A few months ago I posted the short documentary “Black Woman Walking” by Tracey Rose. She was kind enough to do an interview for me for my book, but I also found this recent interview she did for All Diva Media. Here is an excerpt. I definitely recommend reading the full text:
We know that we live in a culture where women are seen as sex objects but what can we as women do about it? Are we just helpless victims who need to learn how to ignore crass behavior?
No, I don’t believe we’re helpless victims or anything. I think the more we discuss this amongst ourselves and with men in our communities, the less we normalize this behavior. That’s part of the issue, how seemingly “normal” it all is. It’s a socially tolerable form of violence.
I’ve had women come up to me crying after a screening, because they remember how psychologically damaged they felt in their teen years and how this affected their view of the men in their communities thereafter. For something so “seemingly small,” this can have major repercussions on our most basic interactions.
Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
I was raised by a father who, as a kid, I would always write off as overprotective and paranoid because of his preoccupation with sexual violation, but I later realized that he understood that a black female body was looked at as prey in the world.
There are few instances in my life that solidified that view for me more than the harassment I encountered on city streets. You finally understand that on a basic level, you are just a body to some people, not a student, a daughter, a friend, or a wife, but merely a body with breasts and an opening between her legs. And to see that is really horrifying, but then you remember that we live in a country, where systemic rape of black women was justified, that in a court of a law, it was considered impossible to rape a black woman, her violation legally could not be considered rape. The undercurrent of that consciousness doesn’t go away just cause you get the right to vote. It lives in our soil. It lives in our language.
Many more people are willing to talk about street harassment than are willing to talk about domestic violence, rape, or the sex trafficking of minors. But isn’t the undercurrent underneath those things the same consciousness that creates them all–the idea that women, especially women of color, are fundamentally prey?