Cappuccino With a Shot of Compulsion?
To the guy that was watching porn in Starbucks: I have a question?
First, let me say that I’m not here to judge you. Seriously, I’m not.
I’m not here to tell you that your perceived sexual fetishes are right or wrong. I’m not here to tell you whether or not I think you’re even wrong to do what I saw today.
All I really want to know is “why?”. At what point did you feel like public consumption of your sexual proclivities became necessary? When did it become compulsive?
Because I want to believe that you reasoned with yourself about whether or not doing what you did today was okay. I witnessed you sitting in the corner, trying to hide your computer screen. You were flipping through Tumblr in rapid succession, saving every picture that you could.
You may be asking me to explain how I would even know this. Why was I all up in your business. Because those images weren’t foreign to me. I lived a little bit too. But also that your enraptured state kept you from always paying attention to your surroundings. So you slipped up. The pictures enlarged with ease. Your laptop would tip to the left.
Again, this isn’t a judgement. I just have questions. Fair, right?
I guess I’m trying to understand. Do you not have internet access at home? Do you lack privacy at home to look, period? Do you need a safe space?
I’ll give you credit: what I saw — the glimpses, at least — were mild compared to what’s really out here. And I want to say that you kept it mild because of your surroundings? Everything escalates. Porn can escalate.
People can escalate with their fetishes too. I was on the other side of that once.
Bear with me as I tell you. I was 23, walking to the Metro station from somewhere on U Street DC. Unbeknownst to me, there was a man, is his 40s, following me the entire time. I’m not sure where he started but it ended with me — at the end of the platform — being approached by that same man, dressed in his finest suit, shoes shined to perfection.
He’s asked me how I was, I told him “too young for you.” He asked me if he could take me out to eat. I said “I already did.”. He marveled at my body and said that “likes women built like you.”. I laughed it off out of fear. He asked me, infamously, if I would be his friend. I told him, very matter-of-fact, that he wasn’t looking for any. I turned him down, he walked away. The train came, I sat down, I shook the fear out of my system.
You’re probably thinking that he maybe liked me. That maybe he was interested. But you don’t say that you “like my build” at a statement of interest. That’s a statement of desire.
And I saw the types of women on your screen. She and I had the similar thing in common. A thing that a man took pictures of without my consent while I was waiting for a train. An image that you may have seen, who knows.
Again, this isn’t judgement. And I’m not saying that you will escalate to approaching women in public to feed your sexual desires. And I’m also not saying that you might resort to Snapchatting women’s body parts without their content. I guess what I’m really asking is “what’s next?” There’s something after public consumption, right? Remember I was talking about escalation? Where does this escalate towards?
Again, questions: Are you in a relationship? Are you intimately involved with anyone?
Again, I’m in your business and I’m sorry. But I just wonder if you were with someone who agreed with your fetish and participated in its experimentation with consent, then you wouldn’t feel the need to consume in public spaces. Your private space would become a safe space. And you wouldn’t need a coffee shop to find relief.
I noticed something else too. Your Blackness.
Hear me out for a second. Black men’s sexuality has been revered and rebelled against. They believed that you couldn’t control yourself around women. They believed — and still do — your innateness to be a supposed sexual predator. We saw Birth of a Nation, the original. To Kill A Mockingbird happens often. Emmitt Till laid beaten and bloodied because he looked at a White woman. Black men can’t be sexual beings without conjecture. They marginalize you even within fetishism. You can’t just be. You can’t just have sex and be.
I never thought of you as any of those things. I never once thought that you were a brute. I just wondered if you felt the need to explore these things because the world can’t let you do so without it being about something more? You’re just attracted to some things on a sexual level, that’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. It really isn’t anything deep beyond that. You just want to be.
And I get that. As Black women, we get that. And that makes you think that I’m judging you. Which I promise to you, I am not. I swear.
Maybe I’m thinking too deep about your sexual liberation. You’re just looking at porn like every other red-blooded man in America.
But in public? In a public space? Where people can see you? Where I saw you?
That shame you may have didn’t follow you where I laid eyes on you today.
You straight up possessed no shame about you.
So why do I even care?
Because even through all of that, I think you need help. That this is not what you want. That you do feel a tinge of sadness when you pack your bag to leave the house. That you really don’t want to do this. That you realize your compulsiveness and want to be saved from this mess.
Saved from this. Saved from what I saw.
Am I right?
That girl who sat next you in a coffee shop today while doing her Bible Study. Coming to you, yes, as a Christian. But also as a person, on base, concerned about you.
This is part of my attempt to write every day in July. You can follow the series here.