Please Don’t Pet Me
I was out with a guy. It was my first real interracial dating experience. We were sitting side by side, and his arm was around my shoulders.
For a while, I had been primarily keeping my hair braided underneath a scarf. But that day, I was feeling a bit spicy, so I decided to rock my Afro puff.
At some point, he decided the hair-petting opportunity was too good to pass up. So he gave my puff a light rub over, and a little squeeze at the top, probably thinking I wouldn’t feel it.
My eyes widened as my brain tried to process the situation. I stiffened up, utterly uncomfortable.
Did he just…
This was no new experience for me, and this wasn’t even the worst time I had encountered something like this.
Because this wasn’t the first time, I had anticipated him to say something about my hair — like ask a curious question or maybe give a compliment to even slightly soften his actions.
Neither came. He didn’t say anything. It was odd.
And we weren’t in an intimate, lovey-dovey, hot and heavy, run your hands through my hair like in the movies, type of situation. That kind of petting wasn’t happening. It wasn’t that kind of date.
The touching was random, lasted a couple of seconds, and it felt like he did it just because he wanted to get a good feel.
Guess what I said to him about it?
I let it slide for two reasons.
1.) I was genuinely afraid of his reaction, as we had already had somewhat of a disagreement earlier.
2.) My whole life I’ve forced myself to be extremely cautious about what I say and how I say it.
The primary reason for this is I fear being called angry. Due to a history of negative stereotypes proliferated by the media and television, for a Black woman, being called angry for wanting respect means being silenced, discredited, and alienated.
To be passionate and no-nonsense is to be angry or aggressive. It’s ridiculous, but it’s true. Forbid I get frustrated over the seemingly “little” things. I would never be able to live it down.