Thick thighs, wide hips, and breasts that didn’t even give a training bra a chance! Is the norm for many of our young black girls. Yet, instead of encouraging self-love, and appreciation these girls are condemned as society labels them, “Fast Tailed” as women slut-shame little girls into being embarrassed by their curves and as GROWN men ignore their age and only look at their bodies.
Thanks to Twitter, Mikki Kendall (@Karynthia) and Jamie Nesbitt Golden (@thewayoftheid) of @HoodFeminism created the hashtag #FastTailedGirls and opened the door for conversation on stereotypes and abuse that Black girls/BW face based on myths of hypersexuality and the history of misogynoir.
It was a powerful discussion as black women poured out their own insecurities from being labeled #FastTailedGirls and the actual situations that surrounded those experiences.
(I compiled a few of the tweets. Please take a look at the following tweets to get an idea of this phenomenal conversation started through twitter:
Here are a few tweets that followed the hashtag:
@NebetShar: My mother was 16, my dad was 23 and people thought it was normal. #FastTailedGirls
@whereis_emma: @ a youth retreat girls were told our outfit choices made men lust we were responsible for others sinning #FastTailedGirls
@GinUwinart: A very sad truth most young girls in foster care are automatically labeled as #FastTailedGirlswhen placed in Foster Homes.
@msbrandiebrown: [TW:Rape] After I was drugged and raped. “It sounded like you were having fun.”- “friend” that was at the same party. #fasttailedgirls
@bad_dominicana: @rosefox those white women had the same #fasttailedgirls beliefs. that black girls are here for sexual service& experimentation.
MSNBC contributor, Goldie Taylor, broke it down in an amazing piece that I want to share and I hope encourages the conversation no how we can save our Black Girls from undergoing the same treatment we pushed through.
“Fass, you see, is a gender-specific pejorative term meaning a girl is intentionally demonstrating the carnal behaviors reserved for a woman beyond her years. The issue is further exacerbated if a child experiences early signs of puberty and develops physically.
Pre-pubescent girls are not immune. A child, even as young as 8 or 9, can be accused of dressing “provocatively” or “switching” her hips in order to attract the sexual attention of grown men.
Fass is nothing more than a synonym for whore. Nothing more than a polite calling card, a proverbial welcome mat plastered on a child’s reputation that invites public scorn, objectification or, worse, tacit approval for the physical sexual exploitation of minors. The gentler sounding “fass” allows the person using it to cloak him or herself in innocence while engaging in one of the most vile forms of victim shaming imaginable.
In the most horrific incidences, this intra-cultural “red-lining” has been historically used to malign and silence victims of molestation and rape. Its usage is designed to assuage any notion of guilt for the man who commits these vile acts, reassigning the blame to the young girl that he has victimized. Sadly, fass is an epithet most frequently weaponized and hurled by older women—women who have an emotional and/or physical stake in the outcome.
Tragically, the necessity of protecting children from abuse is sometimes overwhelmed by the desire to protect a husband or boyfriend and, by extension, the relationship. In those instances, whatever financial, emotional or physical benefit she enjoys effectively trumps any responsibility she might feel to her child. Blaming the child can be written off to the fates– a curse from the heavens above– while blaming your significant other is an immediate indictment of your own failed choices.
To be clear, this is not a new phenomenon, nor is this confined to the immediacy of family. There is no more prominent example of this than the case of Robert Kelly. Otherwise known as chart-topping R&Brecording artist R. Kelly, when he stood accused of engaging in sex with minors it was his fans—many of them women– (and a jury) that came running to his rescue.
One look under the hashtag #FastTailedGirls reveals a minefield of agonizing personal stories, as well as vestiges of the misogynistic victim shaming that continues to fan the flames of devastation reeking havoc on so many of our communities.
Our collective torment was matched with defiant calls for solidarity. “If we don’t stick up for our girls, and stop blaming them for the actions of grown men, who will? SMH. #FastTailedGirls,” actress and voice-over artist Reagan Gomez tweeted.
Then there were those who voiced their ire at being “excluded” from the conversation, those who found the discussion too narrow. For white women who joined the thread, the proverbial tent was deemed too small to account for tragedies unfolding in the broader populace. It was as if we needed a 140-character permission slip to speak frankly about a culturally relevant term that is indicative of a larger set of dynamics at work– a term they had never heard, one unique to our history.
Certainly, the black community does not own a monopoly on child exploitation and victim shaming. Girls of every walk of life, every ethnicity and socio-economic background are targeted. And all too often, when these children seek safe harbor with a female caregiver— whether a mother, an aunt, or a grandmother — they find scorn rather than solace.
For us, the roots stretch back as far and flow as deep as the Atlantic Ocean when the first African women and girls were brought ashore, enslaved and re-imaged as hyper-sexualized creatures. Those stereotypes were planted and flourished through the ages, resulting in a plethora of pathologies still at work—including earlier incidences of sexual activity. Then too, I believe, it feeds human trafficking and child sexual exploitation. However, in addition to the inherent and life-altering mental health issues, the implications on early teenage pregnancy rates are more than clear.
“About 74 percent of women who had sexual intercourse before age 14 and 60 percent of those who had sex before age 15 report having had sex involuntarily at some point in their lives.”
It is time to break this cycle, time to break the silence. It is time that we stop shaming children and stop celebrating those who deliver that harm. It is time to put the onus where it belongs—on the men who perpetrate these crimes and the people who protect them.” See the article in its entirety here.