[Caveat: There really should not have to be one but since people are going to try and insinuate that my comments are laced with acrimony like a drink from those little old ladies in Arsenic and Old Lace: This piece is not for everyone. I don’t hate black men. I don’t hate men. I don’t hate anyone, not even stupid people. Not even the Bene Veira or Clutch Magazine.com. Don’t send me hate mail or hate comments, you won’t like my response. I’m just replying to an article written on their site. And, yes… I have a man.]
I know I’m going to end up burning bridges with this one but I think it is time that I speak my mind… again on this issue. Clutch Magazine is an online site promoting itself as a site for the smart urban female. However, nothing was smart about this week’s article.
I will give the editor a minor pass: when you choose to publish a freelance writer to your blog you subject your namesake at the door. I had to suffer the consequences of having an unpopular opinion published here and… I lived. Hairsmystory continues to live.
However, this here was some “Messence” as my fellow LHCFers would say.
It is not to say that I don’t think about whether or not I am a thorn in any man’s side but to relate human emotion to being a thorn in black mens side is infuriating. Bene Veira wrote this article on August 23, 2010 on Clutch that pegged a black woman is an added pressure to the everyday tribulations of being a black man [” Are You A Rose or A Thorn in a Black Man’s Ass?”].
Unfortunately, this article took any sense of humanity or visibility from black women, a group who has always complained of invisibility. If life is tough on a black man imagine what it is like for the black woman who has to birth him, raise him, coddle him, console him, breed with him, marry him, whip his shitty ass when he is old.
The biggest threat to non-Blacks, Whites in particular, are educated, articulate, and successful Black men.
First, stop the madness. The biggest threat to black men is black men themselves. You are your number one enemy. Everyone of all races face some form of hegemony, be it racism, classism sexism, homophobia, ageism or lookism. There will always be someone who will try and to debase you solely on some ignorant preconceived notion that they hold steadfast. That’s how social hierarchy is maintained. It is our imperative to try to overcome. Not as an opportunity to prove we’ve somehow transcended prejudice but for the preservation of your self-esteem: no one will support you if you give up on you.
The problem I am having with men of all races [but since this topic specifically targets black men] is that men give up on themselves before anyone else can possibly tell them they are worthless. Self-deprecation is the most addictive drug on the market and you’re hooked to it. No secret order sanctioned by the government was sent to annihilate your self-value. No chemical warfare designed only to impact black males.
So imagine carrying such a burden, then coming home to a woman who has an attitude, is unsupportive, unappreciative, or constantly on his case about [insert any number of things women nag about]. Note: I use nag loosely because I think it is overused. Anytime a woman addresses an issue that makes men uneasy, she is said to be nagging. But the fact is . . . there are women who nag.
I know initially the author wrote a caveat that refutes any argument that brings up the “woe is woman” argument but…men are exhausting sometimes. While men often promote themselves as being as mentally simple as their cro-magnon predecessors evolution has actually been quite kind to you, making you these incredibly labyrinthine individuals who are just as puzzling as you are intoxicating. You should come with a thick manual on how to navigate your minds, just as women should. Everything is nagging to a man and nagging is just as exasperating for your woman to do as it is for you to hear. We could not possibly walk light enough to avoid cracking your fragile egos even if we practiced our entire lives with bound feet (old-school Chinese style) walking on eggshells.
Sometimes, there ain’t a better way to say how we’re feeling; sometimes we just have to nag because we’ve warned you one too many times that it would come to nagging if you simply don’t get it together.
Nagging is what happens when men don’t see our stifled teardrops. Nagging is what happens when pleading fights the urge to not migrate to the forbidden realm of resentment. Nagging is what happens when you’re fed up of trying to be a grown man’s momma but momma is all you’ve got left when the urge to hurl a plate is battling the good parts of your soul. Nagging is what happens when we are trying to not kill you because we are sick of saying the same old thing.
Men are sensitive. I know it goes against the heteronormative ideals of masculinity, but it’s the truth. And having a woman who they actually care about and love tear them down along with his everyday pressures, can be unbearable.
I’m not saying as women we should silence the valid concerns we have about our men as a community, or those in the relationships we are in. However, I am saying we need to wrap some of our voiced concerns in a lot more love.
You think we like nagging you? Do men honestly think we have nothing better to do with our time? Men must not know that there’s an invisible reservoir of hugs, kisses, and troubairitz that we are preferring to release to your heart instead of fussing and fighting. No woman wants to be anything less than loving. That is why we’ve joined the relationship; because we want to love someone and be loved. Not to be your conscience scolding you.
Telling a man to do something and encouraging him to do something are completely different, and will always be received differently. It can be as simple as, “Babe, I know you’re unhappy in your job. I found a few positions I think you would do great in. Do you want me to send them to you?” As opposed to, “You’re always complaining about hating your job. Hell, you should be looking for something else so you can quit.” Essentially, the concern is the same.
This was the funniest example because it relates so much to my life. I complain to my boyfriend all the time about my job and he complains all day about the stresses of his. I never get frustrated listening to it because I understand that the job was there long before I ever was and will probably remain there long after I left unless some earth-shattering change parts this doomed matrimony. His job pays his bills and sucks the life force out of him. So, I listen while I fix his plate. I listen while I lay in bed with him. I nod sympathetically while sometimes allowing my mind to veer off into fantasies about my latest pillage of the mall. I never complain.
If I even dare to open my mouth about my job I will be relegated to whining, bitching, and being overall annoying.
Where’s the mercy for this double standard? Where is the verbose passage of woe for my soul? C’mon, Clutch, Essence, and CNN: should I leave him for a member of another race since he won’t allow me to vent on the regular? My needs are obviously not being met.
I hope Black men understand that even through our gritted teeth, griping, and constructive criticism—most Black women care. Otherwise we would not be so hard on you. However, some Black women must recognize that their approach only contributes to the beating our men already receive from society, and that it can make it nearly impossible for him to face the world.
I am not a stockpile of benevolence. I can only pity someone for so long before I start to get frustrated and I cannot grant mercy for someone who cannot feel sorry for me. I hope everyone recognize that my opinions in this post is not applicable to every black man on the planet, nor for every race of man, nor for is my message designed for every relationship.
I believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there are by far more black men who love black women than there are those who don’t. But, I feel that as a black woman we are struggling emotionally with the hardships of just breathing in today’s society. We are barely surviving in the bell jar society places us under. We are hardly living in the small space of the beaker we are smashed into.
Life is not a cakewalk for us either …bud.
To have your man critique and judge our every hair change, the contrast of our skin tones, those little deposits of fat that we earned while living life with you. And, then have the nerve to cry “uncle” because we ask the most basic, moral, simple tasks of you. You’ve got to be kidding me? I’m not untwisting your arm until you let go of mine first. Too many women are walking out of this with severed appendages.
As a woman, you can determine if a man—whether it is your brother, son, husband or boyfriend—leaves the house with his oyster knife sharpened, or if he already feels defeated before his feet have hit the pavement.
I don’t care what you do with your oyster knife. I would prefer you to leave it at home and not attack anyone with it because it will never be that serious. I want you to not leave the house with an ounce of anger in the world or feeling defeated. But, I’m not your superwoman. I cannot carry you, all your burdens and still be the woman you want me to. But if I am a thorn then maybe we both need to look at this from each others point of view and figure out how we can wiggle these thorns out gently without causing more damage to the infrastructure of our rose.