Tag Archives: perceptions

Is Your Perception of the Opposite Sex Based on Reality or Internet Responses?

The more I’ve written the less faith I have in the divide between black men and women ever being repaired. The slightest mention of a black man doing X or a black woman doing Y in an article can cause a spiral of hate-filled, generalized, I-don’t-need-you comments that remove attention from the true topic being discussed and place it on what’s wrong with every member of the opposite sex. And every time I observe this situation and read the anger in these responses, all I can think is where are you getting your information, blogs or real life?

About a year or so ago I had to take a serious break from visiting black websites. Everything I read basically told me I had no chance in life, particularly when it came to relationships, and the information was honestly starting to weigh on me. Despite understanding the internet balls phenomenon, it was still clear to me that even though a person might not say in person what they were bold enough to type online, that didn’t mean they didn’t really think and feel what their message portrayed. So if a commenter used derogatory language to describe their hatred for a woman like me, in some ways I internalized it and the paranoia followed me into real-life interractions where I wondered if the people around me had the same thoughts as these internet instigators but just weren’t saying it.

It wasn’t until late last year that I had an epiphany of sorts. I had come back to my apartment after being harassed by one of my neighbors who told me he was going to keep bothering me until I gave him the time of day. That’s when I realized my real life experience just didn’t match with the hate men online said they had for women like me. Let internet trolls tell it, an educated woman who could stand to lose a few pounds and hasn’t had the best dating history in the world is trash they wouldn’t even bother to look at, but in reality, every time I left the house a man was trying to get my attention. It could have been something as simple as “hey sis” or a call for my number or someone telling me to smile. But I remember in all of my why-do-men-always-have-to-say-something-to-a-woman attitude, I thought, black men do still love black women and black men still love me.

This is why I have a hard time when the generalizations about black men and women turning their back on one another and not wanting to be with each other get under my skin. Don’t get me wrong, as I’ve said before, I’m no “let’s go black man” cheerleader in the sense that they can do no wrong. I’ve been known to cue up Trina every now and then and I certainly have my issues with some of their choices, but when a nod to a black man’s success conjures up a “he’ll probably go get a white woman like the rest of them” response, or a suggestion that doing X,Y,Z, could help you attract a man is met with “I don’t need a black man to step all over me, I’m going to find a white man to put a ring on it,” something is wrong. Why so much anger? Everyone comes with a little baggage but the price for bringing that crap with you isn’t even worth the trip. At some point you have to accept the 1,2,3,4,5 men that did you wrong at some point aren’t totally representative of the whole race—particularly when evidence to the contrary is staring you in the face.  The same goes for men.

I think some of us just want to hold on to our anger or incite it in other people and unfortunately social networks and blog sites have provided a huge platform to spread it. What people don’t realize is their not just spreading anger, they’re spreading ideas and stereotypes that some readers are taking for face value and using to build grudges against the opposite sex as well. If we complain when white people do it why are we doing it to ourselves?

It’s OK to speak from the heart and from experience with passion but next time someone gets ready to throw out a negative comment about a black man or black woman, I wish they would think about whether what they’re saying really reflects the experiences they’ve had in their own lives or is what they’re about to say solely based on perceptions they’ve developed of the opposite sex as a result of internet banter.

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Pleading the Fifth

My best friend and I were debating the other day about how obligated you are to tell a person the whole truth when you first meet them. For instance, if you meet someone who interests you while you’re dating someone who’s sort of just there, do you have to tell them that you’re involved? BFF says no since you’re not serious with the other person and telling might scare off the new prospect. My philosophy says yes, the new person should be able to make a decision about dating me based on all of the facts. I don’t have the right to make that choice for them, by leaving out pertinent details.

But what about withholding even more serious information, like the fact that you have a serious illness, or you’ve been raped, or you have a criminal past. When are we obligated to tell these things and when is it considered dishonest if you don’t volunteer this information?

Fortunately, I haven’t been in a situation where I’ve had to reveal an unpleasant fact about myself that I was worried would scare someone off, but I have had occasion where a guy withheld facts about children, baby mamas, jobs, and the like for a rainy day in fear that if I knew the truth from the get go, I would run in the opposite direction.

Likewise, I’ve come across women with incurable STDs who never know when the time is right to tell someone they like or even want to be intimate with that their sexual health is compromised. Ideally, that time would be when you have “the talk,” but is it already too late at that point? Both parties are ready to escalate the relationship, feelings are strong, and this knowledge could be a huge blow to whatever connection has already been established. Read more @Clutch

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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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