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What is the measure of a Black woman? How do we define ourselves? What is the makeup of our femininity?
Black women come from a history few other groups of women could even imagine. Years of enslavement, belittlement and defamation have molded Black women into the people we are today—a group of strong, independent women at the forefront of our community. We have and continue to excel academically and professionally, using education and ambition to overcome the disadvantages of being a minority and woman. Evaluating our oppressive history and where we are today, one could say (in comparison to other women) we are 20 years ahead.
Or, are we really a few years behind…?
Just as there are problems with the state of Black masculinity, there are also issues with femininity. A strong woman has the ability to take on the challenges of life without fear or hesitation, thoroughly confident in her gifts, talents and fortitude. An independent woman is self-sufficient and comfortable on her own. When balanced, both are qualities to be admired. Unfortunately, to overcompensate for where we feel (or personally experienced) Black masculinity lacks, our sense of femininity has become a testosterone-driven and slightly softer form of masculinity. As single mothers and the offspring of single-parented homes, we have acquired the traits of more traditional male gender roles. While there is nothing wrong with being a modern women, we do need to be careful that is does not too closely resemble behaving like a man.
In speaking with a group of Black men ages 26-30, all of who prefer Black women but also date outside of their race, the unanimous complaint about Black women was misguided independence. Many of them felt that overblown emphasis on strength and independence was unattractive in the sense that they act too much like men, which does not work for the man who is actually trying to be the man in the relationship. While a dominant demeanor has proven effective in higher education and the workplace, it does not translate well into romantic relationships.