Uncapped: Being a Woman in the Male-Dominated Graffiti Scene [OP-ED]
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No pictures, nor audio in this Uncapped session. Nothing. Just a candid collaborative effort by several female writers who have experienced humiliation and sexism while active in the graffiti scene. The world of graffiti, unbeknownst to many, is actually a world in and of itself.
These ladies choose to remain anonymous (except one) for good reason. Let’s get to it.
90 degrees, bunch of sweaty guys, hot beer, and paint fumes – this is graffiti in the summer. PLEASE put your shirt back on. No one wants to see that. Flex your pot-belly while you gulp another beer. Being single doesn’t mean I’m desperate.
I went to a couple of BBQs to peruse art for an auction house I work at. “Street art” as it’s referred to now, is all the rage. Personally, I think street art should remain on the street, but European clients are clamoring to hang something “urban” in their homes. Especially Urban NYC. I will do a lot for my job, but you will not see me at another BBQ for graffiti crews again. Even some of the married guys, in front of their wives, were hitting on me. I’m not conceited, but I’m also not dumb. “What she don’t know won’t hurt her.” Ew.
I know enough acronyms than I care to waste brain power on … graff names and their meanings, paint locations, the meanings of bombing versus tagging versus who the fuck cares and here’s what I walked away with … a bunch of sweaty guys, drunk off hot beer, consumed by paint fumes making up stories about me just because I have a pussy and don’t open my legs to everyone who asks/tries. You can’t flatter me into being a slut. I respect myself too much.
I was with Anon #1 at the BBQs she went to, so you could probably figure out who I am if you really cared. But you don’t and you might not even know how to read because lord knows your grammar is atrocious. Graduating middle school is not something to be proud of. I ended up dating this one guy who was damn near perfect until I found out he lived with his baby mama and their 4 month old. Good times.
I don’t even write (as in graff). I am a videographer who entered this “world” with innocent eyes and rose-colored goggles, helmet and glasses. I saw throngs of doting men as sweet and kind and funny and exciting. They ask you out, they compliment you. They play on your emotions and promise to fulfill your every whim and then? Well, if you say no, they tell people they slept with you. If you choose to give someone a chance and meet up with them, they say they slept with you. If you say “no” and the person is certifiably insane, they stalk you – literally. I had to go to the police and that is the only time that doesn’t make you a rat, apparently. When someone is parked outside ya crib and legit stalking you.
Did you know people can manipulate text messages? Delete this and that and leave the rest making it look like you a ho? Yeah, well. If you actually like a dude – talk on the phone. No texts. Period.
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People warned me. They told me this world was petty and catty and I would be talked about. Even as a photographer. But with my naivete and open mind I said “who cares? I’m doing this anyway. I want to see this world and capture it.” I never expected to be the next Martha Cooper, but I was hoping to have the same respect she garners. Boy, was I wrong.
If I had a penis, my life would have been filled with high fives and bro-mance. But instead, because I have boobs, it is filled with relentless rumors and gossip. I was with someone who was also a writer for years. We were going to get married. He watched some girl try and jump me for hanging out at this spot in the Bronx. He just stood there. At one point, that shit almost broke me. Made me believe I had no talent. Made me question my choice to paint and then I think I really did break. I was basically suicidal. The name-calling and the gossip was worse than any adolescent school experience.
This one calls me a slut and then turns around and tries to fuck me on the low. They broke my spirit, but I know have talent. I am finally being recognized as an artist and I will laugh all the way to the bank while these broke-ass, can’t pay child support or afford an apartment, but can buy paint niggas can suck my dick if I had one.
I meet a lot of respectable people, but it is a damn shame that as a woman you have to earn the right to play with big boys when some of these dudes out there painting are a bunch of talentless, mindless, ignorant fools. Listen, I’m being harsh. I get it. Some of them are amazing artists, with endless talent and potential. But no one is safe from the rumors some of them spread. They all say, “Hey, listen. My business is my business. I keep a very private life.” KISS OF DEATH! RUN!
I believed it one time. We spent months together then he disappeared. Ghosted. He met someone new and instead of telling me, he ran away. I see his work around the city – mostly bombed over my work which is pretty much the most disrespectful thing you can do in graff. I will never date another graffiti artist again. Ever.