Now that some time has passed, I’ve been able to wrestle with and digest more completely much of the discourse that Lupe Fiasco’s “B***h Bad” sparked this summer. The song, whose hook repeats “B***h bad, woman good, lady better,” had many a tongue wagging—particularly in the feminist community. The reality is that not many feminists aspire to be the stereotypical “lady.” I respect that choice. Further, I certainly have great respect and appreciation for anyone who vehemently challenges the system of male dominance and advocates for the equality of women. But here’s the thing, I am unapologetically a lady and while you may choose not to be, a lack of respect regarding my choice to be is kinda not cool.
I am a woman who takes care of herself, thinks for herself, and who looks for a partner rather than a master in men. I am independent and progressive and very much a lady. I reject the notion that my pursuit of ladyhood is an attempt to fit into antiquated ideals constructed to make men comfortable. I leave some things to the imagination when I get dressed. I don’t speak vulgarly. I cook; I clean; I decorate; I’m demure and unabashedly submissive when a worthy man is involved. I don’t do these things to make men comfortable—I do them because I like the way they make ME feel.
I feel swexy and empowered and womanly when I walk into a clean home with a soft décor that reflects my personality and a fragrance that excites the nose like perfume that lingers on flesh at the end of a long day. I get an exhilarating rush when I am in the kitchen experimenting with spices that titillate various areas of the tongue. While playing with and pairing different textures and tastes I am often caught up in ecstatic fits. And when there is a man who meets my needs, hears me, sees me, honors me, treats me like an equal and makes me feel safe, I want to cook his meals, rub his bald head, listen to his dreams and make him feel the way he makes me feel every day. I want to be gentle and not crass, to possess a quiet strength and a soft power; I’d rather purr than roar any day. These things make me feel the way I love to feel—they make ME comfortable.
To each its own. You may never want to be a “lady,” and that’s cool…for you. However, my deliberate actions to be don’t make me a Stepford Wife and don’t advance the agenda of patriarchy, and your rejection and denouncement of ladyhood doesn’t make you any more enlightened than me. I believe in the equality of women and have a vested interest in the annihilation of systems that seek to keep them subjugated, but at the end of the day how I choose to live out my womanliness is my business. I respect your choice, now respect mine, especially in the one space where all women should feel safe and accepted. As women, sometimes we have a way of tearing each other down…even when we aren’t consciously trying to.
We must do better. Shall we?
Sheena Bryant is a writer and blogger in Chicago. Follow her on twitter at @song_of_herself.