Thursday, August 06, 2009

So Apparently, I am a Man


The same techniques used by white folks to keep Black men in check,
Black men use to keep Black women in check.

Last week on Twitter, I was chatting with @shehateme.

He mentioned something, probably a complaint, general
tweet like chatter. I responded,
saying that he was strong,
that he would be okay.
He responded saying, no "You are strong,
I want to be like you."

Another, Tweeter, @
darius_sinclair responded saying, "Yes she is
strong, like three men.

I read it, and thought to myself, hmmmmm. Something about that statement
didn't sit well with me.
Before I responded, I thought about it,
because quite simply, attacking people isn't
productive nor my steez.

I asked
@darius_sinclair, "Hey, what did you mean by this?" He responded,
simply, "That you you are strong."
Even though it seemed fairly innocuous,
it still didn't sit right.

I asked a friend, who can sometimes help me see the forest for
the trees when it comes to race and gender theory. He said, quite simply,
"In our culture, women who challenge men, are not women, they are
not feminine, they are strong, and the only strong people are men."

I turned to him and said, "I don't know my place?" Then I nodded
saying I don't know my place because one of my gifts is that
I feel comfortable everywhere (except in Projects that I don't know,
they have me on edge, until I know the locations of key players.)

In a previous life, I was going to be a lawyer. What kind
of lawyer could I have possibly been if I didn't feel comfortable
challenge people? It is what we are trained to do. Craft arguments.
Be analytical. Argue statutes. Argue Facts.

I had a teachable moment on the way that patriarchy (
sexism) works.

As a woman, if I challenge anyone, especially men, I am not
a woman, I am not feminine, I am a man.

There is simply no room for me, as a woman, to like sports- its masculine,
to be into games, technology and programming- its masculine, to
be an argumentative lawyer- its masculine, to be a philosopher- its

Implicitly when women are called strong, the motivation is to shut us up,
to silence us, and to try make us feel ashamed. While that may not necessarily
have been the case on Twitter last week, it is the way that gender functions
in our society.

It was then that I realized that the same techniques used by white folks
to keep Black men in check, Black men use to keep Black women
in check.

Lets discuss.


manaen said...

"In our culture, women who challenge men, are not women, they are
not feminine, the are strong, and the only strong people are men."
I turned to him and said, "I don't know my place?" Then I nodded
saying I don't know my place because one of my gifts is that
I feel comfortable everywhere.
A lesson that brought me much peace is to become who I am to become and if someone has a problem with that, kindly help them with *their* problem. Like you, this enabled me to feel comfortable everywhere because I am comfortable with me. Choosing not to give others the power to take that from me preserves my peace: it's a matter of keeping the freedom to act for myself and not be acted upon. As a philosophy professor told us, "Don't get caught up in the random energy of others."
I've learned, in situations ranging from political debates to conducting a rap group in prison to working through family issues that once people test and prove both this peace, and willingness to accept what they choose to be, that sometimes they seek to gain it for themselves. But you can't give what you don't have so developing this prepares you to help others.
Shall I say it?
-- You are not a culture and a culture is not you
-- You are not others' expectations and their expectations are not you
-- You are not others' limited vision and their limited vision is not you
Unless you choose to be.

the prisoner's wife said...

word @ manaen , but...

while you may not be a culture, or others' expectations, or function in others' limited visions, you do not function in a world without them.

it's easy to say, "well, i don't fit into anyone's notions about me, so who cares what they think" but actually LIVING in a world without being beaten down by it is hard.

try being that strong girl in a system that does not appreciate strong girls. in a system that says to a woman who is strong, who is independent, who is self-determined, who is hard that she is a bitch, not a woman. try to live with that for 20 years and see if that don't play with your head a bit.

==== wrote:
"As a woman, if I challenge anyone, especially men, I am not a woman, I am not feminine, I am a man."

this goes back to those roles that, typically, women and especially black women have been relegated to (Madonna/whore). women are conditioned/socialized to nurture, put everyone before their own needs. not to be selfish. but men, men can sow seeds, can be out for delf, get angry, work hard, be self-starting, be arrogant, be ambitious, take charge, be a hard ass, can take-no-shorts, all sorts of things because it's what we've been conditioned to expect from them. once a woman crosses the line of what is perceived masculine, she isn't a woman anymore. she's a bitch.

Model Minority said...


I hear you.

I know this. I knew this when I was tweeting.

It just became clear to my how subtle, pervasive, nuanced and manipulative the race, gender binary is.


I talk about gender all the time, BUT it was only IN THIS MOMENT that I was like wow, the vestiges of slavery have turned all Strong Black Women into Men.

It all clicked.

Why there will never be a Black Sex in the City.
Why Black men call of 50 million ho's if we appear in rap videos. Etc. It all clicked.

Alizia said...

Yo! I've been struggling with this for aeons! It's gotten more confusing as the line blurs between tomboy and dyke. But I think that's the male defense to women who are feminine but adopt technical fields and hobbies. Ironically, my own brother's been asking me when I plan on bringing my girlfriend home. As if I'm somehow destined to be gay for being successful at typically male pursuits?!

So lately I've returned to my former high school self and re-adopted the notion that "I just don't give a f@ck." I'm smart and adventurous, love mechanics and techy-stuff, and it's much more humane to me to be honest and pursue it all. The pursuit is very liberating, completely healthy, and -oddly enough- seems to attract more men?!

I think confidence in whatever you do is contagious and attractive, making people seek you out. Whether you want to be found, or simply want peace of mind, you're ALWAYS better off following your heart - even if it's "masculine." Guess that's why you'll find me racing, ridin, and dippin my GSXR through the Cali foothills, folks ;) leaving all the brothas straight trippin :)

Model Minority said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Model Minority said...


I love you.

Wow. I can't belive you commented. You don't even see the big smile on my face. Lols.

There was a woman on twitter, last week, who mentioned that @blacksportsonline said that the women who like sports are groupies.

I said, well yeah, you can only be a groupie or a man, if you like sports. There is no room for us to like the game/sports AND still be feminine. It negates the gender binary.

Gender slurs from men and women such as calling us dykes or calling us gay, is meant to silence us.

I ride for inclusion and solidarity for all people.

Resolved. Homophobia is rooted in the hatred of women.

Oh. And your mouth is smarter than mine (to my readers, I have known her since I was 14, and trust me, it is) so yup, you are a man too!


ENIG MUE said...

The scary part is how under the radar this all is to me. Never gave a second thought about most of this. great read

Anonymous said...

Our culture needs to use the terms prejudice and bigotry alot more. Racism and sexism are words that imply the ability to impose or withhold power from another. This doesn't seem to be the intention or the capability of the objectionable statment in question. In fact, though through the paradigms of Western language and culture which may themselves be prejudice, the statement is intended to impart the subject with power. Objectionable all the same yes, but the absensce of demeaning intention is important to the dialougue which you have introduced.
The power that this statement has to demean is granted by the listener, just the same as whether or not a black man takes offense to the word "nigger" is largely his personal decision.
If we are going to continue to discuss in generalities, I as a black man, am still the most under-educated, poor, imprisoned, and murdered human on earth. As such my ability to impose or withhold power is limited largely to language. This is what makes the intetionality of the statement important. Language is formed of sterotypes and generalities. All words are generalities. You mention sport. I am ablack man and a relatively good basketball player. There are tons of women of all races who could beat me at the sport. If we were to assemble a team of the best basketball players in the world, however, the team would largely be male and black for that matter. Not entirely but largely. The Olympics are a display of what I am referring too. All this to demonstrate the the usefulness of language is in relatives. Objecting to the statment "Men are strong" as if it implies that "Women are not stong", because it does not limit itself to saying "Humans are stong", is like objecting to the statment "Water is cool" as excluding other fluids from being cool because it was not phrased "Liquids are cool". The statement the tweeter made seems as though it could easily been interpreted as "She is JUST as strong as 3 men". I can understand finding the comparison neccessary itself being part of a sexist mentality, but more so if the statment had been "She is just a strong as A man" in which case you can ask why wouldn't she be. But the idea the any one person is as strong as three other people is a praise which begins to cloud the gender offense. Is it ok the say the a man was a strong a three men? Would having said "She is a strong a 3 humans" made the statment more clear. At this level of dissection it begins to negate the effectivness of language, and muddle understandings, just as much as the prejiduce it attempts to side-step.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of a similar experience I had the other day at work. One male co-worker had just got off the phone with his wife (she was having difficulties buying something at the store he needed). He gets off the phone and his first comment is "What's wrong with women? They don't have any common sense." My other male co-worker comments and agrees with him. Hearing enough of the conversation, I start to say something along the lines of "Women have common sense". Instead of letting me finish the statement, the first co-worker goes, "You don't count, chick. We know you have common sense, but you're basically like one of the guys anyway."
The implication was that common sense is a male trait.

Anna said...

It is a compliment to you of these men)))

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