I often mull over the phrase “no man can serve two masters”; it is an important proverb to keep in mind when one is committing actions that are diametrically opposed. For example, saying “I am a Christian and I believe in God and kindness” and in your next breath, slandering someone for their simple existence. You say you believe in God but your actions are the antithesis of kindness and love. But I also believe “to err is human and to forgive is divine.” We are fallible, we will always come short, and people should not expect us to be perfect.
I also mull over the dichotomy of human personalities; it’s titillating. I especially think about the multifaceted nature of being an educated black person in America. At one moment, we can discuss ratchet reality TV, then discuss drone strikes in Yemen, then quote Descartes, Ayn Rand, et cetera, then dance to Migos ‘Versace’, then code-switch and be ready for our professional jobs in the morning. I am absolutely positive that other races experience their own forms of dichotomy however I’m only familiar with my own experience and this post isn’t [solely] about being black in America…
My post is about this.
This is a winner.
Yes, this too.
Yes, this as well.
Hannibal Buress, the comedian, once said he hates it when white men call him “brother”, it’s like “diet n*gga” because they are using “brother” to relate and to try and be “down.” I saw that stand up routine on tumblr and someone reblogged it with the comment, “That’s how I feel about the usage of females. It’s like a ‘diet b*tch.'”
Every single one of these posts refer to women as diet b*tches. Almost all of these posts police a woman’s sexuality and the implication is “if she does this, she is not someone who deserves respect.” I will even go as far to say that when these individuals type females, 8 out of 10 times, they are referring to black women. I’m sure that if you asked the individuals who posted these intellectual stimulating tweets to comment on the licentiousness of men, they would either say “well, this applies to men, too, but I just felt like talking to the ladies first” [an afterthought] or “well, men are different, women are emotional creatures, men we are just like cavemen” [an excuse].
Do you know what is female? a dog, a cat, a goat, a cow, an aardvark, a lion. Female is species non-specific. Do you know what is human? A woman. A man. You. Me. Not the spambot on this site who wants to leave a comment about making $20,000 in 2 minutes. Nomenclature matters, words matter. Micro aggressions should be recognized and nullified; when a man who feels like he is your superior and calls you “Sweetie” with a saccharine grin, that is a micro aggression and harassment. When a black man is in the deep South and a white man calls him the diminutive word “boy,” that is a micro aggression. If you call a black man “a thug”, that is a micro aggression and a code-word for “nigger.” Micro aggressions are about exercising power, control, and policing.
There is so much policing of how a “female” should or shouldn’t act. If a female cheats, there is absolutely no way she can separate it from sex, she must have had feelings, so we must punish her for her emotional infidelity and wantonness. But if a man cheats, it was instinctual, they are carnal creatures, animals, hunters and gatherers, so they must spread their seed, it wasn’t personal, you still have his heart, just not all of his sexual organs. If a man commits a morally reprehensible and petty act, he’s acting like “a female” but if a woman commits an act that separates her from those “other females” she’s “acting like a dude/a nigga” and she is to be extolled because she superseded her “Female ways.”
All that these tweets, memes, Facebook posts, blog entries do are promulgate this concept that women must act in a Puritanical fashion in order to be respected. They promote this notion that women are wanton, weak-willed creatures who need to be herded, like lost sheep. They exonerate men from the same standards, citing “our nature” as an argument, albeit the fact it is a poorly formed argument. And sometimes, they tell other women to not defend these “females” if it doesn’t apply to them and there are women who believe it.
I watched Straight Outta Compton. N.W.A. was revolutionary, Suge Knight is the devil incarnate. N.W.A. was vocal about police brutality against the black community and the evils of systematic racism. N.W.A. also promoted violence against women, sexual assault of minors, and calling women “bitches.” In an interview, Ice Cube was asked about his lyrics and if he regrets it. Ice Cube said:
If you’re a bitch, you’re probably not going to like us. If you’re a ho, you probably don’t like us. If you’re not a ho or a bitch, don’t be jumping to the defense of these despicable females. Just like I shouldn’t be jumping to the defense of no punks or no cowards or no slimy son of a bitches that’s men. I never understood why an upstanding lady would even think we’re talking about her.
Ice Cube never differentiates or explains what is a “bitch” or what is a “ho,” never acknowledging the fact he cheated on his partners, Eazy-E contracted HIV because of his salacious nature, et cetera. I am a firm believer of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and changing the media bias and rhetoric when it comes to racism. Yet there is so much silence when black feminists/womanists bring up the intersectionality and changing the bias towards black women and that we are either lascivious or lady-like.
As a black woman in America, I am crunched into so many boxes and told how I need to act in order to be “respectful.” I apparently am not allowed to like twerking or be an expert, or I would be one of those “ratchet black girls.” I apparently am not supposed to enjoy sex, be open about enjoying sex, while my male counterparts can. Because boys will be boys and females must keep their legs closed. I cannot be too vocal, or I will be the angry black b*tch. But a man can be vocal and be considered strong and independent. I think about the Mos Def&Talib Kweli lyric “I find it’s distressing there’s never no in-between/We either n*ggas or kings, we either b*tches or queens.”
You can enjoy making it clap and going to church. You are allowed to curse and it be “lady-like” and drink tea and eat crumpets. This notion that we must all act in a homogenous fashion must be dispelled. Because little black girls are having rape jokes made about them [screw you, Amy Poehler]. Because black girls are being sexually abused, it’s not recognized nor treated, and they are shuttled off to prison when they inevitably act out. Wearing tight, revealing clothing, or being open about your sexual proclivities does not mean you do not “respect yourself” and to conflate the two is erroneous and controlling. If you continue to engage with individuals who compromise the way you ultimately want them to treat you, then that might show a lack of self-worth.
Audre Lorde once said “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive” and I look around the media and marvel at the consumption of black women and how often we are eaten alive. Tutorials on how to have an Afro, tutorials on cornrows, how to have big butts, the Kylie Jenner challenge for thick lips, white women doing blackface vitiligo, Lex Panterra teaching twerk classes, these things are loud and ubiquitous. But there is so much silence against the misogynoir black women face. I am not promoting nor condemning how one decides to express their sexuality. I am promoting the concept of removing the plank from your own eye before inspecting the sawdust of your brother. I am condemning the notion that some individuals do not deserve baseline human respect. I am condemning anti-blackness.
In the spirit of unbridled honesty, with all my opinions on the topic, I don’t know how to conquer or deconstruct every single one of these issues. But I do think it needs to start with recognizing the humanity of us black women. I am not solely a “female”. I am a female human, I am a woman. And in the words of my black queen, Janelle Monae, “you cannot police me, so get off my areola.”