All Articles Tagged "womanhood"
As women’s history month comes to a close, it’s the perfect time to reflect upon your own history with the sistafriends in your life. Not your Facebook homies that you’ve never actually met but have a great rapport with online, not your Twitter pals who you’ve come to know, and not your blog compadres who you trade jokes with in the comments section—I’m talking about your ride-or-die girlfriends who have become more like sisters over time.
In this day and age of reality TV, where we’re bombarded with images of constant bickering, backstabbing and physical fighting between women, you’d think we just can’t get along…and boy, does it sure seem that way sometimes. How many friends have come and gone in your life? Unlike men, who often remain close with friends as far back as childhood, we women tend to switch out friends the way we upgrade to the latest iPhone. I think this is because women are more emotional by nature and therefore prone to catching feelings over things that usually turn out to be small, and our friendships tend to suffer because of that. I know for myself, misread feelings have been the cause of a few relationships gone sour—and when I talk to others (especially a male) about it, they can’t understand what the problem was. I don’t even know what the problem actually was sometimes and wind up lamenting the loss of someone I considered a good friend.
And maybe it’s just me, but it feels like the older you get, the smaller your inner circle becomes and the harder it is to establish and nurture new friendships. Throughout your school career, your crew is at its most plentiful and you’ve got no real worries other than grades, boys, fashion, gossip, and parties. However, life gets more complicated outside the classroom and the dorm; we enter into bona fide adulthood, which comes with jobs, kids, bills, husbands/boyfriends, etc., and it’s during these times that we learn who our true friends are: The women you can count on to help you when in a bind, whether that help is in the form of money, a listening ear, or a babysitter; the women who won’t judge you no matter what you do; the women who are there to celebrate every milestone with you and also help you through the sadder times; the women who will check in on you when weeks or months have gone by without communication, and the conversation will be as if you’d just spoken a day ago.
That’s why, now, as the big 3-5 no longer seems so far off, I’m taking a look around at the ladies who are still standing with me after all these years, and I’m grateful for their presence in my life. We should all take some time out of our busy lives and catch up with the sisters who’ve proven to be thicker than blood and let them know how much they’re appreciated.
Mary Mary is known for spreading lots of positive light to their fans through their music and through their reality TV show, but the ladies are going a bit deeper these days.
They define a good woman as someone who “is proud of herself. Respects herself and others. She is aware of who she is. She neither seeks definition from the person she is with, nor does she expect them to read her mind. She is quite capable of articulating her needs. A good woman has a dash of inspiration, a dabble of endurance. She knows that she will at times, have to inspire others to reach the potential God gave them.”
The duo didn’t stop there; to check out Mary Mary’s full definition of a “good” woman, head to Essence.
Do you agree with them? What’s your definition of a “good woman?
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.
To some, Helen Gurley Brown, who died two Mondays ago at the age of 90, was the patron saint of the single girl. Though you may not have known her name before, you likely know her work. As the Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan magazine from 1965 to 1997, Brown brought conversations about single womanhood and sex to waiting rooms, newsstands and coffee tables everywhere.
Her 1962 title, Sex and the Single Girl, made her a prescient precursor to Carrie Bradshaw, who once aimed to have sex with as much gusto and abandon as a man. Brown was a purveyor of the sex-smart, powerful woman, one who presided over her professional life with as much zeal as she did her romantic rendezvouses. In 1965, Brown, who had experience in the advertising world but not as a magazine editor, was sought to revamp Cosmopolitan Magazine. As Margalit Fox noted in the New York Times’ obituary on Brown: “[Before Brown, Cosmopolitan’s] target reader was a married suburbanite, preoccupied with maintaining the perfect figure, raising the prefect child and making the perfect Jell-O salad.”
Under Brown’s editorial direction, Cosmopolitan went from a monthly for apron-bearing housewives to a page-turner for the fun, fearless female, one with a voracious appetite for sex and an eye on a formidable career. As David Plotz wrote for Slate Magazine in 2000:
Brown was not teaching girls to be geishas. She was teaching them to be bosses…Brown barraged them with sound advice: Work hard, be punctual, be tough, don’t fear competition, save your money.
Brown, it seemed, was her own best example, known to clock no fewer than twelve hours a day while at the helm of Cosmopolitan, from which she stepped down in 1997, but continued to edit its international editions. She catapulted the US magazine’s circulation from 800,000 to 3 million during her tenure. She argued that for Cosmo girls, an appetite for sex, money and power should be indulged and not quelled to appease the leering eyes of polite society. If sex was not only about pleasure, it was also a means to an end, as Brown believed that amid all of that punnany power, a woman would still need to snag a man for keeps. As Margalit Fox writes:
Yes, readers would need to land Mr. Right someday – the magazine left little doubt that he was still every woman’s grail. But in an era in which an unmarried woman was called an old maid at 23, the new Cosmopolitan have readers license not to settle for settling down with just anyone, and to enjoy the search with blissful abandon for however long it took.
While many heralded Brown as a first-wave feminist icon among the ranks of Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, some rejected Brown’s sex-as-currency stance. Brown was not one to shun the inappropriate advances of a male supervisor or colleague, once defending Justice Clarence Thomas when he faced sexual harassment charges in the 1990s, citing that sexual attention from men was “almost always flattering.”
Women’s liberation advocates spoke ill of what they considered Brown’s regressive brand of feminism, a man-centric breed of sexual politics, which appeared to typify the theory of the male gaze. As it turns out, during her 32 years as Cosmopolitan’s editor, Brown’s husband, film producer David Brown, wrote the magazine’s cover lines, which often focused on snagging and pleasing a man.
While some detractors denounced the onslaught of “do-me feminism” and what Helaine Olen called its “logical end game” (which Olen cites as a modern-day birth rate of 40 percent for single mothers, economic inequality, the gender wage gap, and the attack on reproductive rights in an article for Forbes), Brown is regaled for ushering an era in which woman could shirk the prevailing conventions of twentieth-century womanhood, both in the bedroom and in the board room.
Helen Gurley Brown sought to create a space for a new kind of woman during an era in which women’s voices and ambitions were all but stifled. By undoing the prevailing narrative on femininity, she widened the scope for the acceptance of Cosmo girls who had made different choices than their predecessors. Plotz’s profile of Brown (who was married to her husband for 51 years before his death in 2010) ended with this: “Brown’s own life reflects a sin that is much more modern – and, in self-help America, much more forgivable – than the one she is accused of…She is too interested in pleasing herself.”
Today’s Cosmopolitan readers are often between the age of 18 and 34, generations removed from the first-wave and early second wave of women’s liberation. Even for women of color, the moves made by Brown and her successors created an impact on concepts of femininity at large. Are today’s Cosmogirls of all colors the beneficiaries of Brown’s stewardship, or are they bearing the brunt of Helaine Olen’s aforementioned end game?
Sound off, readers: Was Helen Gurley Brown’s Cosmopolitan approach to redefining womanhood problematic? Or has the era of the Cosmogirl been good for women?
More on Madame Noire!
- How I Learned To Stop Expecting My Vagina To Smell Like Roses And Just Loved It For What It Is
- Bison For Life: 10 Famous Ladies Who Went To Howard University
- Momma Dee on Bicth, Erica, Shay & Scrappy and Judgmental People
- Planet of the Naps: One Woman’s [Satirical] Story
- You Should Take Things Slow, But How Slow Is Too Slow? 7 Signs You’ve Been Put In The Dreaded “Gray Zone”
- Can’t Decide Whether to Stay or Go? Ask Yourself These 7 Questions
- Missed Opportunities: Did I Reject the Wrong Guy?
A recent campaign on Facebook called, Who Needs Feminism? has sparked some controversy all over the web. Originally started by 16 women who attend Duke University, they created this campaign to combat the negative images that resonate with people when they hear the world feminism:
“Identify yourself as a feminist today and many people will immediately assume you are man-hating, bra-burning, whiny liberal. Perhaps a certain charming radio talk show host will label you as a “Feminazi” or “S**t.” Even among more moderate crowds, feminism is still seen as too radical, too uncomfortable, or simply unnecessary. Feminism is both misunderstood and denigrated regularly on a broad societal scale.”
Inspired by a Women in the Public Sphere course at Duke University, these 16 young women have decided to fight back and teach people what they believe it truly means to be a feminist. The idea that many people believe we don’t need feminism anymore is frightening. Women are still degraded and objectified in the media, women are still not given equal pay even though many exceed most men in education, women are still being told what they can and can’t do with their own bodies. Simply put, we’re still getting the short end of the stick.
What I really like about this campaign is that it allows women and men who are usually not the face of feminism to have a voice. Middle class white woman have always been the main vehicle for feminism, which has somewhat excluded women of color, queer identified people, and transgender people. I also like that men are entering into the conversation, because feminism isn’t about the equality of just women, but men too.
Even now, when you ask people what they think a feminist is, they will most likely think of some radical white woman who doesn’t shave and hates all men. When in actuality, people like me, a 21-year old black female in college, identifies as a feminist/womanist.
As great as feminism is, why do women of color have to create another movement to gain recognition? Why is it that in 2012, we still have to question this? As a young black feminist, I sometimes find myself outside of the conversation. I attend the meetings of my college’s feminism group and the lack of faces that look like mine is staggering. Many women of color either feel feminism isn’t for them and/or feel that the issues that pertain to them don’t get addressed, so they wonder why they need to get involved.
It’s nice to see college students take the initiative to tackle an important issue, I just hope in the future that more young black women will feel confident enough to call themselves feminists.
Do you believe we still need feminism? Does feminism play a part in your life?
More on Madame Noire!
- Hair Do’s and Don’ts According to the Fellas
- Intuition or Evidence: 6 Signs He Has A Chick On The Side
- Better Off Unwed: Couples Who Have Happily Kept A Ring Off Of It
- On To The Next! Women Who Found New Love In The Nick of Time…
- In Between The Sheets: Things All Women Are Insecure About In Bed
- WEEKEND WRAP-UP: Kevin Hart’s (Ex) Wife Not Acting Like A Lady + MORE!
- 6 Things You Can Stop Worrying About Doing For Your Man
- FLASHING LIGHTS! Couples Who Love To Flaunt Their Love