I was watching Dates from Hell on @DiscoveryID the other night. Wednesday nights are their "Love Gone Wrong" episodes with Who the Bleep Did I Marry followed by this new Dates from Hell. These are stories where a woman goes out on a date and ends up fighting/running for her life. Grim. Puts my BougieTales of Dating Woe in proper perspective. But anywho...
The premiere episode Wednesday night was about (in a nutshell) a woman who was vacationing in Rome. On her last night there, she and her friend were at a cafe. The cafe owner introduces them to Marco. Marco was an artist and they visited his studio. Marco invited them out to drinks and they declined. The woman changed her mind and went to meet him without her friend. She and Marco chatted about art, sipped wine, he was charming. He bought her flowers and complimented her. Shortly thereafter he told her about the wonderful view of Rome from the balcony in his apartment. She agreed to go take a look.
At this point in the story I tweeted that I did not understand a single woman in a foreign country going to a strange man's apartment alone. I'm sorry. I can't fathom the circumstance under which I would ever, ever do that. As you might suspect, the story turned batshit crazy. Marco went uberPsycho literally trying to rape and kill the woman. She had to fling herself off the sixth story balcony and jump across rooftops to escape. She did escape, badly hurt and badly shaken up but a survivor. She is now a victims' advocate.
She also tweeted me to tell me that I shouldn't "victim blame- a woman has a right to trust that she won't be attacked by an animal."
True but um... Okay - first, I don't victim blame. For instance, do I blame Trayvon for wearing a hoodie? No. I agree that sometimes people are just in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong evil people crossing their paths. HOWEVER - I do think there are precautions that one should take to avoid the potential for these situations at all costs. She did not appreciate my point of view and directed me to her website for some educational reading.
From here a firestorm of a debate raged on Twitter - many of the chocolate sisterhood said we just don't get down like that. Marco would have had to drag me to his apartment kicking and screaming to see the view unless I had someone with me, a cell phone in hand and an idea where the closest Polizia station was located. And event hen I may not have gone. Then again, my father was the type to say: "Ain't nothing open after midnight but liquor stores and legs. Act like a lady and be home on time." I was 30 years old and he was still telling me to "act like a lady." Le sigh. I've been brought up to believe that preventative precaution is the way to go in most social situations. [Translated: Men are frequently grab-assy, don't get caught out there]
Many of the non-black women said it wouldn't be that big of a deal to them. Since the cafe owner introduced Marco, they would assume he was a nice guy and feel comfortable with him. Hmm. I'm not saying black women don't get attacked. I'm saying most of the black folks I know run from danger even if there's only a slight whiff of it. We tend to assume someone is up to no damn good until they've proven otherwise. Is it just me?
There's stuff I just don't do. I don't walk to my car alone at night. I don't jog alone at night. I don't get drunk without a designated driver/watcher/exit strategy. I never go on a date with someone new without letting folks know where I'm going to be and who I'm going to be with. If I'm alone in an elevator with someone I get a hinky vibe from, I get off and wait for the next one. I don't ride in strange people's cars. If I'm at a house I've never been to, I check for the exits. Lookie here, I don't play. I don't know if that's a female thing, a lessons learned thing or a black thing.
Not to make light of the situation but it's kind of like those jokes about horror movies. The black audience is looking at Suzy walking into the dark forest in the rain (in high heels and a minidress) like, "Don't. Do. It!" or "Girl betta you than me" and the rest of the audience is surprised when Suzy gets chainsawed to death.
Someone asked me - Do black people just always think trouble is coming? Do you ever just trust that people are what they say they are?
To which I answered: Sometimes and rarely. From our historical reference, trouble/danger/shenaniganism does appear to pop up announced and wreak epic havoc impacting us generationally. Culturally, we are taught to keep one good eye on folks in case they flip out. I don't know if this is true for all cultures. BougieMom says, "You can't avoid trouble but you don't have to open the front door and invite it in for dinner either."
What say you, BougieLand? Is this a "black thing"? Is there some sort of cultural divide in the way the races perceive danger? Have black folks been okey-doked one two many times (Slavery, Jim Crow, 2004 Presidential Election) to be totally trusting of anyone's motives? [A friend of mine and I were talking about this and he said, "You know we just one Tea Party President away from getting shipped back to Africa.] Oh. My. Is that what we think? Please discuss...