ploy to categorize the victims based upon prevailing stereotypes.  clothing, loud music, marijuana, alcohol and “menacing behavior” were all made relevant in the murders of tryavon martin, jordan davis, darius simmons and now renisha mcbride.  syreeta mcfadden writes for the guardian that “renisha mcbride’s killer wants the jury to think that she was the real criminal.” in her piece, she highlights research around implicit bias and society’s perceptions of blackness that make me wonder if justice will ever be served for the senseless murders by black people by whites.

2. as an nfl player, you get a longer suspension for smoking pot than uppercutting your spouse. shocking i know, but ray rice received a mere slap on the wrist after news emerged that he knocked out his wife in an atlantic city elevator. when sportscaster stephen a. smith seemed to condone rice’s actions by stating the need for women to be held accountable for provoking men, domestic violence advocates around the world rolled over in their graves. professor earl smith writes for the huffington post that the problem is a sports industry and society that has allowed a harmful definition of masculinity to run amok.

3. it’s refreshing to see sociopolitical commentary wrapped in humor and comedian aamer rahman is one of the best. you might remember his standup routine critiquing imperialism went viral last year, and he continues to be a conscious entertainer ridiculing NATO, israel, western governments and american pop icons during sold-out shows.  check him out in an interview with ceasefire.


for girls who have been sexually harrassed on the metro when human decency was not enuf

harassmentsomething terrible happened.  last weekend, i was getting on the metro and a man touched my arm.  completely wrapped up in a funny text message, i didn’t turn around to inquire about the touch’s origin, but instead cursorily acknowledged the man’s apology.  the train platform is busy on saturdays and with metro doors that will enclose you like the jaws of life, shoving and pushing is common while folks are clamoring to get on the train.

my favorite seat on the train was free — you know the one that’s off in the corner behind the glass partition — and the unwarranted toucher sat right beside me.  being from the south, my first response was to look at him and smile to acknowledge his presence, but then things got uncomfortable.  this dude sat really close to me.  long legs stretched out, his body was almost touching mine.  also, there were empty seats all over the train, and everybody knows the unspoken metro rule requiring single passengers to sit alone whenever possible.

i made a mental note to move at the next stop, but then it happened.  i glanced over and this random person was watching a video of a man masturbating on his cellphone.  shock and embarrassment entered my body.  i shook my head in disbelief and quickly looked away.  obviously committed to his sexual harassment, when i looked again, this poor excuse for a human being was in fact watching porn on his phone while invading my personal space.  in real effing life.

i got up and quickly found a seat on the other side of the train, but the image lingered in my head all day.  what bothered me the most was my immediate response.  the first thing that crossed my mind was how i had been responsible for this guy’s actions: i shouldn’t have smiled at him, i should have glared at him when he touched my arm, i should have moved immediately when he sat beside me, i should have been paying more attention to my surroundings, maybe my shorts were too short…all bullshit.  as a feminist, i’m sensitive to the rhetoric that tells women their victimization is their fault.  however, while i can intellectualize this, my emotional response was to blame myself.  in a society that hypocritically teaches puritanical values and conditions women to submit themselves to male power, i faced my conditioning head on.   how had i, of all people, thought this was MY fault?

for all the women who have faced male predators on public transportation, let’s get this clear:  we do not deserve it.  we alone have agency over our bodies and the immediate space surrounding them.  our clothing and demeanor do not give another person the right to violate us.  sexual harassment and victimization are acts of power and dominance, and nothing else.

if you’ve been sexually harassed on the metro file a complaint here.  who knows if anything will come of it, but i feel a bit less vulnerable after sharing my story.