Coffee Rhetoric: Womanism
Showing posts with label Womanism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Womanism. Show all posts

March 04, 2010

Leave Me Alone!

Black women. We've been labeled as Mammies, Jezebels, Golddiggers, Undesirables, and now Tragic Figures?  Yes, 2010 seems to be The year of years to bash Black women, in yet another redundant cycle of trash talk about why we are, the way we are. Some might read this post and disagree, but then those of you who do probably aren't Black women and are whispering under your breath for me to shut my gob because, Michelle Obama is this country's First Lady. It's just that simple, really. *insert side eye here.* 
It seems as if every publication I read, or program I watch has an article or segment discussing why Black women are single. Forget the construction of the pyramids or the Bermuda Triangle. ... Black women being single in high numbers seem to be the mystery du jour! To hell with finding a cure for AIDS or getting over this country's health care, job, and economic crises. Black women are single and it's our own fault. The world needn't be bogged down worrying about the important issues... but should mull over my love life instead. You see, Black women... we're just too driven and unyielding. We're difficult to please and our need to find our place in the world and plant our flag is off-putting... apparently. How dare we try to better ourselves or even entertain the notion of having (insert danger music here!)... EXPECTATIONS. Not to mention we aren't trying nearly as hard enough to look like the vixens in the rap and R&B videos. 
According to these articles, newsreels, blogs, and public forums of the like, seems like the only, and I mean THE ONLY way Black women can reconcile being tragically single is to date White men, and ONLY White men. This White Knight In-waiting, will apparently salvage what's left of our lonely years, and is a last resort to prevent us from dying alone with nothing more than a house filled with cats, all of which would undoubtedly nibble away at our rotting corpses. To hell with dating someone who has mutual interests, regardless of his skin color or ethnicity. Who cares if you like various types of men from all walks of life, with GREAT PERSONALITIES, or if you're even interested in going that route? Racial/Ethnic fetishization is definitely the solution to our habitual singledom! Non?  *shrugs*
Listen, I don't know why my sex and dating habits have become public fodder for the media and various other men and people to pick apart and scrutinize. I guess the fact that many Black women aren't rocking back and forth in a corner or curled up under the covers in a fetal position, because no one has "put a ring on it"... or aren't bemoaning the fact that we're single or unmarried doesn't occur to those of you doing the judging and marking ticks in your little notebooks. We aren't the only group of women who live singly, however, our White counterparts are merely single, looking, and living footloose and fancy free a la 'Sex And The City.' They're simply exploring their options and building their careers until Mr. Big catches their eye and having a great time playing the field in the interim. Why can't this simply be the case for Black single women as well? Why are we scraping the earth for scraps, clucking around like confused chickens... looking for any remnants of a good man... rather than just exploring infinite possibilities and having fun too? 
Everyone's an armchair anthropologist or sociologist these days, especially when it comes to Black female sexuality. Our femininity... our desirability is constantly up for debate. Men (especially) have mucho jokes and take low brow swipes for days talking about our appearance, our attitudes, and our personalities. Residents holed up in their glass houses, throwing stones. Black women aren't good enough because we want better... or at least according to Black male comedians and social critics turned dating experts, with dubious track records of their own.
I've grown tired from reading these statistics about the numbers of Black women who aren't hitched. Why is this even newsworthy? Why is anybody still single in this complex era of love and dating rules? Moreover, why am I being told to date this type of man or that type of man... do *this* with your body, but not *that* by critics who can't even fathom... who don't even know my core and all of its wonderful complexities? 
Men, the media, and so called experts on Black female sexuality can tout off a long list of reasons why Black women are single and the primary, b.s. song is that our standards are too high. The last time I checked, having standards (within reason), is a common thing to expect. Men also are notorious for having outlandish standards, and those very same standards could also be indicative of why many of them are hopelessly single and are prompted to fly overseas to woo desperate and eager foreign women. Most of those who're anti-standards seem to be sub-par to mediocre at best and so complain the loudest about a Black woman's high standards.
At the end of the day, I'm single because I've chosen to be. Because I'm preoccupied with various other things in my life that fulfill me or keep me too busy to lament over such nonsense. Perhaps it's also attributed to my impetuous and overly sophisticated bon-mots and risqué coquetries... perhaps not. I'd like to think I'm a little more multi-layered than most would have me be. 
No one has the right to dictate the reasons why so many Black women in America are single, and claim it as fact. There is no one, fundamental reason why. It just is, what it is. We aren't some abnormal sub-species. And anyway, mind your own damn business. That is all.

January 18, 2010

Hair Today, Hair Tomorrow


People who know me personally-- those that've read posts here, on Coffee Rhetoric, realize or have come to realize how passionate I am about Black women's issues. Specifically those having to do with our unique brand of beauty, our image, and our hair. A little more than 10 years ago, I opted to stop using chemicals to straighten my hair. I wear my hair "natural" if you will. That's a personal choice I maintain til this day. I love my hair in its natural state and tend to not care what anyone else thinks of my hair's type and texture. Natural hair does NOT a militant make... nor is it me trying to make a political statement. It's me, being at peace with myself. I did not come out of my mother's womb with a chemical relaxer. And I don't answer to or flinch over the negative connotations of the phrase "nappy."

While I don't subscribe to altering the state of my hair via relaxers, weaves, lace-front wigs or what have you... I don't begrudge any other Black woman the right to do what she sees fit to do with her hair regimen. To each her own. I am only concerned with my own hair routine. And while I would LOVE to shrug and say, "It's just hair," and move on... unfortunately for Black women... it isn't that simple. Women of color will always be embattled over the texture of our hair and skin shade. Unfortunate. Multi-layered. Complicated. And rooted in a painful history. And lately, I'm discovering it's not as cut and dry as relaxed hair vs natural hair vs hair that's beweaved vs that which is bewigged.
For the past 2-3 years or so, there has been a huge influx of natural hair care products, YouTube tutorial videos, online forums, and websites celebrating the beauty and versatility of afro-textured hair. But even within the natural hair community, there is a lot of controversy.
There are "naturals" who are obsessed with texture and so will swear by a hair system/chart to determine their "hair type" -- or to aspire to a 3C hair type, most commonly associated with mixed race people. Some naturals are more concerned with length and so will find ways to stretch the hair to its maximum- (preferably "bra strap long" some women on various forums will brag).
I've come across blogs where there is petty squabbling in the comments section over which natural hair care method is the best and only way to treat afro-textured hair or whether or not the blog's host features enough women with kinkier textured hair, versus women with "mixed race" hair.
It's maddening. While I do enjoy discovering new ideas, products, and recipes for my own hair, I've made a conscious decision not to concern myself with dictatorial methods of natural hair care. I run my hands through my hair everyday, and so know what does and does not work.

I find it most unfortunate that even while Black women reach their epiphany and "free" themselves from eurocentric hair and beauty expectations, many still can't make peace with themselves, even within the confines of the natural hair community. When will this "Good Hair/Bad Hair/Not Good Enough Natural Hair conflict end? These natural hair mandates are exhausting. I've read debates over whether or not First Lady Michelle Obama "presses" or relaxes her hair straight.  Or whether EVERY natural will experience major consequences if some of us choose to blow out our afro-textured hair using minimal amounts of heat. If we'll experience major growth if we take this vitamin, or that vitamin. If our White co-workers and dating prospects will like or accept us if we style our natural hair a specific way. All hell broke loose on the Black (and some predominantly White) celebrity blogs, when Solange Knowles stopped wearing wigs and cut her hair closely to her scalp. Listen, who cares? I would LOVE to see and for us to seize the day when hair will just be considered that. Hair. And when we can truly and really, for real, be happy in our own skin and with the depth of our hair's texture, without this seemingly constant need for validation.

January 06, 2010

I Wish You ILL

It's official--
The mechanics of dating and its games has made me cynical. I never thought I would say the dreaded 'C' word out loud, but I am Coffey So Finicky, evermore. The advice books by men geared toward single women (ahem, Steve Harvey) with dubious track records of their own. The bullshit, the nonsense, the flakiness, the obvious lying and disingenuous behavior... It seems to know no bounds. If I hear one more man whine about how his last experience... or how his best friend's friend got hustled by a golddigger, who needed $50,000 transferred to her account, before she peeled of her panties- as a way to justify is jerkery, I may need to sharpen my nails into angular points, and claw my(or his) eyes out. I've no sympathy for men who get "took" as it were. Because many of you have laid the groundwork for and choreographed this sort of shady adagio dance, between the sexes. Don't project your insecurities and obvious shallowness-gone-wrong, onto other women with good intentions.
Perhaps some women of my ilk are destined to stay single and live a life riddled with carpal tunnel syndrome and AA batteries. But sometimes, I think that alternative is well worth it... if only to side-step the nonsense and fuckery associated with dating... and all the "messy unnecessaries" it entails. And anyway, I'll always still have great hair and skin. That is all.

July 31, 2009

This Much I Know Is True: 30+

Born Days are no huge deal for me. I'm not one to make a whole big production over that matter... I'm just thankful to the goddesses that I reached another year. In the cult of personality we currently live in, there are some who aren't so fortunate. Which is why I cannot stand listening to people sullenly bemoan the fact that they're getting older. In any event, next month I will be 32 years old. After I hit the age 30, several things occurred to me, these are some of them ...
  • I'm no skinny bird, however I can honestly say I'm comfortable (for real) in my skin, and am okay with maintaining the body I have now.
  • It's not that serious.
  • I'm not altering my appearance, personality, attitude, body to placate anyone.
  • I like to eat, and am not ashamed about it.
  • I like wine and an occasional cocktail and am NOT an alcoholic so eff you.
  • Thanks, but no thanks.
  • Excessive tree-hugging and hippiedom get on my nerves.
  • I like anti-perspirant and will continue to shave.
  • I don't want to hear about your sexploits or your bowel movements.
  • I can be attracted to, date, or like whoever the hell I want.
  • I don't have to like you, especially since you're such an a*hole.
  • No, I don't want to hold your baby.
  • I don't want your pet jumping all over me.
  • Twitter is fun, who cares if you don't understand it, get over it.
  • No means 'NO.'
  • Flaws are extraordinary.
  • I don't have to explain how I go about me and mine to you, her, him, or them.
  • I'm still single, and your point?
  • Desperation is reckless and unbecoming.
  • So WHAT I don't have a car.
  • I didn't ask you for your advice you self-righteous so and so.
  • I don't give a damn how much money you have, you're still a jerk.
  • I don't have to smile, YOU smile.
  • I like saying "menstrual cramps" out loud. No need to whisper it, esp. since you just told me about your sexploits and your bowel movement.
  • I'm not a slender, flexible instrument that's inserted into the urethra, therefore I'm not "bougie."
  • I suppose I do have BOURGEOIS tendencies when it comes to specific things, however.
  • It's okay that I'm NOT sexually repressed.
  • I like simplicity.
  • I can't stand unnecessary noise and drama.
  • Don't like being around sullen, ill-humored folks.
  • I don't have to make small talk with strangers early in the morning, if I don't feel like it. I wanna listen to my music.
  • No, I'm not straightening my hair, but I appreciate (or not) your suggestion.
  • My uterus and or reproductive organs are none of your damn business.

May 16, 2009

The MYTH of Good/Bad Hair

This Saturday has been spent lazily drinking coffee, massaging my hair with coconut oil, twisting it, and pinning it up. While doing so, I caught up on some of my favorite "natural hair" blogs and YouTube videos, when I stumbled across this rambling discourse courtesy of this young woman who was adamant why she went natural, and how it wasn't to placate those of us women she deemed "Pro-Black" who are Happy to be Nappy. She flung her hair (she says it's natural, but it looked like a wash-and-go relaxer to me) to and fro, the whole time, much to my annoyance, "Becky" style. She said she went natural after she discovered that her own texture was "pretty" *insert side-eye here*. Then she railed against women who "denied" that there was such a thing as "good" and "bad" hair. "C'mon now, we all know the difference, so stop acting like there isn't a such thing as good hair and bad hair" she spouted off annoyingly. The rest of her rant, more or less emphasized how much she still enjoyed wearing hair weaves and she continued to perpetuate the Good vs Bad hair struggle Black American women can't seem to come to terms with. (There are three parts, but pt. I was more than enough for me. A commenter also took her to task over a few of her remarks). I agreed with most of what the commenter said... namely that Pretty Hair needed to visit this woman's YouTube page before she continued to toot her own texture's horn. Listen, I've worn my hair natural for about 10 years. My journey en-route, didn't come without a few bumps. When I first came back home from school, with my newly UN-RELAXED hair, I got some major side-eyes from other Black women whilst walking down the street. I was happy. I was proud. More importantly, I felt FREE. Going natural (while it can be just as high maintenance as maintaining straight hair) has truly be a LIBERATING experience for me. Initially I was a bit confused by the shade being thrown in my direction from other Black women. Eventually I stopped caring. I took this trip to please one person. MYSELF.
Listen, I love everything about my being (I have insecure hips and thighs days just like the next person), overall there is NOTHING about my Black-ness or self I regret, hate, or curse. I enjoy my complexion, I love that we span such a vast and wide spectrum of ethnicities, shapes, sizes, countries, languages, and shades, and I LOVE my hair existing in its natural-ness. I would never chastise another woman for choosing to relax, be-wig, or be-weave her tresses just like I wouldn't expect her to begrudge me my right to be who I am, NATURALLY... however, I think we need to get over this Good hair TEXTURE vs Bad hair TEXTURE debate, because essentially all it is, is a MYTH!!
Yes, I said it. It is a MYTH... at least it is, within the context of texture and length. Everyone has the ability to have GREAT hair, despite its length or texture. I've gotten nothing but positive feedback from people, who compliment me on my hair and the way that I style it. I get so sick to death of OTHER BLACK WOMEN who feel the need to validate WHY they straighten their hair or sew/glue in weaves, spouting off rhetoric and propoganda generated by the media about a specific STANDARD when it comes to beauty. Beauty is universal. There IS no standard as far as I'm concerned. Often, while browsing these hair forums and videos in search of new ideas and styles for MY type of hair, I'll come across the video of some poor, misguided soul talking about how unattractive, matted, uncontrollable, ugly, and unmanageable "nappy" hair is. While this way of life isn't for the faint of heart, I've seen some busted, bunk ass relaxers in-need and weaves myself, so the grass isn't always greener. Trust, I've been there! (On the relaxer side). I've also visited forums that showcase perfectly coiffed and well maintained natural Black hair.
We need to get off this kick already... "Oh my hair is sooo pretty, cuz it's sooooft and curly. It's not kinky and nappy and it straigtens with the flatiron so easily..." So effing what? The only person concerned with the texture of our hair is US. It's JUST HAIR. If you want to burn the life out of your hair follicles keeping it straight or wear weaves, it's your prerogative, but don't think for a minute that there is ONE SPECIFIC way that is BETTER than the other. It's neverending. I would actually die from shock, if we all sighed a collective, "fuck this" and decided not to give this issue a second thought. To stop letting men, insecure women, one dimensional hairstylists and experts tell us we aren't worthy if our hair isn't straightened or cascading down our back, because trust, most MEN won't kick a woman out of the sack bald, natural, or weaved!
While I didn't see this episode in question featured on Tyra Banks' talk show recently(thank goodness), I did find a clip and commetary regarding the themed What Is Good Hair? The woman who opined that her relaxed hair had a "white girl flow" was an ignoramus and I feel sorry of her ilk, because they're obviously grappling with coming to terms with loving and living for themselves and quite frankly, I don't want or desire to have a "white girl flow" thank you very much, and KUDOS to the loc'ed woman in pink! I also feel bad for and am amused by Black women who think wearing your hair loc'ed or natural doesn't translate to the corporate/working world successfully and that it's inappropriate. Many of the Black women I work with are loc'd and natural. Their hair is braided, puffed, worn in buns, and curly. The textures are different, the styles are well-maintained and we are glorious. My hair is hot. I take good care of it. It's clean, and I keep it neatly done in all its grand kinkiness. Natural hair is just as versatile as relaxed or weaved hair.

We need to figure out how to get over it and learn how to care for our natural hair (whether you choose to straigten it or not). At the end of the day, having "good hair" is the least of our worries as Black women. Please yourselves and stop trying to feed into the B.S. and flagrant smear campaign against us, telling us our beauty isn't universal, multi-faceted, and vast... straight and nappy. Give it up! Because if we don't start accepting who we are, the others are going to continue to dictate (successfully) how we should look, and they're going to continue to tack on prerequisites when describing Black beauty, telling you that you aren't bad looking for a "DARK girl" or "She's pretty for a BLACK girl"also, "I'd date a black woman if she looked like Halle, Alicia, or Beyonce" ... as well as my personal favorite (usually from my own),

"Your hair is so cute! Even though it's natural, it's not all nappy and matted. It looks soooo cute!"

and foolishness of the like. My older sister, who has a relaxer, has always kept her beautifully coiffed hair short. And it suits her wonderfully! I couldn't imagine it any other way. In the past, she has heard some backhanded comments from other Black women, who aren't confident enough to wear there hair short, so they made stupid remarks about sporting short or closely cropped hair. If you want to wear your hair a specific way, do it without apology or explanation because at the end of the day, when European and White-American women are bleaching the hell out of their hair, they aren't giving a DAMN What WE or their folks think, they're solely doing what pleases THEM and theirs. Just let it GO ladies!

*Smoking woman painting by Sandra Knuyt

May 02, 2009

Casual Encounter

I love these random, casual encounters I come up against. Now, my friend says that I'm a"maneater" and a "temptress," who has left a trail of broken men leading from my door, but her opinion is born out of bitterness because she can no longer eat delicious cupcakes and cream sauces and I can. So her opinion is pretty much moot at this point and time and nothing can be further from the truth, but I digress.
I always find myself in the midst of foolishness. Whether it be a strange man wanting to take photos of my shoes to another insisting on removing his prosthetic foot at a trendy wine bar... I am a magnet when it comes to the bizarre.
This Friday was no exception. While leaving a diner, clutching a tasty pepperoni grinder, with peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, cheese, and mustard (former vegetarianism be damned)- a Mailman stepped back out of the way to let me pass (the aisle is narrow and my hips span across many nations and universes) however, I didn't think I needed that much space... but I thanked him anyway for letting me through.
"That's okay. I wanted to see how you looked anyway."
he said smugly. Both amused and annoyed, I hurried past and across the street back to work. Amazing. I am back on meat (for the past 3 years now) and am also a PIECE of meat to be appraised, judged, poked, and prodded. What clownery! Here's a thought... Instead of sidewalks and aisles, why not just make the landscape one, long catwalk for women to walk down... just to make things more convenient for you all? What a novel idea! (insert side-eye here). Men-beasts... you never cease to amaze this simple woman. The grinder was tasty by the way.

June 08, 2008

Maybe a Dingo Ate My Baby

Dear People Who Don't Get it When I Say I'm NOT INTERESTED in Having Children,

Perhaps you aren't aware of it, but we live in an era where, what a woman decides to do with her body is no longer an undebatable issue as dictated by the patriarchal majority and stiff, uptight, puritanical other women with antiquated beliefs, who still think their SOLE purpose is to procreate. Spare me your, "Oh, you're going to be a miserable, lonely old lady"

and "Who will take care of you in your old age" arguments, because my ovaries and future as a senior citizen are my business. Vain attempts at browbeating me into pregnancy wont work. They only serve as comic relief and makes it oh so easy for me to become antagonistic and come back with a sharp yet witty retort. Your ignorance and narrow mindedness also prompts me to research the many ways in which I CAN'T reproduce. Hysterectomy anybody? Who knows someone? Hit me up.

I respect the fact that you've made the decision (purposely or otherwise- SUPRIIISE, guess he didn't pull out in time!) to have a child or children. I think many madres are great and do a WONDERFUL job. I commend you, because childrearing is one of the most difficult and underrated jobs. Hey, I'm the product of a woman who decided to be a mother. My sisters are mothers. Jesus has a mama, and finally I've met the acquaintance of many mother F'ers, and neither of those realizations or chance encounters have prompted me to wanna run out and find a sperm donor. To the contrary, in fact. Dispute me if you must and not that it's any of your damn concern, but at 30 years old, if I was ever meant to be someone's mom, I think I would have made it happen at this juncture in my life.
I can barely tolerate menstrual cramps, charley horses, and pre-menstrual bloat, so why would I put myself through the discomfort of pregnancy? I'm also a mercurial woman, whose temperament is ofttimes unpredicatable, depending on how each month plays itself out (some weeks are more tolerable than others). So the last thing I need to grapple with is Post-Partum Depression.
"Oh, but you'll make a GREAT mother!" some of you argue. As YouTube celebrity Chris Crocker says and for your own good, BITCH, PUHLEEZE!"
Just because I utilize the common sense my mother instilled in me and make rational decisions, doesn't necessarily mean I'm maternal and should run out and have a whole cadre of children. Pregnancy and motherhood serve as an inconvenience to the many things I enjoy or want to accomplish. Caffeine, wine, debaucherous behavior, spirits, galavanting and wanting to do whatever the hell else I want to do, at a moment's notice.
Selfish? Probably. But you know what else is selfish? Women who are uncertain about motherhood and will ignorantly squire children all over the place, with irresponsible men, knowing they don't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of. And who forfeit their maternal rights, leaving the foster care system responsible for their babies, which results in many neglected and homeless children. It's also selfish and backward of women to verbally flog other women for not wanting chilluns. So the eff what if I have "child-birthing hips!" How DARE you?!?....
Look, essentially me being without child is my prerogative. I don't owe an explanation to anybody. And you needn't explain the ways in which I'm selfish or foolish for being unapologetic about being not wanting children. I'm sick of defending myself against ignorant rants about me needing to prepare myself for a life loneliness. Loneliness is, as pathetic does. And I'm neither. I don't want a small human pushing its way out of my vagina. It's just that simple. Deal with it.
Regards, Coffey

January 21, 2008

Unsung Activists

While everyone uses this day home from work and school to reflect on Martin Luther King's birthday, attend special observances and programs, or simply to piss around (or however you choose to spend your free day off)I'd like to take this opportunity to recognize the women who made a significant impact during the Civil Rights Movement. It's rare that we read or hear about how Black women (in addition to Rosa Parks) have impacted our (black) history and women's history in general. Stereotyped, hypersexualized, and often labeled as 'right bitches (or hoes, depending on who's hurling the insult), Black women... we don't get a fair or accurate rap sometimes. Zora Neale Hurston's contribution to African-American literature was written off by her Black, male literary peers, who accused her of "romanticizing" the Black experience, but that's for another post. My point is, we often can't get a break or any cred for the things we've done in the past and the ways in which we continue to thrive presently. We hear so much about the indelible mark Rosa Parks - left, it probably leaves some folks wondering if she was the ONLY black woman who fought for equality during this time. She's not.

JoAnne Gibson Robinson was a professor of English at Alabama State and member of the Women's Political Council. Months prior to Rosa Park's negative bus experience Gibson-Robinson experienced similar treatment from an abusive Montgomery City Lines driver and used her membership to the WPC as a catalyst for change. Ella Baker. Septima Poinsette Clark. Fannie Lou Hamer. Civil Rights overlooked revolutionaries who remained stealth, in the background... perhaps due to sexism, racism, and other biases. Author Lynne Olsen writes:

After the bus boycott got going and (Martin Luther) King got involved, they wouldn’t even let Rosa Parks speak at the first mass meeting. She asked to speak, and one of the ministers said he thought she had done enough.
Olson added that Parks is often depicted as a deferential woman who defied segregation laws at the urging of movement leaders, but in fact she had for years quietly pushed for racial justice — and she had carefully planned the actions that led to her arrest. She was not just a symbol, She was an agent. Olsen also added. I think it's great that we get to observe the significance of Martin Luther King's birthday and that it was made into a national holiday. I think he also wouldn't mind us extending thanks to some of the women that helped him make such relevant and important changes in helping him further his cause. ...

  • Ella Baker was a charismatic labor organizer and longtime leader in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She believed the movement should not place too much emphasis on leaders.
  • Septima Poinsette Clark, often called the “queen mother” of civil rights, was an educator and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People activist decades before the nation’s attention turned to racial equality.
  • Fannie Lou Hamer, a Mississippi sharecropper, was beaten and jailed in 1962 for trying to register to vote. She co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and gave a fiery speech at the 1964 Democratic National Convention.
  • Vivian Malone Jones defied segregationist Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace to enroll in the University of Alabama in 1963 and later worked in the civil rights division of the U.S. Justice Department.