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

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