Content Warning: Contains mentions of sexual assault.
It was 1 a.m. and, let’s be honest, you were too drunk or too unbothered (or were you?) to care about how to pronounce her ‘exotic’ name, which is why she ended up just going by “Amy” at the end of the night. However, you were not drunk enough to forget about her Afrocentric features. Her skin. Her hair. Her body. I know you precisely remember her image as that African woman you danced with so seductively in the dark, as you did a fine job trying to avoid her the next day when you two stood face to face in the light.
If we had to be frank with one another, human to human, what really drew you towards her? It was her features and the extra confidence your red solo cup gave you. It drew you closer and closer towards me as the tempo of that overly- played rap song grew more robust. Yet still, my body did a good job to catching the beat before it even got the chance to drop. I want to assume that you were attracted to me at that very moment because I looked beautiful and unstoppable in my element. I want to believe you approached me from behind and clung to me all night because you were too afraid to let go of someone great, and not ‘something’ great. You even asked to dance, which I thought was respectful, but the nature of respect changed. You asked to dance but your grip tightened, and you forgot that you promised me to dance. But that dance hurt, and you called me a disgusting name when I pushed you away.
“But it was a party. The dude was drunk, and why were you dancing like that in the first place?” Firstly, I was not dancing to be objectified. I was dancing with a body that you would not understand nor handle, which is why my ancestors passed it down to me. I was dancing like another girl at that party, having a good time. You saw it as provocative because of the combination of the color of my skin and my assets. You came behind me not because I was an attractive human but because I was a Black and African woman, and this was your time to experience something new.
Secondly, making such comments are always two syllables away from justifying the rape culture and the objectification and sexualization that Black women experience regularly.
I suppose when I look back to that very moment, I am happy that you pretend like you do not recognize me from what you did and said to me that night. I want to believe that shame is behind your resentment or perturbation towards me. However, from the way you continuously glare at me and always mutter something to your boys that always look back at me as I am trying to mind my own business, I assume you are that type of guy who continues to make a girl’s life more socially anxious and objectifying because rejection annoys or angers you, especially when it causes you more sexual frustration.
We are not strangers to the hookup culture on campus, but at times, as someone who finds herself occasionally in and out of it, I wish I was. The idea of being sexually liberated feels daring and risky, which makes the experience of discovering your body and of shaping your sexual preferences and limitations interesting. However, the feeling of regret seeps in quickly when the respect from the person you find yourself tangled with suddenly leaves the room, and you slowly realize that you are simply a vagina. And a slur for noticing it, but never a human. Some of us have forgotten that consent is a process, not a simple password that will allow you access to every inch of someone’s body. If you ask to dance with her, dance. A party is not the best place to go looking for love, and it definitely is not the best place to cure your sexual frustration because people will get traumatized by your lack of human decency and self-control. By the end of the night, a girl should not be asking her friends if it was expected that dancing was eventually supposed to lead to you choking her.