Trigger Warning: This article contains descriptions of sexual assault and violence.
There is no human way to read Kehlani’s post this week without shivers running down your spine or bile rising in your throat. In a since-deleted post on Instagram, the grammy award-nominated singer opened-up about being sexually assaulted while leaving her London show.
“I don’t care how sexual you deem my music, my performances, my fun with my friends dancing at clubs, or ME… That does not give any of you the right to cross a boundary like sticking your hands up my skirt & pulling my underwear to TOUCH MY GENITALS as I am being escorted through a crowd after performing. This s— made me sick to my stomach. As a victim of sexual assault, I am endlessly triggered and mindblown,” wrote the singer.
Her post highlights something I’ve thought about often, but have struggled to articulate.
Why is it in our society that when someone owns their sexuality in a public space, that our culture begins to treat them like public property?
News flash: someone being sexual does not preclude them from having boundaries, even if you disagree with them.
And this isn’t just about Kehlani.
Look at Megan Thee Stallion. She’s a Black woman owning her sexuality, her intelligence and her worth publicly. But instead of protecting her in her most vulnerable moments, she’s being dragged by the likes of Drake and the dregs of social media.
For some reason, it’s ok for a man to physically abuse and shoot her because in the eyes of men with a podcast mic, she’s lost her right to personhood.
This obviously isn’t the only dynamic going-on with Megan Thee Stallion’s case (colorism is clearly lurking its ugly head in there), but it’s definitely a part of it.
The idea that expressing yourself sexually somehow denies you a right to personhood is a pervasive part of our society. And, it matters that Kehlani is speaking publicly about this dynamic because it never stops at our favorite celebrities.
If you’ve ever been asked what you were wearing or if you gave “ bad energy,” after your physical boundaries were violated, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
So good on Kehlani for calling it out.
If you or someone you know are in need of support, please reach out to RAINN’s 24/7 National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 for confidential support and resources.