Advisory warning: Not All Black Women Are Like That (NABWALT) but Enough Black Women Are Like That (EBWALT).
Barely two weeks after Hollaback!’s incredibly racist, classist, and socially tone-deaf panhandling video came out, which purportedly set out to document all of the supposed “street harassment” New York City women have to endure daily, the whole country got to witness, for the umpteenth time no less, an actual case of street harassment that didn’t require a tony, upscale marketing firm to document.
A simple cellphone camera sufficed.
Jorge Pena—a 25-year-old, six-foot-six NYC native—reached back into last week and slapped Danay Howard, another NYC native, into next week after being subjected to all manner of harassment and abuse on Howard’s part while riding on the F train. Pena’s slap that was heard around the world came only after he was savagely attacked by Howard, who used her six-inch stiletto-heeled-shoe as a weapon on his face. As the New York City District Attorney’s Office made clear, Pena was clearly defending himself.
Compare and contrast this event to the “10 Hours of Walking in NYC …” video footage, where not one instance of Shoshana Roberts being accosted, assaulted, or attacked could be seen. To any reasonable person viewing both events, the conclusion is obvious: if there is a such thing as “street harassment,” it’s a problem of the lady folks’ own making—and one that they can and should solve.
What Pena endured is by no means anything new. Indeed, in Hanna Rosin’s popular work The End of Men, The Atlantic writer documents this rise in women behaving badly in a chapter devoted to their devolution, entitled, interestingly enough, “A More Perfect Poison.” Rosin observes that criminologists and related academics have noted the steady rise in antisocial and downright criminal behavior on the part of women over the past several decades reaching back into the 1990s but have been rather mum on the results of their findings. As Shahrazad Ali notes in her numerous interviews after her 1989 book, The Blackman’s Guide to Understanding the Blackwoman, went viral, women, in this case Black, have been and continue to be a protected class—free from public examination and evaluation in terms of their behavior and the impact it inflicts on others.
Thankfully, the wonder of telecommunications technology has come along to remedy the reticence on the part of our nation’s eggheads.
As Rosin points out in her book, it is difficult to see the wanton harassment and, yes, misandrist attacks and assaults often on Black men and other men of color by (usually and disproportionately) Black women on the nation’s mass transit systems as some sort of “legacy of slavery,” especially since there was no recorded precedent for such behaviors by Black women in times past. In cities like NYC, Philly, Chicago, Houston, Washington, DC, and elsewhere, it is not at all unusual to witness Black women running amok on the bus or subway, often acting in pairs or indeed packs, on unsuspecting and innocent men and at times other women. YouTube is overflowing with cellphone video after cellphone video of these brazen attacks, with seemingly more being added daily—indeed, one of the more well-known and publicized incidents along these lines took place in spring 2013 when a Cleveland, Ohio, bus driver was forced to defend himself against a Black woman who harassed him to the point where she spat on him (sound familiar? read on)—to which he responded with a stiff uppercut to the jaw. Again, as YouTube documents, these incidents are far from unique or rare—in fact, they’re quite commonplace.
In a column written earlier this year, your correspondent made the case that violence, be that domestic or pedestrian, is hardly the preserve of Black males; if anything, the evidence as best we have it shows that Black women are just as likely to attack you as Black men, if not much more so. Drawing comparisons to then Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice to pop diva kid sister Solange Knowles, I argued that not only are Black women known to be violent to Black men, but their antics are also well publicized*—and are just as often explained and rationalized away under some rubric of “disparity,” i.e., supposed physical differences between Black men and Black women (forgetting the fact that Black women, taken together as a group, are the biggest people in America). Yea, that’s the ticket.
Even diehard Black feminists of the likes of Feminista Jones have admitted that violence in the Black community is hardly as “gendered” (read: done only by Black men) as many of her ilk would have the rest of us believe. I quote from her own column appearing in Time magazine earlier this fall:
Researchers have also found that Black women report feeling more obligated to fight back than to report abuse and that is reflected in the disproportionate rates of DV/IPV reported by Black men. Our attempts to embody the “strong Black woman” stereotype have often done more harm than good, to us and those we love.
Of course, feminists of every color remain utterly silent in the face of daily occurrences of real street harassment and assault taking place in our country’s public spaces on the part of largely Black women. As we all know by now, the social justice warrior crowd is more motivated by “Who, whom?” than by anything resembling fairness or the facts.
Meanwhile, for the rest of us who have to make our way out on the increasingly meaner streets of America’s urban centers and inner cities, we know the real deal: steer clear of the Sistahood.
The life that you save may well be your own.
*It is important to note that Knowles is hardly unique as an entertainer/singer who is violent and abusive toward (Black) men. There’s also the very well-known attacks of fellow R&B singers Mary J. Blige and Keke Wyatt, and rappers Foxy Brown and Da Brat also come to mind. Of course, none of them got the Chris Brown treatment…