Erykah, Rihanna and The Assumed Power of Crazy
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A friend and I were talking a few days ago about the BET awards. I know, a day late and a dollar short, but we had nothing else to really talk about after talking about our day. Of course, as Erykah Badu fans, we mentioned the performance and how excited we were seeing one of the Queens perform.
Erykah killed it, no, slayed it, with her infectious voice and hypnotic cool. She also never fails to bring her confidence and her bodacious, ahem, assets. But, Erykah has always been like this — the spiritually grounded Earth Mother who cared less about what anyone thought of her, which only made her even more attractive. It’s this vibe that many said turned some men into putty. From Common to Andre 3000, Erykah has history with a few men who “changed” because of her. Common went from newsboy hats to Dashikis. Andre started wearing loincloths. Not to mention, Erykah also has three children – one from Andre — each from a different father.
As a result, Queen Erykah was deemed crazy and then the jokes started coming. First, many of them were harmless — “If you get with Erykah, you may start wearing African cloths,” one of my friends used to say. And, then, similar to the comments I saw on Twitter during the BET Awards, they got a little more problematic — “As long as he doesn’t look at her in the eye, young Kendrick should be fine.”
As funny as it sounds, the comments are pretty alarming.
But, Erykah isn’t the only one who’s been deemed “dangerous” to the male species. Rihanna was said to have made Matt Kemp lose focus during his last few baseball games of the season and made Chris Brown lose his mind… (I’m not even going there). Rumor has it Kim Kardashian is the reason for Kanye’s dramatic musical “transformation” and why he’s sold out to the same commercialism he criticizes so strongly in his music.
What makes comments like these so problematic is not only the blame on a woman for another person’s behavior, but also the “weakness” of a man. It says that if a woman, in particular may be from another country, practice a different religion, or is even aware of her sexuality openly – all traits that can be attributed to Rih, Erykah and Kim – she’s too dangerous or “too much to handle.” Listen, if my turban, maxi skirt and bamboo earrings make a man stop practicing his religion or, worst-case scenario, taking showers, I wasn’t the one who “hypnotized” him to do so. But, blaming women for a man’s behavior, good, bad or indifferent, is the foundation of victim blaming. As easy as it is to say that she was the one who drove him crazy, it’s even simpler to say she’s the reason he harassed her.
But, I digress.
Andre has always worn funky costumes (OutKast, anyone?) and Common has never been particularly mainstream in his way of thinking (shoutout to Soulquarian!), so Erykah really had a lot less to do with how they acted.
The point of the matter is that a man, or any person, changing their lifestyle or behavior is because that change was already deeply rooted in him or her. No woman is going to bring out what isn’t there to begin with. Chances are that the attraction a man has for a woman or vice versa reflects their innate qualities anyway. If you don’t like taking showers, chances are you may attract someone who isn’t too fond of soap either. But, say you eventually grow out of that phase (which, I hope you would). What happens? You move on, and attract someone else who reflects what’s in you.
So, don’t blame Erykah, Kim or any other woman for the man that he becomes.