All Articles Tagged "femininity"
Nicki Or FLOTUS? Let’s Stop Acting Like There Are Only Two Types Of Women Out There For Our Daughters To Be
See this picture? I’m kind of annoyed by it.
Here we have a picture of a cute little black girl, maybe between eight to 10 years old, with two ponytails, who I guess is pondering that age old question most kids her age think about: “What do I want to be when I grow up?” Judging by the picture, she has it narrowed down to two things: a pearl-wearing Michelle Obama or a spread eagle lollipop-sucking Nicki Minaj. Over her is the caption: “Decisions, Decisions.” I guess in real life you can only be one or the other, right?
The message, which is included beneath the picture, means well: “We must teach our Children OUR History, educate them on who they are, & what GREATNESS runs through their veins…our children are in dire need of Love & guidance. Instilling self-worth in our children is the key investment for OUR bright future. ~AHS” AHS is short for African History and Spirituality, which is some sort of black folk empowerment meme page on Facebook.
But something about this bothers me. I think it is because the message of self-worth hinges so much on the same recycled Madonna/w***e image, which is so established in our culture. As Sigmund Freud once theorized, society has divided women into two sects: the serious marrying kind and the ones you have fun with. And since girlhood, women have been told that one version is what you should aspire to while the latter is a cautionary tale. I always found this perplexing considering that in the lives of virtually all of the women I have ever met in life, including myself, the way in which we define our own personal femininity is a little more varied and dimensional than what is presented in this picture. SO, why do we continue to push on the younger generation of women this singular version of what is acceptable, or desirable, womanhood?
Okay, so Nicki Minaj’s artistry is not everybody’s cup of tea. But is she really the epitome of all things wrong with womanhood, particularly black womanhood? Sure she makes funny voices, wears even funnier clothing and sings about sex, but she is also a savvy businesswoman who has managed to turn her act into a multi-million dollar brand. If she was a male rapper, she would be Jay-Z. And we certainly admire him for his business decorum. So in this context, I have no problem seeing Minaj as a positive inspiration or role model too. In some aspects, she is probably more easy to relate to than a figure like Michelle Obama.
Think about it: Most people cite Michelle Obama’s greatest achievement in life as being the black first lady of the United States of America. However, there is no first lady training course in college or even through one of those certified degree training programs. There is only one Barack Obama. And even if you manage to marry a psuedo-Barack Obama, the odds that your spouse would become the president of the United States is probably close to nil. In fact, you probably have a better chance of becoming an actual Disney princess than the FLOTUS. So in the off-chance that you don’t become the first lady like Obama, why not put the time and effort into your own brand and become a successful single lady like Minaj?
And that’s not to say that Obama is not an accomplished woman or even that being a wife and mother isn’t an accomplishment in itself. It takes a lot to hold a relationship – let alone a family – together. I’m saying that in the context of this picture, her version of femininity should not be considered of no greater value or less desirable than that of Minaj. Nor should it be considered in contrast or held as the sole beacon of positive black womanhood. It’s just not honest to do so.
I can imagine that for a young woman trying to find her self-worth somewhere in between a Minaj and an Obama might feel excluded from this dichotomy we see in this picture. This is why it is not healthy to continue to push these outdated, one-dimensional and sexist expectations for girls and women. We should tell them the truth. That that we know some financially secure, married Nicki Minajs. And we also know some very single and very broke Michelle Obamas. We also know some women, who are a combination of both women – plus some archetypes you haven’t even thought of. And if you happen to fall outside of the two options, there is a life of happiness and fulfillment out there for you too.
How come every time a white woman entertainer feels the need to affirm herself, it is always a person of color who has to bear the brunt of her license of liberation?
Like for instance, last week Madonna took to the airwaves to express her “disappointment” with M.I.A, international electronica-star and rebel rouser. You see, Madonna was gracious enough to invite M.I.A, along with Nicki Minaj, to engage in a little girl power by being muted (if you count the 30-second “verse” they were allowed to spit), cheerleading bookends to Madge’s awesomeness. However, M.I.A, being the bad girl she is, decided that doing all that wasn’t enough and flipped the bird at the camera. Tsk, tsk. According to Madonna, who gave her two cents during a conversation with Ryan Seacreast, M.I.A.’s one-finger salute was simply “out of place” at a show characterized by “such a feeling of love and good energy and positivity,” and was totally a “teenager … irrelevant thing to do.”
This is coming from the woman whose claim to fame was using taboo religious imagery in “Like A Prayer,” putting out a book of pornographic self-portraits, gyrating butt naked in the banned from MTV “Justify my Love” video and only a few years ago, engaged in a little tongue action with both Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera on a music station known for appealing to young viewers. Likewise, how is a 51-year-old woman bouncing around in cheerleading outfits and pom-poms chastising others about maturity and relevance? I love Madonna but she truly has some nerve. The queen of shock is policing another woman about how she chooses to be equally daring? Classic.
But that’s not the only thing I’m irked about. Last week, a friend of mine posted a link on Facebook with Chelsea Handler dishing about her relationship with 50 Cent, particularly the reasons behind why they broke up. According to Handler, 50 had called her wanting her to listen to a conversation with his ex-girlfriend Ciara. She said that 50 said that Ciara wanted to get back with him and he wanted Handler to listen in, and I guess, mock the poor girls pleas for a second chance.
Handler, disgusted by 50’s immaturity, decided that she had enough. But in the mix of her telling him where to go with his childish antics, Handler also let something else out the bag. According to an interview with Howard Stern, Handler said, “I think I called him the worst thing you could say to a black person short of calling him the N-word. I said something like, you’re like a street person basically. Something along the lines of being a gangster, and it was really, really offensive and I hung up and I’ve never spoken to him again.” This was followed by a laugh.
When pressed about what exactly she said that wasn’t quite “n*****” but just as bad, Handler said she couldn’t remember but said that she said something like that. “I said, ‘You have no business even talking to someone like me, and it was very mean.’”
Some say that friends make the best lovers, but I might have to disagree. Whether it’s in grade school or in grad school, we’ll all have one experience being on the end of a relationship where one person wants a little more romance than the other. When it’s all said and done, you can either end up in a loving relationship with your best friend or find yourself with a fragile friendship ruined by the awkwardness of an unrequited romance. While we recently talked about reasons you shouldn’t be “just a friend” with a guy, many don’t realize that we often blindly walk into those type of situations not recognizing that the friend zone is right where we’re headed. Don’t take the risk of being asked to be “just a friend” by avoiding the following roles and actions: