Let’s say it together: submission. For years its been said that black women are too strong, too controlling, too aggressive, too manipulative. On the other hand, we hear white women constantly praised in the media by comedians and rappers alike for being the exact opposite. While comedians aren’t the ones who should be taken seriously, you can guarantee that there is some truth behind every “LOL”. What it seems to all come down to is the issue of submissiveness. It appears that the common perception is that black women have a hard time to being submissive to the men they are in relationships with. Now, I’m sure some will argue to the death that a woman submitting to her man is a very old fashioned concept; however, the truth of the matter is that it is the natural order of things for men to be leaders and head of their households. We’ve all witnessed the controlling woman who acts as her man’s mother as opposed to his partner. We’ve also witnessed manipulative woman who snatches her guy’s manhood away by constantly belittling him. Then, there’s the more normal woman who has her own, can do for herself and doesn’t “need” a man for anything. But is the problem really that black women don’t want to be submissive?
Over the years submissiveness has been pegged as a sign of weakness and in the twenty-first century the last thing that women want is to be pegged as “weak”. Or, is it that they cannot be submissive because so many men have proven themselves unworthy or unreliable? I mean, no one wants to follow or submit to a person who will lead them down a path of destruction. Possibly it is because of this that many of us were never given then opportunity to learn what it means to allow a man to take the lead. Many can attest to having watched their mothers assume the roles of both dad and mom, nurturer and protector, homemaker and provider so when the times comes for they themselves to share those roles and responsibilities with a man, they are unable to.
I remember sitting there mortified as my mom, my aunt and I sat around shooting the breeze one day and my aunt divulged details of my parents’ wedding that I had never heard before. Apparently during the exchanging of vows it was my mother’s turn and all was well until she got to the point where she was supposed to vow to “love, honor, and obey”. The entire wedding party, the reverend, the wedding guests, and my dad stood there stunned as she refused to repeat those three words. My heart sank as I thought about my dad standing there in his white tux with beads of sweat forming on his forehead as his new bride found difficulty in promising to honor and obey him. Granted, my parents got married pretty young, twenty-one years old to be exact. So, I’m sure maturity had something to do with it. But, I just had to know truth. My curiosity had gotten the best of me. “Ma, why didn’t you just say it?” I asked one day. “I don’t know, Jaz. I really thought they had taken that part out of the vows,” she replied.
Now I’ll admit, promising to love, honor, and obey in front of a church full of family and friends is the ultimate act of submission. Well, maybe not the love part, but honor and obey part… absolutely. When I reflect on my grandmother’s relationship with my grandfather, however, I can totally understand my mom’s reluctancy to repeat those words after the reverend. There was never that example there of what it looks like for a wife to submit to her husband because my grandfather was rarely ever there. Throughout history black women have been forced to bear many burdens, which is why many of us are so strong-willed and independent, something in which we shouldn’t be apologetic about. We were built strong to last long, but maybe it is a matter of having character of multiple dimensions. Maybe it is about knowing when to take charge and when to follow the leadership of another, when to be “hard” and when to be “soft”.
Sound off ladies: Do you think black women have issues with being submissive ? Should women even submit to men at all?
Jazmine Denise is a New York City based Lifestyle & Relationship writer. Follow her on Twitter @jazminedenise