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

Between two evils

After losing its parliamentary majority for the first time, the African National Congress is scrambling to form a coalition government. The options are bleak.

Heeding the call

At the 31st New York African Film Festival, young filmmakers set the stage with adventurous and varied experiments in African cinema.