I’m guilty. I’m so guilty.

I feel ashamed. I want to defend myself but nothing what I say will matter. My defenses seemed reasonable for many years and that it would explain my behavior. That it would make anyone understand my lack of knowledge, understanding and of emotions. It would however not make things right for the women I encountered and treated with less dignity than they deserved. I was not so much a “bad man.” However, I was wrong.

So I’m not going to “just” apologize…

I wish I could say I didn’t know better. I wish I had an excuse but all I could say would never take away my mistakes. But I’m not going to stop there. I have a plan and I have been committing to it for the past years. I’m going to confess, I’m going to grow and I’m going to educate myself. And then, all the men (and women,) I can see or touch, around me.

I have disrespected women without my intend. Call it bad humor, lack of education or a hormone lusted society that triggered many behavioral acts that I can not be proud of. It is not that I did not respect or adore women. Let me get this straight, I grew up with a single mom between mixed cultures and in different countries. The Netherlands and Curaçao, (ex Netherlands Antilles.) As a Caribbean boy you grow up in a cultural melting pot and I have seen all colors and sizes of women and admired them as what they were, as the head of state to the cleaning lady who would always have a smile. I have never ever seen them as weak or lesser humans than any male. I’ve defended some in heated discussions when their behavior got questioned by men who had done the same as their female counterparts. I scolded a few as they treated boys as their toys and I’ve bowed my head in honor for their grace. Yet I have wronged them in moments I was the weaker one. All I can say to defend myself is that I have been confused by a disbalance on how we mix the feminine and masculine of this world in a society that celebrates sexuality over humanity.

“Still Not Asking For It” is a photography and multimedia project designed and created by Rory Banwell.

I have been a poet and a (salsa) dancer and I tried to celebrate her beauty, her elegance, her femininity and pleasure her sexualy. I danced with her with words on and off the dancefloor. When I couldn’t I played the music to set the tone or pour the drinks to influence the mood. As a bartender and DJ I touched many hearts and many lives. I’ve seen them come together, as I’ve seen them fall apart. I have not raped or sexually assaulted anyone but I am almost certain that I have been the male that has been seen as a threat.

(here I go…)

I have crossed an invisible line many time. A kiss that maybe was not wanted. A touch that was not expected. An invitation that was not wanted. I got slammed and rejected. I took it as a man and let the lady be in peace. Yet, every “unsuccessful” encounter felt as a loss, as a brick lost its mortar and my masculinity was falling apart.

“How could I do this right?”

“Did I treat her right? Did I leave her enough space?”

“How can she do this to me?”

“What did I do to her?”

In a society with more than one double standard it’s difficult to say, so I listened to the individual. When I was in the wrong, I apologized. When I was invited in, I would delve into her and let her taste my passion. I travelled the Netherlands. Germany, Spain, Belgium, France, Italy, just to name a few and everywhere I broke hearts and mine got broken too. There were touches, grabs and slaps. Bites and scratches. I got cat called and I cat called them. I have thrown some looks and drinks around and catched some broken hearts I healed before I left them bruised again. I have no clue what I have caused. Even though it was never with bad intent I know I should’ve been a better man.

Photo Credit: Rory Banwell

My biggest mistake was when I touched a woman in a way a man never should, no matter what she did. I can not make right what I have done wrong. I can however make sure that it will never happen again and that I will help and educate all these younger man that grow up in a world where information is freely gathered and awareness is sprayed around like fairy dust. I commit myself to be sure that the dust will stick. Without judgment.

No more double standards from my side. I will give and share more patience, more understanding, more love and caring and mostly, more balance. I will tell the stories to the young women and men I encounter in my industry and help them to become leaders by their behavior.

We live in a “masculine world” by survival
but we must not forget that by the feminine we grow.

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Featured Image by Rory Banwell for her Still Not Asking For It Project.

Music of Choice: The KillersHuman

“I did my best to notice
When the call came down the line
Up to the platform of surrender
I was brought but I was kind
And sometimes I get nervous
When I see an open door
Close your eyes, clear your heart
Cut the cord

Are we human or are we dancer?
My sign is vital, my hands are cold
And I’m on my knees
Looking for the answer
Are we human or are we dancer?”