My Arms Are “Too Short” to Box with the Devil

Young man-
Young man-
Your arm’s too short to box with God.

Young man-
Young man-
Smooth and easy is the road
That leads to hell and destruction.
Down grade all the way,
The further you travel, the faster you go.
No need to trudge and sweat and toil,
Just slip and slide and slip and slide
Till you bang up against hell’s iron gate.

From James Weldon Johnson’s poem The Prodigal Son

Everyone has been talking about the rapper Too Short in the past few days. It seems the genius creative minds at XXL magazine decided that he should be featured in a series of videos talking to young boys, giving advice I guess as to how to “keep it real” or whatever the popular saying of the day is. Well, keep it real he did and Mr. Short prepared and presented a step by step guide to adolescent and pre-pubescent young Black boys on how to “go for the hole.” He laid out archaic and violent instructions on how to seemingly find her clitoris and make her orgasm although he wasn’t clinical in any way. Rather, he simply suggested that these young boys molest young girls, ramming their hands between their legs in search of some mythical “spot” that will be the prize. The response to the video from Black women has been tempered but disturbed. The overwhelming response from Black men has been, “Hey, what do you expect from Too Short?”

Here’s what I expect from Too Short. An apology. I expect him, or someone with a modicum of intelligence in his close proximity, to issue an apology that explains how he understands now that his words are going to put young girls at risk for being assaulted and how he never really understood until now that he had been socialized to see women as objects and not human beings. I expect him to show he’s sorry by working diligently to alter his perceptions and grow and evolve as a man and to make sure NO girls are assaulted because of his misguided advice.

Here’s what I expect from XXL Magazine: The IMMEDIATE termination of Vanessa Satten, the white women who is the Editor-in-Chief at XXL who not only thought it was a good idea to have Too Short handing out fatherly advice to young Black boys but who authorized the publication of a video that taught them how to rape young girls. I expect XXL to be held accountable by creating videos and articles that speak to the issues of violence against women and girls and to teach boys NOT to rape, molest, assault, or denigrate women solely as objects for their pleasure.

Here’s what I expect from Black men. I demand your outrage. I demand that you not just dismiss this as “boys being boys” mentality and you speak up in horror and disgust that not only Too Short and XXL magazine but Black society as a whole has allowed women’s (and girls) bodies to be violated with no little or no repercussions. I want you to empathize, to put yourself in the shoes of the young girl pushed against the wall with an aggressive and sexually immature stronger male pushing, prodding, and poking your private parts looking for “the spot”. I want you to hurt for your daughters, sisters, nieces, and all young girls who have ever been subjected to such treatment.

When I was in high school, I was SKINNY and unattractive and boys didn’t like me. I craved attention from the opposite sex and one day after school when Greg Sheffield showed me attention, my heart sang. I thought he wanted to be my boyfriend; I was that naïve. He lured me to a laundry room in the apartments next to the school and within minutes, he was pushing me against the machines and pulling down my pants and ramming his fingers in me as hard as he could. I ended up on the floor with him on top of me, hurting me, and wondering what I did to deserve this. I don’t remember if I cried or yelled or asked him to stop. Apparently, whatever I did, I didn’t respond the way he wanted me to and he got frustrated and called me names and left me there, lying on the floor, half-dressed, sore, and confused.

I’m a woman. In many ways, “I’m Every Woman,” as the recently departed Whitney Houston sang. I’m a Black woman who loves Black men despite the fact that they might not love me the way they should at times. I’m a woman who has been the victim of sexual violence and abuse; I’m a woman who wants to heal the rift that exists between the genders, and I’m a woman who is passionate about her struggle to address Black sexuality in a way that is healing, transformative, and enlightened. I’m also a woman sickened by the patriarchy, sexism, and misogyny that persists in the Black community to the detriment of our beautiful, young Black girls and our Black boys. Raising boys to be sexual perpetrators not only hurts the girls upon whom they inflict their violence and aggression, it stifles the boys and prevents them from ever fully becoming, whole, complete, fully integrated human beings capable of loving, sharing, and committing to a real relationship.

The time to address the misogyny and sexism in hip-hop is about ten to twenty years too late. Black men are so used to seeing women as things to acquire, not people with feelings, that it doesn’t even bother them when things like this Too Short debacle occur. They are accustomed to being socialized to think that their manhood is in their penis. If we don’t take drastic measures to address this problem we are doomed as a subsection of society. We cannot continue to have men believing that their manhood is measured in the number of women they bang and that women exist to satisfy their lusts. I’m tired of fighting with Black men to show them that women ascribing to stereotypes of Black men being big-dicked sexual savages is not only detrimental to the women they violate, lie to, cheat on, and use, but to them and to our community as a whole. It’s an exhausting fight to get men to see that they need to evolve past the notion that sex validates them. I can’t fight anymore with men who don’t care that women are objectified and oppressed by a culture that doesn’t care if we are used up and spit out as long as they get a nut. My arms are too short to box with the demon of sexism and misogyny that tells little boys that it’s okay to use little girls on laundry room floors and step over them like a piece of lint that can be swept away like insignificant trash.

Copyright 2012 Scottie Lowe

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