9

Defend Her Honor?

Bridget Todd was met with a barrage of queries on why her husband was only “sad” and “yelled at [the driver] to let me go” while a cab driver allegedly choked her out last Saturday night. Bridget, a D.C. based writer and activist, tweeted her account of events accusing an Uber taxi driver of choking her for kissing her white husband. Mrs. Todd is black.

Bridget’s story was quickly picked up by bloggers who after further investigation found holes in her initial allegations. She is now being accused of having fabricated her story. Black Twitter was concerned about the alleged assault of a woman by an alleged violent cab driver, but the urging question was why in the world her husband didn’t beat the cab driver’s ass.

so question… you’re okay with your man not defending you @BridgetMarie???

sorry this happened to you but while ur at it investigate why ur BF Husband w.e did nothing while another man choked u @BridgetMarie

@BridgetMarie are you gonna have your husband investigated for doing nothing after you got choked out but getting “sad”?

And yall still married ?? Cuckold ?? “@BridgetMarie @TraceyBVoice @Karnythia @travisk Husband was sad and yelled at him to let me go.”

Tweets of this ilk from black women AND men flooded her mentions. Complete strangers were baffled as to how Bridget’s husband could sit idly while she was choked by another man. More than one person suggested she divorce him for his lack of action. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit this is a cultural reaction. The white women tweeting her were a bit more sympathetic to her husband’s state of shock citing jail time as a reason for him not to intervene. It’s not that white men don’t fight for their women or that white women don’t expect their men to whoop some ass for them, but in all the conversations I’ve had with white women about dating I’ve never heard them mention wanting a protector or a man who isn’t a punk as something they look for in a potential mate. It’s a common requirement for black women.

I was in to Alpha males from the moment I started dating seriously. Protection is important to me.

I moved into Wilson Hall at 17 as a college freshman. Despite proudly being attached, fresh faced hormonal college boys would still try their luck only to be denied. As part of my scholarship requirement I was a work-study student in the boys freshman dorm, Watson Hall. I’d inevitably become cool with most of the guys since I saw them daily by working at the front desk.

One boy from Memphis was all mouth. Tall, dark, lanky and disrespectful. Every time I’d see him he made some sexist off-the-wall comment. Call it a crush or not knowing how to relate to women. Whatever it was it was annoying. I’d handle it on my own, but still vent to my boyfriend in typical everyday chit chat. Since he didn’t go to my school he was dying to know who Jarvis was. My patience was wearing thin, T’s was thinner.

One night Nicole and I headed to club Hurricane on 2nd Ave with T and his boy Dan for a college party. Before T and I part ways he overhears “Jarvis!” being yelled over the loud music. Fortunately, he only heard the name but didn’t see Jarvis respond. I quickly pull T’s arm to usher him to the dance floor because I knew things could go terribly wrong.

“Which one is Jarvis?” he asked me.

“I’m not telling you. C’mon. Let it go, babe.”

“No, which one of these n*ggas is Jarvis?”

“It’s not that serious. Let’s go dance.”

“Hey Jarvis, what’s up man?”

Shit. He overhears someone else talking to Jarvis, but this time he sees Jarvis dapping up the person who’d called his name.

“Are you Jarvis?” he says once he’s in Jarvis’s face.

“Yeah, mayne. Who are you?” For all who don’t know, mayne is inarguably a Memphis thing in the way “what up doe?” inarguably originated in Detroit.

At this point I’m grabbing my boyfriend’s arm begging him not to do this.

“Man, listen. My girl says you’re disrespectful. From here on out don’t say shit else to her dawg or else we gon’ have a problem.”

T is 6″5 205 pounds. And an athlete. He was the last dude you really wanted to fight, but Jarvis had a mouth.

“Mayne, nah. It ain’t nothing like that. I can’t believe you approached me over some bullshit.”

Their conversation heats up and is causing a commotion. Security nips the situation in the bud by throwing me, T and Jarvis out. Fuck. Nicole and Dan are still inside. I call her phone frantically to no avail. Dan’s not answering either. Double fuck.

Jarvis turns into another person once we’re all outside standing in front of the club’s door. Now he wants to dap T up as if everything is cool.

“Everything is cool man. You could’ve just come at me a different way,” Jarvis says while laughing. “Mayne I’m just saying don’t ever approach me about no bitch.”

“Bitch? Who the fuck you calling a bitch?” I jump in Jarvis’s face within seconds. T quickly moves me out of the way to get at Jarvis, but security threatens to call the police if we don’t move away from the premises.

With no word from Nicole and Dan we head to the car since T drove. I immediately notice Bradley’s blue Tahoe parked a few spaces from us. Jarvis most likely rode with Bradley because they’re thick as thieves.* Before I can suggest we leave the parking lot to ride around to the front of the club to wait for Nicole and Dan I spot Jarvis walking toward the truck with Bradley, Big Mike and two other dudes. I know all of them because I work in their dorm.

Shit. Why haven’t Nicole and Dan answered their phones?

Jarvis laughs his stupid laugh while they all climb in the truck. For a minute it seems like they were pulling off without incident until Jarvis says something slick and hopped out to fight. Now that he’s with his boys he has courage he didn’t have when he was alone. T immediately flips Jarvis to the cement and is getting the best of him when all four of his boys hop out the truck. I quickly jump in front of whomever I can to let them know jumping him is out of question.

“Baby girl please get out the way. We don’t want you to get hurt,” Big Mike says.

“Big Mike, y’all gonna have to get through me! Let them fight one-on-one. If y’all jump him y’all some hos for real.”

“I hear you, B. It’s not about you anymore babygirl. Just please move. We don’t want you to get hit.”

Big Mike is, well, huge. Football player big. At least 300+ pounds of grandma’s home cooking. Big Mike picks me up to move me so he can get to T. Bradley is the first of the four to swing while T and Jarvis are still fighting. Nicole is finally running toward us. She and I, both 5″1, 100-110 lbs start plucking big ass men off T. At one point we’re pushing the guys while yelling at them for being cowards. Bradley runs to his truck and hollers, “Police coming!” The police were nowhere in sight, but Bradley was a Magnet school graduate who really wasn’t about that life. He didn’t want any of what was to come once T’s friends got word he’d been jumped. They all ran to the truck and peeled off.

T was livid. He paced the sidewalk screaming about having a Timbaland boot imprint on the side of his face. Dan eventually picked up his phone while in the club. Through the loud music and me screaming that T was jumped he made his way to the car as their other boys from the ‘hood showed up shortly after to do what hotheaded boys do when they’ve been disrespected. As much as I pleaded there was not calming any of them down. Rationale thinking didn’t kick in until much later.

When T’s aunt (who was no more than six years older than him) got word of what happened she was pissed. According to T, she was angry I hadn’t jumped in a fight with five grown ass men. She was so upset she’d apparently mentioned wanting to put hands on me. That never happened.

The funny thing is that at 17 I was young and wild. If “ride or die chick” was popular then I’d have considered myself one. I may not have jumped in T’s fight, but I certainly wasn’t sitting there threatening to call the police. I was pulling dudes twice my size off of him. T never forgave me for getting jumped. To him, defending my honor—the honor that I specifically begged him not to defend— came with a heavy price.

Years later as friends he proudly proclaimed he’d never stick up for his woman again no matter the situation.

Bridget probably wasn’t expecting to be questioned about what her man did or didn’t do to defend her, or maybe she did. It’s not as if a black woman she’s oblivious to the expectations of a man in these sort of confrontations, even if he’s white. Had Bridget’s hubby done more than yell at the cab driver to “let her go” he could’ve ended up in jail or one of the men could’ve ended up severely injured or dead. You always have to think of the worst case scenario. Yet, I’m inclined to think her husband should’ve done more. Fear to the point of freezing up aren’t viable options when your wife is being attacked.

But maybe there’s a bigger discussion to be had about the expectation of slews of black women for their men to be hyper-masculine protectors. I am one of them. Because of my concept of manhood my early 20s consisted of dating—with few exceptions—tall, big, hood dudes and D-boys. If something pops off I need to feel you can handle “it” whatever it is. If I think you’re “soft” it will never work. This is something I’m constantly working on because I believe black men deserve to live wholly without being considered gay if they’re not hyper-masculine.

At what cost does a man defend his woman? Always, no matter what? Would those questioning Bridget’s hubby’s actions feel the same way if he’d caught a serious case? Should a man be willing to go to prison to protect his wife? I don’t know. I’m not in Bridget’s shoes. I do think my husband would’ve caught a fade when we got home if I was being choked out and he did nothing.

It’s worth addressing the hyper-masculinity forced upon black men over the last three decades because of the appeal of hip-hop. Black men should be allowed to not be “hard” and not considered gay. Black men have to be allowed to dress like Kanye or A$AP without their sexualities being questioned. Black men who come from a good home who aren’t tough because they’ve never had to be are not necessarily punks or gay.

I’m long past the foolish age of 17. We’re grown adults who will face real consequences for violence even in the case of self-defense. I don’t think I could’ve done anything differently to keep T from getting jumped other than not going to the club with him in the first place. I hate that he was jumped, but I don’t know I’d tell my future son or young cousins not to defend a woman they care about who is being blatantly disrespected. And with that advice I’d have to be ok if my son was arrested for defending a chick. I’m not so sure if I’d be ok with that either.

*A year or two later there were rumors Jarvis slapped Bradley at a basketball game. Bradley did nothing.
**Jarvis later devoted his life to God and apologized to T and I. We ended up having an English class together. We were forced to read each other’s work. I hated him and all the dudes involved, but at some point had to forgive.
***Jumping people is so weak. If you can’t win one-on-one, don’t fight. 

  • Sticky Bear

    This reminds me of that scene in Crash when Matt Dillon molests Thandie Newton in front of Terrence Howard. She went into him once they got home, despite the rational thinking of “Hey, this guy has a gun, a stick, probably a taser, and the law protecting him. Oh, and there’s two of them.”

    • writtenbyBene

      I need to rewatch this movie. I watched it once and hated it. I’ve mostly forgotten it by now. I’ve heard it referenced a lot in the past year or so. People say it handles race relations well. Hmmm.

  • AmericanBoi

    I’m kinda of a big guy. I normally dress preppy. All my boys from highschool call my Carolton Banks. My mother was a principal (now retired) so i’ve always spoken really “proper”. Only played football for one year throughout my 4. In other words, people would consider me soft. And i don’t mind that bc i know what i’m capable of. I remember the night the Saints won the super bowl me and some of my friends went out. I’m from New Orleans so you could imagine the city was wild. Me and my friends had our own section. In the section next to us were some very wild party goers. One of the girls stumbled into our section. One of my friends asked her politely to please be careful she almost knocked over our bottle. She went back and told her friend, who happened to be about 6’3. He came over and stood IN our section and began dancing. *Strike 1* In doing so he bumped one of my female friends. She said “Excuse me.” and he said “Excuse YOU!.” *strike 2*….i tore his ass up in that club and we all got put out.

    The fact that the cab driver throught it would be ok to choke the woman in FRONT of her husband goes to show you what he thought of him. I would have went to jail, not for defending my wife, but for trying to MURDER that cab driver. Now what her husband could have did, at the very least, was defend his wife! I don’t think he would have went to jail for defending his wife…ESPECIALLY seeing that hes white.
    But you are very correct, it’s a cultural thing. And you sure better teach your son to defend his woman’s honor! I’d take a few hours in a jail cell for some charges that would probably be dropped given the situation vs being viewed as a coward who was to scared to defend his wife. But again, its a cultural thing…i’m a black man. I have alot of pride.

    • writtenbyBene

      I love this story. I hollered at “I tore his ass up in that club.” Dude definitely violated. I’m not sure how old you are, but would you do the same now?
      I think another interesting part of your story is that you know you could be considered soft, but you’re ok with it because of your ability to fight. I know a man who was teased throughout high school. They called him gay because he’s skinny, light skinned and soft spoken. He had a sheltered life in the suburbs so he never had to be tough. But instead of taking on the confidence you seemed to, he internalized those insults and has struggled with his manhood in terms of what society expects versus who he naturally is.
      As far as Bridget’s hubby he should’ve done something, anything. Yelling is not going to cut it. You say you would’ve went to jail on the premise that the charges would be dropped. But what if they weren’t? What if you’re now charged with a felony assault charge? Do you take that bid knowing you protected your wife? Do you try to implore logic in the moment on how to defend her w/out catching a case? At what extent is protecting a woman too far? And do you think black women’s expectations for their men to be protectors are unrealistic? I’m asking myself all these questions too because as I wrote, having a guy who is a protector is really important to me and has caused strife in a couple of my relationships.
      Full disclosure: Gawker points out the discrepancies in Bridget’s tweets. In one tweet she calls him her boyfriend and in others she calls him her husband. Her story is being disputed.

      • AmericanBoi

        i maybe have been maybe 23/24. I’m 28 now. And to be completely honest i really dont know if i would do the same thing now. I’ve learned to let alot of things slid now that i’m older. But i can’t stomach disrespect towards women from men. I can’t. I’m very close to my mother, and I have a little sister. And all i can think when i read about situations like this is “thats someones mother, that could be someones sister.” A friend of mine got punched in the face by a male just a year ago, and i know if i were there to witness that i would have completely lost it. So to answer you question now that ive started typing…i probably would have handled it the same. Mainly because it involved a man being disrespectful to a woman.

        As far as whats to far and whats not far enough…Bridgett’s husband could have gotten inbetween the man and his wife (maybe gf). It wouldn’t have had to come to a full on fist fight unless the cab driver was “bout that life”. But standing there doing nothing but being sad and yelling… no ma am. I guess getting in between them would have been the least confrontation thing that he SHOULD have been done. I cant see a man being arrested for getting inbetween another man and his wife. But if he was arrested…then i guess he’d have to deal with it. Lawyer up homie. Such is life. As a black man i know their are certain situations that may happen and i try my very hardest to do what is best for my well being and future when choosing how to react to a situation. But there’s just no way i could yell and scream while another man choked my wife.

        and i have a friend like you described. he was by his mom, and in the suburbs. he got bullied quite a few times in highschool. But he always got the women, and still does. So i guess he doesn’t loose much sleep as night and just hopes a prays a cab driver never tries to choke his lady up. lol

  • Shayola Brown

    if you can’t or aren’t going to fight, you better be dayum good at choosing sheepish wife and/or deescalating the situation before it becomes man-with-hands-around-wife’s-throat.

  • Maurice Garland

    if you’re putting hands on my wife, hell yeah im about to do something about it and risk going to jail. but if you just saying slick shit to my girl when im not around…i dont know about running up on somebody about all of that. ive been in situations (on college campus at that) where my girl would let me know some dudes in the dorm would always have something to say. most of the time her story ended with her cussing him out in return. after while she asked me to start accompanying her at her work study job some times, i assume to thwart any unwanted interaction with these dudes. and of course, when they saw me sitting in there with her, they walked right on by, saying nothing. after a while i stopped going to the work study job with her, and i never heard anything about anyone bothering her anymore. i was 5’11, 150 at the time and i doubt nghs was “scared” but they did know to respect my presence. so i guess i say all of that to say, cats cant be upset if they get jumped for running up in somebody face because somebody said something to their girl…

    in addition to that, there’s nothing wrong with wanting or thinking that your dude is supposed to be there to protect you though. but it depends on what and who yall are to each other. slick talk? 9/10, the type of women I date and mess with can handle that on their own when im not around. now if the disrespect happens in my face, and her attempts to handle it arent working, then yeah, im stepping in…but not with plans to start a brawl or go to jail though. but if its the WIFE though, then yeah, i might have to get on some extra shit.

    but yeah, even with this long ass paragraph…the bottom line is, if somebody is putting their hands on my wife…they are getting hands put on them.

    • writtenbyBene

      I don’t think you can say he can’t be mad he got jumped. It should’ve been one on one. Don’t be surprised it ended up being a fight but no one deserves to get jumped just because they’re winning a fight.
      Agree that a man talking slick to a dude’s girl doesn’t warrant hands being thrown. We’re kind of too grown to risk our livelihood & careers on someone getting slick w/your girl. With that said, women also have to be careful with what confrontations they get into with men and then expect their man to intervene. This usually ends bad for everyone.

  • ER

    Women are funny…the same chicks moaning and groaning bout sexism are the first ones to perpetuate reverse sexism on men – isn’t expecting a man to fight as sexist as expecting a woman to cook? Women love to hold on to basic archaic notions of manhood but when men hold on to basic notions of femininity then we dead wrong…y’all stay tryna have it both ways