It has been argued by Feminists, Black and White, that the movement has benefits for Men too, if they would only see things from a differing perspective; and you want to know something?
I think they're right.
One of the areas where this is in clear evidence, is when it comes to one's personal autonomy - or, to put it another way when it comes to social interaction of varying stripes, "boundaries". Over the years, and seemingly increasingly more recently, discussions around personal boundaries have proven themselves to be of very important benefit for Men, if they're saavy enough to catch it, if you know what I mean.
What do I mean by that?
I mean that, while yes, in theory, the concepts of personal automony and personal boundaries can and should apply to both sexes, in actual practice they tend to presented in such a way that it really is a de facto concept for Women. Now, let's be clear: many Feminists, or failing that Feminist-friendly folk, will argue when you point this out to them, that, well, this is because of the reality that Women face more pressing dangers and threats (from Men) than do Men (from Women). It would be advisable NOT to attempt to debate them on this point; always remember lads, that Discretion is the better part of Valor, indeed.
Moreover, many Feminists and/or Feminist-friendly folk will rightly point out that, if Men feel that their boundaries are being encroached upon, it is their job and their job alone, to deal with that. On this too, we will concede the point - because, at the end of the day, and even in the face of so much clear and present evidence that Society couldn't give a toss about the lives of Men, particularly Black ones, it is no one's responsibility to look out for your own interests. Such is Life, and Life is often Unfair - especially for us Brothas.
So be it. We accept!
Although I wouldn't recognize and understand the concept of personal autonomy and boundaries until much later in life in an academic sense, I had a strong intuitive grasp of the same going all the way back to my youngest years; the following vignette from my past, will illustrate.
Back in kindergarten, my teacher at the time, Ms. Adams, someone whom we would refer to these days as a Nice White Lady(TM), called my mother up to the school one day; she was deeply concerned about my welfare. You see, she was under the impression that I had hearing difficulties, or worse, was deaf, because I wouldn't respond to her calling my name.
MS. ADAMS: Ms. Obsidian, your son is so well-behaved and so very well-spoken! - but...is he...deaf?
OBSIDIAN'S MOM: No, Obsidian isn't deaf, LOL. Why do you ask?
MS. ADAMS: I ask because he never responds when I talk to him; I call his name over and over and he just never responds - I can be looking at him right in the face and call his name, and he just goes to the other side of the room like I said nothing at all!
OBSIDIAN'S MOM: *smiling* Obsidian hears you just fine; he just has been spending time with his father and his father's friends, and they have a way of speaking to each other than has made a very powerful impression on Obsidian; you have to call him MISTER Obsidian.
MS. ADAMS: *look of disbelief; turns, walks over to Obsidian, who is sitting on the floor, calmly playing with a firetruck* Mr. Obsidian?
OBSIDIAN: *immediately responds* Yes, Ms. Adams? *bright, wide smile on face*
My mother was correct to point out to Ms. Adams that my behavior was influenced by my father and his running buddies; being from the Deep South, they had a certain way of going about things that deeply impressed me. But there was something else, that my mother would only learn about many years later:
That the film "In The Heat of The Night" made an equally powerful impression on me too, and which I had viewed with my father and his friends one evening; the famed "They call me Mr. Tibbs!" scene, delivered powerfully by the incomparable Sidney Poitier, one of my all-time favorite actors, Black or White.
I was referred to by "Mr." for the rest of my educational career, merely ignoring those instructors who failed to adhere to proper protocols and treating them as if they were the proverbial fire hydrant.
I didn't know it at the time, but I was very much enforcing my personal autonomy, and right to personal boundaries in human social interaction. Ah, youth.
I think a big part of the problem today in male/female social interaction, especially in the Black community(?), isn't just that there is a "lack of boundary awareness" problem with regard to Black Men in relation to Black Women (street/sexual harassment, etc.); but that the problem is one that is a two-way street - that Black Women themselves, often have trouble assessing the boundaries of others as well, in this cass especially, that of Black Mens'.
And, that another big part of the problem, is that (1), Black Men have been cowed into silence about expressing themselves on a whole range of issues (note that Black Men continue to die or otherwise be hobbled by all manner of debiltating illnesses - heart attack, stronke, hypertension, mental health issues like depression, etc. et al - at a much higher rate than everyone else in the country); and that (2), Black Men have been made deaf, dumb and blind about the very important issue and concept of personal autonomy/boundaries.
How so, some of you reading this may ask?
Well, for starters, let's take up the fact - FACT - that oh-so-many Black Women hold the view that Black Men have no boundaries they are bound to respect. Notice how so many of them ask deeply personal questions when they don't know said Black Man in question, nor has he offered any such personal information up for their dissection, that if the genders were reversed the Black male offender would be rightly upbraided for. Notice how so many Black Women have no regard for a Black Man's personal space; how they often, and routinely, encroach upon it, outright violate it, jumping into conversations and the like when they weren't spoken to or invited. Notice how Black Women can and will put their hands on Black Men unwarranted, feeling them up and so forth. *shivers* Notice how Black Women offer "compliments", unsolicited, often of the most crass and lowbrow kind - and then have the unmitigated gall to refer to the Brotha in question as a "jerk" or "asshole" if he dares to protest(!). The whole enterprise, and I use that term very loosely, is one that simply would be out of pocket again, if the genders were reversed.
So, why aren't more Black Men speaking up about this?
Well, for one thing, Black Men have been socialized into thinking that "it's all good" or worse, that "I'm good" with clearly socially maladjusted behaviors. One of the reasons why the mental and emotional health of so many Black Men is shot to Hades, is precisely due to this routine disrespect shown daily and nightly on the part of a formidable number of Black Women - and it is way past due that they be called on it.
There is, of course, another reason why Black Men don't rightly call attention to this form of flagrant abuse; to coin a common term heard in the hood, it is because "the Thirst is real" - and something I am keen to address in an upcoming post.
But for now, it is very important for my Brothas to understand this: YOU, have as much a right to be secure in your personal space, as anyone else - and you have a right to demand that others respect it, too.
I will show you how to deal with unrepentent (and often, serial) offenders, soon. Wait for my sign.
Now adjourn your arses...