Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sweet vs Sassy

Tyra Banks with boyfriend, multi-millionaire investment banker John Utendahl.

Usually, I try to make posts that have some basis in research, but in this instance I will do something that the Something Screwed Crew does regularly. That would be to address a point that is based mostly on perception and observation (with the SSC, I would add "alleged perception" and "alleged observation"). The point of this article is to address something that I have discussed with other black men regarding their observations and experiences with black women; that something being the greater tendency to embrace sassiness and the tendency for such sassiness to shove sweetness to the side. Hence, "Sweetness vs Sassiness".

I use these two terms because they are often used together. The phrase, "sweet and sassy" is a familiar phrase that has been used to positively describe women, notably black women, in the past. And I stress "positive" because together, "sweet" and "sassy" can produce something that is actually rather appealing. The problem is that in today's time, sassiness has expanded at the expense of sweetness among our sistas. This is in no way shape nor form to say that there are not sweet black women, for that would be a total falsehood. I have met many of them and the young ladies who participate in this blog circle impress me as being quite sweet among other good things. But I would say that sweetness is disproportionately lacking among African American women.

Now I think that it is important to look at the definitions of "sweet" and "sassy". At The Free Dictionary, "sassy", as related to attitude, is defined as:

1. Rude and disrespectful; impudent.
2. Lively and spirited; jaunty.

Now, definition #1 has a negative connotation while definition #2 would probably overwhelmingly be viewed as positive. I believe that there is a fine line between the two definitions and that there is something that plays a large role as to whether the line is crossed to definition #1 or crossed to definition #2. That thing is the presence of sweetness.

I believe that sassiness without the balance of sweetness becomes something unpleasant. On the other hand, sweetness without sassiness remains something pleasant, albeit with possibly less of a thrill. Lets look at the definition of "sweet" as it relates to attitude:

4. Having a pleasing disposition; lovable: a sweet child.
5. Kind; gracious: It was sweet of him to help out.

As you can see, there is no negative connotation in the definition of "sweet". Thus, sassiness is not needed to keep sweetness positive. I think that this is one of the reasons why certain groups of women who lack the "sexy sassiness" that is common with black women tend more to have long lasting relationships and are more likely to marry than black women.

And yes, sassiness can be sexy. Unfortunately, many women seem to have trouble differentiating between the attention garnered from arrousing a man's loins as opposed to arrousing his heart. Wearing hoochie clothing is sexy. Booty claps are sexy. Wet t-shirts are sexy. But none of these are things that win a man's heart. Sassiness needs to be tempered by sweetness, otherwise you have a person who may be desirable, yet not very likeable.

This brings to mind something that I have noticed throughout the years. Being a boxing fan, I have tuned in to many fights both on television and in person. Quite often, the fights are attended by the spouses, fiances or girlfriends of the fighters. These women are black, white, Latino, Asian, etc. There are some trends that I have noticed with regard to how these women respond to their men being in a squared circle punching it out. With the black women, the overwhelming response is heavy cheering. Often the cheering is accompanied by a lot of bragging and sh*t talking. Yes, these women are fully supporting their men and are strongly rooting them on. Yet, if their men are the fan favorites, they are doing no more than what most of the people in the arena are doing.

On the other hand, a common response by the white wives, girlfriends, fiances, etc. is to have a look of worry. Some often have their eyes covered or look like they are close to tears. They have a look that says that they are more worried about their men's well being than they are about his performance in the fight. They have a look on their faces that is not shared by hardly anyone else in the arena.

This example exemplifies the differences between sweetness and sassiness; the difference between caring and being "lively and spirited; jaunty".

Friday, February 13, 2009

Blaming Black Men for Black women Straightening Their Hair.

Get Well Tameka.

Being that the Something Screwed Crew continually use various social issues as tools in their personal unshared war against black men, it was inevitable that the trend of black women perming/straightening their hair would become one of their lame weapons. Our friend Grata is among those using this excuse to further her disdain for black men. The discussion over on her blog is comical, yet exemplifies the mentality of those who pathologically must find some external scapegoats as opposed to looking within.

The discussion started with this very simple and simplistic statement referencing Chris Rock:

"Exactly. Why does he encourage his wife to wear weaves? If black men told black women their natural hair was ok, the women would be fine with it."
Now lets understand that apparently (or allegedly) Chris Rock's wife wears a weave. According to Grata, her wearing a weave automatically means that she is wearing it because he encourages her to do so. Now what contradicts this is the fact that Rock is currently doing a documentary on the pathology of hair perming. So I guess that Rock is trying to show every black woman, except for his wife, that perming is unnecessary. See how comical these folks are? If I said that if black women told black men that being intellectual was ok, the men would be fine with it, Grata and her cohorts would go ape crazy.

Now as I try to do often, I will attempt to show some research on the subject as opposed to the spouting of the flawed perceptions of a few black women who practically hate black men. What one will gather from the research is that among the reasons why black women perm their hair, the notion of appeasing black men's desires is near the bottom and often not even included. Typically, the easier manageability and the desire to conform to white standards for a professional look are the main reasons. This is explained here:

"For Black women who work in professional settings where they are frequently the racial minority, deciding on a hairstyle -- a presumably simple and personal decision -- is both a constrained choice and a formidable dilemma.21 Black women frequently must choose between hairstyles that conform to the norms and expectations of their White colleagues or hairstyles that are central to their African-American, African, Caribbean, or other racial or ethnic identities. This choice is complicated because in our society, long straight hair has generally been considered the gold standard for attractiveness,22 and the expectation of a straight conservative hairstyle is clearly present in corporate organizations."23

And here's more:

"Although there are probably many reasons why Black women choose to conform to dominant aesthetic standards in the workplace, we argue that Black women conform primarily because they seek to minimize the perception that they are different from their colleagues and because they want to avoid the pitfalls of stereotyping. Moreover, by conforming, they can preserve their professional images, avoid negative career consequences, and fit in with their colleagues. A Black woman's choice of hairstyle plays a part in obtaining such conformity."
And this goody:

"Although a direct causal relationship can not be explicitly established, it is likely that the popularity of chemically relaxed hair persists among Black women because of perceptions of the ease of hair maintenance, prevailing norms of beauty, and the popular belief that long straight hair is more attractive than tightly-curled hair."31
So as you can see, there is no reference to what black men desire. For anyone who has observed life, it is quite apparent that women are less influenced by men with regard their attire and look than the reverse. More women today have tattoos than men, yet I doubt that many men have expressed a sexual preference for tattooed women. Black women are more and more getting tattoos on their arms and necks, yet I doubt that these are done to attract men.

It has been said in the past that men dress to impress women while women dress to impress other women. Such ideas also apply to women and hair. Consider that at any hair show, the majority in the audience are women and gay men. And most of the guys realize that in manly discussions of physically desirable women, what you hear discussed are butts, breasts, thighs, lips and faces. Hair rarely comes up. Any guy who says that he would turn down a fine, pretty woman because he dislikes her natural hair would immediately be suspected of being gay. Now lets take a look at history:

Pam "Foxy Brown" Grier is one of history's most desirable black women. In her heyday, it was quite common for her to sport an Afro. Did this in any way turn black men off from her? Of course not. Black men TODAY look photos like this and still drool over her.

Was anyone turned off from 'Thelma" with this look. Hell naw! Most of us love her.

And guys. How many of you would be turned off from this young lady due to her hairstyle?

The answer is quite apparent. ZERO.

Now lets read some opinions from other, more sensible bloggers. From Stuff Black People Hate:

"Men are particularly prone to accidentally setting off the straight-haired woman because, unless you don’t have any hair, we’re perfectly happy no matter what the hair looks like - so we don’t really pay attention. We don’t give a shit if you wear it up or down, or feather your bangs (whatever the hell that means), or put it in a french twist (whatever the hell that means). All we care about is that a.) the hair is there, b.) it’s not a wig, and c.) it’s free of dirt, insects, food, and stank. Save your $150 and buy some friggin’ crotchless thong panties for us to rip off instead. Dammit."

Lets hear from Claudette Jameson:

"I can’t stand it when black women who are “napptural” and proud think that they need to put down, or assume that women with relaxed, weaved, or textured hair have something wrong with them. That they are denying their black roots. I believe that they are actually celebrating and uplifting them just as much as a black woman with natural hair. I don’t know if you realize it or not, but an African American (can’t think of the name right now) did invent the relaxer. Lacefront wigs are usually handmade by black stylist. Beverly Johnson does have her own line of hair. Do all of these people have complexes as well?"

"I’m getting tired of this. I LOVE MY RELAXED HAIR!!! I’m not doing it for no man, because I hate my natural hair texture, or because I was brainwashed by some white folks. I’m doing it for me, and to make me happy. Why don’t ya’ll get on people who dye their hair too? They not staying true to their natural hair color. This is ridiculous!!! Why can’t black women be free to love their hair, no matter what style it’s in, without the blacklash?"

Monday, February 2, 2009

Honoring A Real Sista

I just wanted to honor a beautiful sista who seems to me to be on the right track to empowering black women. She comes with wisdom, logic and love and is a great counter to the hateful rhetoric of the SSC. She has a forthcoming book entitled HEALING BLACK WOMANHOOD. Here are some words from her blog that caught my attention, especially the words I have highlighted in bold:

Why We Love Black Men

OOH! a simple, yet complex question huh? I posed it recently to sistahs via email as I was completing the final Honoring Black Manhood I know why I adore brothers but I wanted to hear what other sistahs had to say, some married, some single, most mothers....I got 3 replies! But a part of me wasn't even surprised by the non participation , see that's why I am writing the book AND the chapter in the first place....

I know we have issues with brothers but DAMN! 3 replies, well actually I got 6 responses ~ two from a sistah friend that asked her homegirls to reply and then one married sistah friend that replied to give her a minute cause her and her mate were beefin'.....I replied and told her LOVING Black men was deeper than her mate, what do we love about our fathers, our sons? Yeah we got work to do! but few of us admit it, we spend WAY too much time with this mentality that brothers are the only ones with issues....SHIT! The sooner we stop lying to ourselves the better .Everyone in our space,we attracted...Self Responsibility is a NECESSITY to self growth! There is no way around it.

Please check out the Change the Focus article on ~ It's a real sweet piece of improving relations between Black women and men. We have to change the focus sistahs! I think that's the one thing most agree on, is that our relationships need some repair. I'm convinced we can do it, but it's gonna take everyone, brothers can't do it by themselves and we can't do it by ourselves.....we gotta do the work! plain and simple.

Okay but back to brothers....Is it that we don't know why we love them? We definitely know what we don't like about them? I really think a grown ass woman should be able to articulate why she loves brothers but that's just me. If you've never thought about why you love Black men, take the question and run with it....think all the men in your life (past, present) What did you dig, respect, and adore about them? How did they make you a better woman? What did you learn about yourself thru them?

The refreshing news is that if I had sent a email out to brothers asking them why they love us, I bet I woulda got hella emails (mmm...that feels good) so why are they clear but we ain't? well, we can't stay stuck forever, if we serious about the preservation & progress of Black people we are going to have to answer the question sooner or later.

This is from another blog post:

It happened again...I was on the phone with a homegirl and the AIN'T NO GOOD BROTHERS conversation came up... here we go again were my thoughts, I quickly gave her my rehearsed speech about how that's not Divinely possible. If we trust that the Universe is abundant, why would there be good sistahs but no good brothers. She agreed!

It's so bad, it's almost funny! How so many sistahs say brothers need to step up! Personally, I think BLACK WOMEN NEED TO STEP UP! We need to take more responsibility for our role in relationships, The time we spend pointing the finger at brothers, we could be workin' on our own shit!
And this jewel:

Honoring Black Manhood (Excerpt)

There are beautiful Black men walking this planet. Dedicated courageous brothers who respect and love Black women. This world is full of humble, brilliant, spirited brothers who love God, family and community. Black men are strong, hard working, and worthy. I know brothers who love, protect and rear children. Our brothers are attentive fathers, loving husbands, and strong leaders. Sistahs, we have plenty of affectionate, sincere brothers among us. I know brothers who pray, listen, and meditate. We have plenty of brothers who love & raise children who are not biologically theirs. Yes, damn good Black men are alive and well
Thankfully, there are plenty of sistas like her who are true examples of black womanhood. She has certainly gotten my attention.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Why Being A Professional Woman Doesn't Make You A Catch.

The video and article showing E. Curtissa Cofield, a black female judge in Hartford, Connecticut, debasing a black male police officer who was booking her for DWI clearly shows that professional status does not always mean professional character. Cofield, on video, referred to Sgt. Dwight Washington as “Negro trooper” and repeatedly as “head nigger in charge” during questioning. He inquired as to whether she was ill, and she stated that her illness was “Negro-itis” and that she needed “anti-Negro” medication. The debasing continued.

This is important to note because the Something Screwed Crew repeatedly bases its notion of superior black female quality almost solely on a perception of professional attainment. Now lets disregard how they exaggerate the level of attainment while understating black male achievement. Does professional status by itself make a woman a catch for marriage? Of course not, yet the SSC can't seem to understand this, even after the Cynthia McKinny incident. They seem to try to proclaim what men should desire based on a female perspective. Women tend to desire men of high financial attainment. Men value a female's financial attainment MUCH less. What women desire from a man financially is what men desire from a woman physically. Men want women they view as good looking and sweet. These things tend to take president over financial attainment.

Cofield, despite being a judge, had no problem using the n-word to describe a black man who was only doing his job. It's ironic in modern times whereas black female activists rally against men referring to black women as "bitches" and "hoes", yet so many black women still feel quite comfortable calling black men "niggers/niggas". The double standards are clear. The thing about calling black men "niggas" is that it is racially and gender specific (nigga tends to have a masculine connotation when blacks use it). On the other hand, "bitch" and "ho" tend to be gender specific only. A black man who uses those words will use them when referring to women of any race. "Nigga" is directly pointing to a black man.