Black people are NOT cowards

pi.trayvonmartin.protest.04

Welcome

What a difference a weekend makes. Before the Don Sterling tape scandal, I had not heard of the Clippers basketball team or of their multi-billionaire owner. The back-story behind this scandal is the stuff that soap operas are made of. From what I have gleaned online it appears that an 80 year old rich White man who happens to own a basketball team takes a young biracial mistress. His wife of 50 (something) years instead of divorcing her husband sues mistress for $1.8 million citing that she is a gold digger using her feminine wiles to extort money from silly old men. Mistress goes to her boyfriend to complain; apparently he shrugs and refuses to offer help. Mistress then makes the recording, probably selling it to the highest bidder. Old man is then banned from owning a basketball team for life by the NBA.

This story is very interesting on many levels. I found it ridiculous that a man would date a biracial woman and then complain when she associates with other Black people. Is she only Black when she is in the company of other Black people? Is he able to overlook her blackness when they are alone or associating with other White people? He objected to her being photographed with Magic Johnson, a respected sports legend and entrepreneur. Mr Johnson is not exactly someone dodgy from the wrong part of town. It does beg the question as to whether Black people can be truly accepted by white patriarchy, even if they are respected members of society. If a former athlete who has been openly praised by former US presidents is not enough for a Black man to be deemed reputable company it would suggest that the answer to the question is a resounding no.

I was prompted to write this piece after reading an article by rapper Homeboy Sandboy titled ‘Black People Are Cowards’. His premise is that African – Americans do not stand up for themselves in the way that the Civil Rights generation did. As a consequence White people are now free to disrespect us. His secondary gripe is that hip hop artists and TV reality stars perpetuate negative stereotypes about Black people which fuels the racism African-Americans face.

It is ridiculous to blame the oppressed for their oppression. The way in which Black people behave or are perceived to behave has nothing to do with racism. Racism is a social construct which exists to determine who controls and has access to the world’s resources. Slurs such as Black people are lazy, violent, feckless, crazy etc are hollow excuses to justify the barbarism of slavery, apartheid and colonialism. A Black person’s behaviour will not protect them from prejudice. Sterling was not impressed by Magic Johnson’s reputation. Respectability politics is a dangerous concept because it offers a false sense of security at the expense of our self respect. I abhor the behaviour of certain Black entertainers or members of the community. I am no fan of misogyny or Black on Black violence. However, I will always champion the idea that we are not a monolith group. When Black people play into the ‘respectability’ game you are ignoring the pervasive power of institutionalised racism and denying our humanity by lumping us as a group rather than a collective of unique individuals with a shared hue. Most importantly this argument lets the perpetrators and beneficiaries of racism off the hook. ‘It’s not our fault that we are racist; after all look at how these people behave.’

Mr Sandboy goes on in his piece to label the NBA players cowards for not refusing to play after the tape had been leaked. These men may very well be multi millionaires but who are we behind the safety of our keyboards to expect them to put their livelihoods on the line. He goes on to label every one of us cowards for not being prepared to do the same should a relevant situation arise. I have no idea how many bosses worldwide hold absolutely abhorrent beliefs. There are very few people who can abruptly leave their jobs without facing dire financial consequences. Is Mr Sandboy prepared to pay the rent/mortgage of the people who do not want to work for a jerk? Racism is a societal problem it is too big to expect an individual(s) to rectify. In some cases the biggest sign of defiance is survival. My own parents suffered a lot of indignities throughout their working life and did this (without complaint) to put food on the table and to provide opportunities for my sister and I. To continue and thrive in a hostile environment is the greatest act of bravery. It takes all of your physical and emotional strength to carry on day after day. The promise of the post Civil Rights era has not been fully realised. Gains have been made in the last 50 years but we have not reached the Promised Land. Black people are still several more times likely to be stopped by police, unemployed and imprisoned compared to their White counterparts on both sides of the Atlantic. If you doubt that we live in a post racial society, this tape is proof enough to remove those rose coloured glasses.

I believe in the power of protest but we must put things into context. We live in a different time from the 50s and 60s. The Civil Rights just like the Arab Spring were not random. They were orchestrated acts of civil disobedience which took years to build its momentum. In order to have a far reaching movement, it requires strategy, patience and planning. If you want to hurt the likes of Sterling, stop watching/attending matches, stop purchasing their sponsors products, then sit back and watch Rome burn. In order to have purchasing power you need to be in employment. Once you have lost your purchasing power you have no voice. I would advise Mr Sandboy to take a class in 101 Economics.

Fast forward a few days, Mr Sterling has been fined $2.8 million dollars and received a lifetime ban from the NBA. (And to think that no Black athletes had to lose their jobs in order to achieve this) I am not naive, once the sponsors feared a serious backlash due to the tape the NBA had to take action. I am glad that such action was taken but I am far from dancing in the streets. Personally, I couldn’t care less who Donald Sterling wishes to associate with and the reasons behind that choice. What I do care about is when someone is able to use their racist beliefs as a platform to diminish the quality of life for others. When he is not busy chasing a woman four times his junior, Sterling is a housing magnate owning vast amount of property in Los Angeles. He has been accused of systematically refusing to rent apartments to Black and Latino tenants. Various court case of discrimination has been brought against him, the most recent being in 2006. In the US and most places at that, where you live greatly determines your safety, the ability to receive a decent education or healthcare. Consigning Black people to ghetto environments significantly reduces their quality of life, potential for social advancement and perpetuates the disparity between rich White and poor Blacks. That is the power of institutionalised racism, when somebody has the authority to put their beliefs into action at the detriment of others.

I am all for all of us doing our part to make the world a fairer place but I am a believer in picking battles. I think it is right that Sterling be taken to task for his abhorrent views but the real fight is how do we tackle the system which allows men like Sterling to live in their ivory towers while they enforce housing segregation in the 21st century. Mr Sandboy would be better served taking his ire out on the powers that be instead of expecting miracles from the have nots.

Please let me know your thoughts

Sudelicious

Is Beyonce a feminist icon?

queen-bee-jpg

Welcome

It has been a while seen I last posted anything. I was beginning to have writing paralysis, over thinking what topic my next post should cover. In that respect, I should thank Ms Knowles-Carter for giving me the impetus to blog again. I’ll be the first to admit that releasing an album complete with videos without any press was a power move,that left her fellow pop princesses in her wake. However, I have been disappointed with certain black feminists declaring that Queen/King Bey is a feminist icon whom we should all ‘bow down’ before and download her cd. Worse still, they have gone on to insult anyone who questions this or critiques Mrs Carter’s feminist credentials.

Do I believe that Beyonce is a feminist icon? The short answer is no. Do I doubt that she is a feminist? For me, that is a moot point. Beyonce is free to self define herself as a feminist, that is entirely her business. Contrary to what many people believe, there isn’t a feminist code. We all have to forge our own path to make the world in which we live fairer to all of its inhabitants. The issue is whether she is a Black feminist icon. I fail to see how her singing songs about ‘getting it on’ with her husband is improving the lives of Black women worldwide. Her personal success does not empower me in any way. I am more inspired by the women in my family, my friends and by those who have made a difference to peoples’ lives not just their record collection. I honestly don’t understand why anyone would fixate on a celebrity’s life instead of their own.

Her fans also repeatedly go on about how she sings songs of female empowerment. This is not a new trend within popular rnb – see Aretha Franklin, Gloria Gaynor and countless others. Many female artists before her have been singing songs about getting rid of a no good man and standing on your own feet. Of her contemporaries, Janelle Monae is the real feminist deal. She has not compromised her art or herself just to get a record deal. Her robotic revolution is a perfect allegory for marginalised peoples including women, people of colour, gays and Black women in particular. I don’t understand why Ms Monae is not being championed in the same way by the fervent Beyonce fans.

Beyonce is a beautiful, talented and hard working entertainer. Her success is also due to the fact that she is probably the least threatening black female performer of all time. Her physical aesthetic is that of white woman with a tan and long blonde hair. She has a look which grants her mass appeal. For her album to be number 1 in US a lot of people of different races had to purchase it. That is just simple mathematics. She does not have to assert her beauty or sense of worth in the same way that Nina Simone had to. Nina’s dignity, views and poise were an act of defiance in a time where Black women were considered non entities. Beyonce does not critique the power structures; instead her music solely concentrates on safe topics such as love and now in her latest album sex, these are inclusive subject matters. Most people can relate to falling in love and sexual desire. Her latest album may not be child friendly but she is not calling for a revolution any time soon.

Jumping on the feminism bandwagon has been a master stroke for Beyonce. It provides her with a new narrative which gives her music and the artist a depth that I honestly doubt she possesses. This has nothing to do with ‘intelligence’ it has everything to do with a willingness to question what occurs in the world and what can we do to change it. Beyonce and her team are more concerned with making money as opposed to changing the world for the better. For example she uses, Terry Richardson who directed Miley Cyrus’ ‘Wrecking Ball’ video. Now this man has had many complaints of alleged sexual harassment made against him. Where is the sisterly solidarity in employing a man with a reputation for allegedly molesting women?

Then we have the problematic lyrics to ‘Bow Down Bitches’ here she tells other women who are envious of her to bow down before her. This song has been remixed on her album and is titled ‘Flawless’ featuring novelist and feminist, Chimammanda Ngozi Adichie. Beyonce uses a snippet from a Ted talk Adichie gave called ‘We should all be feminists’. Beyonce uses a portion where Adichie explains how girls are encouraged to focus on marriage but boys are not. However, in Chimammanda’s original speech she goes on to talk about the competition among women especially in getting attention from men. Again if you are asking women to ‘Bow Down’ before you where is the sisterly solidarity? Where is the encouragement to the move away from competition among women? I have heard a lot of apologist hogwash in trying to explain this behaviour. One excuse I read was that she was mimicking the grandstanding behaviour of rappers and thus ‘de-constructing’ it. I am of the belief that the truth has an undeniable simplicity whereas hogwash tends to be very complex as its aim is to confuse. The truth is that Beyonce is only concerned with her fame and record sales and not the everyday lives of women. The reason why everyone should be feminists is to make the world a fairer place, where everyone is raised up. We can only do this by creating new ways to interact with each other. It is not possible to use ways of old to create new outcomes.

(If you haven’t already seen it please have a look)

Over the last couple of days/weeks, I have seen the recurring theme of certain Black Beyonce supporters stating that White feminists were somehow upset over the success of her album. On reading the fantastic blog by ‘Blogmother’ on http://www.whataboutourdaughters.com I too googled to see if these articles existed and lo and behold they do not!!! There are certain quarters within the White feminist movement who refuse to acknowledge their own privilege and complicity in the misogyny and racism that Black women face in society. That is a sad fact. However, I refuse to defend a multi millionaire in a made up fight with an imaginary foe. I want to focus on dealing with the issues that affect Black women and girls. Let’s put our energies into bringing the likes of R. Kelly to justice, let’s encourage our young women to be productive and happy members of society. Now that’s a fight I am interested in joining.

The main reason why I felt compelled to write this piece is not to insult Beyonce. I like some of her stuff. I just feel that there is a very dangerous trend of giving celebrities a gravitas that they have not earned or deserved. Being a Black feminist is not an easy path, you are often fighting people who share your gender and in many instances, your race. It is a marginalised position, fighting structures that have placed you at the bottom rung of society. Beyonce provides a very attractive potential poster girl for ‘the cause’ showing that Black women can be successful, beautiful, loved and happy. However, Ms Knowles Carter has done absolutely nothing to blaze a trail for others to follow or to challenge the power structures which binds us. In order to be a leader or an icon you have to create change. Therefore to label her an icon or to state that her album is a feminist manifesto is premature at best and foolish at worst. Beyonce is not going to change the status quo anytime soon, those looking for her to do so will be very disappointed.

I am also very disturbed by the politics of the exception. What I mean by that is that since the Civil Rights, Black people have always been sold on the idea of living vicariously through individuals. Martin Luther King winning the Nobel Peace Prize did not eradicate poverty for the Black poor. Now over 50 years later the gap in opportunity and income between the Black poor and everyone else has increased so much so that it seems that inter generational poverty is an inescapable destination for scores of the Black poor. The Oprahs, Baracks and Jay Zs do not change this fact and the odd Black millionaire should not make us feel that we have all reached the ‘promised land’. A similar PR job is being carried out in South Africa, where the focus on Nelson Mandela’s life and achievements is a desperate attempt by Black and White elites to distract the average South African from the sad fact that their lot has not improved post apartheid.

How does this relate to Beyonce? Mrs Carter’s individual success does not improve my quality of life. I am not prepared to live vicariously through one person. Creating sacred cows out of celebrities only distracts people from dealing with reality. There is a lot of work to be done and concerning ourselves with a rich entertainer to this extent is a waste of time. Irrespective of what you or I think of this album, it will not cross Beyonce’s mind for a second. Instead I will focus on improving my life and most importantly the lives of others. That is what real feminism looks like, its action not posturing or empty rhetoric.

Please let me know your thoughts

Sudelicious

Violent relationships

Welcome

I am no expert when it comes to domestic violence but as a general rule I believe that love doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t humiliate, injure, ridicule or damage. In the UK, 45% of women have experienced at least one incident of inter-personal violence in their lifetimes. (Walby and Allen 2004) Across the pond, more than three women a day are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in the United States. In 2005, 1,181 women were murdered by an intimate partner. (US Department of Justice 2007) According to various reports up to 40% of domestic incidents go unreported. Shockingly, these statistics are merely the tip of the iceberg.

Violence against women is at epidemic proportions, which seems at odds with the post feminist age we live in. How can women have come so far educationally and economically without their physical safety being guaranteed? With more prominent women in society, it would make sense that issues affecting women should have more credence than ever before. That is sadly not the case. It would appear that we are becoming numb towards violence against women. Domestic violence was often an act committed behind closed doors, the aggressors too ashamed to promote their crime. That sense of shame or fear of disapproval is alarmingly on the wane.

Much has been said about Chris Brown assaulting Rihanna. I accept that both parties were raised in violent households and that no one other than the former couple knows what happened that night. However, Mr Brown’s use of excessive force against his then girlfriend was and shall ever be despicable and inexcusable. The reason why we are still debating an event which occurred over three years ago is that it shone a light upon male/female dynamics in the Western world. What was brought to light is frightening, twisted and ugly. I do hope that Chris Brown is young enough to learn from this experience and conduct his future relationships in a positive and loving way. That’s what I hope but not what I believe will actually happen. I was shocked at the level of male and female support of Chris Brown and the demonising of Rihanna. She was painted as the mouthy, fiery wench who must have pushed him to his limit. Men are not rabid dogs; they are able to control themselves. This was an open and shut case. Chris Brown behaved violently and unlawfully and was punished. End of story. If students during the Civil Rights tolerated being water hosed, racially abused by police and set upon by dogs what could reasonably provoke a young man to punch, bite and attempt to throw his girlfriend out of a moving car?

The big question is why did Chris Brown receive so much wide spread support? We live in a society which expects the woman to be the victim and the male to be the aggressor. This is why we are so appalled when women abuse their children or kill. It goes against the saintly, passive feminine construct. Similarly with men, there is an expectation for them to be bad at expressing their feelings verbally, to be dominant and prone to violent outbursts. Therefore it stands to reason that men cannot be blamed if they behave violently, if challenged in a verbal argument or dealing with the fallout of a relationship breakdown. They simply do not have the emotional dexterity to be able to express themselves in a non –violent way in their relationships. Women knowing this are therefore to blame for pushing their position in an argument, with their quick minds and sharp tongues provoking the poor emotionally stunted man. When the overly emotional and the overly physical collide, violence is the regrettable but expected outcome. This is a lie. Unfortunately it is a lie which has been spread through every race, class and gender. Too many people genuinely buy into this nonsense and that’s why I doubt that the likes of Chris Brown and his ilk will change. This is no need to. There are plenty of men who will sympathise with his actions and women who will believe that the constant threat of violence is yet another facet of modern love.

Women bear the brunt but domestic violence is a straightjacket which traps us all. I believe that the majority of men want to be loved, to be vulnerable, to protect, to provide, to confide, to be emotionally intimate and held in high esteem by others. They just happen to be the silent majority. Instead society tries to fool us into believing that men are happy being dominant, emotionally stunted cave men. Males are encouraged to cling desperately to a vision of manhood which prevents many from living an emotionally fulfilling life. On the flip side, women are cast as victims who expect the path to true love to be thwarted with obstacles and danger. Men oppress and women are oppressed. The dynamic is always the victor versus the victim. It plays out with White against Black, straight against gay and man against woman. It is this belief system that makes peaceful coexistence a foolish dream as opposed to a reality which we should all strive for.

Politicians are always trying to secure the female vote; after all we are more than half of the electorate. I find it odd that wealthy middle aged White men feel that they have the legitimacy to lecture women about their fertility, abortion or defining what is rape and yet are noticeable silent about domestic violence? In the United Kingdom the average sentencing for ‘Grevious Bodily Harm’ is five to ten years in prison. That is in stark contrast to the whopping 68% of domestic abusers who only receive sentences of less than three months. (Source BBC News) In early 2012 the funding of women’s refuges in Britain was cut by 31%. Women’s bodies, fertility and mothering skills are constantly under scrutiny. However, when it comes to our safety, our esteem and our justice these are topics that no wants to discuss. Why? To bring about change would require all of us to change. To deal with violence against women you have to deal with the root cause, male entitlement to the female form. To change that will be to alter the accepted dynamic between men and women. Until women are truly seen as equals we will always be seen as the second sex.

Please let me know your thoughts

Sudelicious

The cost of Black patriarchy

Welcome

The Creflo Dollar story was a major talking point recently. Does a 50 year old man really have the right to choke his 15 year old daughter and then deny any wrongdoing in the pulpit? It brought several issues to the fore; the role of new Christian churches in the Black community; are charismatic preachers truly men of God or opportunistic snake oil salesmen and most importantly, why are the rights of Black men constantly pitted against the rights of Black women?

I have always believed that Black women need a different type of feminism to counterbalance the challenges they face. Unlike White women, Black women have both White and Black patriarchy to contend with. I find the level of vitriol levied at 15 year old Ms Dollar very distasteful. She was demonised as a liar, unruly and deserving of the physical abuse she suffered. My father raised two daughters without raising a fist or a shoe.

The most dangerous aspect of Black patriarchy is that it supports the lie that only Black men suffer from the negative effects of racism. Somehow, Black women are exempt and their main role is to prop up Black men and the rest of the Black community. Admittedly, young Black men do run a greater risk of racist violence/death – the Trayvon Martin and Stephen Lawrence murders being clear examples on both sides of the Atlantic. However, the Black community continuously underplays the exposure to racial violence that Black women have faced. There are between 154 to 159 reported cases of Black female lynching in the U.S. The vast majority of these women were also raped. (Source: henriettavintondavis.wordpress.com) Scores of young female students were also killed in the 1976 Soweto uprising in South Africa. Black women were also hosed and mauled by dogs during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. Black women and men share the same history, the painful legacy of slavery, colonialism and racism.

Modern day institutionalised racism continues to affect both genders. In the UK, Black men are seven times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police (Source: The Guardian). According to Law Professor Michelle Alexander:
‘More African American men are in prison, jail, on probation or parole than were enslaved in 1850, before the Civil War began.’
(Source: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness)
Yet this is not a gender specific problem. The levels of Black female imprisonment are also at endemic proportions. In the US, 93 out of every 100,000 White women were incarcerated by mid 2008. During the same period, 349 out of every 100,000 Black women were incarcerated. (Source: http://www.wpaonline.org). There is a definite inference within the Black community that Black women are somehow immune from the affects of racism. Anecdotally, I have met several Black men who believe that they are owed patience from Black women because their lives are infinitely harder. That is obviously untrue but it does beg the question, why is there such a lack of support for Black women within the Black community?

The answer is Black patriarchy. It is a system which places the needs of Black women below the needs of Black men. A clear example is the Creflo Dollar case, where the liberty of a violent father is considered to be more important than the emotional and physical well being of a 15 year old girl. In the R.Kelly case, the only important factor should have been whether he ‘allegedly’ had sex with an underage girl not the young lady’s sexual history. I also never understood the overwhelming support that OJ Simpson received from the Black community when he had sought to distance himself from them as he became famous. This was a Black man who would have never married a Black woman yet, the moment he found himself on the wrong side of the law he expected support from the Black community.

In researching for my film I met and read the thoughts of Black women online that refuse to date Black men. The main reasons cited for their decisions were lack of trust. They believe that Black men only want to use them are unable to remain faithful and have little desire to become loving husbands and fathers. It is none of my business who people choose to love and I wish the very best for anyone lucky enough to love and be loved in equal measure. That said I find it desperately sad that there is a growing number of Black women who feel this way. I know that I am lucky; I have been surrounded by loving Black men my whole life – my father, my partner, uncles, cousins and nephews. However, the Black community champions people such as Steve Harvey who promotes the idea that all men are players and that Black women just need to get used to it. Dark skinned Black women are invisible in music videos and in general. Hip hop artists refer to women who most resemble themselves as bitches and hoes. Various Black churches advise Black women to pray, wait and put the needs of everyone else ahead of theirs. Black patriarchy offers no protection, care, and respect for Black women.

I want to be very clear; this is not an anti male piece. There are many Black women who collude with Black patriarchy. These women encourage other women to become pregnant for a man who offers little, to justify their own life choices. With limited emotional and financial support, these women are promoting a life of hardship. Why not encourage young women to pursue enterprise or education, to become financially independent and make life decisions from a position of strength? These are the same type of women who wrote horrible comments about Rhianna after Chris Brown assaulted her. Their support condones domestic abuse. We have lonely women who blindly follow charismatic preachers. The New Testament states that we all have the same spiritual power; a preacher/pastor/priest’s role is to teach the word not to tell people what to do with their lives. I am not a subordinate; I am equal partner in a mutual beneficial relationship. There are also women, who put their boyfriends/romantic interests ahead of their children’s safety. They expose their children to men of questionable integrity all because they want a man to validate them. There are women who will take on board the opinions of men such as Steve Harvey, when it is clear that being thrice divorced proves that he knows little about marriage or how to make a woman happy. There are women who put down other Black women for being too dark, too Afrocentric, too demanding, not being submissive enough, too ambitious, too fat, too skinny, too stuck up or for not having a big enough butt.

Black patriarchy brings division within the Black community. Without harmony between the sexes, there is no platform to deal with the negative effects of institutional racism. We need a new brand of feminism to counteract this. There is no need to burn bras as Black women are already progressing educationally and financially. The lack is an emotional one. What we need is a greater expression of love. A daughter should expect her father to protect her from harm, a girlfriend to be cherished by her lover, for young black girls to be protected from sexual predators and for the Black community to call for justice when a Black woman is attacked even if the aggressor is a Black man. That love needs to spread throughout the community. We have had Black power, the time has come for Black love. Black men should become feminists too. We need to develop an appreciation of ourselves. Too often our sense of worth is dependent on external factors: wealth, status, the validation of others. This puts us in such a precarious position, ripe to be exploited by smooth talking charlatans, or by hip hop artists who spew the self hate that too many believe to be true. Love is powerful; it gives the recipient hope, purpose, faith, inspiration and courage. These are all of the ingredients needed to live a life worth living. Black patriarchy promotes dominion instead of co-operation. It benefits the few at the expense of us all.

Please let me know your thoughts

Sudelicious

Submit, submit, submit!!

Welcome

Submission is a loaded word especially within relationships. Personally I don’t like it. I suppose that I should have waited to the conclusion to drop that bombshell but I thought it best to lay my cards on the table. Submission is about control and more importantly it’s about female control. It’s an ideology which seeks to determine what women think and do. I have debated this topic with various people who all try to convince me that the word just has a bad press and that there is more to submission than meets my cynical eye. Yet I am resolute, I just do not understand why any man would want a submissive woman. Surely a life partner who supports and challenges you does more for your personal growth than a mute ‘Stepford wife’?

To truly understand what submission means, let’s look at the word itself.

sub•mis•sion/səbˈmiSHən/
Noun: 1. The action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person.
2. An act of surrendering to a hold by one’s opponent.
Synonyms: obedience – subjection – subordination
(Source: Oxford Dictionary)

I just can’t see where submission has a place in a loving relationship. When I think of the word ‘yield’ I imagine my partner lurking in the shadows ready to pounce and wrestle me to the ground. I also cannot get on board with the idea of yielding to a ‘superior force’ or ‘the will or authority of another’. Women are expected to submit to men, therefore is a male a superior force just because of his gender? All because I was exposed to more X chromosome than Y chromosome in the womb am I now relegated to taking a passive position in life or regarded as a second class citizen devoid of any authority in the world or in my own relationship? I believe that love empowers people; it makes them the best that they can be. How can I be empowered and submissive at the same time?

I am a woman of faith and I am always brought back to the same part of scripture by those defending female submission:

‘Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing[a]her by the washing with water through the word,and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.’

Ephesians 5:22-33 NIV

The Bible is a spiritual and historical book. The world at the start of the millennia was very different place from the one we have now. Women were not educated and their upkeep was wholly dependent on their husbands. Women could not vote or have any say about any aspect of public life. A woman’s role was to care for children and the home. These women were completely at the mercy of their husbands as they had no means to generate an income. In that era it would have been unfathomable to think that a mere two thousand years later that women would become heads of state, breadwinners or just self sufficient individuals. Modern women cannot be expected to behave or condone behaviour that was accepted two thousand years ago. I also struggle with the idea of submitting myself to a man in the same way that I would show deference to God. Human beings are fallible; I don’t see how any mortal man has the spiritual authority to be my saviour.

I have been to several weddings were this quotation has been read out. In almost every instance the main emphasis has been about the wife’s submission and very little focus is placed upon the husband’s responsibilities to the marriage. I find it ironic that the little submissive wife is held accountable for the success of the relationship. I have sat through a few homilies (by men and women) which have gone on at great length to state how men need to be respected, how nagging erodes a man sense of self worth, how women must be patient with their men and follow through with their decisions even if they are wrong. It is not the place of a mere wife to point out her husband’s shortcomings. He will arrive at a level of higher understanding by himself. Yet I have rarely heard a pastor or priest informing a groom that he should be prepared to sacrifice his life for his wife or that all of his actions should place her happiness at the forefront. The quotation asks for a woman’s submission in exchange for her husband’s continued sacrifice. It seems like a bum deal if Christian women are being asked to be submissive in the first instance and remain silent even if their husbands do not live up to their end of the bargain.

Very fixed gender roles are a disservice to both men and women. They portray women as whiny harridans who need to know their place. No two women will be the same type of wife. Different women are just that, different. It also suggests that all a woman can bring to a marriage is a womb, clean laundry, cooked meals and a warm bed. This completely disregards the various skills that each woman has. What if I am better at handling finances than my husband, am I correct in letting him lose the household money for fear of denting his manly pride? There is also an inference that men have a fragile sense of their masculinity. Would they suddenly morph into emasculated eunuchs if not treated like deities in their homes? A real man does not have to beat his chest in order to know what his gender is. I am always very suspicious of anyone who needs others to be weak in order to have a full sense of self. These types of people do not need a subservient partner; they probably need some form of counselling.

This type of thinking is not just prevalent in certain churches, mosques or temples. I have met many men who are atheists or do not believe in a formalised religion but hold the ideal of the submissive wife close to their hearts. Apparently, feminism has ruined everything with women behaving like men and undermining the role of men in society. Men of this ilk need to stop focusing on what women are doing and look at what they are bringing to the table. They cannot complain when single mothers and absentee fathers are on the rise. For the record, I am totally against pitting the sexes against each other. The fact is we need one another. However, I celebrate the fact that women have more options than ever before. Women have greater choices and have higher expectation of potential partners. They don’t just need a breadwinner to keep a roof over their head; they need a life partner to love, cherish and grow old with.

Love is a choice and keeping that love depends on a series of choices made everyday. I choose to do things to make my partner happy because making him happy makes me happy. Likewise, I am sure that he would prefer to watch the football instead of proof reading my posts but he does it to show his support for my work. We are not mutually considerate because we are yielding to one another; we choose to make the other happy. There are many women who are happy being housewives and expect their husbands to make the final decisions about their lives. However, it is still a choice made by those couples. Everyone should be free to forge the type of relationship which works for them, with each person having the space to develop and grow in that union. Submission is about control not consideration. Why would anyone want to be controlled by the person they choose to be with? Real love is something that cannot be forced; it develops of its own accord. If I have free will to believe in God, surely I am free to demonstrate how I love the man in my life.

Please let me know your thoughts.

Sudelicious

Black is beautiful dammit!

Welcome

I believe that self esteem is the foundation for happiness. Self esteem provides us with the knowledge that we have worth, the confidence to take risks, the strength to fight our corner and the wisdom to walk away from bad situations and people. Without this self esteem, we leave ourselves defenceless against the whims of others and lack the conviction to lead the lives we deserve.

I often marvel at the innate confidence that a lot (and sadly not all) of black women possess. I say this because it is a miracle that it exists at all. Black women are under a constant barrage of negative imagery almost at every turn.

I am truly sick and tired of the European version of black beauty which the mainstream media champions. I do not need to have fair skin, slight features and long hair to be considered beautiful. The likes of Rihanna, Beyonce, Vanessa Williams and Halle Berry have become the acceptable face of black. It is undeniable that these women are all beautiful but these women are all of mixed parentage/heritage. Why should black beauty have to have a European makeover in order to be recognised as beautiful? At the end of the day this nonsense still peddles the rubbish that only white beauty is true beauty and the further you are from that ideal the further from beautiful you become. It also perpetuates that women are still just commodities and our value still lies in our bodies and faces.

Over the summer a Japanese psychologist, Satoshi Kanazawa came up with a report stating the black women were the most unattractive group of women on the earth. What I found very interesting is that this crackpot’s views were published in the major newspapers even though it had been rubbished by the psychology community. Perhaps the article was published because it actually promoted a widely held belief? To be honest I thought it was garbage to begin with and advised anyone with sense to completely ignore it. What really saddened me is how many Black women actually take this foolishness on board. I had a debate with a Black woman about this report and she agreed with its findings saying that she does find lighter skinned women more attractive than her. This was an intelligent and articulate woman and she was taken in by this. I base attractiveness on the arrangement and symmetry of facial features – skin tone has nothing to do with it.

Black women are known for our fuller lips, small waist to hip ratio (hourglass figure), big thighs and large bottoms. Unfortunately I am lacking in the ‘junk in my trunk’ department but I think that three out of four aint bad. If these features are so awful why are so many women of other races ruining their faces with lip filler, frequenting tanning beds, stocking up on fake tan and marvelling at JLO’s butt?

What is it about Black women that seem to terrify the mainstream media? I remember watching a piece on TV about ‘Hitch’ (rom-com featuring Will Smith). The movie executives ruled out a Black female lead for Will Smith as they feared it would alienate White audiences. Eva Mendes as a Latin American actress was considered a safer, more inclusive choice. What I want to know is it what is so ‘alienating’ about Black women? I suppose I should also put that question to almost every male hip hop artist, rnb singer and black sportsman. I just don’t understand why you almost never see a dark skinned Black woman in a music video (as the love interest) or on the arm of rich Black sportsman? I remember having to do a double take when I first saw Michelle Obama. I couldn’t believe that she was a Black woman! Something is very wrong when you are surprised that a man of colour is married to a Black woman. It is frustrating to think that Black men also believe the hype that somehow Black women have less appeal, status than other women. In the UK Black men are eight times more likely than any other race to date and marry interracially. In a study led by Tamas Bereczkei at University of Pecs (Hungary), his findings suggested that men are typically attracted to women who resemble their mothers. Why are Black men the exception to this rule in such huge numbers?

I am not against inter-racial relationships. That is not what this article is about. It is none of my business who people choose to love. I have a problem with the world seeing Black women as less than other women. Women are still seen as commodities where a beautiful White woman is considered the epitome of beauty and with dark skinned Black women at the very bottom. We live in a world where many Black men believe this hype and choose women who they believe will reflect or enhance their status. I have many friends of mixed parentage who felt that Black men were only interested in them because of their light skin tone. Conversely, I have friends who find themselves constantly snubbed by Black men because they are considered too dark. This breeds insecurity in Black women of every hue. It saddens me that this ‘self hate’ has created a booming trade in skin lightening creams. We still have a long way to go if some Black people think it is a good idea to put mercury on their skin in order to conform to a false and stupid notion of beauty.

‘So what does this have to with marriage?’ I hear you ask, everything is the answer. It is virtually impossible to find lasting love if you lack self esteem. Confidence has little to do with being a mouthy alpha male/female. However, it does give you a sense a self worth, an ability to believe you are deserving of love and gives you an idea of what real love looks like. I’m lucky, I come from a loving family, my dad believes that I am the best thing since sliced bread and my mother taught me to take crap from no one. What about other Black women who do not have that base? They are constantly undermined or ignored by society at large. In western society perhaps there is a pressure for Black men to prove their self worth via external means such as a fancy car, a high paying job and the right looking woman. Perhaps this pressure drives peoples’ choices. How can we hope as a community to be making the right romantic decisions if they are coming from a place of self doubt instead of self worth?

Please let me know your thoughts

Sudelicious

The curse of the strong black woman

Welcome

I have always wondered where the phrase ‘a strong black woman’ has come from. Women of all races have had to assert themselves in a male dominated world. Do black women have more to contend with than women of other races? That is debatable but there seems to be a lot expected of women of colour. In mainstream media black women are the nannies, the sassy friend, the confident man eater, the mouthy neighbour and my personal favourite the wise old sage who sole purpose in life is to take care of everyone. All of these characters are variations of the same theme; black women are tough as old boots and can take anything that life throws at them in their stride.

Frustratingly, the notion that black women are a bunch of she-warriors comes from the black community itself. I remember receiving a pep talk from my parents just before I started secondary school. I was reminded that I had to ensure that I studied hard as I could not expect or rely on anyone else to take care of me but ME! I know that my parent’s concerns came from a place of love and I thank them for instilling in me a sense of self reliance. For many black young women, the message is clear: If you want something out of life the expectation is that you go and get it.

I suppose this tough love approach is paying dividends with black female graduates on the increase but it does come at a cost. Black women are encouraged to be self reliant because they cannot rely on black men to support them. Single parent families are reaching 70% in the US and over 50% in the UK. If black women are strong it is usually because they are the ones left holding the baby. The strong black woman myth allows absent fathers off the hook as they can leave these able women to do a job which is meant for two people.

The perceived strength of black women also comes at a cost. Levels of depression are 50% higher in black women than white women. Women from other races typically have to put on a ‘hard’ persona in their working life only. Black women have to carry this persona into all areas of their lives as they are held responsible for everything and everyone. We are expected to be the glue that holds households together yet who is there to be the glue that holds us together?

The over reliance of the black community on its women also diminishes the role of the black man. Families need strong male members. Women need loving husbands and children need loving fathers. It is the lack of them which has caused the current malaise in our communities.
Young black men find themselves without a father figure. Some will grow to do the same as their fathers; others will struggle to orientate themselves in life, as they lacked a male figure to model themselves upon. In turn, women will grow up learning not to need or trust men. Those who raise families on their own have the burden for two placed on their shoulders. We have created an atmosphere where we tell women they can do everything on their own, setting them up to endure stress related diseases on a scale that no other woman of any other race has to face. Black women are in need of love and support just like any other. This notion of the strong independent woman allows many black women to give up on the very idea of finding love and expecting to be cared for. The truth is that men and women need each other. It is time that black women drop the ‘strong’ tag and take a well earned rest.

Please let me know your thoughts

Sudelicious