I was sitting there at the bar in a ritzy Manhattan hotel when he walked in. He smiled at me. I literally turned around. He’s smiling at the glamazon that must be seated behind me because I am wearing grey skinny jeans, a bright red t-shirt that reads “EVERYONE TALKS ABOUT MY BLOG,” & red gym shoes. I’ve been walking the streets of Manhattan for 8 hrs. I am sweaty, my lipstick is caked. I am not the picture of sexy. I am the picture of what I actually was: a married Mama of two so excited to spend 2 days alone in the city for a blogging conference she wore RED KICKS (red ring & red sweater but who’s counting?)
Life stage be damned, he sits next to me and engages in small talk. He “loves writers” apparently. He buys a bottle of expensive wine though I tell him I don’t like wine. “You will like this wine,” he says. I don’t. He does not hear me, he sees me. He’s wearing a $5,000 suit, a $30,000 watch. God only knows about the beautiful, beautiful shoes. He’s 50 at least. Maybe pushing 60. An old Italian man, perhaps a grandpa and I think he’s hitting on me. Then an invitation to his room. I say no thank you. He tells me he “doesn’t give up that easy.” I tell him I’m married, he doesn’t care. Have another drink he says. I haven’t finished the first glass. Again, “come up?” He’s interested in me, he says. In the 5 whole minutes we’ve chatted. He’s not unattractive to me, but he’s much older and it’s gross. I think of the scene in Something’s Gotta Give when Jack Nicholson has a heart attack trying to fool around with a girl half this age.
Is this love or is this going to be a one night stand?
I recognize the brokenness in this thought immediately. For example, why have this thought at all? Why not be disgusted? I am 35. Why should I sleep with a wealthy Manhattan business man when I am married, his children’s age, a Minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ for crying out loud?
My broken thoughts stem from a long line of this.
The first time a boy came out directly to ask for sex, I was 8. He was 14ish. I believe my face went red and my cheeks hot with embarrassment. We were perfect strangers. He’d walked up and told me “it’d be fun.” I replied kindly, “no thank you,” as if he’d offered unwanted candy. There in the back of my head was that question just beginning to take flight…
“is this going to have anything to do with love or is this going to be just sex?”
Truth is, I’d all ready had a lot of sex by then. My Dad & I had not called it “sex,” and given my age it was not consensual though – at the time – I believed it was.
I was 11 when I started modeling. When I look at her I see her sexuality. This is the picture I would have put on Facebook in 1987. This is the one Mrs. Hall would have blocked. This is the little girl who knew how to give a damn good blow job. This is the little girl that says “come hither boys, because I know what I’m doing.” This little girl who was 4 feet, 10 inches tall & barely 80 pounds with no breasts was given one repeated message: the whole of you is for sex. No wonder I’m hugging myself.
I modeled again at 25, 26. As I hard as I tried not to, the photos read, “come hither men, I still know what I’m doing.” Jesus and marriage aside I didn’t realize for a few months how much selling my body for images and cash would lead to further corruption in my heart. When I said goodbye to the modeling world I thought I was saying goodbye to “come hither men” all together.
I’ve been propositioned all my life. No matter what I wear, no matter what I’m doing or how many children are with me, I attract nasty, forceful men. I’m 36 now, attracting those intense 50, 60 yr. old men. They don’t care those old men with a life lived and nothing to lose. They look with greed and edge and a face that reads “I want to fuck you,” with an anger that’s frightening and disconcerting.
It is a violating experience I have come to understand and sadly, welcome. “Here you are, old man, just like my Dad! Showing me exactly what I’m worth!” It’s deep down there in the bellows of my subconscious but every now and then it pokes it head up above the surface and silently, gently asks…
So is this love old man, or is this just going to be a one night stand?
In my Church youth group, one the youth leaders lamented what I was doing wrong. He too, wanted to know why young men were always coming on to me. He was “ashamed of me,” he said. The words cut in, drug down slowly, twisted and lacerated my back deep enough to puncture my soul. Because, again. There it was. It was my shame. It was my fault. Perhaps, he pontificated, you have “hyper sexualized demons” communicating with other men with the same set of demons.
I trusted this idea because what other option? It couldn’t be that I fit into the mold Detroit ninjas had decided made a black woman beautiful: “mixed,” “light-skin,” “long hair,” “good hair,” “thick legs,” “pretty face,” and it couldn’t be that men actually saw something in me worth knowing. It couldn’t be that I had no father, no protection, no parental supervision, no curfew. It couldn’t be my obvious vulnerabilities in poverty. It couldn’t be any of those things.
No, the only option was that I had demons.
I had sex demons.
Every time a college boy stared me up & down I wondered, “are my demons communicating?” When they say “Damn girl, you fine as HELL!” have I brought this on myself –THROUGH MY DEMONS?
When that Detroit police officer pulled me over ONLY TO GET MY PHONE NUMBER did he catch my demons THROUGH HIS SPEED GUN?
When a white-haired, 60 yr. old, married, white dude practically broke his neck trying to stare me down last week, I walked it through: “Grace. You look normal today, you aren’t showing cleavage, you aren’t communicating sexually, your proverbial demons aren’t hanging out, you are walking to your car, in flats with a laptop bag and his nasty ass has nothing to do with you. Ignore this stank hoe and keep steppin’.”
“This has nothing to do with you,” I say to myself now. “You have no responsibility for his lustiness.”
This is not love and it’s certainly not a one night stand.
Not every women has to walk herself through a list of truths for every man that treats her like a piece of meat.
But I do. I do. I do.
Pray often that there is grace for me, for ALL of us broken-hearted, over-sexualized women of the world, still fumbling around with inaccurate, subconscious perceptions.
Pray to God He’ll keep us from the wrong kind of men bumbling into our life attempting a coup on our shaky resolves, our obvious weaknesses. Post marriage, I’ve encountered two and by the skin of my chinny chin-chin managed to come out untouched, but not unscathed. Like a dog returning to its vomit I’ve plunged forth, a sheep to the slaughterhouse until eventually the truth poked up louder than the lies.
Pray for us.
Love us, Mrs. Halls. Love us at 8 yrs. old. Love us at 11. Love us at 26. Love us at 36. Give us 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th chances.
Teach your boys how to love too. Light switch theology doesn’t work here. If I could have flipped a magic switch to un-confuse myself I would have done that eons ago.
Teach your boys to treat us with value & dignity despite our brokenness, despite our confusion, despite our come hither images.
It is those men who have been Jesus to me. It’s the ones who’ve looked me in my eye with definitive actions and words and communicated: you are not your sexuality. Those are the men who have healed. Those are the men who have pulled a miracle of out their damned hats in rescue of my soul. Thank God for these men. Thank God for these men.
Men have abused me yes. But God has saw fit to use men to heal me as well. Never forget that.
With the growing number of sexual slaves in the world we who find ourselves unsure as to the relationship between our sexuality and our worth are growing.
We need advocates.
We need truth telling.
We need love rooted in integrity, concern and advocacy.
Through this, I’ve gotten by somehow.
Love > sex demons.