Monthly Archives: September 2012

Stand Up!

“I’ve got your good old days RIGHT HERE.”

FaceTweet it!

There are some topics for which controversy is entirely expected and perhaps even suitable due to their very nature. Abortion is one, and this makes sense when one reflects on the fact that a human life is arguably at stake. Universal health care is another in that it forces us to question the limits of government authority and responsibility. One topic that is absolutely undeserving of any controversy whatsoever in the 21st century is the value of chivalry, however. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either benighted, sexist, or both.

This brings me to a discussion I had on Facebook earlier this week.

Lawrence Adjah, a Facebook friend, was riding a Bay Area commuter train and noticed that there were women standing while male passengers sat. This grated against his sensibilities and as a man of action, he set about campaigning to get every last standing woman on that train a seat…which he did. Excited about the fruit of his efforts, he posted a picture of the results on everyone’s favorite social network.

All aboard! Next stop, gender subjugation!

The electronic ticker-tape parade began in earnest. Accolades from his female friends poured in, and one woman even invited him to come to Boston to “do work.” Well, I couldn’t take it. So I didn’t.

I posted a forceful reply, and although I used highly informal language since I was talking to a group of peers, my point was substantive. The next thing I knew, I was engulfed in a 24-hour, emotionally charged conversation with Lawrence, one other man (who sided with me), and several women (who definitely did not). Although things got pretty heated, I’m used to such scraps, so I walked away no worse for wear…until I saw that my comments had been utterly misconstrued and decontextualized on the Huffington Post.

It turns out that one of the many chivalry-loving women who had seen Lawrence’s post was Ms. Nancy Redd. As a writer and host for HuffPost, I suppose that this little skirmish in the Battle of the Sexes was too good for her to pass up. I mean, you’ve got Sir Lawrence, the White Knight in Shining Armor, multiple damsels in commuter distress, and even a readymade villain, yours truly. This is the stuff of which romantic reactionary dreams are made!

Nancy (and I call her by her first name because, believe it or not, I know this woman personally) proceeded to take isolated statements that I made and present them as fully independent thoughts, without including my milder supporting comments or the often insulting words of those who I’ll dub The Defenders of Feminine Virtue. For example, one woman implied that my comrade-in-arms and I were “diva dudes” who thought that we were too good for women, and another suggested that our beliefs were the result of (drumroll, please) our mothers’ failures. None of these women’s comments made it into Nancy’s piece…yet all of my Black English did. But who can blame her? Nothing says inarticulate and therefore worthless like Black English, right?

What bothered me most about Nancy’s post however, was not her tactless attempt to paint me as a buffoon. Instead, my real anger stemmed from the fact that she reduced my sentiments to “negativity and hate,” when at their core they were actually about equity. Notice that I wrote equity, as in fairness. Women and men are not the same (a truth that is often wonderful), but our differences do not necessitate a return to the bad old days of sexist claptrap like men walking on the outside of the sidewalk, arbitrarily giving up their seats, or I don’t know…keeping women shut in at home.

No. Caption. Needed.

Be not deceived. The idea that chivalry’s origins lie in the chauvinistic past are incontrovertible. I’ve discussed this idea before, so I won’t beat a dead horse, but suffice it to say that men treating women as if they are childish dependents, mental dwarves, or hapless semi-invalids is a very bad thing…for us all. The gender-based niceties that many enjoy so much are the beguiling flowers of a sinister tree with pernicious roots. Until these vestiges of societally supported sexism are purged, women will remain just shy of being men’s recognized equals. As Gloria Steinem said, “A pedestal is as much a prison as any small, confined space.”

Ladies, I invite you to hop off of that pedestal prison and stand up for what’s right. You’ll find plenty of good men ready to stand proudly right alongside you.

FaceTweet it!

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Social Issues

The Thirst for Closure

“Why don’t U want me? Is it cuz I’m always following U? U look good in green, BTW.”

FaceTweet it!

I need closure like Republicans need scapegoats.  In all likelihood, it’s a manifestation of my overall obsessive-compulsive tendencies (I need to finish things). Or maybe it’s a control thing.  Whatever the case, my response to failed relationships is a prime example of this phenomenon.

Here’s a case in point.

I’d been dating this woman for a couple of months.  We’ll call her Shortstuff.  Our Date Quality Score averaged at least a 7.5 out of 10, and although we hadn’t done the do yet, by the fifth date the sexual tension was as thick as a Georgia stripper’s…accent.  I had high hopes that this one might go the distance.  I’m talking at least four months here, maybe even five.

One week, we saw each other two days in a row, then didn’t speak for about four days.  Then, as luck would have it, I was standing on the subway platform with one of my best female friends when I saw Shortstuff emerge from an arriving train.  In a matter of nanoseconds, I went from excited to shocked because I noticed that babygirl wasn’t alone.  To my chagrin there was a big, black, 7′ 15″, oak tree muscle bearing dude behind her.  Mind you, Shortstuff is like a 5′ 4″ Asian woman, so the juxtaposition of those two bodies was not at all ego-affirming.

With that said, after emitting an audible gasp (some of my manhood may have left my body with it), I managed to smile and say, “Hi.”  She hesitated on the stairs, awkwardly greeted me in return, and then got swept up in the steady forward march of Terry Crews‘ understudy.  I ain’t like that shit at all.

I let a day pass before reaching out.  Not that I was playing games, but I thought that it would be in poor taste to hit her up so soon after seeing her with another guy.  I might as well scream, “You’re not banging him, ARE YOU?!”  Nah, son.  The kid can’t be going out like that.  Word to Rob Pattinson.

I hit her on email first.  Nothing.  Waited another day, then called.  Voicemail.  I was down to my third and final card: text messaging.  See, it’s only after the third time that you’ve been ignored that you know for sure that the party’s done.  That’s the Rule of Three.  If somebody reaches out to you three times, you’ll get back to them if you really want to do it. I don’t give a fuck if you’re in a coma, you’ll telepathically contact a muphuckin’ psychic or some shit.  Feel me?

Finally, she responded.  Supposedly, she’d been so busy at work that she’d just been exhausted over the last few days.  After washing down the bullshit with pig urine, I told her that it was fine and that she could just hit me when things got less stressful.

If Shortstuff got in touch with me, Rihanna did.  And since I haven’t been spotted on a beach somewhere in the Mediterranean eating euphemistic Barbadian birthday cake, you know that didn’t happen.  This is when my need for closure kicked in hard.

I knew that she was done with me, but I didn’t know why, and that info was just as crucial to my sanity.  Was it because there was a four day, contactless gap between our last awesome date and our meeting on the platform? Was it because when she saw me, she saw me with a girl?  Or, horror of horrors, perhaps it was because she’d decided that she’d have a better chance of creating her long-desired branch of the Blasian master race with a black man who looked like he was bred for…breeding?  I.  HAD.  TO.  KNOW.

I exercised the nuclear option.  (Don’t worry, I can write that ’cause she’s not Japanese.)  I sent her one more text message, informing her that I’d really liked getting to know her and hoped that we could keep in touch.  Yes, I used the past tense to infer that I knew it was over, hoping to spur a counter-reaction if I’d assumed incorrectly.  And yes, I included a smiley emoticon to let her know that the note was written in a wistful mood, tinged with optimism.  In short, I pulled out all stops in the final thrust for answers.

She didn’t respond.

FaceTweet it!

Leave a comment

Filed under Living, Relationships

Bitches Still Ain’t Shit

Bad bitch or not, somebody tell me when they start making lifesize Nicki dolls.

FaceTweet it!

This just in.  Though bitches have been around since before the days of Delilah and Salome, they’ve recently evolved into a higher, more refined form.  These creatures are reverentially known as bad bitches (canis femina superior).

Whether geneticists recognize this phenomenon or not, we’ve got Nicki Minaj self-describing as a “bad bitch…a cunt” down to “kick that ho, punt,” newcomer Azealia Banks serving notice that she’s a “bad bitch…that supply what your girlfriend can’t supply,” and Iggy Azalea proclaiming that she’s a “white girl [with] a team full of bad bitches.”  Hell, Rick Ross has a bad bitch that resembles a tote filled with currency.  (She’s a shapeshifter, too!)  In short, there’s a lot of bad bitches runnin’ around.  I wonder if all the hoes are scared that they’re gonna get crowded outta the market.

Enter Lupe Fiasco’s “Bitch Bad.”  If you haven’t seen the video yet, check it out below.

Lupe Fiasco – Bitch Bad from Gil Green on Vimeo.

The thrust of the song is that when “bitch” is used as a compliment, especially when combined with the contronym “bad,” it undermines emotional understanding between men and women.  Seems pretty uncontroversial to me, but after reading a couple of articles where cats took Lupe to task on his position, especially this one, I had to speak on this a little bit.

In the aforementioned critique, Brandon Soderberg of SPIN goes the extra mile to tell us that this song and video are “moronic” attempts at preaching to the choir.  According to him, we don’t need Lupe to inform us that bitch is bad and that lady is better, because hip-hop has sufficiently addressed that question and is already yawning. We’re on to “cunt” now, thanks to Azealia Banks.  And besides, he writes, “does any female want to be called ‘a lady’?”

Bitch, please.

Soderberg’s argument that this song is evidence of Lupe’s severed connection with the heart of current rap music is patently laughable.  I’ve already given multiple examples of the exact term “bad bitch” being (over)used by some of the most influential names in the genre, and if I’d had the chance to hit the strip club before writing this I would’ve been able to come back with like, a hot 97 more.  No lie.  I ain’t never told no lie, I ain’t never told no lie.

So, it’s Soderberg that seems out of touch. He points to Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” as an example of a track that “sensitively deconstructed” the use of the word “bitch,” but unless a sensitive deconstruction consists of using the word umpteen times, I don’t have a muthaeffin’ clue what he means.  But, in the spirit of generosity, I’ll assume that he meant to reference Jay’s “Bitches & Sisters” off The Blueprint 2.  “Unless you fucked a dude on his own merit and not the way he dribble a ball or draw lyrics you’re a BITCH!”  Preach.

Anyway, Hova in fact does a great job of contrasting sisters and bitches there. And yes, others have broached the topic over the years, too.  But what makes Lupe’s take interesting is the fact that he doesn’t explicitly tell us why being a bitch is bad, he shows us, via a nicely packaged fairy tale, that being a bitch must necessarily be a negative thing.  No matter how much attractiveness, independence and self-determination being a “bad bitch” might imply on a good day, it’s still associated with vampiric women possessed by a thirst for cash and attention.  That inherent dissonance is why the cats hollerin’ about bad bitches are the same ones screamin’ that they don’t love them.

When you tell a woman that a bad bitch essentially does all that a “basic” bitch does except maybe have sex with your homeys (unless you want her to do so, in which case she might be extra “bad”), you’re begging for a problem.  So, y’all keep sending and accepting those mixed signals.  Meanwhile, a generation of women are growing up believing that bad bitches are the shit…when they’re really just shitty.

FaceTweet it!

5 Comments

Filed under Music, Social Issues