Category Archives: Women's Issues

The Myths

In December, I had the pleasure of being interviewed along with two other women for a friend’s film project on the myths of black women. Each of us discussed some of the stereotypes that have affected us professionally—-especially the myth of the angry black woman (shout out to Michelle Obama). Below is just a rough cut of the film, but check it out anyway and tell me what you think. Hopefully I’ll have the full feature soon.

Special shout out to up and coming filmmaker Dana Butler.

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White Boy Fresh

It never dawned on me that a colleague asking to come to my hotel room to borrow chapstick might be trying to get fresh, although as I read that sentence I have to wonder where my antennas were that night.

When I got the text from my colleague who was attending the same meeting as I, I thought nothing of it, as we had recently parted ways after innocently having a few drinks in the hotel lobby with mutual associates. I did acknowledge what I saw as irony at the time—that if this was a black man I would’ve known he was up to something, but because he was white, I thought nothing of it.

Innocently, I opened the door to my room, let him in, and offered him what I thought he came for. Quickly I found him seated on the foot of the bed. Small talk on his agenda, I conceded, happy to have finally befriended someone in my age range at these conferences which I typically found boring.

Casual talk about post-college years turned to questions about whether I was dating, how my last relationship ended, and when I would get married because I’m “so great,” as he put it. I sat flattered in my unsuspecting naivety.

It wasn’t until a few compliments later, a stretch out on my pillows, and an invitation to join him that I became aware of other intentions. I declined, noting that I had an early meeting, although it was suggested that I wake him in the morning.

It was a struggle for me to conceal my laughter—not at his game, but at the fact that as a grown woman, I’d found myself in a situation more befitting of a high school girl. Read more @ Clutch.

Should Women Raise the Cost of Sex?

If there is one thing Americans have unrestricted access to regardless of gender, race, socio-economic status, age, or education, it’s sex.

It wasn’t a shocker to me when University of Texas sociology professor Mark Regnerus said in a Washington Times article last week that the price of sex today is pretty low. Whereas men (allegedly) used to have to promise women marriage in exchange for sex, birth control allowed women to enter the sexual market with the same indiscretion as men. Now both genders bask freely in the sexual market before walking down the aisle.

So what’s the problem? If you ask men on college campuses and in urban cities, there isn’t one. Because these sexual markets are dominated by women, men can decide how much (or how little) they will exchange for sex because for every woman who decides that she wants to hold out, there are plenty more who are willing to put out. It’s the rule of supply and demand.

But while women have power when they are the minority in the sex market, allowing them to decide just how high the “cost” of sex will be for a man, women lose power as they enter their 30s—the marriage market—where women also outnumber men. Hence, Regnerus says that women “underestimate the long-term risk of sex-market behavior.”

While the underlying notion here is not to put the cart before the horse (or why buy the cow when you’ve already got the milk, et cetera, et cetera), saving oneself for marriage is seen as a high-risk strategy. Using an interesting analogy, Regnerus says, “You can’t just decide that your house is worth $500,000 if everyone else is getting $200,000. … You can try for that price, but it’s unlikely you will get it.” Well then. Read more @ Clutch.

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Black Women Are Drinking the Kool-Aid

If I had a dollar for every time a black man made a comment along the lines of, “That’s why I date white women,” or, “If black women keep it up, I’m going to start dating white girls,” I could probably retire at 30. But with the influx of women toting similar statements about how and why white women are “winning,” I might be able to reduce that number to 29.

I was over on the site Madame Noire (Bossip’s sister site) the other day when I came across the article, White Women Are #Winning, Step Your Game Up, based on a similarly titled article published in UPTOWN Magazine, Love: Why White Women Are Winning. Both articles address black women’s perceived attitudes, unwillingness to cater to our men, declining value in the institution of marriage, hesitation to date interracially, and lack of expectation for finding a man—basically stating white women are our polar opposites and are therefore not unlucky in love as we are.

Now if you truly feel that you need insight into some possible reasons to explain why you are single (in case you haven’t heard enough already), then, by all means, take heed to the advice presented, as that is not necessarily where the problem lies. The issue is the fact that black women have jumped on the “white women are better because of x,y,z” bandwagon.

My first thought when I saw the article was that this was a case of irresponsible publishing. Why, as websites and magazines that are supposed to be a service to black people, and black women in particular, would you publish something that places white women on a pedestal?

None of the character traits mentioned in the article are true of all white women, just as not all of the negative stereotypes that are perceived to be holding black women back from finding their mate are true. Could either author not have written (another) article simply highlighting characteristics of women in effective relationships/marriages? It’s articles like these pitting black and white women against one another as two entirely different species that have the potential to revive black women’s ill feelings toward black men dating interracially—although we’ve been told time and time again to get over it or join the movement.

Read more @ Clutch

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Damned If You Lose, Damned If You Don’t

It’s a new dawn, a new day, and everyone knows J Hud is feeling (and looking) good in her new size 6 figure. And while there’s a segment of onlookers who are congratulatory of her weight loss success with the Weight Watchers Points Plus Program, there’s a slew of critics who (a) suggest she is a fake and lost the weight through gastric bypass, (b) are anticipating and secretly hoping that she’ll go the Kirstie Alley route and be back in a size 16 by Memorial Day, or (c) think she’s sending the message that you have to be thin to be successful.

What is it about our society and weight? If you carry extra poundage, you’re ostracized and told to nix the Mickey D’s and get in the gym and work it off (as if it’s that easy); and then when we have an example of someone who has lost weight through hard work, negativity and skepticism still follow.

I suppose the assumption behind the gastric bypass rumors is that Jennifer had to be lazy to become overweight in the first place, so there’s no way such a person could actually do the work that is required to shed pounds. These individuals are one in the same with other critics who call her Weight Watcher’s campaign fraudulent because she obviously used a personal trainer along with the Points Plus program. Sorry, I don’t follow. “Everyone” knows weight loss requires a sensible diet AND exercise, and I wouldn’t dare consider a personal trainer taking the easy or elitist way out, as some have suggested. Personal trainers put you to (serious) work and plenty of everyday women hire them on a regular basis.

Read the rest @ Clutch

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Blessed are the Meek?

There’s something about people who are always tooting their own horn that rubs me the wrong way—people who are unapologetically blunt, who profess their greatness as a matter of fact rather than opinion, who don’t understand why everyone else hasn’t achieved the same level of success that they have. And I’m even more baffled by the people who admire these individuals, who become disciples almost, constantly touting their praises, looking to them for advice and direction, only to be arrogantly shunned or patronized depending on the type of day their role model is having.

Still, I realize I’m a part of the crowd too. I follow these people on Twitter, I read the formsprings to see just how much annoyance will show up in their answer to someone’s question, I go to their websites and read their blogs, because there’s something about that very boldness that attracts people and makes them believers. It makes you question whether you’re being unfair because when someone knows they’re hot, who can tell them otherwise?

Growing up, I recall hearing comments about other women, like “she thinks she’s so great/cute/special/etc.” that sent the message that one shouldn’t think too highly of themselves. In church, I was taught to be the antithesis of a horn blower: Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth; Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted; If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. And others would tell me, “People are watching,” as if to say that one has to tone themselves down for the sake of onlookers.

I understand what the Bible is getting at in terms of remembering that life on earth is nothing compared to what awaits in Heaven, and that our talents are gifts from God and we should not be too proud, but is it so wrong to think that you are amazing and to not care if others are looking? How do these messages affect our psyche and our personal relationships and even our professional lives? Read more @Clutch

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Saying No to Motherhood

Not too long ago I met a 30-year-old man at a networking event. He asked me (age 25) if I wanted children and I said no—a position I’ve developed since moving to NYC a few years ago. His response? “Oh you’re just going through your selfish phase. It will pass.”

His reply reminded me of the way that women tell men that they’re just scared of commitment when they say that they don’t want to get married. Because my anti-motherhood stance is relatively new and more fluid and dependent on current circumstances than etched in stone, I let the comment slide. But since I’ve come to find that this too is the reaction of my family to this choice, I can’t help but question, what is selfish about saying no to motherhood?

Click here to read to read the full article on http://www.clutchmagonline.com

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One Small Step for Me, One Giant Leap Backward for Womankind

You know the saying every little bit counts? If everyone would donate such and such amount to such and such cause, then an organization could do such and such?  Although there is no realistic expectation that everyone will donate to the cause, the point is to encourage people not to focus on the fact that they’re only donating a small amount but to see their contribution as a necessary piece of the larger pie that, combined, will have a huge impact. Lately I’ve been thinking about this interconnectedness on a more interpersonal level and frankly feeling like I have the weight of black women on my shoulders. 

Recently I came into my apartment building and a black guy from the neighborhood was talking with one of my neighbors in the hallway. My bag got caught on the outside door so it made the door accidentally slam closed. He remarked, “Somebody is in a bad mood.” Truthfully, I wasn’t in that bad of a mood, but did I smile, did I correct his statement, or even acknowledge it or him? No. I walked past him, went into my apartment and shut the door. Afterward, I sat thinking, “he probably thinks I’m just another angry black woman,” which I’m not (most days). The point is, I couldn’t tear myself away from thinking about how that one small action may have negatively influenced not only his view of me, but black women in general.

So often, we talk about perpetrators of crime on a national scale and the misogyny of women in our music and the detriment that this has on the image of the black community, but I wonder how often each of us thinks about how our little day to day interactions affect the perception of black women within our own community.

I know how to act in the office, I realize that the man is watching and I have to represent for my people, but somehow when it comes to the black man, the same rules don’t always apply. I realize at work we have to be “on” so to speak and sometimes after that 9a-7p is over, you just want to be at home in your bed, but is that an excuse to be “off” with one another? Is it that we expect the next black person to understand the unspoken frustration of white supremacy in corporate America that is written on the scowls of our faces, or are we just plain rude and nonchalant about how we interact socially?

Recently, an ex of an old friend of mine (and friend of one of my past ‘interests’-complicated, I know) approached me with a level of interest that I’m almost certain was beyond friendship. Initially, I brushed off the advances, but at some point I began to engage him, still on a respectable level, however I found myself wondering, how am I affecting men’s perception of women by even entertaining this man? Am I adding to the already-skewed mindset that all women are scandalous, sneaky, and down for whatever? Or if I accept unacceptable behavior from a man from whom I should be demanding more, am I providing men with permission to treat us all any kind of way?

Of course, my behavior has no true global impact, but it could be significant enough to sustain previously held notions about women in general. The reality is, most of us aren’t famous, what we do won’t go beyond the conversation of maybe three to five people, but when your negative behavior matches the stories of  others in the group, then we’ve got a global perception crisis. The minority that behave a certain way come to represent the whole and then statements like “all black women are like this and all black men do this” become dogma and the way that we engage one another begins to change based on these assumptions that get proven true every day.

Perhaps each of us should look at it as our personal responsibility to represent for the perceived minority of our minority. In the same way that we “put on” for black people when going up against other racial or ethnic groups on a national scale in business, media, or any other venture, we should put on for one another and not be so lax about the stereotypes that we perpetrate amongst ourselves.

A lot of people talk about feeling the weight of their ancestors on their shoulders as they face life’s challenges, but I think it’s also important to feel the burden of womankind as well. It may not feel good to immediately resist whatever urge you have to frankly not care and do whatever it is you want to do in the present moment, but if we all could think about one another before we do such and such to and with such and such, our social interactions might really be a little bit easier to navigate.

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Money Over Brothers

Money over b*#@$es has come to be viewed as a derogatory statement by most women because, in addition to the use of the b word, the phrase implies that money has more value than we do. I too felt this way at one point, but the more that I see the fruits of this way of living I’ve actually come to admire the stance and want to suggest that women adopt a similar mindset, a money over brothers, way of thinking, if you will, in which we put ourselves and our desires before men.

I hate to quote Lil Wayne, but I can’t get his line from Get That Money out of my head, in which he says, “Money, money, money is my intuition. Money over b*#@$es, such an easy decision.” The truth is, for men it is an easy decision to put themselves first. For the most part, men are singularly focused. They identify a need, determine a solution, solve the problem, and ignore anything that attempts to distract them while in problem-solving mode. If a man’s goal is to be financially stable, nothing will get in his way—not even you in a strapless, backless and 4-inch heels. Sure, he may take a break from work for the night, but if he isn’t where he wants to be with work, money, or anything else, he won’t add yet another thing to worry about to his plate, i.e. a woman.

This is actually a healthy form of selfishness that women need to embrace themselves. Too often we are sidetracked from writing that paper, meeting that deadline at work, or doing that favor that we promised a friend simply because of the presence of a man. It’s like we re-work the bros before hos mantra in our disfavor, putting brothers before homegirls.

But let’s backtrack for a second because this isn’t about being uncompromising in a relationship, it’s about living this lifestyle before you meet someone so that you don’t allow your partner to become your entire world. If you do, what will you do when the relationship doesn’t last, and in addition to putting your heart back together, you have to rebuild every other aspect of your life, trying to convince your professor to give you a D, pleading with your boss to keep your job, and begging your friends to forgive you?

We need to put ourselves first, primarily because that man may not always be there. There’s a line in I Think I Love My Wife, where the boss of Chris Rock’s character says, “You can lose a lot of money chasing women, but you’ll never lose women, chasing money.” You can lose a lot of time chasing men instead of chasing your passions and capitalizing on opportunities that will allow you to be all that you can be. Furthermore, what can you bring to a relationship if your whole life has been spent preparing for a man, rather than growing as a woman? Part of preparing for a man is becoming a better women, but how can you do that if all of your time is spent on the hunt rather than increasing your own value?

I applaud men’s ability to put earning money, finishing school, and excelling at work, before making commitments to women and even walking down the aisle. It just makes sense. Even in this day and age, women are still being conditioned to want a man before all of these things, and frankly it’s completely backwards.

While you’re single, be single. Focus on you. Get money. Achieve your goals. A man will naturally come along, and when he does, he’ll be an enhancement rather than an encroachment. You can lose a lot of opportunities chasing men, but you’ll never lose men chasing opportunities.

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Everybody Hates Women

A couple of weeks ago I was having a discussion with a male friend of mine about a girl notorious for facebook statuses about “#basic chics.” We went on an hour-long rant about the irony of this particular female having these statuses which then turned into a whole discussion about no good women and then I was suddenly disgusted with myself and had a thought: If men hate on women all the time, and women hate on other women all the time, where does that leave us women?

I’ve seen a number of comments on this site that point to the fact that a majority of the blog topics deal with black women and all of the ways that we are wrong—too sexualized, too ghetto, too jealous, too single, and everything else under the sun. On one hand, I see nothing wrong with the topics. A large number of FreshXpress writers are women so of course we’ll talk about ourselves. But on the other hand, I can’t help but think, is there something deeper?

This is beyond the “if a male sleeps around, he’s the man, if a woman sleeps around, she’s a slut”  double standard. The problem is that men aren’t the only ones labeling us as such. A lot of times it’s women giving power to these words and thus power to men while beating down her female counterpart in the same token. Sure you can call a spade a spade, but at what cost?

Now to be fair, women do their fair share of male bashing in the same breath that they shoot down other women, but how often do you see a group of men sitting around talking about how trifling, promiscuous, stupid, and unattractive other men are? I’m going to take a guess and say very rarely and certainly not to the same extent that we do. There are jokes about hood dudes who just want to be basketball players or rappers, but that’s pretty much where it stops. Behind every man who does nothing for his child is a crazy baby mama, for every man who can’t get a job, there’s a white racist hiring manager, and for every man in jail, there is a crooked cop.

Where’s the empathy (or excuses) for women? If you have a crazy baby daddy, then you should’ve known better to not get involved with him in the first place. If you can’t get a job, stop being lazy and get off welfare, and if you’re in jail, then you should’ve been smart enough not to get caught. These are the double standards I’m more concerned about. These are the double standards that we are placing on ourselves. And where does this behavior leave us in the end? Fractioned and divided.

I’d be rich if I had a dollar for every time I heard a woman say, “I don’t get along with females, I’d rather hang around men.” I’ve never heard a man say that he doesn’t get along with his male counterparts as a whole, and any straight man who says he’d rather hang around women is usually just thirsty. So why can’t black women, as progressive and successful as we claim to be, get along? Perhaps it’s not really the next woman that is the problem.

I don’t know the full psychology behind our women bashing and I don’t want this to turn into yet another “women need to do better” post, but l venture to say that underneath this behavior lies a mixture of deep-rooted self hatred, jealousy bubbling right at the surface, and a little bit of anger because some of the things that we do really are just stupid. But those few instances certainly don’t warrant the anti-women campaign that seems to be alive and flourishing on both sides of the gender fence.

We can’t stop men from calling us out at our worsts, although it would be wise for them to look at their role in creating these factions amongst women. We can, however, control our own mouths. We can cut the next chic some slack, and we can instill power, rather than take it away and place it in the hands of the opposite sex. We can stop hating women.

[Originally Published Here]

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