Category Archives: Gender

UNHAND ME

‘Don’t touch me’: CNN panel goes off the rails when Kayleigh McEnanay accuses Charles Blow of ‘sinister motivations’

dont touch meDuring my freshman year in high school, there was a substitute teacher for one of my classes. She went off topic from the lesson plan and started discussing her university experiences. She told the class studies showed Black children don’t like to be touched. Yep, she actually said that as her eyes rested on me. She then walked over to me and put her hand on my shoulder while looking around at the other students so they could observe my actions. Of course I gave her the look of death and snatched away from her. She smiled knowingly as if her “let’s look at the modern Negro in her natural habitat” theories were proven but what her whiteness wouldn’t allow her to understand was my disinterest in her touching me had nothing to do with my blackness and everything to do with her anti-blackness, arrogance, attempt to humiliate me, and her disrespect.

UNCLE CHARLESI have seen a few videos and articles claiming Charles Blow “lost his mind” and behaved “terribly” when Kayleigh McEnany touched him while simultaneously insulting him during a panel discussion on CNN. The fact he is being described as the monster in this scenario is what is typical about whiteness and its persistence in attempting to force us to perform White-approved blackness. Blow’s demand for McEnany to stop touching him took her aback. I mean, here she is a blonde-haired White woman, so what Black man wouldn’t want her to touch him, right? He’s just a prop placed there to pet, not a person present to pontificate on the subject matter so how dare he decline her touch? In that moment, she heard nothing but her white indignation shouting over his demand she respectfully keep her hands to herself. I guess sometimes privilege is deafening.

Instead of respecting Blow’s words, this woman actually argued and tried to shame him for not being interested in her disrespect and dehumanizing slights. I watched and immediately knew what I was seeing – the attempts to dehumanize us then blame us for those attempts. She took him demanding respect and tried to turn it into him being Un-American, disagreeable, and difficult instead of taking it as an opportunity to consider her own misdeeds steeped in privilege. The unmitigated gall.

Today, I salute Charles Blow for his refusal to be treated like a pet. If nobody else feels you, Charles, I feel you. ©

 

M’s-BODY-MEANT

While in the chair at my threading appointment, my esthetician mentioned that my skin hqdefaultwas dry, which is pretty rare for my face. As she was threading, dry skin was coming off with my hair. She then suggested a facial because I have some areas with blackheads. While listening to her, I realized something – I haven’t been treating myself well.

I always drink water, but I hadn’t been drinking enough, which is why my skin was dry. My lips have been chapped off and on for a few weeks and that is also because I wasn’t drinking enough water. I’ve been dozing off uncontrollably at work almost every day for the past month – because I hadn’t been taking my iron or my vitamin D. My purse gave up   the ghost two months ago, my sister emptied the contents into a really cute canvas bag then threw my purse into a dumpster and I didn’t bother to buy myself a new one. My hair hadn’t been colored in MONTHS, and I just kept looking in the mirror wondering why I wasn’t feeling myself while failing to pick up some color to address the situation. I’ve experienced weight gain over the past year, so my clothing situation is sparse, to say the least. I like to dress well, but I just kept covering up with plain clothes all the time and wearing my black Chucks with a frayed lace on the right shoe.

In that chair, I quietly cried because I realized I was punishing myself for the weight gain. I was depriving myself because weight gain had me thinking I didn’t deserve anything – not moisturized skin, not a decent purse, no the ability to stay awake at my desk, and not even some damn new laces or a new pair of Chucks. My esthetician thought it was the threading making my eyes water, but it was really me feeling ashamed for treating myself so poorly. How had I fallen so far without even noticing?

The next morning, I got up, drank plenty of water, took my iron pills, put on my good sweats (because baby steps), put on some makeup, did my hair, and took myself shopping. A purse was the first thing on the list. I followed that up with a couple pairs of casual shoes without lace issues, some tops, and a pair of jeans in my current size that 71p6NUSJpLL__SL1500_look good on all these curves – even the extra ones I recently accumulated. The day after that, I got up early and had a great workout before any Super Bowl snacks could interfere with my goals. I feel 1000% better, these lips aren’t chapped, and I can already see the difference in my skin.

I know trying to get and stay fit is hard AF sometimes and I know a setback can feel like the ultimate betrayal from one’s body. I also now know societal pressures, familial background, and the drive to achieve one’s own sense of perfection can lead to a period of self-punishment if one isn’t careful. Giving oneself grace is incredibly important during this time and so is remembering who one is while focusing on one’s strengths instead of all her weaknesses. plus-size-princessDespite the difficulties, I intend to keep plugging along with my self-care efforts and to be sure that care doesn’t stop at workouts but flows into every other aspect of ways to care for my body. I want to make my care count.

 

THE WHOLE KIT(CHEN) AND CABOODLE

When I was growing up, my mother was always funny about how she wanted her house cleaned. Certain towels and t-shirts were deemed rags to be used for dusting while others were deemed unusable and tossed. She wanted the bathroom sinks and tub cleaned with Comet, not some newfangled cream based product. And I had to be sure I folded the towels the way she taught me because what self-respecting woman would have her towels folded in anything but geometrically sound rectangles? Though she had her preferences about the whole house, she was most particular about the kitchen. She made it a point to say to me ad nauseam, “You can’t just wash the dishes and think the kitchen is clean. Wipe down the stove, wipe down the counter, put the dishes away, clean out the microwave, sweep and mop this floor. IT’S ALL A PART OF THE KITCHEN.”cup-in-sink-03

That line always annoyed me. Granted, I knew I was being lazy for not addressing everything, but being called out as such still left me brooding or soundlessly mouthing snarky shit while my mother was out of the room. I mean, couldn’t she lighten up a little? Why did EVERYTHING need to be pristine? The dishes were washed, what more did she want? It wasn’t like I didn’t do any work at all. I did plenty – even if the floors weren’t clean, the microwave had old food stuck to its walls, and the floor was covered in black shoe prints. Clearly, moms was just trippin’.

I see the same attitude I had about the kitchen from Nate Parker and the folks who refuse to see the flaw in his indifference and attempted disengagement from his rape case and the suffering of his now deceased victim. When asked about his rape case, he stems annoyed, indifferent, and he’s quick to point out what he has accomplished since then. He had the trial, he was acquitted while his partner in crime was convicted. He went on to graduate from another college. He married and started a family. And now, Nate Parker has a blossoming career in acting and filmmaking. To him, he’s made all the necessary moves when really, he just washed the dishes but failed to wipe the counters and mop the floor.

No one can restore the life of Nate’s victim, but the least he can do is be remorseful. The least he can do is talk about the importance of consent, integrity, and honesty. The least 1453915282377_cachedhe can do is apologize for causing hurt, for being dismissive, for being dishonest, and for putting his dick and ego above the well-being of his victim. Instead of these things, he is angry because folks are pointing out the fact he washed the dishes, but his kitchen still ain’t clean.

Dirty kitchens are what keep me from being able to stomach The Cosby Show reruns, what has my musical selections free of R. Kelly songs, and ultimately, what will keep me out of the theater while others are watching The Birth Of A Nation. Holding up a few clean dishes while standing in the middle of a filthy floor does not imply a room is pristine and I can’t support anything that involves Nate Parker until he learns it’s all a part of the kitchen.

TARGET HITS THE BULLSEYE

Target Ditches Gender Labels on Toys, Home and Entertainment

Today’s Tackling Tomfoolery GTFOH Award goes to those having fits over Target’s decision to remove gender labels from toys, home products, and entertainment items.

If the idea of a lack of signage pointing you to the toy you want to buy for a child based on gender is stressing you out to the point of indignation, protest, and potential boycotting, I feel it wise to advise you a long rest, a mild sedative, and some nice calming tea are GIRLprobably best for you. Did you walk in to buy Legos for your son today? Guess what! You can still go in Target and buy them for him.

For years, little girls have been relegated to playing with little baby pots and pans, plastic bacon and eggs, and little teapots, sans tea, in miniature scale kitchens while wearing some sort of baby apron all while the little boys were outside erecting structures, adventuring, and pushing G.I. Joe action figures over the mountainous desert terrain of the closest sandbox. But why can’t a boy learn to create the perfect Easy Bake omelet while a girl is somewhere getting her troops into formation?

kid-chefIf you think the only thing holding your child’s idea of his/her masculine or feminine identity are the colors, pink, blue, green, and yellow and the words “FOR BOYS” or “FOR GIRLS,” I must inform you there is a serious deficiency in your general understanding of how life works and you are also slacking in your obligation to teach and guide your children and to show them they are not limited by their genders regarding what they can accomplish and learn. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some exploding toys and action figures to go buy for my nieces. ©

 

WHO DOES A SISTA HAVE TO SCREW AROUND HERE TO MATTER?

The-Black-Mans-StruggleI love black men, God knows I do (I absolutely said that in my Oprah as Sophia in The Color Purple voice) – but part of my frustration has to do with the fact I had to start off acknowledging my love for them as a disclaimer for what I really want to say. Since I have been old enough to understand the very basic parts of racism against black folks in this country, I have been indoctrinated with the “black man’s struggle.” I think most black folks; girls and women in particular, have heard it since childhood:

  1. The life playing field isn’t level for a black man.
  2. It’s harder for a black man to get a job.
  3. It’s harder for a black man to get a promotion when he does have a job.
  4. It’s harder for a black man to get respect everywhere.
  5. It’s harder for a black man to be acknowledged in the academic world.
  6. You know, you really have to be supportive of black men and boys because after all, it’s harder for them.
    blackwomenmatter

I’m sure plenty of folks reading this know this unfortunately true rhetoric. Most of my life, I assumed  “white men” were the implied group of privileged folks who had it easier than black men and what I thought totally made sense because the concept of white privilege is real. But these days, I’m not so sure the “white man” is the only one implied to have the lion’s share of privileges. In all this talk of how hard it is to be a black man (or boy), the black majority has forgotten an equally important conversation – the fact black girls and women have it just as hard, if not harder. The playing field isn’t really level for black women either. It’s challenging to be taken seriously in the professional world, despite one’s educational background and body of work that should speak for itself. Promotions are definitely not growing on trees specifically planted and grown for black women. It’s difficult for black girls and women to find respect in the white world, let alone in the black one. Black women graduate from college more often than black men, but we’re often discouraged by professors, administrators, lovers, and family members during our educational pursuits. And we have to rail against sexism outside of, but more importantly, within our race, and shit – it’s just hard being a black woman in this society. And folks thought it was hard out here for a pimp. He should try being a ho and see how that works.

Black girls and women are beaten, raped, and murdered by law enforcement officers just like our beloved black boys and men. We are denied opportunities we earn, just like our beloved black boys and men. We struggle with finding our footing in a society that MUGSHOT2constantly reminds us it doesn’t love us, just like our beloved black men. And from childhood we fight against being told we aren’t worthy, smart, beautiful, relevant, creative, innovative, or worthwhile, just like our beloved black men. But we forge our way anyway. We plot, plan, protest, politic, and prance up and down streets on behalf of our boys and men reminding this world the lives of our counterparts matter.

But who exactly marches for and with us? Who lets folks know when we say, “Black Lives Matter,” Black includes girls and women? Who campaigns for us with photo shoots shown in caps and gowns, posing mug shot style, with a sign in our hands stating our major in which we earned a degree? Who tells our story about how hard it is to be us and about how we really just need support during our struggle? Who surrounds us with love? Who RIDES for us? Who lets the world know we aren’t petty or unaware of the way our gender counterparts suffer just because we point out the fact we suffer too? Unfortunately, the answer to that is usually – US.

thumbI love black men, God knows I do, but I don’t love them or respect their struggle any more than I love and respect that of black girls and women. To succeed, to progress, to exact change in any way, we must support each other. The struggles of black girls and women must be acknowledged and seen as inextricable to the black struggle. I can be about that ride or die life, but I don’t always want to be in the car alone. ©

 

Plate Politics

Screenshot_2015-05-19-20-37-13-1I was scrolling though Instagram last night and the scenario to the left was posed. As I expected, there were varying responses, primarily from women, regarding how to handle a situation of a woman offering, then actually fixing, another woman’s boyfriend/husband a plate at a social function. The answers mostly stayed along the lines of 1) An ass whoopin’ for disrespectfully and shameslessly flirting with another woman’s man 2) Shame to the girlfriend/wife for not making her man a plate in the first place because clearly, this is what women are made to do 3) Asking the woman if she would be so kind as to prepare both a plate since she is feeling so damn helpful and 4) Expecting the man to simply say, “No, thank you” to the offer of another woman overstepping her boundaries with him in front of his woman. Truthfully, these were answers I expected and though they ran the gamut, none of them were quite the answer I had.

Why Is This Even A Question?

One issue for me with this scenario is the idea it might be a problem or fodder for such detailed discussion. In my mind, no man I’m with would accept that offer, but most importantly, no man I’d be with would announce his hunger then automatically look at me to take action to remedy his pronouncement. What about my existence as a woman makes folks think I’m predisposed to diaper changing, cake baking, and plate making? What is it MakingPlatesabout testosterone that enables some men to feel sitting in a chair waiting for food to magically arrive in front of them is all they have to do when they are hungry? And who the hell set the precedent for any of this? Who are the folks perpetuating these ideas simply based in gender? Now, don’t get me wrong – I’ve made a few plates in my day and I know plenty of folks who subscribe to traditional ideas of gender roles of their choosing. I think that’s just fine, providing it’s what both parties want and believe, but that isn’t how I believe and it isn’t what I want. Every kindness I extend to folks I like and love comes from a pure desire to do something nice. It’s an extension of my love, not an obligatory action based on my possession of ovaries. Sometimes, I might make a plate and other times, I might not. Sometimes, I might ask him to make me a plate, and that shouldn’t be a problem because putting food on plates is not, and won’t ever be, a gender specific action. I’ve met a lot of different people in my day and outside of literally missing limbs, I haven’t met any adult incapable of holding a serving utensil and using it to dish up food for a plate.

If You Don’t, Cousin Faith Will

In all the fussing and laughing, I was the only woman who wondered why his significant other making him a plate would be the automatic option. In the good old movie, Soul cousin-faithFood, the main characters’ cousin, Faith, seemed to step in and fill some sort of void one of the husbands felt his wife wasn’t filling. As a result, they had an affair. Several women spoke the perspective of it being the girlfriend’s/wife’s fault another woman made her mate a plate because she didn’t fix it herself, therefore creating the opportunity for “Cousin Faith” to step in and do it instead.

*Imagine me letting out a big ole’ sigh right here.*

Listen, I can’t speak for any other woman’s relationship or how she handles it, but I have absolutely no belief in existing within a relationship under constant fear of “losing” my significant other. My assumption is a man is with me because he thinks I’m awesome (I am pretty damn cool for real) and if my entire existence with him is spent worrying about him leaving me if I fail to cook dinner, don’t feel like making him a plate after I failed to cook dinner, gain a pound, get a pimple, or express my beliefs one too many times, then I need that man to go on ahead and leave me immediately. My actions within my relationship are always true to who I am and again, my shows of affection are at-will, not based on some crazy antiquated ideas about what I “better” do lest I be left. Besides, if Cousin Faith comes through and he leaves with her and her plate makin’ ass, it is not because of me but because of that man’s choice. We ALL makechoices.

I suppose I can file my feelings on this in the Why I’m Single folder, along with my disinterest in cooking everyday or most days, my mostly covert but sometimes overt ratchetness, my disinterest in backing down when I’m talking about something I really believe, and the idea I should actually enjoy the sex I’m having, and I’m ok with that. I make plates when the spirit of love moves me and if Cousin Faith wants to try to plate up some food for my man in front of me and he allows it, I’m just going to ask her bring me back an extra fork – to stab the man who doesn’t know when to tell a broad to exit stage left. Bon appetit. ©

 

SAY YES TO THE SUMMER DRESS

I spent the greater part of my morning fiddling with my skirt and trying to think of new ways to make my stomach disappear without control top panties, a corset, or some quick pre-workday surgery. Unfortunately, none of those options were really viable or appealing, so I had to come to a realization or two – I look good as I am, even as I’m working on my body, and I need  to stop comparing myself to someone else’s body reality and remember to love and live in my own. 2f07044280693a5140b08330507333d1

The whole concept of body image and feeling good about being in one’s skin is an ongoing effort for me. I hate to call it a struggle because something about viewing my body that way seems counterproductive, but figuring out how to love it as is while working to improve it is most certainly a stru…er…challenge.  On one hand, I think about what my body looked like light years ago, pun intended, and I feel like I somehow ruined everything, but on the other hand, I think about how much my body has experienced, how well I treat it, how healthy it is, even if it doesn’t look the way I want, and how it gives me a great return on my investment in it. My blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol have never been problems for me. I eat clean more often than not, and I exercise. I should pat myself on the back for that – even if the back I pat has an extra roll on it I don’t like.

As is the norm around the warm months of the year, memes about women, warm weather, and summer dresses permeate my Facebook feed. Today, I saw this one and was immediately annoyed. 11196248_823727781052664_5193530587267528661_n (1)As a woman, I deal with enough. What I don’t need are folks scoping me out to see if I have a spare tire so they can spend time judging it. Whose stomach is this anyway? I spend my days concerned about my professional progress, whether I write enough, whether I can do what I love and support myself, and  if I’m a good enough daughter, friend, sister, writer, and thinker. I obsess enough over my body and have no desire to deal with others who are more concerned about my stomach than I am.

So ladies, if this warm weather has you itching to put on a summer dress – do that shit. Don’t make apologies for your body to any other person because you don’t owe anyone any apologies for it. Just make sure you get the cutest one you can find and that your stomach feels right at home in it. ©

 

AREA CODES

Tupac saw the same ones everywhere he went, Ludacris had them in every area code, and Snoop never loved them. Yes, people.  I’m talking about hoes – the word often used to describe women and girls from every walk of life. According to urban conversational and social norms, a woman can be a rotten, stank, dirty, useless, or crappy one. But take heart, because a woman can apparently also be a good, down ass, and loyal ho as well.  I mean, balance is important, right?

When I was a whole lot less informed and self-reflective, I subscribed to the existence of hoes. I didn’t see the word as a compliment and was of course careful to only apply it to the women who fit the description – women who gave up “the goods” to too many men, women who screwed too soon, women who were too liberal with blow jobs, women whose dresses and skirts were too tight and/or too short, women who wore too much makeup, women who couldn’t stay away from the club spotlight, etc… See, it was ok for me to think of those women as hoes because they weren’t anything like me – the well-behaved woman. I was close-legged, quiet in public, well-read, and had on clothes that showed just the right amount of skin. In retrospect, I am a little ashamed I bought into the man-dated tomfoolery of what a “real” woman versus a ho should do and be, but I’m glad I learned before it was too late.

The entire intention behind the word, “ho” and all its synonyms is to separate girls and women from one another, stifle their sexuality, and destroy their confidence in who they are and the power they hold. The older I get and the more in tune I become with myself as a multi-faceted woman, the easier it is for me to see the flaw in my young thinking and the 58999724disservice society, mostly at the hands of male and religious dominated thought processes, has done to folks as a result. I know now there are no hoes. Hoes and ho-dom are nothing more than constructs created to keep women in check and within the bounds set for them by men and reinforced by society as a whole. I know what some folks might be thinking while reading this – “What do you mean there are no hoes? Of course there are. I mean, what else are we supposed to call ‘those’ women?” My answer for that is they should simply be called women. Since I can remember, I was programmed to separate myself from other girls and women. I couldn’t hang with so and so because she was “fast,” I couldn’t go to certain places because that was where the “loose” girls hung, and I wasn’t allowed to wear certain clothes lest anyone mistake me for a tramp. The divide started early and I was convinced it must have been warranted. I didn’t want to be seen in a negative light and heaven forbid anyone should see me as any kind of ho. With introspection, information, and maturity, things changed.

One of the main problems with calling women hoes is the way it suggests a woman should downplay her sexuality and even apologize for it. A woman isn’t allowed to have sex when she wants with the partners she chooses without feeling guilty because it apparently gives her entirely too much control over her body and seemingly – a certain amount of control over her partners.  If that autonomy is stripped from her, she is left to define herself by someone else’s standards and must spend her time trying to reach for an unrealistic and unfair ideal to maintain her decent reputation. If a woman is completely true to herself and does as she sees fit, her full power is in her possession and no one else can convince her she is wrong.

When having this conversation with a friend, he asked how I categorize women who don’t have sex out of a sense of personal sexual liberation, but instead do it to somehow help/heal themselves because of low self-esteem. I told him those women aren’t hoes to me – they’re just hurt. Though most folks are likely having sex out of a sense of enjoyment, many are having sex trying to replace something they lost or compensate for what they may have never had. Those folks are simply damaged. They’ve been banged up by life and think their sexuality is the playing field where they can recoup. To me, women like this are victims who are hurting and misunderstood, not hoes. These are the women and girls who need someone to reach out instead of ridicule.

I realize it’s difficult for some women to look down from their good woman level and go against everything they’ve been taught about what it is to be respectable, but it’s necessary if they are to ever understand the position of women who seem to have broken all the “good girl” rules.  If more women subscribed to the belief that we aren’t all nearly as separated as we are think, the divide would start to close. This undertaking is probably even more difficult for men. They would have to throw out almost everything they’ve been indoctrinated with to make room for the idea that a woman who goes against the good girl grain is still a woman worthy of respect.

Ultimately, I think it simply comes down to girls and women defining themselves and being unapologetic about it. We are not hoes, tricks, and tramps. We are individuals who tank and triumph and who wear sexy dresses and business suits. Women sleep with whom they like, live a committed life of abstinence and everything in between and not a bit of it makes us hoes. Instead, we are human and for that, we should not have to ever feel ashamed.©

WOMEN – FTW

These days, it seems the best way to get through to a lot of women is to be a man who comes up with memes and mini-motivational messages that sound pretty but really don’t do anything but disparage women, blame them for failed relationships or lack of relationships, and remind them how they must bend themselves into pretzels physically, emotionally, and spiritually to “keep a man.” Though I realize I’m living a testosterone- free existence sans the alleged benefits of testicles and a penis, my hope is what I have to say will permeate the minds of the women who read this despite my lack of “maleness”. The ongoing attack on women and girls is real and its effectiveness is evident in face to shoeface conversations, books, film, articles, social networking, advertising, etc… From every direction, women and girls are bombarded with ill-conceived, sexist, and antiquated ideas about who they should be, how they should behave, what they should think, how they should dress, and what they can say without losing that ever important air of femininity all self-respecting girls and women should possess. If a child misbehaves, the first question folks ask is, “Where is his/her mother?” Because after all, a child engaging in humanistic behaviors such as tantrums is surely lacking in proper mothering, right?  If a woman is accosted by a man in public, be it verbally, physically, or both, the question is, “What did you do to provoke this?” Because after all, that woman knows how her “mouth” can be plus, she really shouldn’t have worn that outfit if she wasn’t looking for something to happen to her. If a once married woman is freshly divorced or separated, she is quickly labeled as yet another woman who, “just can’t keep a man.” Because after all, the positive and lasting status of a happy relationship solely falls on the shoulders of the woman and if that connection is somehow compromised, it must surely be because the woman didn’t cook enough, work out enough, listen enough, or blow her man enough. I mean, seriously, when are these women going to get it together? That seems to be the prevailing question when it really should be, “When is this society going to stop holding women responsible for all the tragedy while stripping them of their parts in all the triumphs?”

In this meme and social networking laden society, I see countless attacks on girls and women. Before there is even sufficient opportunity for a girl to develop into an independent minded, pragmatic, creative, self-assured individual, there are all these societal rules and standards applied to her that do nothing but stifle her personal growth. She must learn early on to suppress her intellect, her interests, her ambitions, and her sexuality lest she run off all the boys with her well-earned confidence. She can’t think too highly of herself and what she has to offer the world because what good is education and professional success if one has no man? I mean, all the personal achievements in the world won’t hold you at night and give you babies. So, before a woman can even effectively get started, she’s stunted by someone else’s boundaries for her life. If her clothes are too body conscious, she’s a ho. If she dresses too conservatively, she’s a stick in the mud. If she likes to have an unabashedly good time, she’s a party girl only good for one thing. If she prefers books and baking to bashes, she’s the ideal for a wife, who will likely be cheated on with the woman having the unabashedly good time. On the surface, all this makes it appear there is no winning. However, girls and women can walk away with the win – if they create their own definitions. When women opt to define womanhood for themselves, be it a homemaking, cookie baking, baby raising, homeschooling one or one of bachelor degrees, boardrooms, mixers, and contract negotiations (or even one in between), we WIN. When we understand “real” women are not just one way but are made up of every kind of woman conceivable from the video vixen to the nun, we WIN. When we stop defining ourselves based on the antiquated and damaging views of old wrapped up in a bow and made to look pretty, we WIN. I see memes regularly pitting one type of woman against the other. Recently, it was Amber Rose v. Michelle Obama waxing philosophical womenabout doing anything for attention versus demanding respect. It raised my dander without question. I don’t know Amber Rose or Michelle Obama, but I do look at them and see two women seemingly doing the work that makes them happy. One twerks and one touts the goodness of homegrown vegetables and regular exercise and to me, BOTH are women deserving of respect and patriarchy has no right to strip it from either of them.  When women become elitist and use what they see as their social status to down other women whose life choices are different, we LOSE. When we let the framework of patriarchy define womanhood for us causing division among us, we LOSE. I hate being a loser. It took a lot of introspection, reading, listening, inquiring, and rewiring for me to get past my upbringing and the affect societal ideals of what makes a woman worthwhile for me to understand the constructs of femininity and realize I get to define what it means to me without the influence of old adages, religious rhetoric, or sexist foolishness developed by men and sadly partly perpetuated by women.  Though it took me almost 40 years, the journey was worth it because – I WIN. Now I know without question, the prostitute on the corner is a woman just like I am in the corporate world. The 21 year old woman with two children by two different men trying to hold it down is a woman, just like the wife of the President of the United States. Different lives, different choices, but still women and deserving of better than a bunch of judgment and denigration.

Despite my lack of male parts, I know now what it is to be a woman. It is simply about being comfortable in one’s skin, being interested in constant self-improvement, and not feeling the need to make apologies for being witty, talented, flexible, sexual, or spiritual. It’s about standing firm in who one is and not letting it be a result of who someone else said one should be. That is how we WIN. When we teach these ideas to our daughters, nieces, and mentees, we allow them to visualize a world in which they create their own reality instead of one that picks the truth for them forcing them to acquiesce to an existence of mediocrity and glass ceilings. I need to see little girls WIN.

Memes and mini-motivations messages via cell phone videos have their place, I suppose. I generally think of these things as funny ways to pass time, but when they are used as tools to down women and convince them everything that ails humans is our fault, I have to take exception to them.  Changing the definitions is how women WIN

 

 

 

Dads Who Lunch

While sitting in a restaurant for lunch yesterday, I saw the older man sitting at the table next to me stand up to greet his approaching daughter. His face lit up when she arrived and he squeezed her like she was the most important person he knew. I tried not to be obvious with my staring, but sometimes in all my efforts to exude strength and fierceness, I see something that reminds me of my vulnerabilities.

Over my life, I’ve often lamented my lack of an active and interested father. My father’s indifference served to provide me with an emotional void, random insecurities, and in my young adult life, a need to have men like and validate me, or at least pretend to. As hard as my mother worked to be a great parent, she was limited by human nature. No one parent can be a mother and father to a child. That simply isn’t the way it works.  Unfortunately, the school of thought meant to bolster the confidence of single parents by telling them they can be both mother and father is misleading and serves to negate the relevance of dadlunchthe other parent at the peril of the child.

Now, I would be lying if I said I am not a well-adjusted, fully functioning, self sufficient, contributing to society 40 year old. Fortunately, I have turned out pretty well, but  a few poor life choices in my younger life gave me the kind of life lessons I probably would have avoided if had an interested father. It isn’t any fun, but it seems to be the common reality of those of us who go without one parent.

I have nothing but love for my mother who gave me everything she knew to give and loved me in a way that helped me feel relevant. Familiar with the issues I’d encounter, she tried her best to prepare me and keep me feeling whole and for that, I am grateful. However, despite excelling in her job as a super mom, there were still a few glitches in my deadbeat dad life matrix. I certainly acknowledged and overcame them with time, but the road was pretty bumpy. Sitting in that restaurant and looking at the man and his daughter made me wonder if some of my pitfalls could have been avoided with a few lunches. ©