Did I ever tell you about that time a guy followed me in the NYC subway and offered me $40 to touch my leg?

Real talk: Who else is tired of gender/race swapping to make a point about racism/sexism? I know I am, especially about gender swapping.

I’m not sure it makes much of a point to men about male privilege or male sexual entitlement. As a black, queer, mostly masculine, cisgender, middle-class man, I love it when I’m cat-called, eye-fucked or sexually prepositioned, whether by men or women, lecherous or not. Love. It. It makes me feel like a million and two bucks. At the absolute worst it gives me a great story to tell my friends — like, did I ever tell you about that time a guy followed me from the 6 to the E train in the New York City subway and offered me $40 to touch my leg?

In no way and at no point do I feel dehumanised by these things because at no point have I ever felt (or have ever been in a situation where) my personal safety was not guaranteed. At no point have I wondered whether someone would unilaterally take objectifying me into the physical realm without my consent, because these things are governed by social codes that prescribe whose sexual autonomy may, and whose sexual autonomy may not, be snatched away. I happen to fall among the group whose sexual autonomy — generally speaking — is seldom in question.

Having never experienced (over and over again) someone else’s feeling of entitlement to my body in synchronous combination with that person having the power/privilege to act unilaterally on that entitlement makes me think, when I watch the litany of gender-swap videos out there: What’s so bad about that?

I have to make the conscious choice to disconnect from my own experiences to understand what’s so bad about it.

And I imagine what I feel is a fraction of what those with fewer oppressions and more privilege must feel when they experience or watch the same things.

Now I could have just missed the point entirely or I could just be a shameless sex fiend, both of which are distinct possibilities, or it could be that a gender swap does little to make men understand what it’s like for women in the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

Image: Sean Jacobs

Further Reading

Beyond the headlines

Recent violence across the Eritrean diaspora is being instrumentalized by populists. But the violence is a desperate cry for attention and requires the Eritrean opposition to seize the moment for regime change.

Action required

Held in Nairobi this month, the inaugural Africa Climate Summit is an important step for the continent’s response to climate change. Still, the disasters in Libya and Morocco underscore that rhetoric and declarations are not enough.

The strange non-death of Bantustans

That South African political parties across the spectrum were quick to venerate the politician and Zulu prince Mangosutho Buthelezi, who died last week, demonstrates that the country is still attached to Bantustan ideology.

Shifting the guilt

Even though Israeli novelist Agur Schiff’s latest book is meant to be a satirical reflection on the legacy of slavery and stereotypes about Africa, it ends up reinforcing them.

Banana Republics

Western leftists are arguing among themselves about whether there will be bananas under socialism. In Africa, however, bananas do not necessarily represent the vagaries of capitalism.