It is time for our erogenous zones to finally be demilitarized, flowering without the threat of your constant bombardment.

-Tabias Olajuawon

by Tabias Olajuawon

This essay contains discussion of racialized sexual violence and anti-Black fetishism

“You are not to touch other flesh
without a police permit.

The State wants to seize your bed

And sleep with you…
The message is clear:
your penis..

your anus, your orgasm,
these belong to the state.
The erogenous zones
are not demilitarized….”

Essex Hemphill, “The Occupied Territories”

~~~

Recently, there has been a trough of information, articles, and public outrage surrounding white men and the sexual violence they render. Specifically, the news cycle has focused on the stories of upper-middle class and wealthy white women and their experiences with sexual harassment, sexual violences, misogyny, and rape.

To be clear, non-consensual contact or commentary about anyone’s body or sexual practices is vile. That much we can agree on. However, in listening to this commentary, I could not help but think about what was missing from the picture. Then it dawned on me; it was color, it was Black folk, it was me.

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It is hard for white people to think, interracially, about rape. That is to say, it is hard for white folks to think about Black people considering any of their sexual advances unwanted, let alone violent; because to not desire whiteness is to undo it, to refuse it is to realize and actualize the fact that Black people are not property and are full of desires, capable of pain. That we are not the negroes your history book told you about.

It is hard for white folks to think interracially about rape because white desire—the fictitious belief in an inherent Black yearning for white sex, sexual advances, contact and verbal commentary or approval—was endemic to our nation’s first clauses of illegal and legal raping and lynching.  That is to say, the very notions of property and legal relationships in U.S. law are situated on the seminal understanding that Black bodies are the primary, legal vehicle for the exorcism of the most private and public yearnings of white men and white women.

This is true of the slaveholder who raped the women on his plantation—as well as the men and children—and their mistresses, who used the threat of lynching as insurance if their male slaves refused to participate in their racial-sexual fantasies. If you want to understand sexual violence and, more specifically, racial-sexual terror; find a BlaQueer—across genders, if any—and ask us why it took so long and why it was so hard to “come out.”

This Was His Body by Shikeith Cathey

Like all Black people of a certain age, I am keenly aware of the way that many of my movements can be felt and seen in any given space, at any given moment. I have to know this. I have to be aware of how I am being read in order to constantly be ready to respond to any type of reaction to my Blackness.

Being a BlaQueer—simultaneous, uncompromisingly, and openly Black and Queer—I must be doubly aware of how my body is being desired, feared, and chosen for discipline by all genders, Black or White, straight or otherwise. However, white women are perhaps my most frequent assailants.

One could be forgiven for thinking that the unbridled spectacle and performance of white women’s desire for my body would be less than that of white men’s open desire and contempt for them. One could be forgiven for this notion, but one would be catastrophically wrong.

White women sexually assault Black men every damn day and I’m tired as hell. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’m tired of trying to spot oncoming white women in the club, knowing that I have only a few moments to two-step out of her reach and communicate an “I will kill you glare” while managing not to miss a beat or spill my drink, while also hoping that the bartender doesn’t kick me out for being out of line in defense of myself.

I’m tired of white women touching my hair and chest at the club; as if I’m their newest push-up bra and wig combination. I’m tired of white women thinking it’s cool to grab my arms or my waist, ever.  I’m tired of white women dancing on me and loudly slapping and grabbing my ass; loudly and dramatically enough for all to see what she has in possession, a blatant demonstration racial-sexual power. I’m tired of white women cupping a feel of my dick; whether straight to the bulge or sliding their hands in my pockets or jeans.

I have this screaming voice in my head that wants to unleash, “He doesn’t want you, I sure as hell don’t want you, and you’re only still alive because the way whiteness works in Amerikkka, the way gender works in Amerikkka, the way sexuality works in Amerikkka and the way Blackness is consumed, targeted, fucked and disposed of in Amerikkka.” 

I’m tired of white women being the face of sexual assault survival when white women have been my most consistent and unrepentant racial-sexual terrorists; whether at work, in the classroom, or in BlaQueer spaces.

And let me be clear, white gay men—and many straight men—treat us the same way. Using the Black body, particularly the BlaQueer body, as a sort of life-sized sexual property, that type you just don’t have to pay for, is as American as Apple Pie or Thanksgiving.

RELATED: White sexuality is a breeding ground for white violence

Many have asked what I propose white women do. The answer is simple, one that they’ve repeated over and over and over: Believe us. Believe BlaQueers. Believe Black men. Believe Black trans folks. Believe that yes, and only yes, means yes. Silence doesn’t mean yes.

Surprising us with your physical greetings or sexual commentary is not a compliment, a gift, or an end-run around consent. Believe that we will not be mystifying in becoming your sexual muse. Our sexual orientation will not change via contact with white flesh. We are not interested in your race-play masked as sexual progressiveness. We are interested, however, in garnering the same respect, autonomy, and boundaries around our bodies and reproductive organs that you have long advocated for, for yourself.

It is time for our erogenous zones to finally be demilitarized, flowering without the threat of your constant bombardment.

I understand that you were raised this way—many folks were. This shit is endemic. This is because none of us have lived in a world, loved in a world, fucked in a world where consent was more than a buzzword and (sexual) violence was anything short of the cream in Amerikkka’s coffee.

But now that you have been warned, told—this time publicly—we expect you to act accordingly, or prepared to be properly dealt with, as you enter these militarized erogenous zones.


Tabias Olajuawon, JD is creator, author and legal scholar. He is currently a PhD student in African & African Diaspora Studies.

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