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A Follow Up To Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault & Weight Gain: Facing Insensitivity

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Every blue moon, I see a comment on the site that causes me to stop the track. Sometimes, I just have to open things up for dialogue just because… some things should be thoroughly discussed.

In the post I wrote last September titled Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment, & Weight Gain: Facing Facts, I discussed the effects that street harassment, sexual harassment, sexual assault and the depression that stems from them all can affect a woman’s psyche. I discussed the fact that the depression compels a lot of us to eat emotionally. I specifically discused the proposition that a lot of us may have allowed ourselves to gain the additional pounds by erroneously thinking it’d convince potential harassers to leave us alone… y’know, because we’re fat now, and “fat women” never deal with sexual assault or harassment. A lot of us might’ve even learned the hard way, after gaining the weight, that “fat women” deal with a whole new class of harassers – both the ones who believe you to be property… only meant to be the receiver of their attention and little more, and the ones who take delight in harassing fat women, because, y’know… they’re fat. They’ll take it because that’s the only attention they ever get.

For clarity’s sake, that’s not what I think. It’s how harassers behave.

My post was therapeutic. I had released that drama and trauma from my life for almost a year prior to writing that post. Just so happening to see Tracy’s post made it click in my head that there is, in fact, a connection there. I’ve been sexually harassed. I’ve been sexually assaulted. I’ve accepted these things. I’ve learned to cope. And addressing these things has made me an infinitely better human being in the process.

That being said… while my post was therapeutic for me (although I’d kept my own sexual assault to myself until recently), the comments area of that post are rife with women sharing their experiences and how those experiences have affected them. It’s a collective 30+ comments full of women putting their vulnerabilities on display – talking about an extremely negative experience and how this negative experience put them on a path of self-destruction that they are now trying to work through. Do you know how hard it is to get a person – any person… a “strong Black woman,” at that – to be that publicly vulnerable? To humble themselves to that kind of lowest common denominator? So many of us struggle with the mere idea of admitting that we might need to even spend a little time self-reflecting…. public humility and vulnerability? Seriously?

I’m getting off track, here.

Last night, in the comments for this post about sexual/street harassment, this comment was left:

Good Day,

I hope this reply finds its reader in good health and spirits. As man I wanted to share with you my feelings regarding the concept of sacrificing health in order to avoid unwanted male attention.

Great thespians will tell you that they can play many any type of role with conviction because they have the compassion to tap into the soul and inner-being of the character. While I cannot identify with the situations expressed in your blog or by the author of the blog you linked above, I do have the capacity and compassion to identify with the sentiments and emotions from where these feeling are expressed.

With that said, I would like to caution anyone from sacrificing their health for any reason. This is imperative from many standpoints but I would delve into a few to try to obviate the urgency of my words.

First, I am not trying to discount the concepts of the original author but her post, in my opinion, revealed a woman that is very confrontational. The men represented in her blog post were extraordinarily disagreeable but I find it hard to believe that the majority of her experiences with Black Men are as described in her post. In fact, I would surmise that these are a few of the more memorable of the minority encounters with Black Men.

Also, the experiences she noted were so vile and attributed at such a frequency that it is apparent that her safety is perpetually compromised. Considering this predicament any rational person would have removed themselves from that situation.

I wrote the above to express that readers should be careful to not emotionally attach themselves to her experiences as she may not share your sensibilities or mental stability.

Secondly, I am of the belief that we have a social responsibility to be with one another. This is a responsibility that is becoming increasingly difficult due to health/weight issues prevalent in the black community.

While men are able to “love a woman for who she is,” black men cannot ignore the responsibility that we have to our offspring. The natural assumption is that an unhealthy person will reinforce unhealthy dietary practices to our children. This is a major concern and a primary deterrent when confronted with potential mates that are unhealthy.

Finally, assuming unhealthy dietary practices will, in effect, predetermine your pool of potential candidates. I am a 30 year old, well-educated, professional man and I can tell you from experience and from the discourse had with brothers of my ilk that there are only a handful of instances in which a black man will consider a serious relationship with an overweight woman. They are as follows:

• He is a big man himself
• He has children with her and she has gained weight
• He married her and she gained weight
• He has not achieved the same level of education as she has
• He does not have a similar financial status as she does

In short, sacrificing your health will only compound the problem. Many brothers will be immediately deterred from considering you as a potential candidate and you will predestine yourself to someone that is either himself unhealthy, feeling as though he is settling, less educated or broke.

I know my words are curt but the ideas and advice I express are from a place of love.

I’m going to personally and publicly offer my rebuttal because, quite frankly, I want this to be seen by as many women as possible. Not because I’m some man-hater who enjoys this, but because I believe when I know someone’s dropping shit on my plate and calling it steak… I have every right to show them what steak really looks like. I’ve no personal interest in this man in particular, but I have every interest in dealing with the insensitivity shown in this comment.

And yes, there is an abundance of insensitivity.

I cannot begin to express my disappointment in a person who, ostensibly, will never have to deal with sexual harassment – or the accompanying feeling of being objectified as someone’s property – and who can admit to never having these experiences… telling a woman that she is “too confrontational” in regards to these experiences he’s already admitted to not being able to have. If you’ve never been there and never WILL be there, how can you tell a woman how she should speak of it? “I find it hard to believe that the majority of her experiences with Black men are as described in her post.” Do you know? Do you know what her walk to and from work looks like? Do you know what it looks like outside of her front stoop? Outside of her job? Do you know what she deals with when she tries to go to the mall? Do you know what her life is like? Do you stand next to her and keep a running tally of how many times she encounters Black men and has the same experience? If you answered “No.” at least one time… you are wildly inappropriate.

All it TAKES is one time to frighten the hell out of you. That’s it – one time. There are women who’ve had GUNS pulled on them for rejecting a man’s advances! There are women who’ve been grabbed by the throat, chased, and RAPED for rejecting a man’s advances. That is what objectification looks like – you’re not a human. You’re not allowed to say no. You are to shut up and stand there and boost my ego by receiving my advances and responding accordingly. And while this isn’t exclusive to Black men, it is an especially disheartening issue for Black women because for some reason… the shit remains unchecked in the communities where we are most prevalent. Very few men are out there defending our honor, as if y’all have collectively decided we don’t have any honor worth defending or something.

For all of your efforts to tell Tracy – in SAT words and coated with sugar – that she is merely bitter and focusing on the negative instead of the good, how many MEN have you corrected when you see them harassing women? I’m not talking “My brother, that woman is a queen, respect her,” either. I’m talking “Damn, leave her alone dude, seriously.” How many times have YOU done that? How many times have you penned six or seven hundred words to tell your fellow “Black Men” to stop objectifying women? And when you are told “Yeah, well, if they’d stop objectifying themselves, it’d be easier,” do you remind yourself “Well, no woman has ever been exempt from being a victim of street harassment regardless of whether she’s in sweats, a suit, a habit or booty shorts… she is a human who deserves to be able to walk to the store in peace?” Do you say THAT to your fellow “Black Men?” Or do you sit on the Internet looking to tell women, once again, how to be women in a fashion that is acceptable to you?

“[B]e careful to not emotionally attach [your]selves to her experiences as she may not share your sensibilities or mental stability.”

Are we stupid, now, and need you to come tell us the obvious? We don’t have to share her sensibilities (or implied lack thereof) in order to understand the emotion behind them! We’ve ALL been there! I’ve received almost 60 e-mails about this blog post ALONE. The number of women who’ve shared their stories with me – cis-gendered AND trans-gendered – where they’ve become fed up, they’re self-medicating, they’re hurt, they’re scared, they’re frustrated, they’ve identified how this has stolen years of their lives, and they ADMIRE Tracy’s ability to turn those emotions back outward instead of inward and resulting in self-harm the way it has for them. To tell them “That bitch is crazy, don’t connect with her” is the same emotional manipulation that we see, every day, in various forms. It’s creepy, it’s gross, and it implies that we’re all plebians that needed YOU to come and rescue us from our emotional stupidity… in the comments section of a blog post that showed a heightened sense of emotional awareness long before you came by. Irony.

I have no interest in the idea that we “have a social responsibility to be with one another,” especially if that “responsibility” can be considered “difficult” because of a woman’s weight! I guess that responsibility ain’t THAT large, huh?

The last thing I’m going to say is pretty important. It speaks to something I’ve said before and very few women really took it to ear because many felt I was being insensitive myself, but maybe this’ll make it more plain.

Telling a Black woman that she isn’t allowed to be changed by her experiences, that she should “not identify with that bitch — she’s crazy” and then telling her that the weight she gained from her emotional shortcomings is the reason why she can’t get a quality man… in a post where she’s already broken down to the point of humility and ready to accept change? This is the mess I’m talking about when I say that I’m tired of Black women being treated like animals, not allowed to feel emotion.

How insensitive can you be, to talk about relationships in the comments to a post about women coming to grips with sexual assault? How insensitive can you be, to tell a woman to keep her weight in check so that she can get a man… in the same space where women are ALREADY ADMITTING emotional shortcomings that have made relationships difficult for them? Is there not a time and a place for everything? Should “getting a man” always be at the forefront of a Black woman’s mind? (I’m sure that mentality benefits you. Where the hell do you live? Atlanta?) Should a woman put this at the top of her priority list? Do you really think that getting and keeping “a serious relationship” should be mentioned in the same conversation as “I’ve been sexually harassed and it’s changed my idea of how I could and should interact with men?” It makes sense to tell a woman who’s already becoming newly aware of how her experiences have changed her relationships with men… “your fat ass is the reason why you can’t get a date now?” Word?

I see why it’s so hard for Black women to be vulnerable. We are rarely ever “allowed” the space to confront our emotions. When we confront our emotions, we are deemed “hysterical,” “bitter,” “emotionally unstable” as if the answer would be to HIDE those emotions. The hell? No – you CONFRONT those emotions so that you can figure them out and file them accordingly. THAT is how you COPE. Furthermore, THAT is how you COPE WITHOUT FOOD.

I love what I do. What I do reinforces what I’ve learned over the course of my weight loss journey, because I can see it in action. I see, in so many women, the things that I’ve struggled with and I see the mentalities that looked similar to mine on my path to emotional recovery. I see women who I believe may very well struggle, and I see women who are broken down to the point of developing eating disorders because they’re becoming afraid of food. The exposure to the human psyche that I’ve gained is immeasurably valuable.

That being said… I already know what’ll come from this: “Isn’t he right, though?” “She was kinda bitter.” “Didn’t you just blog about weight loss and relationships?”

To that, I reply… “His comments aren’t about ‘rightness.’ His comments are a problem of time and place – there is a time and a place for everything, and his lack of sensitivity is more indicative of a larger problem with how Black women are treated. Dare I say it, but his comments are almost as dehumanizing as the street harassment in and of itself. Is that radical? Yes. Some things require more than a demure nature, though, anyway.”

“She might be bitter – I can’t call it. What I can call, though, is that acknowledging the source of any emotion – as she very well may have been doing – is the path to emotional recovery. Plain and simple.”

“Yes, I blog about weight loss and relationships… but I just got done arguing the point that women should refrain from dating until they’ve taken emotional inventory of themselves. I’m not saying the two can’t and don’t go hand in hand. I don’t even tell the lie that weight doesn’t affect one’s amount or quality of potential suitors. I don’t bring that up in the context of ‘You let your ass get fat over this stupid stuff, and now you can’t get a man!’ though. Not ever.”

At this point, I don’t care whether or not that dude ever returns to my blog and sees this response. It’s far more important to me for women to see this kind of thing fleshed out in full, so that it can be filed away accordingly as the underhanded, self-serving, insensitive tripe that it is. And then we can go back to figuring out how to make delicious and healthy brownies or something.

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57 comments

CO April 26, 2011 - 10:56 AM

Amen.

Sarah April 26, 2011 - 11:02 AM

I LOVE AND AGREE WITH THIS RESPONSE, WHOLEHEARTEDLY AND COMPLETELY.

SMASH THE DERAILING TROLL.

That is all.

D April 26, 2011 - 11:18 AM

I wasn’t able to read the young woman’s comments but I think that you hit the nail on the head in saying black women aren’t allowed the space to be vulnerable. Coping with a sexual assault is a long term problem. A rape isn’t ever over and set aside. It causes all sorts of damage. This will manifest numerous ways, bitterness, overeating, promiscuity, and laundry list of other things. Implying someone is mentally ill because they are coping with a situation that would make anyone “unstable” is extremely insensitive. No wonder we don’t report or deal with out assaults.
Also, I’m of the opinion that people that haven’t been through an experience shouldn’t make judgements. I never understood the mental processing of an assault until my own. I couldn’t.
Lastly, in regards to the “relationship advise” an assault already damages self worth it isn’t helpful to add all the other reasons that a victim is undesirable.

Melissa April 26, 2011 - 11:24 AM

I don’t care how many long and pretty words he put his thoughts into (a dictionary does not a smart man make)… the fact remains that he believes, and is trying to convince me, that my station in life is all my fault; that the physical, emotional and mental pains I am dealing with from being sexually molested from between the ages of 5 and 8 are all my fault and something that I should get over. It’s all my fault that I nearly ruined my marriage of 5 years because I could not cope with what happened to me. And he probably believes subconsciously that it’s all my fault that I was molested in the first place… I must have been putting out that kind of vibe as a 5 year old.

Well, guess what Mr. professional, educated, well-adjusted black male… you need to take yourself back to school because you are ignorant and know nothing about psychology or social interaction. You also lack the ability to sympathize or empathize with someone else’s plight. I hope for your children’s sake your significant other never births a female.

My experiences are real, my fears are real, my reactions are real. This is my reality and if you can’t accept that, you have more problems than you know or are willing to admit.

I love this blog and the ladies that subscribe. I feel free and comfortable with the folks on here. I feel sorry for you that you cannot see or understand that. It’s actually pretty damn sad… especially to come to the realization that there are so many more out there just like you.

Finding a mate isn’t the sole or main purpose of having high self-esteem, self-worth and self-pride. It’s about loving oneself.

Oh and the last time I checked, looks weren’t the only quality you should possess when finding a mate. There a A LOT of ugly pretty people out… something tells me you’re one of them.

Divinely Naptural April 26, 2011 - 11:41 AM

It amazes me the simple arrogance the responder has. Let me tell you something as someone who has been around men “his” sorry caliber who think a degree and a sorry job makes them desirable, they are not nearly the “catch” they think they are. I wish more women would look for men who actually have strong GODLY character. Men need to be strong, show COMPASSION, and be protectors of women. All that foolishness he speaks lets me know he won’t work with his hands, and somehow thinks he is better than the men he categorizes as the only types who will marry an overweight woman. Ladies do NOT LISTEN TO THIS GARBAGE. This person under the guise of “concern” has only proven he is interested in a trophy wife, concerned with appearances, and their whole professional careers are based on their delusions of grandeur, superficiality, and getting glory for himself. The classic Narcissist, he shows he is only “loves” those who feed into his phony reality….

If you are reading this… GOOD LUCK WITH THAT.

Ladies RUN from a “man” like this… I speak from experience.

Thanks

Myonie September 12, 2012 - 4:45 PM

Well said *thumbs up*

Alovelydai April 26, 2011 - 11:48 AM

Many things bother me in this guy’s response however you responded in brilliant fashion. I just have one other point.

This idea that by airing our dirty laundry, being emotional, and empathizing with each others personal experiences regarding black men will somehow force a wedge between us is bogus. There is not a people on this planet more devoted to black men than black women. We simply want you to be accountable for the undesirable behaviors that hurt US more than any other group of people. I’ve re-read Tracy’s post as well as the newer comments. It seems that some men are suggesting that this discussion will turn us into a bunch of male hating women. C’mon what does one have to do with the other?

Finally, the idea that Tracy (perpetually targeted) should simply remove herself from those situations also misses the mark. How does one remove herself from being sexually harassed? Does she remove her womanhood?

V.W. April 26, 2011 - 11:58 AM

I loved your response to the ridiculous and sexist comments from this man.

To be fair, I guess he really did succeed at “‘obviating’ the urgency” of his own message. This man should go buy a dictionary and find out what words mean.

He should also stop trolling the web looking for opportunities to verbally shame and belittle Black women while pretending to give a damn about them.

Daphne April 26, 2011 - 12:14 PM

You know, the prevailing assumption is that the men who openly engage in sexual/street harassment are the dangerous ones. And they are. That goes without saying.

But what is even more insidious are black men like “Demetrius Smith,” and their arrogant, self-absorbed, entitled, puffed up because they’re special “educated” snowflakes – although, and let me emphasize for those ladies who have been gaslighted by such men, collectively, sometimes individually, hold almost NO POWER (socially, economically, or politically) – hence the pursuit of taking down black women a peg under the pretense of “keeping it real.” The ignorant fools even lack the self-awareness to understand why they do this, so when they’re called out by those women who haven’t fallen for the okey-doke – they denigrate or blatantly insult. They frequently come into spaces where black women are supposed to feel safe about exposing their vulnerabilities, because of their self-inflated ego and sense of importance. Guess what? A woman doesn’t have to be a “man-hater,” to be indifferent to their opinions when it comes to her health and well-being.

This man’s comment obviously isn’t about compassion or understanding. It’s just a long-winded, blustering, faux-intelligentsia way of saying black men of his “ilk” don’t like overweight women. Thanks to Captain Obvious. He sho’ told us de truf.

Thanks for the post, Erika. Some black women have been gaslighted by these types of black men for so long, it’s not always easy to recognize BS coated in chocolate and “concern.” Man, get the heck up outta here with that mess.

I sincerely hope no woman was wounded by this useless male’s words. Please, please, please do not let this fool’s ignorance penetrate the psyche. He and his “ilk” aren’t worth it.

Melissa April 26, 2011 - 12:46 PM

Amen Daphne!

Terri April 26, 2011 - 1:49 PM

^5’s Daphne. Speak on it sista!!

Nannette Wade April 26, 2011 - 12:40 PM

Love the original post, this post and your response to that insensitive moron. Cried when I read the response that said, “my experiences are real, my fears are real, my reactions are real, it is my reality.” It is my reality, gaining over 150 pounds and struggling for many years. Now I coming to grips with the damage of my self destructive behavior due to reactions to sexual assault as a child, marriage to a crackhead, raising two sons after a divorce and a ton of other negative crap. I created a “fat shield” that made me invisible to the world, but unfortunately also invisible to myself. Today, I went out and exercised for an hour to relieve stress and regain health. I’ve lost almost 50 pounds over the past year and one half. Yeah, I have a long way to go and still struggle at times but I know I am not alone when I read your blog. Thanks to you and all who have the courage to be vulnerable enough to share their reality. You are helping me save my life.

Crystal April 26, 2011 - 12:50 PM

This article comes at a time when I’m feeling the racism from a black man and the writer is “right on” in his comments. Black men do tend to treat black women differently from white women. I volunteer in a program where a black man is the director. I’ve worked with him for 6 years and for the past 2 years, I’ve worked on a particular program that a white woman has been in charge of for 19 years. She got sick and had so many other personal obligations that she was not able to fulfill duties. He asked if I’d help and I have. In fact, I’ve been there more than she has and she is stepping down this year and I will now lead up the program. When he makes announcements, programs, etc. where he lists his staff, he never fails to leave my name off, even when I’ve done most of the work and am on the payroll. He doesn’t get that I’m not helping to be recognized, but when he includes his staff, I don’t like being ignored either. I am the only black woman that has helped him consistently for this long as most of the women are white. He never “forgets” them, but always tells me that he used an old form and my name was not on it. It’s so frustrating and leaves me feeling so used. I still volunteer because this is a youth initiative that is so rewarding and positive for our community. I’m glad to be a part of it for the kids.

SAL May 1, 2011 - 8:33 PM

Crystal,
Is there anyway you can maintain a relationship with the kids but move on to another volunteer organization? This is not good for you.

Michalet Corbett-Clark April 26, 2011 - 1:10 PM

I remember when I was working for the US Senate and it was decided that all employees should have Sexual Harrassment sensitivity training. (Right after the clarence thomas hearings). (lower case is intentional). The class was run by a barbie clone who mildly inappropriately touched men in the class. (Not very effective). I stood up and said ” this is BS”; “if you want to wipe those grins off their faces and make a point then have the male instructor touch them as the female one did”. We took a break which I needed because I was pissed. I called Senator Mulcholsky*(sp) and had her audit. The remaining sessions were done as I suggested and the point was made. That’s what mr “educated savior of all things woman needs”. He knows nothing about our plight.
Thanks Erika. You Rock!

Bpurpleb001 April 26, 2011 - 1:14 PM

Your response was brilliant. Who is he to tell a woman, a damaged woman, how she should deal with the damage thats been done to her by a man. This sexual harassment happens to large and small alike. I know because it’s happened when I was fit and trim. It happened when I was visibly pregnant. It happened when I reached 200lbs. The harasser doesnt care about your size he only wants to feel powerful. It’s even worse when they are with one or 2 others who don’t bother to correct the offender and sometimes join in. What bothers me is that at times the person with the harasser is someone you thought was a friend to you but doesnt come to your defense or joins in.

I’m not trying to bash all men because there are some good ones out there. However, you wont appreciate that good man if you arent good with the person that you are.

Oh and I will be buying a t-shirt today.

Lee April 26, 2011 - 2:18 PM

“It’s far more important to me for women to see this kind of thing fleshed out in full, so that it can be filed away accordingly as the underhanded, self-serving, insensitive tripe that it is. And then we can go back to figuring out how to make delicious and healthy brownies or something.”

You better preach!

Queen April 26, 2011 - 2:57 PM

Good response. this man is an idiot and your response was more gracious than he deserved, but I know it was for the benefit of your readers more than him. I agree that it seems that we as black women are not allowed to openly express our pain without scrutiny that IMHO comes from the burden of the “strong black woman ” myth. As a “strong black woman” we are supposed to be solider sista super human catching bullets in our teeth. Yes we have had stregnth to deal with our challenges, but we are human and expereince pain like everybody else something we are shamed out of many times, by those around us so we stuff it, which may explain why there is a HIGH rate of unreported depression among black women. Regarding what you said about “what vibe does a 5 year old give off of be molested” the answer is NONE, to which I answer that alot of DBR black women “enable” these assailaints to keep hurting young girls by projecting the responsibility on the victim (Well she was probably fast anyway).

Erika Nicole Kendall April 26, 2011 - 3:21 PM

I have got to admit a serious and sincere unease about the term “DBR” (damaged beyond repair) appearing on my site.

Are people damaged, so to speak? Yes. But NO ONE is damaged beyond repair.

Eva April 27, 2011 - 11:05 AM

This man is a fool.

How would he feel if he had to deal with constant sexual harassment from another man?

rod April 27, 2011 - 1:10 PM

I learned a lot from this Blog. WOW! I was actually searching the web for medical studies on why Black women on average tend to be heavier than other races of women and i stumbled on this and found it quite interesting. I’m a man and i grew up with other men and i can remember some bad inappropriate behavior among the boys. But 99.9% of these guys grew up to be respectful husbands and fathers. In the defense of the guy that this post is in response to. I think he was just being honest, and trying to be helpful from his own perspective. So the fact that he has never been sexually harrassed etc. doesn’t seem to give him any right to post his thoughts? How do you know that he never puts his boys in check for being inappropriate? How do you know if he even has contact with boys that are that ignorant? I’m not going to lie like i understand your pain but your pain has led you to become very irrational and therfore puts a wedge in any dealings you, and the women that totally agree with you have with men.

Erika Nicole Kendall April 27, 2011 - 1:37 PM

Now, I’m “irrational” and my irrationality is creating a wedge between men and me?

ROFL

It’s not that his never being sexually harassed means he can’t post his thoughts. It’s that his never being sexually harassed – or assaulted – means that he can’t relate to the feelings it can cause within a person, and telling that person to “just get over it” is insensitive and callous. I’ve never been a Black man in America. Is it right for me to tell y’all to suck up all those mythical burdens you encounter and get over it? Or should I sit back and try to listen to you talk about your problems and do what I can to help you come to a conclusion for a solution? Do you see a similarity?

How do I know he doesn’t check his boys for being inappropriate? I don’t know. That’s why I asked. Surely, you saw all those question marks.

What’s so irrational about expecting a person to respect a space where women are coming to grips with how something has affected their lives, and want to bond together to make the appropriate changes? What’s so irrational about desiring that someone offer up a little compassion and NOT tell us to “get it together and get back to pleasing men?” What’s so irrational about wondering why an, ostensibly, Black person is putting physical appearance over mental health? Why do I have to be irrational simply because I disagree? I find it very “rational” that a bunch of men would feel justified in telling women how to attract and please them – it’s beneficial to their desires and wishes. That doesn’t mean I agree. It just means I can find it disgusting… which I do.

You “feel my pain,” but “I’m being irrational” and there’s a wedge between me/women like me and our dealings with men? So, in other words, AGAIN… you’re telling victims of sexual assault and harassment to get their shit together or else they’ll never have a man?

What makes you think I don’t already have a man, hmm? Or do you want to tell me, next, that something MUST be “wrong” with him for dealing with an “irrational” woman like me?

Really, I don’t care. But let me tell you this – with any luck, the next time you see some fellas harassing a woman on the corner, maybe – juuuuust maybe – you’ll hit ’em with a “Dude, just stop. Seriously. Leave her alone, damn.” That matters far more to me than your desire to paint me out as “irrational.” 🙂

rod April 27, 2011 - 2:26 PM

I didn’t see anything in the man’s post implying “get over it”. All i read was a good man giving some positive advice from his perspective. The brother sounds like he has a genuine love for black women and concern for their health. That’s the context i took it in. The reason i think i’m right about it is because i’m a man and i grew up all my life with men. In other words, I know when a man is bs’n. The men that that act like they CAN feel your pain are the men you should worry about. But not all of them. I coach 15 yo boys basketball and i will definitely make this issue a part of my mentoring program going forward. I don’t try to teach grown men because it’s just not my calling. Thanks for the insight.

Erika Nicole Kendall April 27, 2011 - 2:48 PM

I don’t expect you to see where he implied to “get over it.” I really don’t.

“I don’t try to teach grown men because it’s just not my calling.”

Wow. And there it is, y’all. Plain as day.

Shecodes April 27, 2011 - 5:39 PM

Hold up… did Rod just say

“I don’t try to teach grown men because it’s just not my calling.”

— AND TEACHING GROWN WOMEN IS??

This is why I stopped talking to 99.9% of men who frequent blogs that empower black women. Most of them are simply there to ‘put those sassy sisters in their place’.

Melissa April 27, 2011 - 5:42 PM

Dear Rod,

I would like to make a clarification for you and one that I wish had been made to the gentleman whose post we are reading.

Yes, we are all entitled to our own opinions, but that doesn’t mean those opinions are correct. Just because this is the way he feels, doesn’t mean that it’s right.

When you take out all the frilly foo foo language in his post, all that is left is that the only thing that should matter in our struggles and relationships is that we are thin. Which directly points out that fact that he did imply that we should ‘get over it’. None of the ladies on here made a conscious decision to gain weight. I’m sure no one woke up this morning saying, “you know what… I was raped last week, I think I’ll gain 150lbs.”

Oh, and why is it with so many men that when a woman takes a stand for herself she’s irrational and leading others down a path toward damnation?

I can point out exactly why this man is not genuine like you say he is. He mentions that there are so many reasons why you shouldn’t compromise your health by gaining weight, but the only one he chose to discuss is the fact that I need to be thin in order for him to have sex with me.

I hope that you also mentor your boys to be patient and supportive young men, not just that it’s a bad idea to harass people.

Zee June 18, 2011 - 10:20 PM

“I didn’t see anything in the man’s post implying “get over it”. All i read was a good man giving some positive advice from his perspective.”

@Rod, if you honestly did not see that, then you must have glossed over his entire post. He may very well be a good person, as you say, but if so, he is completely oblivious to context and to the fact that you do not (metaphorically) kick somebody in the stomach when they are down. In other words, he was being insensitive. When folks are needlessly insensitive to the vulnerabilities of others, we call that cruelty whether or not they set out with malicious intent. You have, I am sure, heard the quote “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

His post may very well have been an instance of him writing down the first thoughts that came to his mind when he read the blog, but frankness of this nature is not always a virtue. There are plenty of contexts where we keep our thoughts to ourselves because compassion demands it.

I have noticed that there is a tendency for some folks to go on about how black unity is being undermined everytime an individual or sub-group within the black community attempts to examine its experiences. Why are people so insecure about others having individual experiences and reflecting on them? Why is it so important to pretend that we are all the same and to put up a facade of unity when, beneath this facade, men, women and children are hurting and are engaging in soul-destroying behavior?

ini August 4, 2012 - 6:43 PM

this blog is called a black girls guide to weight loss ,what are u doing here .do you have a female genitalia ? Men like u make me sick you cloak your poison in what looks like concern

Susan February 20, 2013 - 4:04 AM

Rod, how could you have missed that he was basically telling women “The way you’re coping with sexual harassment is wrong because it will make you sexually unattractive to men”? And I know others have said it, here, but I feel it needs reiteration: do you not see the irony, if not hypocrisy, in slagging off your responsibility to teach your fellow men better when they degrade women you claim to care about, all the while insisting on “teaching” women who are NOT THE PROBLEM??

Erika Nicole Kendall February 20, 2013 - 10:06 AM

I’m pretty certain that his “missing” of “it” was entirely intentional.

Daphne April 28, 2011 - 9:47 AM

I was wondering when someone would show up and defend/validate this foolishness. It.never.fails.

When some men feel the need to interject their opinions on what black women should do, on blogs and/or specific posts directed to black women – that’s not support, concern, sympathy, compassion, or anything in its likeness. It’s ego and entitlement, plain and simple. It’s a trick of misdirection to get vulnerable women’s attention off of their well-being and health, and back to what benefits MEN (in this context, black men). That’s why part of the original comment included: I find it hard to believe that the majority of her experiences with Black Men are as described in her post. In fact, I would surmise that these are a few of the more memorable of the minority encounters with Black Men. Gas.light.ing.

Ladies, further examples of gaslighting:

I’m not going to lie like i understand your pain but your pain has led you to become very irrational and therfore puts a wedge in any dealings you, and the women that totally agree with you have with men.

I don’t try to teach grown men because it’s just not my calling.

All i read was a good man giving some positive advice from his perspective. The brother sounds like he has a genuine love for black women and concern for their health.

Translation:

Any woman who totally agrees with Erika and/or has dealt with this type of pain has issues with men. I’m not concerned with the men being held accountable for their behavior, but it’s my duty to tell you women that you’re being irrational for not appreciating this good man’s advice.

Me:
Never mind that men’s opinions were never solicited in the original post. While we’re asking questions – how does rod know if this man is “good” or not? Ladies, don’t fall for it! I read a book once by an author named Lundy Bandcroft. The title is Why Does He Do That? I won’t get into the details here, but if anyone is interested, I highly recommend it. Your local library may carry it, and you can also read a good chunk of it on Google Books.

rod April 28, 2011 - 12:43 PM

GASP! Well let me defend myself. I don’t try to mentor grown men or women. I’m not here to try to teach women anything at all. It was an attempt to bridge a gap between men and women but it obviously failed and i’m not suprised. I understand that distrust in men is hard to overcome but at the same time i believe we as a community need to find a solution to the problem because we have way too many 1 parent households. I have one child that was raised by her mother through junior high and lived with me through high school. And now she is finishing up her fresmen year of college and yes i’m proud of where she is heading in life. But i strongly feel that had she been raised in a two parent loving household, she would have acquired the stability necessary to achieve even more, and become an even greater contributor to society. I listened to a lecture once by Jewel Pulcrum (Not sure about the spelling) and the best advice she gave was that men should not marry and have children until they’re 40 and women 35. I made the mistake of starting too young and i paid for it every step of the way but i’m not bitter because i have understanding. When men are young we have issues also that can only be dealt with through perseverance and maturity. I’m probably a little off track with my post but it’s my attempt to express the reason why i posted here in the 1st place. I’m not trying to teach, Im just sharing my mind.

Peace and Love…

Erika Nicole Kendall April 28, 2011 - 12:57 PM

“I’m not here to try to teach women anything at all. It was an attempt to bridge a gap between men and women but it obviously failed and i’m not suprised.”

You shouldn’t be surprised, especially since you misidentified the problem.

There’s no gap between men and women. This is not a relationship blog. I have my own share of healthy relationships with men. What we have, here, is an unwillingness on the part of SOME men to understand or even foster a desire to offer protection to women they see being harassed.

The fact that you thought telling me about how you’re doing your JOB as a parent somehow erases or changes my perspective on your unwillingness to lend a hand to a woman put in a precarious position…. I’m just done.

If there’s a “wedge” between anyone, it’s between those who have a desire to be “protected” and those who have no desire to “do the protecting”… yet still want all the benefits of being labeled “good.” Get outta here.

SAL May 1, 2011 - 8:36 PM

Rod,
Why are you here? Don’t you have some young black men to educate and elucidate? They could really, truly use it these days. Peace.

rod April 28, 2011 - 3:13 PM

Where in my post did i say that i was “good”. I don’t need gratification. I believe there are certain things we as adults are supposed to do like be accountable. I personally have’nt witnessed a woman being sexually harrased, but if i did i would definitely try to help. Since you have so many healthy relationsipps with men that i would assume are protecting you. Why don’t you share how you fostered those relationships. That would be helpful to those that desire protection. right?

Erika Nicole Kendall April 28, 2011 - 3:37 PM

Rod, thanks for playing. Seriously. Lawd.

Danielle1 April 29, 2011 - 2:59 PM

“Also, the experiences she noted were so vile and attributed at such a frequency that it is apparent that her safety is perpetually compromised. Considering this predicament any rational person would have removed themselves from that situation.”

Is this poster a troll who just wants to stir up a hornet’s nest? I wish the original poster would read this out loud and then think about how much it makes no sense.

I am appalled that anyone in their sane mind would blame the victim. I am even more concerned that they paint intentions as wanting to help.

Sir, with ‘friends’ like you, the black woman doesn’t need enemies.

Erika Nicole Kendall April 29, 2011 - 3:25 PM

Right? Never mind the fact that considering how prevalent the idea is that this is “acceptable,” a woman could be harassed ANYWHERE. The problem isn’t the victim. The problem is the perpetrator.

We don’t think of things like that, I guess.

Marie May 25, 2011 - 1:23 AM

It’s interesting that I read this today considering the conversation I was engaged in earlier. Sexual harassment/assault and the repercussions from it are very VERY real, and unless you’ve lived through it-man or woman-you cannot begin to understand the emotional issues that come from it. If it was a situation that we could just ‘walk away from’, believe me, we would have, but as a 9 yr old child, that’s kind of impossible. Oh and I know what’s next…you should ‘tell someone’ and that will end it. Well what happens when you do tell and nothing happens? What do you do as a child when you tell your mother her boyfriend is touching you but she does nothing? Kinda hard to just pack your bags and leave when you’re a child. The mental and emotional scars harassment and assault leave can be crippling. Even if you put it out of the forefront of your mind, your actions and interactions are changed drastically by it. You do what you can to protect yourself and gaining weight makes sense, as the author so eloquently pointed out by revealing the list of the ‘reasons’ a black man would possibly find a large woman attractive enough to marry. We are not bitter, we are not man bashing…what we are doing is supporting each other, helping each other work through our issues and road blocks to become balanced, self loving women……because if 99.9% of men are ‘good men’ like the writer, we are obviously on this road by ourselves. Don’t tell me I’m wrong, don’t tell me I’m irrational. All we want to know is that you, as men, will be there to support us and help us, instead of continuing to tell us the same things that probably helped get us where we are. Telling a woman that if she doesn’t lose weight she’ll never get a man is indeed a form of sexual harassment and bashing, and inappropriate for this discussion.

Jem June 15, 2011 - 5:16 PM

Erika, I just wanted to commend you on a mature response to this foolishness. Hell, I commend all of the ladies who have responded.

Some men don’t get it. And some black men…..really don’t get it. Until they are pushing babies through their urethras and having people harrass them on a daily basis, they just WON’T get it. There are lots of privileges, not just white privilege: male privilege is one of them. The sooner you (men who don’t get it) stop DENYING the experiences of women, the faster we all can get on the road to recovery.

Jem June 15, 2011 - 5:21 PM

One more thing:

“…I wanted to share with you my feelings regarding the concept of sacrificing health in order to avoid unwanted male attention….With that said, I would like to caution anyone from sacrificing their health for any reason. This is imperative from many standpoints but I would delve into a few to try to obviate the urgency of my words.”

GTFOOHWTBS. You obviously don’t know JACK.

Jem June 15, 2011 - 5:25 PM

“I’m a man and i grew up with other men and i can remember some bad inappropriate behavior among the boys.”

“I personally have’nt witnessed a woman being sexually harrased, but if i did i would definitely try to help.”

In the words of Joe Wilson: “You lie!”

Ok, now I’m done. LOL

Knowledge June 18, 2011 - 8:55 AM

My girlfriend recommended I read this post. Twas long but definitely worth the effort. Thank you Erika and the rest of the women here for putting these fools in their place before I got here, because honestly I wouldn’t have the energy to deal with these idiots. As I read the first guys’ comment (included in Erika’s post, not Rod’s comments), I IMMEDIATELY saw:

1. Telling women how they should feel about and react to an experience you admit to knowing nothing about
2. Calling certain women irrational/crazy because you don’t understand them (a tried and true chauvinism strategy)
3. “She should have removed herself from those situations” aka “Blame the Victim”, made even worse by number 1. How do you not have any experience with a situation, but you know that getting out of said situation is trivially easy????? O_o
4. Transforming a women’s issue into being about yourself, and what you want. Women are discussing the ill effects of sexual assault, and all you can think of is how this affects your dating options, because fat chicks only deserve you if they have some higher relative station in life
5. All of the above BS smoke-screened with loquaciousness (see what I did there :).

I just want to applaud you all. Not all of us Black men think like this, but the ones that do need to be checked at every opportunity. Reading all this has given more even more conviction to do my part.

milaxx June 18, 2011 - 11:23 AM

AMEN! I get tired of being called an Angry black woman, but you know what? If speaking up onself righteous, insensitive ish like this makes me a ABW then so be it.

Zee June 18, 2011 - 10:30 PM

I too get irritated when a man’s first response to a woman’s statement is to dismiss it by saying that she is being “irrational” or “emotional”.

First of all, since when was being “emotional” a negative thing? All humans, including men, are emotional creatures, and all our responses are motivated by our emotions about something/ someone. The day we stop being “emotional” is the day that we die.

Secondly, what is so “rational” about a man describing his dating preferences to women who are talking about their experiences of sexual assault/ abuse?

Rooo July 20, 2011 - 5:39 PM

You ladies are dropping some serious truth here, both in main post (tears) and in comments.
Preach on. Nothing to add.

*passes around popcorn with spices*

Ren August 6, 2011 - 12:24 AM

Thank you, Erika! I can’t say it enough. Your blog is so powerful. I can’t tell you how many times I have read something, be it your comment or a reply, and had a flood gate of healing tears flow. This post especially spoke to me. Your response is EXCELLENT! I also appreciate the fantastic responses in the reply comment. Ladies a healing is taking place!

Chris August 6, 2011 - 8:57 AM

Read everything up to this point. Learned a lot. Will take it home, think about it and try to do better. That’s it…thank you.

arieswym August 7, 2011 - 2:27 PM

I just saw this post today when you tweeted it to @dreamhampton following last night’s twitter discussion of street harassment. Amen! and thank you for writing it.

Tesia February 20, 2012 - 8:00 PM

WORD!!!

xaria August 3, 2012 - 12:52 PM

thank you so much for that rebuttal. as a man, how can he understand what it is like to be harrassed on the street? i mean, honestly? i can remember walking down the street at 7 and grown men staring at my ass and calling me fast. repeatedly, i am catcalled on the street, and it doesn’t matter what you wear. when i was raped, incidentally for not sleeping w/ my then boyfriend, i was in a hoodie and sweats. but, of course, it’s my fault. and that only represent the minority of men. and that i’m really just fixated on it. nevermind that this has happened EVERYDAY OF MY LIFE. I can’t really comment too much more on it b/c i am getting really upset, but I will leave w/ this study:

“Princeton University psychologist Susan Fiske took brain scans of heterosexual men while they looked at sexualised images of women wearing bikinis. She found that the part of their brains that became activated was pre-motor – areas that usually light up when people anticipate using tools. The men were reacting to the images as if the women were objects they were going to act on. Particularly shocking was the discovery that the participants who scored highest on tests of hostile sexism were those most likely to deactivate the part of the brain that considers other people’s intentions (the medial prefrontal cortex) while looking at the pictures. These men were responding to images of the women as if they were non-human.””

Erika Nicole Kendall August 4, 2012 - 3:27 PM

Wow, man. Dang.

I mean, really. Dang.

Dienna September 9, 2012 - 3:30 AM

It disturbs me how these black men come to black women’s spaces to “mansplain” how we should feel and react to certain things. Very disturbing.

Erika, thank you for handling the original concern troll, as well as his buddy Rod, with grace and class.

Myonie September 12, 2012 - 7:00 PM

This post was quite sad and I think the responses from the guys speaks volumes about how they see themselves as Black men in America and even more volumes about how they see us. To some degree their ignorance is not fully their own fault, its been manufactured and well tailored to screw us over as a people and its just the same concoction that we as Blacks use against ourselves to prove we’re “better Black” than the next brother/sister. We can only pray that with the birth of their first daughter they will have already developed a better outlook, understanding and most of all the compassion needed to truly love a Black woman. I’m thrown that no woman in their lives ever taught them to value women for more than a ‘looks good on paper’ outside appearance.

Coquinegra November 13, 2012 - 9:59 AM

Wow.
Thank you.

Charey December 11, 2012 - 4:41 PM

I know this post has been out for a couple of months but I had to comment because I think I know the guy who stirred up all this trouble. I’m 90% sure. I’m only guessing it is him by subject matter, the wording, ‘SAT’ language, and back-handed display of caring for Black women and their weight/man issues. We are no longer friends partly because he used to talk to me the same way he commented here telling me shortly after I had my son “Sis, you need to lose that weight, especially now that you have this pragmatic situation, you won’t get the most/best options.” I’m so sorry he brought all this on.

Betty Taylor June 22, 2013 - 11:03 PM

I certainly hope that most men, black or white, do not feel that way. I would hope that when someone gets to know you they see the person inside.

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