Some elementary school pranks, like boys pulling girls’ hair, seem harmless, but as these boys become teenagers, the actions escalate. As Mychal Denzel Smith writes at Ebony, he didn’t fully grasp the consequences of his actions, which he assumed were playful, until he was nearly a grown man.
I [pulled hair] until I hit high school and decided that was for children and I graduated to the new pleasure of grabbing a handful of a girl’s butt. This wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world had I been romantically linked to any of these girls and they welcomed it. But in all honesty, I was just a horny little teenager with grabby hands. I wasn’t concerned about permission, and neither were any of my peers that doubled as cheering section.
It wasn’t until I was on the cusp of adulthood and attending more parties that I started questioning this behavior. When the music’s blasting and young men decide they want to dance with a young lady, the customary means of asking is to plant themselves behind the woman of their choice and thrusting their genitals into her backside. Most of the looks I could discern on these girl-turned-women’s faces landed somewhere between reluctant acquiescence and total discomfort. It was the first time I had ever considered the way women might feel about having control over their own bodies. I was around 19 or 20.
I can’t speak to how common my experience is, but it shouldn’t take that long for anyone to learn that women have a right to their own bodies. But where is anyone going to intervene when we’ve written off the behaviors described above as “boys will be boys” without questioning whether that’s a healthy starting point?
Read Mychal Denzel Smith’s entire piece at Ebony.
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