Saturday, August 29, 2009

Is She Is or Is She Ain’t – The Real Story

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder… as long as you’re looking at (enter ubiquitous actress/singer/model here __________________).

You are beautiful if you are thin.
You are beautiful if you have long straight or wavy hair.
You are beautiful if you have light(er) skin.
You are beautiful if you have light-colored eyes.
You are beautiful if your nose isn’t too wide.
You are beautiful if your lips aren’t too thick.
You are beautiful if you hips aren’t too wide.
You are beautiful if your muscles aren’t too defined.
You are beautiful if you aren’t too tall.
You are beautiful if your features are more euro-centric.

Manufactured, commercial beauty attained through the liberal application of make-up, lighting, implants, elective surgery, Photoshop, CGI, and what ever else the media/celebrity industry utilizes to create and enforce this unrealistic beauty ideal is accepted by we-the-people seemingly unchallenged.

Let’s get one thing straight. The celebrity culture – from movies and television to the internetz and print – is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the media industry. The media industry exists to sell products. Period.

Beauty in this country is commercial and is all about the surface. Don’t waste time looking for depth, it does not exist.

What you see is all there is.

Alas, such is the nature of commercial beauty.

I have read quite a few reports regarding Caster Semenya of South Africa. I have looked at the pictures of her winning the 800 meter race. I watched a post-race interview. I have read various and sundry blog posts and comments about the controversy. I don’t know what the so-called ‘gender testing’ results will or will not confirm. What I do know is, it is not out of the realm of possibility for Semenya to be who she says she is – a woman.

A lot of the commenters surmised since she has killer abs (yep she sure does!), muscular legs, pipes (aka biceps) to die for, she must be a man. Does anyone look at muscle, fitness or running magazines? I ask because a friend of mine and I were looking in a runner’s magazine and one of the pictures was a runner in a tankini and running shorts, we could not tell if the runner was male or female because the body fat was nearly 0. No breasts (that we could clearly discern), defined muscular legs, six-pack o’ abs… I did the Adam’s apple check – she didn’t have one – so I said she is a she. She did not have any body fat, which is what composes hips and breasts.

Commenters say Semenya has masculine facial features. Uhm, is just me or hasn’t that been the story about black women since before the first slave ship landed in this hemisphere? Can't you just see the advertisements?

African females! They look black men, they work like black men and they can reproduce!!!! Talk about return on investment!!

**Danger of Dripping Sarcasm**

Heaven help a woman if she falls outside the very narrow confines of female beauty as defined by the Beauty Industry Complex; add race and a history of objectification and violence; mix in the numerous lies, rumors, distortions, etc. about black women’s bodies and sexuality…….forget about it!!

The sad thing about this situation is, should the results of the so-called tests determine Ms. Semenya is genetically female, it will not matter to the media or its consumers.

Ms. Semenya has been defined as an unattractive woman. This judgment will reflect on black womanhood.

It will reflect negatively if we join the peanut gallery and vilify and dehumanize her based on her looks.

It will reflect positively if we embrace her as part of the beauty spectrum.

Even if one determines Ms. Semenya is not conventionally attractive, she is still human and deserves basic human respect and dignity.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Whose Life is it Anyway?

Does the ranting by the mis-informed and slightly crazed ideological right look familiar?

“I don’t want this country becoming a socialist country! I want my country back!”

“They’ll have death panels! The government will decide who lives and who dies!”

“I don’t want bureaucrats making decisions about my healthcare!”

Death panels. *big sigh*

Really. *right eyebrow raised in skepticism*

I have two words for you. Critical. Thinking.

The above is what happens when you taking someone else’s word for what is going on, rather than finding out for yourself.

I know. I know what you’re saying.

“Finding out for myself takes too much work. I’d have to research every single issue.

I’d have to access more than one source of information so that I could make a decision based on my own information gathering ability and contemplation of the available facts.

In other words DBC(your friendly neighborhood blog diva) I’d have to think!

And who wants to do that!”

Uuuhmm, duh!?!?

I am, of course, leading you down the garden path; my main topic is not the rancorous wrestlemania event cleverly disguised as a health care scream-athon.

Oh no my sisters……

My aim is to get you to question the places in your life where you accept another person’s spin with regard to some aspect of your life. Whether it is housecleaning, employment, where to live, education, RELATIONSHIPS, childrearing, religion, etc.

I could go on but I won’t. Why don’t we break down one of the issues listed above? What to discuss, what to discuss?????

Oh, I know, relationships!

Not relationships in general, but one slice of the ginormous relationship pie.

There is not a shortage of men. The available dating pool is deeper than most black women think. I am not advocating women settle for someone not on the same level as themselves. A simplistic example: if one is single; I do not advocate settling for a man who is married. What I am talking about is not limiting oneself to a particular population of men. Another simplistic example: if one is looking only for men who are six foot one inch; the pool of available men is limited by this choice. Now if one is open to considering men in the range of six foot three inches to five foot six inches, the pool of available men increases tremendously!

The same goes for color difference. If one is open to dating men who are not the same color, then the pool of available men increases! In my opinion, high-quality men of any color must be considered, despite what other people may think, say, or believe. A good man is a good man-- granted, we need to clarify the definition of a good man.

The opinions and thoughts of other people should never replace your own carefully considered opinions. This is your life! You get to choose how you move through the world!

Being open to men of different colors does not mean one is anti-anything. It does not mean your thoughts about race and color issues are negated because you are open to men of different colors.

If you aren’t open to men of other colors, cool.

If you are open to men of other colors, also cool. Don’t be afraid or shamed into silence or inaction.

If women are free to date only one color of man with pride, then why can’t other women be free to date men of any color with just as much pride?


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sacrifice, Health Care & You….

Let’s say you are not in the best of health. You are overweight, have high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. You cannot walk very far without feeling your heart race and getting short of breath.

Let’s say all of the above was true for you a year ago and your doctor told you, you need to change your diet and lose weight.

Let’s say last month you had a ‘cardiac episode’ which caused you to go to the emergency room. After an exhaustive round of tests it is determined you have congestive heart failure. It is at this moment you decide to stop eating fried chicken on an almost-daily-basis and really try to change your diet, because now you life really does depend on these and other health-related choices.

And then you complain about the cost of health care in the U.S.

(Related with a straight face as this is not a joke.)

This person knew a year ago, a year ago, they were overweight, with blood pressure and cholesterol issues. This person was told by the doctor to change their behavior regarding food and weight. The person decided it was too hard to give up fast food fried chicken. The result of this choice; by a person who is an adult; may be the premature end of their life! Congestive heart failure is no joke.

There are times when we must make sacrifices. Sometimes those sacrifices involve giving up things we enjoy. Or something we are used to; a thought pattern, behavior, belief, or even greasy fried foods. Unhealthy thought patterns/behaviors can lead one down the path to poor health the same way eating fast food fried chicken can.

Is there a place in your life where you are refusing to address an issue that has been identified by you or those you trust as a problem? Are you holding on to a belief or a relationship that is demonstrably unhealthy? Are you afraid to let go of the belief because it will lead you to question other reflexive beliefs? Are you holding onto a damaging relationship because you are afraid of being alone?

When you have fore knowledge of unhealthy, negative situations in your life and you take no action; can you be surprised at the results? Can you honest lay the blame at someone else’s door?

Who is responsible for your life? Your choices? Your mistakes? Your success?


Monday, August 10, 2009

An Inconvenient Truth

Of the many wars being waged across the globe, none is more crucial than the war men have engaged against women. In any war, the party attacked is obliged, at the very least, to defend itself from the onslaught. This is what’s happening in our country today. While the war may be a stealthy, guerilla-type affair in the larger society; in the AA community, it’s an all-out, take-no-prisoners, shoot-first-and-don’t-ask-questions shooting war.

Who initiated the war? What was the reason the war started? The response differs depending on who you ask.

Feminism vs Patriarchy
Restrictive vs Permissive
Male vs Female
Liberation vs Repression
Civil Rights vs Jim/Jane Crow

Power and privilege concede nothing without a fight. Whether the rights a given group of people are fighting for are basic human rights or rights guaranteed by the constitution/amendments; those in power are not likely to stand idly by while what they perceive as the proper order is overturned.

The Personal

This brings me to the relationships between bm and bw.

Why is it okay for a man to be supported by a woman?

Why is it acceptable for a man to have multiple children with multiple women?

Why is it okay for a woman to bear the burden of raising children alone?

Women, why is it acceptable to date and sleep with convicts, parolees, criminals, and thugs?

Why do women allow themselves to be a part of a harem (sleeping with a man when you know the man is married, in relationship with, or sleeping with another woman)?

Why are these questions a part of our new world order?

Ladies, why do we accept this behavior? Are we that afraid of being single? Are we afraid we will be considered unattractive if we’re not sleeping with some man? Do we not value ourselves? Aren’t we worth more than this?

The answer to the last question is YES!

This post is not an attempt to male bash. This post is an attempt to open our (bw/bg) eyes! Loving yourself and looking out for yourself, and ensuring you have the best this life can offer is not about hating men or hating other women.

Honestly, other people aren’t important! YOU are important! You must want better for yourself!

What is better?

A man who respects you has a human being and a lady. (Ahem, you must actually behave like a lady…..)

A man who understands his mission is to provide a safe environment for you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

A man who loves his life and who is thrilled and humbled you are a part of his life.

A man who understands it is not his job to oppress you; rather it is his job to partner with you.

A man who is honest and would never put you in danger.

A man who deals with his anger in a constructive manner.

A man who does not hit you.

A man who can commit himself to you. Period.

A man who; if children are desired by you both; will be a positive role model of how a man behaves, not only for your son, but most importantly for your daughter.

It is imperative to have a high-quality, loving relationship with yourself and with your significant other. What you practice in your home will be the template for what your children do in their own lives. Surely you want more for your children than the continuation of toxic, dysfunctional, and straight-up insane relationships. If so, demand better. From yourself and from your relationship.

You teach people how to treat you. When you allow disrespect, foolishness, and violence that is what you will get.

(Neither list is exhaustive. I will post more on behavior in a forthcoming post.)

The Political

Black women in this country occupy a unique position. We experience life outside of the white power structure and the male power structure. Movements demanding human right whether they are civil or women’s wanted to include us because they needed our energy, intellect, our very presence, while simultaneously marginalizing us because of our gender and race. Black women lent there considerable muscle to the civil right movement and to the women’s rights movements, yet found ourselves invisible when it came to the fruits of those movements. The women’s movements continue to have unresolved issues of race; the civil rights movement continues has unresolved issues of gender.

Historically, bw have hitched their wagon to the star of women’s rights and the star of civil rights. We need our own star. I believe one of the facets of our star is the empowerment blogs; by black women for the education, empowerment, and enlightenment of black women. These think tanks, forums, and safe spaces are much needed: (1) to let like-minded women know others with a similar mindset exist; (2) to create networks for disseminating information; and (3) to establish an alternate media/news source.

It has been stated (far better) in other blogs that bw must gain control our image, our brand. This we must do. Will there be haters? Oh yes. Will there be saboteurs? Heck-to-the-yes.

Are we worth the fight? Abso-flipping-lutely!!!


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What I Really Want to Know Is……

Monday was my birthday and a couple of news items caused me to contemplate what women are thinking in relation to men.

Some woman in Utah, desperate to get her life together, put some household items up for sale on the internetz; one of those items was/is her husband. Among other things, he is unfaithful and she his sick and tired of taking care of his 30-year-old self.

Then there is yet another news item about the death of a child at the hands of an unrelated male. This 6-year-old child was allegedly beaten to death by his mother’s ex-boyfriend. According to the news report the 6-year-old and his younger sister were living with the ex-boyfriend because the mother could not afford to care for them. The biological father, who lives in Oregon, hadn’t seen the boy since he was a baby. The mother, who lives in the same city, hadn’t seen the boy in a month. The ex-boyfriend had a serious criminal history.

What I really want to know is what were these women thinking?

It is not likely the Utah husband had recently devolved from a hard-working, faithful man into a lazy, slovenly, fidelity-challenged guy. The wife probably knew he was this way when she married him. And she married him anyway.

The mother of the 6 year-old more than likely had knowledge of the criminal past of her ex-boyfriend when she placed her two children with him. And she left them with this criminal anyway!

I’m sure these guys did not bother to hide their failings and criminality from these women.

Is is just me or.....

Isn't the logical outcome of marrying a lazy womanizer likely to be you will end up being sole financial support in the relationship; a relationship endlessly compromised by his infidelity?

Isn't it reasonable to conclude that you might be putting your minor children in jeopardy by placing them in the custody of a man with an extensive criminal record?

What were they thinking?!