Tracey Rose Interview

January 27, 2009

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?

Anti-Groping Subway Campaign on Hold

July 21, 2008

The wonderful ladies of HollaBackNYC wrote a great piece in the New York Daily News about the MTA’s anti-groping campaign going on hold apparently for fear of inadvertently encouraging more groping…

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“Someone at the MTA seems worried about exposing the dirty underbelly of the city’s transportation network. They’d rather ignore it – and hope that it’ll go away. That’s a little like hoping the rats on the tracks will vanish if we avert our eyes every time they rear their beady little eyes.

Subway ads will work. First and most importantly, they will formalize the idea that subway groping is unacceptable. That will lead New York City women, like their Boston counterparts, to feel comfortable in calling out lewd pervs on their behavior. A likely rise in the number of incidents reported will be something to celebrate – because it’ll mean a rise in the number of men caught in the act.”

Definitely read the full article, it’s a good one and if you live in NYC, have ever visited NYC and taken the subway, or are just passionate about ending street harassment, write to the MTA and ask that they run the subway ad campaign.