We Need To Talk: Like To Criticize Your Man? Well, How Good Are You At Taking Criticism?

15 Comments
September 26, 2012 ‐ By Nicole Akoukou Thompson

New York sidewalks and city buses are crowded, and if you’re lucky enough, you get to stand hip to hip with a woman on her phone, who is going off on her boyfriend/husband/lover about whatever ways he’s wronged her or whatever ways he’s messed up.  No matter what the topic, one thing is painfully apparent–some women LOVE to dish it out. As proud women of color, we’ve learned to defend our own honor and when we can, we avidly state our dissatisfaction when we’re not comfortable with something. It’s a learned trait from our mothers, grandmothers or aunts who won’t let anyone disrespect them or treat them with any less regard than they actually deserve. We even do this within our relationships, vocal about what displeases us because in addition to offensiveness, it’s been instilled in us that honesty is key–particularly in terms of relationships. And in a way, it is. But if we as black women can openly share our opinions and disappointments with our men, how good are we at taking criticism back?

As a general policy, I like to be open and honest in all of my relationships. Because passive aggressiveness isn’t my forte, I try to verbalize concerns immediately, and if I have a problem communicating things vocally, I write people letters. Yeah, you read right. I’m just that anxious to get my point across. But, when the script is flipped, and it’s time for others to weigh in on me and my behaviors, I tend to get defensive or my feelings get hurt. That isn’t to say that I can’t take criticism, but like most women, my need to share my opinion doesn’t necessarily come from a place of anger or disrespect (unless intending to illicit a certain response), but a need to be heard, which is why it can be hurtful to hear a strong negative reaction from my partner. This is particularly true of relationships where the man’s opinions and emotions steer the relationship.

Moreover, offhand commentary can be heard as criticisms. Statements such as, “That dress looks tighter on you than it did before” or “You’re wearing a lot of makeup” can rouse anger because women assume that men, like us, lace our statements with underlining meanings. The two statements above could be heard as “You’re fat” and “You look like a clown” if you think too hard about it. Because men don’t usually communicate as effectively as women, women often search their statements for answers –finding criticism where there isn’t, and also, women tend to work in duality. When we share thoughts, more often than not, our words have multiple agendas, whereas men tend to be more literal. But, the matter of ‘if we can take it’ is still in need of an answer; and for me, that answer is yes. Women (women of color in particular) have a history of absorbing criticism; and historically, we weren’t always able to share our opinions/concerns. Men have gained the role of the insensitive partner and women have more recently earned the role of the nag because of this history. For the sake of relationships, however, women and men have to learn to be more receptive to our partner’s thoughts and opinions without feeling defensive or hurt, because ideally, whatever concerns are being addressed, it’s for the betterment of the relationship.

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  • Rastaman

    As a man I do not mind my woman criticizing me because I know it is something that comes with territory of a relationship. I do however take issue with why even the most meaningless of things needing to be discussed. I tell my lady all the time that if I approached life like I her I would be sitting her down for a “talk” every day. My philosophy is “don’t major in the minors”, because if you are constantly chipping away at the foundation of your relationship do not be surprised when it collapses.
    Keep your lines of communication open but if you cram the lines only with complains it is only a matter of time before that other person stops listening. I observe that for some it is an easy habit to get into because they think they are doing it for the right reason but just because it makes you feel good don’t mean it feels good to your partner too.

    • Adrina

      I agree…sometimes things irritate men and women, but they’re small habits or flaws that a person has. When you really think about it, you can shake it off and move without even saying anything. You can tell the habits from the big things.

  • L-Boogie

    Stay single.

  • Yokessm

    I cringe everytime I hear or witness a woman going off on her man, it disgust me. I was not raised that way, if you wanna go off do do in the privacy of your home, why would you belittle him in public? Ugh.
    With that being said in my home, we talk and express every single concern or issue under the agreement that we both respect and love each other enough to do do in a peaceful manner, also we don’t resent or keep grudge over said concern, so we both dish and we both take.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=551680935 Eric McDaniel

    Here’s an example of a woman not knowing a criticism from a comment. If a man tells a woman that some clothing doesn’t look good on her and she will think that you just called HER ugly. When a man simply means that a certain outfit does not flatter her in the way she wants. But, I don’t care, I call it like I see it.

    • Yokessm

      My husband hates some of my outfits, I don’t take offense to it, it’s his opinion. It’s important to distinguish women from girls, you not liking an outfit should not bring all that drama.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=551680935 Eric McDaniel

    Men don’t communicate effectively? Okay- I think that telling a woman her dress is tighter than before to mean- It looks tighter than before- is pretty effective. Telling a woman she’s wearing too much makeup, meaning- You have on too much makeup- and not- You look like a clown- is pretty effective. Ineffective communication, to me, would lead a person to read more into it than was meant. Women do that all the time with comments like- Interesting shoes~with a smirk or a raised eyebrow. That’s sideways communication in my opinion.

  • Adrina

    Black women don’t take criticism well, but you can’t blame a person for defending themselves. Because anyone with a backbone would (black, white, Asian, whatever). People tend to do more that criticize. They also just flat out lie about what you do and how you act, so there’s a fine line there.

  • wepo1

    The black woman will never be able to take criticism just look at these blogs they are filled with unaccountably black women!

    Like the white man, it has been beneficial to just blame black men for everything!

    • Adrina

      Black men are at fault of nothing, right?

      • TT

        Why answer his question with a question? Why not stay on topic and discuss black women not liking criticism. Because you can’t say anything to a black woman, especially those online without them evoking the “You hate your mama” rhetoric. It’s a defense mechanism so black women don’t have to look in the mirror. It’s much easier to say a man hates himself or black women so you don’t have the face the reality of what he is saying.

        • Adrina

          Sooo you didn’t read the comment I posted because I did say that black women don’t take criticism well. And yes we do have to look in the mirror. So calm down…I replied to his comment with a question because his post had so much “hatred” for black women…I mean really to say black women (note: as a whole, there was no ‘some’ or a ‘few’ women) will NEVER take criticism. Not all black women, some of us do know that we have to be held accountable as well.

      • wepo1

        From all the movies and black baby mamas out here blaming men for them laying on their backs and producing out of wedlock babies as if they were raped I’ll say black men are always the target!

        • Adrina

          Black people are a target! Wake up!!!

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=551680935 Eric McDaniel

        Black men are not always at fault. Sometimes we are. Sometimes we aren’t. It’s not an all the time responsible or all the time not responsible thing.