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You can touch my hair

Posted by on Jun. 17, 2013 at 3:59 PM
  • 19 Replies

I lived in Japan for 4 years. I am a tall blonde who was often stopped so people could touch my hair. I was never offended. It's a totally different feel and experience from their own hair and they were curious. When did curiosity become so horrible?

http://news.msn.com/pop-culture/invitation-to-touch-black-womens-hair-sparks-protests

An "interactive public art exhibit" that invited passers-by to touch black women's hair sparked a backlash by other African-American women who said it was a demeaning stunt.

A recent "interactive public art exhibit" in New York City that invited strangers to touch the hair of a group of black women in a park has caused a backlash, with many African American women decrying the event as a demeaning stunt.

The event, organized by the black women’s hair-care website Un-ruly.com, hoped to open a conversation about the “tactile fascination with black hair,” Un-ruly founder Antonia Opiah wrote in a blog post announcing the event. It consisted of a handful of black women with various hairstyles holding signs reading, “You can touch my hair,” in Manhattan’s busy Union Square Park. Many strangers accepted the invitation, stopping to talk to the women and feel their tresses.

The exhibition did spark conversation, but not in the way Opiah had expected. By the event’s second day, June 8, a group of black women had gathered to protest the display, holding signs with slogans such as, “You cannot touch my hair,” and “What’ll it be next … my butt?” Some took to Twitter and the blogosphere, comparing the spectacle to a petting zoo and saying it harkened to a time when African Americans were used as attractions in freak shows in the United States and Europe.

Touching black women's hair exhibitHeui Song Son. A recent "interactive public art exhibit" in New York City that invited strangers to touch the hair of a small group of black women in a public park has caused a backlash.

“It was taken the wrong way by a lot of people,” Abigail Opiah, Antonia’s sister and the publicist for Un-ruly.com, told MSN News. “At the onset, we didn’t think it was going to cause any controversy, let alone get any attention.”

"We were a little bit naïve on that part,” Abigail added. “Here in the US black hair isn’t just hair.”

The idea behind the event was not to make a spectacle of black women, but rather to promote cross-cultural understanding, the women behind Un-ruly said.

“Some saw petting zoo in You Can Touch My Hair and I understand why,” Antonia wrote in a blog post on Un-ruly.com in response to the backlash. “But I saw a cultural exchange. Any good conversation requires you to give up a little bit of yourself, by way of listening, by way of challenging your preconceived notions, by way of relaxing your defense mechanisms and making yourself just a little bit vulnerable.”

The idea for “You Can Touch My Hair” came from Antonia’s own experience with strangers asking to feel her locks. She decided to stage the Union Square event after writing an article for the Huffington Post about the odd and sometimes unsettling experiences, Abigail said.

“We were just saying, since the curiosity already exists, let's extend an olive branch,” Abigail said. “It was very much tongue-in-cheek.”

Dominique Hazzard, 22, who took to the feminist blog Disrupting Dinner Parties to list “4 Reasons Why, Actually, You Cannot Touch My Hair,” said black women often have to contend with strangers asking to touch their hair, or worse, grabbing it without asking. Though Hazzard said she understands most people in such cases do not have bad intentions, she said the idea that strangers somehow have a right to touch black women’s bodies does stem from a deep history in which African Americans were once others’ property.

“I’m curious about people with freckles but you wouldn’t hear about a black person walking up to someone with freckles and rubbing their face,” Hazzard told MSN News. “That wouldn’t fly in America.”

"There’s ways to learn about folks that are different from you without making someone else a spectacle and without invading their space,” she said.  

For its part, Un-ruly.com plans to continue the conversation by holding an online panel discussion from 6 to 7 p.m. ET on June 20 via Google Hangouts.

by on Jun. 17, 2013 at 3:59 PM
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Replies (1-10):
viv212
by Platinum Member on Jun. 17, 2013 at 4:06 PM
1 mom liked this
Those women crying need to relax. People ask to touch my hair all the time just because its long. They're crying for nothing.
furbabymum
by on Jun. 17, 2013 at 4:14 PM
1 mom liked this

 I thought the criers got out of hand when they started comparing it to slavery. I don't think anyone who wanted to touch my hair thought they owned my body and I would never think that when I touched someone else's hair.

momtoscott
by on Jun. 17, 2013 at 4:21 PM

People have different senses of personal space.  I remember how horrified I was, when I was pregnant, that complete strangers would come up to me and touch my stomach.  I was pregnant in a largish city and walking on busy sidewalks, taking subways, etc., and this happened a lot.  Perhaps because I was a woman, they didn't feel like they had to ask permission or warn me what they were going to do.  Kids, okay, I can understand, but adults did it too.  It was repulsive and upsetting partly because people didn't ask, as if I had no right to a say in the matter.  

Now, that was only for the last couple of months of being pregnant.  If that happened to me, lifelong, because of my hair, yeesh... I understand why people coould get upset.  

furbabymum
by on Jun. 17, 2013 at 4:23 PM

 Yeah but did you immediately think that the people touching your tummy was an insult and harkened back to times when women were chattle?

Quoting momtoscott:

People have different senses of personal space.  I remember how horrified I was, when I was pregnant, that complete strangers would come up to me and touch my stomach.  I was pregnant in a largish city and walking on busy sidewalks, taking subways, etc., and this happened a lot.  Perhaps because I was a woman, they didn't feel like they had to ask permission or warn me what they were going to do.  Kids, okay, I can understand, but adults did it too.  It was repulsive and upsetting partly because people didn't ask, as if I had no right to a say in the matter.  

Now, that was only for the last couple of months of being pregnant.  If that happened to me, lifelong, because of my hair, yeesh... I understand why people coould get upset.  

 

BellaByrdie
by Bronze Member on Jun. 17, 2013 at 4:24 PM

I have curly hair.  Long spiral curls.  People ask to touch it.  Black women too.   

I have been asked what a black persons hair feels like because I dated/now married a black mine.  

When I asked why its because their hair looks like it would be so rough.   But frankly it all depends on the style and everything.  Just like with my own curls.  Sometimes they can be silky other times crunchy dependin what I do to it. 


ACDC_fan
by Member on Jun. 17, 2013 at 4:25 PM

It's hair.

HAIR. 

ACDC_fan
by Member on Jun. 17, 2013 at 4:26 PM

and people ask to touch my hair because it's super thick and long.
....I must admit, I say no just because I DESPISE people touching my hair. But I'm never offended by it. 

TruthSeeker.
by Milami on Jun. 17, 2013 at 4:27 PM

 Oh!! I couldn't stand strangers wanting to touch my stomach.

 

Quoting momtoscott:

People have different senses of personal space.  I remember how horrified I was, when I was pregnant, that complete strangers would come up to me and touch my stomach.  I was pregnant in a largish city and walking on busy sidewalks, taking subways, etc., and this happened a lot.  Perhaps because I was a woman, they didn't feel like they had to ask permission or warn me what they were going to do.  Kids, okay, I can understand, but adults did it too.  It was repulsive and upsetting partly because people didn't ask, as if I had no right to a say in the matter.  

Now, that was only for the last couple of months of being pregnant.  If that happened to me, lifelong, because of my hair, yeesh... I understand why people coould get upset.  

 

xoxRachelxox
by on Jun. 17, 2013 at 4:27 PM
People are so easily butt hurt these days.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
RachelsMercy
by on Jun. 17, 2013 at 4:32 PM

me too! My hair is to my butt and curly and also dyed bright red and black so I do get people who ask to touch it. I also get a lot of people who ask if it's real, where I got my extensions at, and other stuff like that. I don't get offended unless it is clearly asked in a nasty way.

Quoting viv212:

Those women crying need to relax. People ask to touch my hair all the time just because its long. They're crying for nothing.



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