For the last day of classes, I planned a party with my student organization. We named it the "No Predator Party" and it was open exclusively to womxn as a response to several unchecked cases of sexual misconduct within our community, especially existing within party culture. The idea came to me after my roommate made a joke about throwing such a party while we were talking about the topic.
The goal was clear and the agenda was simple; we were creating a safe space for Black womxn to feel free and enjoy themselves. However, as we somewhat expected, others took offense to the event.
The first offense was that we were assuming all men were predators by naming the party such and opening it only to womxn. The second offense was that we were assuming womxn couldn't be predators towards womxn. And the third offense going off of that was it wasn't inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community.
It was only the last one that we felt sorry towards, and let me explain why. The men AND women who were angry and thought we were attacking all men, were blinded by their ignorance and underlying support of the patriarchy. Instead of focusing on the issue at hand and widely present in our own community, many were on the defense, or resorting to rhetorical what ifs.
Too many times, when creating a safe space for one group of people and shining light on their problems, other groups feel threatened or overlooked. We saw this with the rise of "#AllLivesMatter" in response to #BlackLivesMatter. The "everybody matters and is important" rhetoric is the exact reason safe spaces exist - because the reality of our world is that not everyone is treated or affected the same. So we have to go out of our way to raise awareness on those issues and draw attention to those people. But if you’re only doing this when another group is getting that attention, you’re not doing it right. I mean, do you go to someone's funeral and start wailing that you have experienced loss too, and it's just as important as their loss? That may be very true, but you don't do that because it is not your space or place to do so.
If an attack on misogynistic culture feels like an attack on you, then you should either rightfully feel attacked or recognize that you're not being attacked. It is that simple. It becomes somewhat rightfully complicated because attacking an upheld way of life and deeply rooted culture, is uncomfortable.
How do you chip away at misogyny when it's in how we define womxn, how we frame sex, how we delegate gender roles, how we distribute jobs, and basically everything else. It is absolutely everywhere, and unfortunately due to that, women have to defend their rights everywhere. We have to fight to be left alone, to be heard, to be respected, and even to be believed when we say we are fed up with this mistreatment.
So in some part, largely, I felt incredibly disappointed. I felt that by prioritizing Black womxn, we were villainized. At one point, a Black man actually wrote something along the lines "Well not all men are predators, so when y'all do stuff like this is just makes you seem bloodthirsty to make people look bad."
I was disappointed but I can not say I was all that surprised. Within a small community at a PWI like ours, I hoped the social intelligence and sense of supporting one another would have shaped a very different conversation. But it just goes to show that academic intelligence does not translate into other areas of life, and even here Black womxn are still such a disregarded and disrespected population. I even noted, that men who spoke in favor of the event and its purpose, received far more likes and attention than the Black womxn who did.
Yet, still, we persisted. We changed the name of our event and still had it - and it was a success. Several womxn came out to support the cause. We danced and laughed and had lots of fun. But most importantly, we felt safe. Women were able to let their guard down at a party, something that we have been trained all our lives to never do. Constant self-protection and awareness of ourselves and others is our reality, and it is a very tolling and draining one. I am so happy that just for one evening, we were able to give an alternative reality.
Several womxn have explained that they do not feel comfortable going to parties and events in our community because male predators will be present. They described that they do not feel safe. And we listened and we responded. I wish others would do more listening to understand why responses are important. I wish they would listen to see the problem in our communities, that they would question the status quo.
But until then, I will continue to be a bloodthirsty vampire out to stand up for those who are not recognized, and against those who refuse to do so.