All Articles Tagged "Criticize"
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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I can recall reading Charing Ball’s very deep MN piece on today’s beauty standards of black women and thinking to myself: “Let the church say AMEN!” It’s hard being a sistah in these streets with a less than bountiful booty when that seems to be the gold standard. You can squat, eat like a swimmer or do the Beyoncé booty dance in the mirror as long as you want, but if you weren’t meant to have it, it probably isn’t going to pop up on your backside. However, it’s definitely just as difficult to be blessed with a lot of booty and in other places too, which can provide a lot of thirsty eyes from men (and possibly judgmental eyes from women). It sucks if that’s not the kind of attention you are looking for. Yep, it’s hard being an everyday woman with your features being ogled and commented on. But I can’t imagine what it must be like to be an everyday woman with the same body issues, but thrust into the spotlight, where hundreds of people can critique and ridicule you. Especially other women.
While surfing a gossip blog not too long ago, I came across a picture of New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz and his girlfriend/mother of his child, Elaina, at a New Jersey Nets basketball game. When I saw the photo of the two of them, him cheesing and waving at his many fans, she looking as though she would have preferred to be in the house, and my first thought was–”Damn, he’s got a girlfriend???” My second thought though was, her outfit is cute! Bright yellow blazer, black jeans, some high fashion black and yellow boots and a white T-shirt. She wasn’t doing the most like some chicks on a baller’s arm, she just seemed content being with him and being with him in public at that (take notes Fabolous). It was cute. But when I scrolled to the comments, the commentary of readers wasn’t cute in the least.
Women conveniently hiding behind avatars on the site said everything from, she looked like “a basic looking black girl,” and that she was “mad regular looking,” to saying she needed to put on some Spanx, she had a “pop” belly, was “busted,” and all in all, was “basic.” Now, on this particular site, commentators tend to be especially over-the-top at times, but they tore girlfriend up from head to toe for absolutely no reason. It was almost like she was receiving shade for NOT being a Kim Kardashian wannabe, and for not opting for fake boobs, a plastic behind, a weave down her back and a face full of makeup. Someone made a point of pointing out that now that she’s decided to step out with her man, she’s pretty much fair game and needs to look her absolute best when the cameras are around. This very passionate discussion about the girl’s face, hair, attire and stomach (she had a baby right before the Super Bowl) made me think of Charing’s piece about beauty standards and self-esteem, and it made me ponder the thought: are we way too hard on each other?
Everyone’s been talking about Chelsea Handler opening up about her relationship with 50 Cent on Howard Stern but Nick Cannon wasn’t hearing none of that. The proud father and husband was more concerned with what Chelsea had to say about his wife, Mariah Carey. She told Howard:
“Anyone who’s married to Mariah Carey I’m sure doesn’t have a great sense of humor. Shes’ ridiculous. What is her game plan? What kind of person operates like that? She’s worse than like Elizabeth Taylor. She’s just so ridiculous with her body. You see her one day and she’s 50 pounds heavier or light…there’s nothing real about her and her Hello Kitty or whatever.
Nick Cannon actually does have a sense of humor but not when it comes to jokes about Mimi. He unleashed on twitter with this:
“I hear @ChelseaHandler is out there talking s*** about my wife again! She’s lucky I’m trying to live right now! Jesus my cup runneth over.
I think @ChelseaHandler is still bitter that she got blasted on my radio show! It’s okay I still love you! When miserable people see happiness they must attack it. You know me, I’m always up for a good joke or wise crack but when people talk about my family the ‘Hood’ in me wants to come out! I’ve learned cooler heads prevail. Life is too short to focus on negativity!”
I love the “Jesus my cup runneth over” part. Great to see a man have his wife’s back, go Nick!
Are you a fan of Chelsea Handler?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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