Is Beyonce a feminist icon?

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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

Are you ready for your close up?

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Welcome 

I am sending out a casting call into cyberspace. Those of you who have been following the blog for a while know that I am in the midst of creating a documentary about marriage in the Black Community. 

I am looking for people with unique stories to add to my film. 

  • Couples who have been in successful long term marriages or other committed unions.
  • Men and women looking for love
  • People who been married several times
  • People who are vehemently anti marriage
  • Individuals who wound only date/marry a very specific type of person – be it race, status, nationality, interests etc.
  • People who have set up dating agencies/events for people of colour

The tone of my documentary will be  empowering and respectful. My film will bear no relation to the many reality TV shows on our screens. 

My budget can only accommodate individuals living in the United Kingdom. I intend to cover the US with the sequel 🙂 

If you have any questions or are interested in taking part email me: suddie@sudelicous.com 

Please spread the word 

Thanking you all 

Sudelicious 

Bad things happen when you listen to stupid people

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Welcome

It’s been a while since I have written a post. Thanks to all those who still visited the site during my hiatus.

I will be the first to admit that I am very contrary by nature and hate being told what to do. Hey, I guess it’s the Taurean in me. Perhaps that why certain life coaches/dating experts just do not appeal to me. Now don’t get me wrong, I know of a lot of people personally and professionally who do a very good job in helping people deal with unresolved issues and enable them to develop the tools to empower themselves.

What I object to is the snake oil salesman variety of dating guru who thinks that all it takes is a few catchy slogans and a sharp suit to declare himself an authority on matters of the heart. What I find really galling is that the majority of these men are not even in happy relationships yet feel they have the right to tell others how they should find a partner. The whole thing smacks of ‘physician heal thyself’. I won’t go to a hairdresser with a bad hairdo nor would I sit in a dentist’s chair if said dentist is not sporting a set of pearly whites.

Black women are not a monolithic group and have a wide range of attributes that they want in a partner, let’s for arguments sake agree on a few basic characteristics that most women would probably like in a partner – loving, honest and faithful. The joke is that the king of dating gurus, Steve Harvey is a womaniser. These dating gurus are trying to give women advice on how to find the type of men who are their complete antithesis. How could they know what would attract a decent man if they are not a decent man in the first place?

It also alerts my ‘spidey’ senses that these life coach aficionados always target the female audience. True wisdom should be universal and a benefit to all. Not for these guys, they actively seek the female pound/dollar. I don’t believe that women are more susceptible to being told what do than men. What I do believe is that they are tapping into society’s mistaken belief that women are defined by their relationship status. To be unmarried post 35 is some kind of sin for which women should be publicly flogged in the streets. However single men of a similar age are just reviewing their options. It is really disappointing that so many women easily believe that these individuals can unlock the secrets of the male mind. These dating gurus typically reveal the thinking of traditional, knuckle dragging cavemen who don’t really like women very much. In their world, everything is the women’s fault. Women are not supportive enough, don’t dress appropriately, are too difficult, are too demanding and don’t allow men to be men. You wouldn’t think that it takes two people to make a relationship work. There is one dating guru in particular, I refuse to name him (I will not be giving him free publicity on this blog) who blamed women with large exteriors for being disrespected by men. In no uncertain terms this is the policing of female sexuality while giving men a pass for misogynistic behaviour. It’s really depressing that these jokers are making money by preying on the insecurities of women while removing male responsibility for how they treat women. It makes absolutely no sense to take the advice of a man who dislikes women. The chances are that the information given will not be for any woman’s benefit.

Misinformation is another big red flag. Why do so many of these men all claim to be God fearing individuals? If you are claiming that you are basing a lot of your works on scripture, then you have to follow the word – chapter and verse. Steve Harvey et al all promote Christianity but also promote sex outside of marriage. There should be no talk of giving the cookie (as Mr Harvey puts it); if you are only going to have sex once you are married? If you claim to be something but do not act upon it – that makes you a fraud. Do I claim to be perfect? No. However, I am not pretending to have some God given authority on how to tell people to live their lives.
If this has not be enough to help you be able to spot these charlatans at thirty paces, here is a short checklist of their most common attributes.

• In possession of a sharp suit
• Usually not in the possession of any meaningful qualifications (Anything you can acquire online requiring less than a fortnight’s worth of study is not a meaningful qualification)
• Typically unmarried or divorced. The married experts have usually been married for just over 5 years
• They will without fail describe themselves as ‘God fearing’ in their bio
• If the relationship coaching doesn’t work out for them, they will reinvent themselves as Pastors or used car salesmen
• Lastly, if in doubt that this is a relationship expert, they will blame women for everything. Absolutely everything. Ladies, global warming and the financial meltdown is entirely your fault.

All jokes aside some of these relationship experts are nothing more than money hungry frauds looking for a quick buck. Although they are easy to poke fun at they represent a desire by some to drag women back to the dark ages, they are gatekeepers of the status quo. As women, Black women in particular have made strides educationally and economically their requirements of what they want in a mate have expanded. These relationship experts are all too happy to spread the myth that there is a good man shortage to induce panic/desperation and that all men want a clingy, needy woman who does their bidding. These relationship experts want women to return to a time when a woman was largely defined by her relationship status. They want to encourage Black women to put everyone else first and themselves last.

I am not against seeking professional advice; I just think it is wise to show discernment in whose advice we take. If I want relationship advice, I will speak to people in long term, happy unions. I will not listen to some ‘reformed player’ or a woman who accepts maltreatment from her own partner. Unfortunately life does not come with a manual and we will make mistakes, be hurt and sometimes hurt others. This is just part of the course. We have to deal with this and cannot give away our power and responsibility to these experts who are happy to take our money and provide a one size fits all approach to our problems. Only we can ‘fix’ our problems, some power dressed ‘expert’ will not save but only confuse us.

Please let me know your thoughts

Sudelicious

Revolution of one

Welcome

Unfortunately, I haven’t returned refreshed from a holiday in the Maldives. Life is still hectic but most importantly the desire to write has returned. Many thanks for bearing with me.

I have written about love before but usually I focus on relationships and romantic love. During my hiatus I have been dwelling on the power of self-love. Once we have peace within ourselves we increase the probability of finding contentment within various aspects of our lives be it a job, family or relationships. I do believe that having that approach to life is a revolutionary act because it is the only way that we are truly free. Only by placing our internal desires ahead of societal or familial pressures do we get to exert free will. That is the battle, the challenge for us all.

Every day, we are bombarded with images, which leave us with a sense of inadequacy. I don’t have the right car, house, lifestyle, body or job. The point of advertising is to create a need where there really isn’t one. If your car is still running, you don’t really need a new one. Our internal happiness is not related to our external appearance. Contrary to popular belief, finding true love is not dependent on being a size eight with a DD cup size. We follow this shallow nonsense because we desperately want to believe that there is a clear cut path to happiness. That we can somehow buy our way out of sorrow, doubt or pain. That we can pin all of our happiness onto one thing, I will be happy when I get that new job/partner/lose a dress size. Focusing on the superficial is the original avoidance technique. We can run as fast as we like but we cannot run away from ourselves.

Societal pressures forces us to conform not just to materialism but to prop up an existing pecking order. Race, gender and sexual orientation are all social constructs designed to uphold White patriarchy by spreading insecurity and fear to ensure conformity. If young Black men are continually told that they face unemployment and incarceration, the hope is that this information will take root in said young men and the majority will not fight against what they believe to be inevitable. If we tell young Black women that only light skinned Black women are attractive and that women of darker hue are of no value, the hope is that Black women will be locked in a battle to be ‘The fairest of them all’. This mentality pits Black women against each other, encouraging some to damage their bodies with lightening creams and pass this self hate to future generations. In short this is just a smoke screen to distract people from living happy, contented and most importantly authentic lives.

This is where self love comes in. Love is not just warm and fuzzy; it has a steely element to it. If you have love for yourself, you have the ability to exercise discernment. Not everyone will have your best interest at heart. It takes strength to know who to follow, to ignore, to let enter your life and who to walk away from. None of this is easy but it is all very necessary. I refuse to engage with or financially support Black male artists who promote negative beliefs or stereotypes about Black women. Likewise I will not support Black women who publicly bash all Black men as I was raised by a loving Black father. I will not allow people of other races who wish to be disrespectful about my colour or gender to affect me. That is to give the ignorant far too much power and control. They do not affect how I feel about myself, I do. Their agenda is to reduce me to a negative stereotype and to prevent me from having the courage to live and love freely. Trying to cajole or force another’s validation is a fool’s errand. Perhaps I am wrong but I find that intolerance is usually fuelled by insecurity. Rather than working on the aspects of their lives that need to be improved, they find someone who they can feel superior to. It is virtually impossible to be liked by someone who does not like themselves.

So why is love a revolutionary idea. Simply, it is the only way in which we are all free. If we truly believe that we are ‘Fearfully and wonderfully made’ (Psalm 139:14) who do we have to prove anything to? I know that this is not an easy concept to execute. On a daily basis I flit from lioness mode to a quivering wreck but it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try. If we live our lives with love and authenticity we don’t get lost in the crowd, we don’t ask the world to cherish the individual when it seeks to control the masses. We can only hope that if we all follow our own paths, that the generation to come will do the same. That is the true power of social change; it takes only one person to start a revolution.

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

The three letter word

Welcome

Love might be a battlefield but sex is most definitely a minefield. It’s an activity which some fear, some crave and others use as leverage over another. The female form is such a public commodity, yet female sexuality invokes such fear in men that society goes to great lengths to repress the female libido.

The traditional view is that women should be under the gaze of men. We do not have sexual feelings of our own instead our role is to evoke desire from men. So in short women are sexually passive and unless we are attractive enough to be desired by men there is very little point to our existence. We incite but do not receive sexual gratification. This way of thinking is not only ridiculous but it’s very dangerous. It places the responsibility of sexual violence on the victim (typically women) away from the aggressor (typically men). The crime becomes the incitement of sexual violence as opposed to the act itself. It also sets women up to believe that their only value is in their sexuality.

This is a bum deal any which way you look at it. Women are encouraged to become sexual objects and yet are blamed when their objectification becomes violent or predatory such as rape or prostitution. If it’s fair to assume that most men enjoy sex why is there such resistance to women becoming sexual beings as opposed to sexual objects? In 2012, women are still being discussed in terms of their sexuality and fertility. Issues such as contraception and abortion are being debated by men in a Presidential campaign. In various African and Middle Eastern countries, female mutilation is still used as a means to control female sexual activity. By removing the tip of the clitoris, parts of the surrounding labia and sewing up the rest of the vagina just to leave enough room for menstruation and urine; it ensures that the act is so painful that it is unlikely that she will seek extra marital sex. In the West, authors such as Steve Harvey still associate shame with female sexuality, blaming women for sleeping with men early in their relationship as justification for a man not to see her as potential wife material.

Linking shame and female sexuality has been spread by all of the main religions. Traditional gender roles devised by men were endorsed by religious doctrine. I am a woman of faith and as I have stated before only God has dominion over me. That said I could not honestly endorse sexual recklessness as I believe we are all precious and should treat our bodies as such. However, I cannot endorse hypocritical specialist treatment of one group of people based on their gender, race or creed. A woman should be free to express her sexuality free from reproach. There are some women who are completely asexual, others who have no intention of having one sexual partner and those who are waiting for marriage before having sex. No one has the right to coerce shame or influence what a woman does or does not do with her body.

That freedom should be grasped by Black women. At present, Black female sexuality is badly misrepresented. We are often presented as insatiable, exotic nymphomaniacs. In the past I have been approached by White men who were curious about being with a Black woman. I have no idea what they expected, a simultaneous juggling act, fireworks or an accompanying brass band? Women are women. That may have destroyed the fantasy for millions but it’s the boring truth. Within the Black community, Black female sexuality is also very limited. We get three options: the mother, Church/good girl or video vixen/gold digger. The virtuous mother puts her own desires on ice and makes her children/family her only focus. The good girl offers sex in return for marriage. At the other end of the spectrum we have the video vixen type who is one step away from a blow up doll with a pulse. In the music video or in the club you’ll find her shaking that booty for male valuation and cash.

Black women are varied and diverse. I refuse to be stereotyped by anyone. Sexual expression should be determined by the individual. My sexual history is not linked to my worth. I am always very suspicious of men who are overly interested in their partners’ romantic past. I think it has more to do with their low self-esteem and a fear of failing to satisfy their partner. On the flip side there is still the rampant over sexualisation of women. I don’t know why every female pop star has to become increasingly provocative to prove that she is an adult musician. I am also disappointed with the way Black women are presented in Hip Hop videos. These women are nothing more than accessories, making said rapper look like a Lothario at the expense of their self-respect. This isn’t sexual liberation it is sexual manipulation, reinforcing that a woman’s body is her key attribute. Ultimately, it is still a masculine ideal of female sexuality.

Women taking control of their sexuality undermines male’s dominance. It stops women seeking male validation. We are empowered to become more than our bodies and can focus on our own pleasures and accomplishments. It also elevates what women require in a mate, if they require a mate at all. This will be embraced by men who are looking for a union of equals. Those with low self-esteem will be the most resistant to female emancipation. They doubt that when given the choice that a woman would choose them. Black women should not accept any attempt to pigeonhole and stereotype them. I do not have to be a virgin to be valued by men nor do I have to express my sexuality like a man in order to claim the same sexual rights as one.

Please let me know your thoughts

Sudelicious

It’s only hair people!

Welcome

I don’t understand why what Black women choose to do with their hair is such a major topic of conversation. I obviously did not receive the memo informing that me that a simple hair do would reveal so much about my pride in my race or femininity.

The hypocrisy of Black men regarding this topic is just breathtaking. I have read so many online conversations where Black men have stated that they hate weaves/relaxed hair and they wish that women would keep their hair natural. In cyber space these men are only too happy to flex their afro centric credentials. However, in reality these same men are only too happy to fall at the feet of the Beyonce and Rhianna’s of this world. Although equally wonderful, the likes of Erykah Badu, India Arie and Lauryn Hill do not adorn the same amount of men’s bedroom walls.

Not to be outdone, academics are also jumping on the hair bandwagon. Earlier this year a study came out linking agents in relaxers to causing uterine fibroids in Black women. Apparently, Black women are more likely to have fibroids and the majority of these women happened to have relaxed hair, it seemed logical to the researchers at Boston University to connect the two. This thinking is so flawed that I don’t understand how these academics were not embarrassed to utter such nonsense. Black women are probably also more likely to use cocoa butter on their skin. According to this faux science should we also point the guilty finger at the humble cocoa bean as the sole cause behind uterine fibroids? This research was extremely irresponsible, trying to incite panic using the flimsiest correlations as a base for its findings.

The Boston University research had such a condescending tone to it, implying that Black women are so vain and foolish that they are prepared to endanger their health just to change the natural state of their hair. It would be disingenuous not to admit that the relaxer kit was created to remove the natural kink in afro hair and assume a more European appearance. In 2012, the motivations behind Black women self expressions are extremely varied and diverse. I refute any attempt to lump us all together. For the last ten years I have relaxed my hair and currently sport a weave. Convenience and speed are the driving forces behind my choices. Just because I am not sporting an Afro it doesn’t mean that I am renouncing my natural Black beauty. With or without a weave, I doubt that I would ever have to clarify that I am a Black woman.

That said it does sadden me that in some quarters there is a rejection of natural hair. Some Black women claim that they believe that they cannot wear their hair naturally in the corporate environment. My sister and many of my friends happily wear their hair naturally in the workplace. Sadly we still hear phrases such as ‘nappy hair’ to describe natural hair, particularly by other Black people. Only those lacking in self worth would see their skin or their hair as being inferior. This toxic way of thinking needs to be curtailed. Every human being should be proud of who they are. Black women should have the confidence to express themselves without seeking permission. It is also important that we put our choices in context. Relaxing my hair is not the same as putting mercury on my skin in order to lighten it. All women use various methods to change their appearance from dying their hair, using weaves (White women use them too) to having radical haircuts. The line is crossed when you are prepared to damage your body in order to change your appearance permanently. For anyone who is affronted by my weave unless they are prepared to come to my house and braid my hair on a regular basis, I respectfully ask you to keep your disdain to yourself.

All women should embrace self expression. I resent any man trying to get involved in this discussion as it implies that they get a say on how we look and that somehow we should seek their approval. I like to look nice but I get to decide what I wear and how I wear my hair. Getting Black women and women in general to focus on their looks is the original smokescreen. It’s a feeble attempt to distract women from focusing on their empowerment. The modern woman has bigger fish to fry and at the end of the day, it’s only hair.

Please let me know your thoughts

Sudelicious