Tag Archives: Men

Looking Through Her Lens (My Thoughts on LEMONADE)

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“In the perspective of every person lies a lens through which we may better understand ourselves”- Ellen Langer

So I know that you have already read a number of articles about Beyoncé and Lemonade and I am sorry to add to your list, but I guess I am sorry not sorry. Because I will tell you… it wasn’t easy to decide what to write about, there were several angles to come at this piece. I read several articles about this and that, about infidelity and Jay-Z, Black women empowerment, feminism and even that Beyoncé is no role model based on her lyrics (and there were some questionable lyrics), but I am sure they had some purpose, for HER. And this makes sense, as with a movie, a good book, or album, people can watch, read or listen to the exact same thing and walk away with a complete different interpretation. But let’s be clear the whole album is for Beyoncé, and certain parts are for our enjoyment.

I believe this is true for any real artist, and I am sure there are people who think Beyoncé is a manufactured robot whose sole purpose in life is to brainwash and make millions. But for the purpose of this post and my  satisfaction, I am writing from the viewpoint that Beyoncé is an artist and she paid top dollar for her writers to construct the lyrics to match her visual masterpiece that is LEMONADE. (I would say it’s not a masterpiece musically because just listening to the tracks it is not her best, but we can debate that at a later time.)

So as I sat down, I was trying to be polite with my thoughts, but I felt pretty strong about some comments and critiques such as the following, as tweeted by Azealia Bank’s herself.

Exhibit A – “You keep crying over a man and perpetuating that sad black female sufferance and it’s not good for what we’re trying to accomplish here”

Exhibit B – “You been singing about this n****a for years and he still playing you. That’s not strength, that’s stupidity”

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Just stop.

Azealia’s tweets are coupled with several comments of sarcasm that I heard from others, such as “poor ole Beyoncé singing the blues”, “oh, her life must be so hard” –

Seriously?

Okay, look, no one is saying that Beyoncé’s life is hard, but does that mean she can’t talk about the issues that she is having with Jay-Z. Azealia’s tweets and those comments completely miss the complexity of the role of women in the 21st century. When you have to balance a husband, kids and a career. The reason more women, of all races and ages, loved it, is that Beyoncé struggled (and is struggling) with the same shit as we all do and she is the “baddest bitch in the game”. But her being the baddest doesn’t change the fact that a man can (and probably will) betray your trust whether it is infidelity or something monetary or when something equally intimate is taken for granted. There are so many ways to be betrayed.

The reality is that our families, especially our significant others or our companions, deeply influence our everyday life and it’s hard. So to invalidate her feminism “cred” because she opens up about her struggles with a lying (maybe cheating) husband is like the opposite of feminism.

We, as group of people, who support the political, social, and economic equality of women, cannot be upset or frustrated that Beyoncé felt betrayed and felt the need to make music about it. For centuries, women have had to fight with decision of staying or leaving, heck, probably a few millennia! I mean who could forget how Adam was quick to throw shade in the Garden of Eden because Eve gave him the piece of fruit that caused him to sin:

Then the man said, “The woman whom YOU gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” – Gensis 3:12

See, men have been making excuses since the beginning of time. That isn’t changing.

So as a 30 year old woman with friends at different stages of their romantic life: single, married for years, newlyweds, divorcees, and even windows, regardless of whether they are successful professionally, or kick ass mothers, their relationships are a priority, so why would it be different for Beyoncé? Not for one second, would I agree with the critiques about HOW anti-feministic it is that she is whining and crying about her husband cheating. I mean I guess she could be quiet, and be damned nonetheless like Hillary Clinton, who stayed extremely quiet about Bill’s infidelity and her struggles until recently during her campaign and people have always talked about her silence. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

The reality is not about whether Beyoncé is weak or not, but we are actually uncomfortable with the honestly of Beyoncé’s album. Even for people who liked and admired it. It makes us all a little uncomfortable, in this male dominated world, that Beyoncé felt that she:

  • could openly critique a man directly, who is as equally successful;
  • felt betrayed and stay; AND
  • told the world all about it.

I didn’t walk away from Beyoncé ‘s album with a sad black suffrage vibe, did you?  I kind of felt like it was more  along these lines:

Life is hard.

Love is hard.

Money, fame, and beauty doesn’t make life easier.

That is really what she is trying to say in between her anger. The first thing I really thought about when I finished the album, was whether it was therapeutic for her? Was it part of her healing and recovery? Not to mention a lyrical guide for all the other women who are dealing with similar issues in their marriages, maybe Beyoncé wanted to bring them some comfort to her struggles. To be silent no more, and talk about how crazy she felt about her situation.

But in reality, we just saw misery, the heartache was so appetizing, especially when it’s not our own, and let it be a celebrity. We were less concerned what it meant for Beyoncé and the fact that we should be happy that we got to witness it.

So you can think she has nothing to complain about, but I think it doesn’t matter how perfect we want life to be, it will never be, and when life is falling apart, you find out –  some people will revel in it, shame you for your life falling apart, and only  a few will support you in it. But you will have to walk through that journey step by step nevertheless. No one can escape it including Beyoncé .

In closing, if Beyoncé can’t talk about Feminism and she can’t talk about Black Lives Matter, what makes her unfit to talk about relationships? To often she is seen and not heard, and when she decided to share her voice candidly about her man, in a male-dominated world, it wasn’t just the men who had a problem. It was women speaking much louder as if we all don’t struggle with feeling appreciated, loved, and supported. Even the BEST man will let you down at least once. Because we are human, and no one is perfect. So stop acting like you didn’t see a little of yourself through Beyoncé’s lens.

Stop trying to brush the shame under the rug. Embrace it, and move on.

M/P

Oh Me, Oh My: My Journey To Get In Touch With My Inner Girl

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“I feel there is something unexplored about woman that only a woman can explore.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

So I just got off of vacation and I really wanted to write about my experience and all the things I learned, but my mind decided to fight me and make me write about something, I promised I would never write about, but here it goes. Beauty. Fashion. All the things girly. Yeah, I never imagined writing about anything around the subject, because there are so many more pressing issues in the world, but as I delve into the evaluation of feminism or just simply watching how Hilary Clinton and Carly Fiorina are being treated differently as women, I can’t help but think on these things to some degree. This is what makes a woman, we are layered, and even when we try to avoid certain experiences they sometimes still seem to creep in on us. What we look like still matters just as much as what it’s in our mind, if not more so, unfortunately. So I am in the middle of a feminine revelation, or shall I say transformation. Yes, America, the #1 tomboy has started doing things a little different and I feel compelled to kind of talk about it. I promise at times I was annoyed in writing this…How dare we be defined by a social norm. For the purpose of this blog post, let’s just say I have subscribed to the notion, that being “girly” is a thing and it looks a certain way.

So I have a lot of girly friends. Why? I am not sure and I really don’t know why, opposites attract, maybe? I am a bona fide Tom Boy, and I have a number of really good guy friends too. Not to mention my brothers and I are really close and they taught me everything that I know about sports and in fact, I always love to brag that I know more sports than the average man.

When I went to college that was the first time that I had to face the reality that I didn’t do a number of things that normal girls do. (Well, actually the first time I had to really deal with this is when I was 11 and was mistaken for a boy), but for the first time living with women other than my mother was a culture shock.

Now, of course, there are no absolutes, but there were a number of things, girly things, that I didn’t do. I won’t mention them cause who wants to be that transparent. To further take me down the road of girliness in college, I joined a sorority. Sometimes, outside of the amazing relationships that I’ve built, how did I manage that? Sometimes I used to feel like an impostor when it comes to “girl” things. What is a purse, why were heels even made, make-up – that’s for clowns, right? I used to feel like life would be easier if I were a man. And not because of the obvious benefits men get, but my personality, demeanor and my likes and dislikes used to be very much geared similar to that of a typical male. Heck, GQ is still my favorite magazine (I mean the articles are good and it’s full of half-naked men). I couldn’t even name more than 3 woman magazines.

So over the last few months, I decided to pamper myself, doing things like maintaining my nails, wearing make-up regularly, keeping my eyebrows on point, being dutiful in cooking and cleaning around my place, and diligently eating healthier and exercising. Oh, and my hair has been on point (most of the time). Growing up, with the exception of hair, things like this I was never taught to focus on. It was always about education, be strong, and fight for your rightful place in the world. I have never gone shopping with my mother, nor have we have ever made a trip to a nail salon or things of that nature.

*Enters my first real relationship (with a boy)*

So to only complicate the situation, the first guy I dated, was very much high maintenance. He would always take longer to get ready then I would. He definitely liked a kind of women who was well manicured, done up from head to toe. Over those 7 years, I tried to do it. I failed miserably over and over. We were in a long distance relationship after I left college (thank GOD), and I would go through a mini-transformation every 3 months when we would see each other. I would always tell myself, I would keep my nails done, hair laid, but nope, that rarely happened. I was never comfortable. I never enjoyed getting done up. It was very robotic to me.

*end of my relationship*

So 7 years later, I was free, the inner tom boy came back with a mad vengeance. I still liked to dress cute and do my hair occasionally, but I think over the following year or so, I rarely touched make-up, didn’t keep my nails looking decent, or even appropriately put jewelry together. For a period, I was going through the loss of a relationship so I wasn’t being horribly judged, and since I wasn’t really dating, I got several passes. As time went on, I wanted to start dating again, and I befriended some new male friends who provided me with a new perspective (that I am not sure I agree), but for the purpose of this article, it is the thesis statement and basis of this article.

This idea that most men (heterosexual) do like women who keep up a certain maintenance, because they can’t help but be visual, and it’s not from a place of shallowness, but why wouldn’t you want to keep yourself together and healthy?

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This “maintenance” involves maintaining healthy habits with exercise and maintaining certain “feminine” social norms (yes, I’m cringing as I write this). I personally feel like I should be able to do whatever the hell I want, and I should be accepted in that matter. But I decided to think I was wrong, and started making small changes, and began this transformation, and guess what I found.  I have completely different interactions with the opposite sex, with men I know and men I don’t know. But even more so I have different interactions with women too, even in my professional space. I have worn make-up more often to work, and see the differences in the interactions, and it’s puzzling to me. What does this mean? Am I not the same person, behind the make-up, clothes and nails?

When I used to look at famous people, who after hitting a certain level of stardom and maybe were a little over weight, they ALWAYS lose weight if they can. The reality is that people treat you different, and if I am not saying it directly, they seem to treat you better. Yes, I said it, and whatever that might look like to you. And I get that, but I was just raised differently. That the external just means less. That focusing on my appearance says nothing about you. I have met a number of women who focus on all those things, and not much else, and when they gain a little weight or circumstances make maintaining that look difficult, they are lost, and obsess over their appearance, because their interactions rise and fall based on their appearance and it’s sad.

I was fortunate not have to deal with these issues for a very long time, and I am very happy that it only took me 3 months out of my life, but I, like most women have to at some point in their life, wrestle with the social norms of femininity as it relates to being a women and what it means. I will never forget the first time Hilary Clinton ran for President and they were having legit discussions about pant versus skirt suits in regards to her “femininity”. It. was. disgusting. (and let’s not forget, I am not a Hilary Fan, unless you attack her womanhood, homey don’t play that). But I will tell you all this, I have enjoyed getting my nails, getting to have a “nail” lady, and trying new things with makeup and getting compliments from men and women alike.

But what I have learned, which I am sure many of you all guessed, but that it’s really about balance and there is no right answer. You can go overboard with anything, focusing too much on your outer appearance or you can look so bad that no one wants to be your friend. But it really is more than that. That this journey is one of the million things that makes our experience as women different and AWESOME. We produce strong young men and women, because we have to juggle so many different norms. That men don’t get to have the complicated and interesting life that women get to lead. Yes, I just said that. That we have to challenge ourselves, question ourselves more than they do especially in 2016. There is still a struggle with roles for women in the workplace, in the home and in relationships. Whether there is a spiritual component or not in your thinking, women are questioned about the way they parent, the fact they have no kids, are we too emotional or not having enough emotion, so that we are considered a bitch, and the list goes on.

I will never subscribe to this idea that I have to look a certain way to get the attention or affection of a man, but being pampered, getting in touch with my inner girl was and IS nice, but it is my friends, not mandatory to be kick ass. Being kick ass is just what women do whether you are or not in touch with your inner girl. So just do that. Kick-Ass!

M/P