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

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

Fear of the singleton

Welcome

I have never understood the mixture of suspicion and pity that single people seem to evoke. It is inferred that the singleton must have an inherent character flaw so awful, so deviant, that no one else can be bothered to put up with them. There is also the presumption that everyone wants to be married or in a serious relationships and those who don’t are too romantically challenged to follow the supposed natural order.

I was more than aware of the audible sigh of relief from friends and family when my partner and I moved into the official and serious zone. Previously, the line of questioning used to be when was I going to meet a nice man, it’s now ‘When are you going to get married?’ I don’t understand why my private life seems to be up for public debate? It’s called a private life for a reason. I know that a lot of the questions are steeped in concern but why aren’t married couples ever asked publicly why they are together; was it the fear of dying alone or being the last friend/sibling to marry which convinced them to settle? The general unspoken rules of etiquette protects couples being asked such questions but apparently the unmarried are fair game.

Now look, as readers of this blog are aware I am very pro marriage. I think it provides the emotional, legal and spiritual foundations for a couple to take their relationship to the next level. However, marriage is a serious business and not everyone wants it, is ready for it or has found the right person to make a lifelong commitment to. I know many people who have settled for fear of collecting dust on the shelf or were more obsessed about the big day instead of being filled with those all consuming butterflies at the thought of inhaling their partners’ morning breath forever.

There are no guarantees in life but I think that we make things far easier on ourselves when people do the right things for the right reasons. I can’t see there being any positives to being with someone in order to be validated by others. Relationships though rewarding, are hard work. It only make sense to put in that much hard graft with someone you genuinely love. That way whatever the outcome, the time spent with that person can only be a positive experience. That said, there are many people who are in loving happy relationships and want everyone to experience their happiness. Likewise there are single people who love their freedom and are very satisfied with their very full lives.

What I fail to understand is why singledom is looked upon with such disdain? I have had various online debates with very immature individuals who have insinuated that because I am a feminist that I must be single or I soon will be if I carry on with my bra burning mantras. Being in a relationship does not prove my worth as a woman. Nor does being a feminist make me some man hating, unreasonable harpie. Finally, my relationship status should only concern myself and my partner and not some infantile troll on the Internet. It also disturbs me that being single is seen as a derogatory term for women. Just look at the term spinster, for starters it half rhymes with sinister. It really is just another word to describe an old witch living with her many cats. In stark comparison, men are allowed the space to revel in their bachelorhood, likening themselves to George Clooney although the vast majority are not dating models if any women at all.

The upshot is we are not all the same. Some are ready for relationships, some are not, some are searching for the right one, some are more than content on their own. We do not need to be doing exactly the same thing at exact the same time in order to validate our life choices. Speaking from experience, I have previously dated simply because I was tired of being single and it always ended badly. All we can do is live authentically, making the best choices with the information we have at the time. Life for married and single people in general would be a lot simpler if we all just minded our own damn business.

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

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