I’ve been sitting on this story for a few weeks now; still riding out the wave of the QSOCC conference and all the momentum it has given me. The night after the conference an incident happened to me, and that got me thinking about the commodification of my body. It happens to many of us, especially if we’re queer, fat or POC. I happen to be all three.
The night in question was spent dancing until two in the morning at Berbati’s with my cousins, my bf and other friends. We had a great time. However, after we left the club I was walking down the alley and this White woman started hollering at me, “OH MY GOD I LOVE YOUR HOODIE! I LOVE YOUR HOOPS” and THEN she grabbed at me. I didn’t even react; I kept walking. It’s become so normalized to me.
The next day however, I started thinking about the incident and how used to that kind of interaction I have become. This woman saw me, a queer fat person (probably not brown because I pass) walking down the street and thought she had a right to touch me. I don’t care if she liked how I dressed, she had NO right to touch me and get into my personal space.
The commodification of our bodies is commonplace in U.S. culture: our fashion, our music, our androgyny, and our bodies. Everyone wants a piece when it’s popular and new. We become nonentities: the fat and sassy gay person, the exotic brown other. bell hooks called this, “eating the other”. We become exploitable by the majority.
This commodification becomes especially salient and dangerous when intersected by street harassment. When people start seeing us as nonentities available for their consumption our identities are erased and we are open to violence. This is a dangerous place to be, walking down the street, as we are navigating White space or heterosexual space.
Fabian Romero said that it is revolutionary to love our queer, fat, immigrant, brown, disabled, non-cisgendered bodies. I believe we should also take this revolution to the streets and push back against the commodification of our bodies. We ought to push back against street harassment. We are not the exotic object! We are PEOPLE. And we deserve our body sovereignty.