Thursday, March 15, 2012

Your Right To: Personal and Physical Boundaries

In case you missed it, I'm writing a series of articles regarding rights that each and every black woman has, rights they may not realize exist or have unwittingly surrendered.

This week, we talk about boundaries.

To illustrate my point, I'll share with you something that happened to me last year.

"So, where do you live?"

I was walking through town when a black man who I didn't know called to me: he had a question. I was not alarmed because (1) it was day time (2) there were people around and (3) I could literally kick a stone and hit the local police station. And the person, at first, didn't seem to possess any ulterior motives.

When he was in front of me and I could clearly see him, I noted that he was covered in tattoos and appeared to be in his late thirties. I politely asked him if I could help him. He stated that he was new to town and wanted to know if I knew of any apartment complexes in the area. I told him of a new development that had recently opened, what it was called and where it was located. Throughout my attempts to explain, this gentlemen kept complimenting me (referring to me as beautiful) in a way which I found a bit odd but not offensive. Having given him the information, I was ready to be on my way, and was going to say as much when this person dropped a figurative bombshell on me:

He asked me what my home address was.

This person who I knew all of five minutes, if that, felt that it was not at all bizarre to ask a complete stranger where they lived. I didn't give him my home address, suffice it to say. I did however firmly state that I didn't share personal information with people I didn't know. I wished him the best of luck and then headed in the opposite direction. And with as much speed as I could muster without actually running.

No, you can't have my personal information, total stranger...

He actually seemed surprised, not offended, but surprised by my civil rebuff. That makes me think that some black women have given such sensitive information to him in the past. And that worries me.

I remember writing about what happened later that week with that specific concern in mind, asking, "My God, are black women really THAT desperate?!"

So desperate for black male companionship that they would so easily give away such vital information? So desperate that they would risk their personal safety and that of any children they may have? So desperate they would unwittingly alert a potential murderer, rapist, child predator, etc. as to where they can be found sleeping and helpless at 3am?!

I was and remain flabbergasted by the event, and similar ones observed and experienced regarding  black men and the absolute blatant disrespect and disregard for black women and girls, which goes completely unchecked by the recipients.

Why you have a right to set boundaries

Black women, you don't have to give out information to any yahoo who asks for it. You don't have to allow anyone into your space, figuratively or literally, that doesn't deserve to be there. A person who hasn't earned your time and respect is entitled to NOTHING when it comes to stepping beyond the boundaries you've set for yourself.

Some black people have gotten it in their heads that because you share a skin tone, they are perfectly within their right to approach and chastise you in public ("Why you with that white boy?") or sexually harass you as you attempt to walk down the street or any number of highly irregular or inappropriate behaviors. This "I know you, even though I don't know you, because we're both black" ridiculousness needs to end. Somehow the brotha and sista terms are felt a little TOO strongly by some folks who think it's a license to treat your boundaries as non-existent and act in an ultra-familiar way. You wouldn't do it some white person that you didn't know, why is it okay to do it to me? Because "a black woman won't call the cops"? You've got the wrong one, Slappy.

Ladies, you have the right to not consider this behavior to be normal, to treat it as abnormal, and to do whatever you have to in order to oppose it. It doesn't matter if that person is "just trying to help you out". It doesn't matter that others feel that a black women shouldn't have boundaries. YOU have the right to look out for your own safety, dignity, and well-being.

Do you have personal boundaries? Do you have a set of rules for what is required of a person to pass beyond your boundaries? If the answer is no, stop and FIGURE OUT what you need to do to go about constructing mental, emotional, and physical boundaries for yourself.


Awake. Aware. Alive. said...

This is, personally, why I don't like the "brother/sister" thing. It isn't actually relevant in the BC anyway as BM's do not treat women as sisters anyway.

This is also why the BC is dead because far too many DBR's view this "sister" connection as an excuse to abuse and exploit, not protect and defend. They have a sense of ownership of BW but not a sense of responsibility to them. I can give you countless tales like this.

And I'm sorry that happened to you. :-(


Toni said...

No worries, I'm just glad nothing bad really happened, other than the shock it caused me.

Sense of ownership without responsibility is exactly what backwards persons who think like this go off of. And so long as people don't put these individuals in their places, they'll keep this nonsense going. You can't automatically have kinship with people you don't know, who you don't respect, and especially with whom you seek to harm and manipulate.

GlitterandRoses said...

Omgosh I get this rubbish all the time from black guys. They ask your name, where you live and when you say I don't hand out that info they look at you like you're weird. It's like you should just be grateful they're even talking to you.

I've never had a white man approach me in such a sloppy way, infact when I do get approached by white men it's usually "can I take you out for a drink or dinner sometime".

I have honestly never had a black guy offer to take me out and the ONE,ONLY AND LAST time I ever bothered to go out on a date with a black guy he expected me to pay. We stood by the counter waiting to get our tickets for the movie and he was like "ermm so are you going to buy your ticket, the movies about to start". So much for being romantic.

KK said...

Whoah... what a creep!

You make a good point - I've never sat down and created personal boundaries for myself and if the same guy asked me for my home address, I probably would have backed down and given him the general area of where I live (which is still WAY too much information to be giving out to strangers.) I think it's time for me to consider my boundaries.

@GlitterandRoses- Yeah, black guys never ask me out. It's always "CAN I HAVE YOUR NUMBER?!"

Toni said...

@ KK

Definitely think about it. It's something we're all entitled to. You don't have to share any information with strange men that you don't want to. And don't be scared to be absolutely dishonest.

It's not rude to lie about something that could keep you safe.

Lady said...

thank you for this blog. I just love it. Years and years have gone by where women are victimized and people tell them to be quiet and hush. That led us to not speaking up for ourselves and leaving us open to be preyed upon. We must make our voices heard as black women. No one protects us or respects us and I'm sick of it. I once had a friend whose boyfriend would call me at 3am and throughout the day. Either I'm sleep or I'm gone. I tried to give her a chance to make him quit but to no avail. Like you said, they are used to us not speaking up and definitely not calling the cops. I called the cops. That got him off my back. Needless to say, I'm not friends with her anymore. But that was just crazy. However, it makes me think that's how she met him. There are some dudes who like to fuck in circles. They'll get one woman and then screw her friends. And because some are so willing to go along, they don't have no thoughts to how their behavior is unacceptable and predatory so when you're the one person who rejects it, they act like you've cut off their arms.