Why you can’t touch my hair

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I was thinking a lot about the protection and ownership of my being regarding my hair after a moment on vacation in Dubai. I was with friends in a busy bar waiting for a drink and a barman and part-time predator reached out his beer ridden hands to touch my silver braided locks. During his reach he asked over a noisy club “Can I touch?”... My response was  “no” *pauses and giggles* (We as women need to stop laughing off inappropriate questions asked by men). I went on to say, after my regretful giggle, “I don’t want to have to wash it”. He shrugged off my reply and turned away. My response intended to explain that my hair is very white and honestly, I  just don’t want beer in it. If he was aware of the maintenance of protective hair styles he would understand the importance and stress of ‘wash day’.

His Coworker interrupted, “I guess you don’t want to it touch then” insinuating my hair wasn’t clean enough to touch. Following this they both began to laugh arrogantly. As a fellow female you just saw a man invite himself into my personal space? My sanctuary as a women?. I would never invite myself into a mans space or request to touch any part of him so the sexism here is clearly defended by his female coworker.

IMPORTANCE OF MY PERSONAL SPACE AS A WOMEN

This incident only added to a long line of occasions where men have felt like they can touch me willy lily. We as women often experience this monthly, weekly, daily.  Whether its them sitting too close us to us on the train or trying to hold our waists to get past us in a nightclub. It's taught behavior that women can be touched without consent and we are made to feel dramatic if we question or defend it. Another issue I want to address is invitations from non black people to touch my hair. Sometimes it’s said in intrigue but for black people it’s dehumanising. It makes us feel like our texture and styles are a novelty and our weaves are a product you can buy a try as you please. Part of me feels like a zoo animal and I owe them my fur.  I grew up in white community with a 20 inch afro so this is a feeling I’ve felt many times before; A battle with being unique but not by choice. Most of the requests to Graze, poke or tug on my crown other than horny men who humour it are in fact white women who are intrigued by my texture and style. This is less demeaning but still problematic invitation. As black women we want to embrace and celebrate our blackness but we don’t want to feel different and uncomfortable. We want to be respected and admired from a far. If you have intrigue and questions then you have the choice to educate yourself or ask friends not strangers about black hair and the history and importance of it.

Final thoughts… don’t touch my hair! *Solange voice*

Jade lauriceComment