Arn't I A Woman Pt II

I happened upon this article entitled, "Not Woman Enough" over at racialicious, written by a contributing guest writer who calls herself Tami. Tami, a Black woman, questions her femininity and ponders the inner workings of White privilege (particularly of the white, patriarchal variety ofttimes with very narrow views of beauty and intellect)- after a White male colleague (unconsciously?) makes her feel inferior and less alluring than her White female counter-part and co-worker. The writer hit on a number of very relevant points and raises some interesting questions about the de-sexualization and fetishization of Black women... How we can't be beautiful (to them... as if it matters) sans a long list of prerequisites or unless they're trying to meet their "I've never had sex with a (insert race) girl before" ethnic quota. So we fall under their "to do" list. Some Black women may try to assimilate completely, by engaging in damaging behaviors such as, pouring bleach on their heads, slathering on the wrong type of make-up, wearing painful and cheap looking weaves and wigs that contradict their ethnicity, and rubbing dangerous skin lighteners on their persons. I don't think the writer is seeking validation from her white male counter-parts nor is she speaking from a particularly vain view point. I think she is simply tired of being invisible and seen as less than. Sometimes that experience has nothing to do with aesthetics, but can be on an intellectual level as well. One would have to be living at the opposite end of the spectrum, to truly understand where she is coming from. Here is an excerpt from the article:
Today I was reminded of my place in the female hierarchy.

I was in an impromptu meeting with a 50-something white man and a white woman who is my age, when this exchange occurred:

White male: The only people who liked that design were under 28.

White female: Under 37…I loved it.

Me: Yeah. Me too.

White male: (to white female, pointedly) Well, YOU don’t look older than 28.

White female: (to me–maybe attempting to soften white male’s comment) You don’t either.

White male: (eyeing me) Mmmm…I don’t know about that.

It is peculiar–in my experience, some white men don’t relate to black women as women. On more than one occaision, at more than one job, a white male co-worker has made comments to me that violate society’s codes of chivalry. What gentleman comments on how old a woman looks? This is not the first time the man in question has made a subtly derogatory comment about my appearance. I have also noticed how his eyes slide distastefully over my natural hair.

When I began typing this post, I worried that I was overreacting. In the re-telling, the offense seems so petty and maybe subject to interpretation. Maybe it wasn’t about race at all, maybe my co-worker simply finds me haggard looking and is surprisingly untactful. So, I called up a good friend–another black woman–that I can always count on for wise counsel. She understood exactly what I meant about the peculiar state of non-femaleness black women sometimes occupy in the mainstream. It is the weird flip side to the stereotype of the wanton black sexual temptress.

Read the rest of the article here and visit Tami's Blog and PLEASE read this post (something Black people do, and is at the top of my list of pet peeves!), while you're over there...

3 comments

  1. you know, your posts and writings about black culture or history or pride or what have you always leave me feeling a little hesitant to post, if only because I know that I have no clue whatsoever what it is like to stand in a black woman's shoes. and I know I am not the first person to ever think that I don't want to talk about it lest I be offensive or ignorant. but I find these posts interesting and enlightening and I appreciate being able to see a side of things I would not otherwise have been exposed to, so thank you.

    I feel badly for her that she felt slighted. and I think she was right to feel that way. but I have no semblance of an answer to offer to it either. it must be very frustrating.

    thanks for leading me to her site - she is a wonderful writer.

    as for that pet peeve thing - I agree with tami's assessment that, unfortunately, black people mention other parts of their heritage as explaining "good" physical features while subtly implying that their blackness represents their "bad" ones. it reminds me (and I am jewish) of people talking about "self-hating jews." like they are somehow apologizing for their background and making light of it. it undermines everything that you, and other proud black women, work so hard for in our culture. it's a shame, truly.

    hope you're having a good weekend, my dear.

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  2. you know, your posts and writings about black culture or history or pride or what have you always leave me feeling a little hesitant to post, if only because I know that I have no clue whatsoever what it is like to stand in a black woman's shoes. and I know I am not the first person to ever think that I don't want to talk about it lest I be offensive or ignorant. but I find these posts interesting and enlightening and I appreciate being able to see a side of things I would not otherwise have been exposed to, so thank you.

    Melissa, I'm glad you find my posts regarding race from a black woman's point of view enlightening. I'm also glad that you offer your feedback despite the fact that you aren't Black. I think bloggers of color, who BWB (blog while black) always run the risk of someone disagreeing or trolling it up anonymously when they leave comments. Me? I don't fear that shit, nor am I intimidated by it. I have a very public forum here, and don't expect everyone to agree with me 100% of the time.

    Tami's blog is very well written and much of what she has to say is spot on. I don't think she wants her ignoramus coworker to validate her beauty. I think she wants him to respect her as a WOMAN, regardless of whether or not he's finds her physically attractive. From what I've read, she already has a wonderful man in her life.

    I think it's safe to assume that most Black women (I know I'm not anyway) are NOT seeking validation from White men. Because in the grand scheme of things, they don't dictate my "womanness." I do.

    We want to be respected and not made to feel inferior or unattractive just because we aren't blond or because our eyes are brown and our hair isn't bone straight or because our figures are voluptuous. To each his or her own, but it's not for anyone to say that ONE type of beauty is the universal criteria for ALL women. Period. (hence the furor over Don Imus's "nappy headed hoes" remark).

    Black women contend with triple the discrimination. We're up against racial prejudices, sexual stereotypes, AND sexism. And many of us constantly have to fight to prove our worth. Not just aesthetically, but intellectually as well. It gets frustrating and tiring after awhile. Hence the chip some White people may THINK they see. They see a chip. I see strength, pride, and resilience. In any event, I appreciated Tami's post. And more importantly, I appreciate you offering your feedback on my "conscious" blog entries. :-)

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  3. hmmm
    that graphic was amazing
    just made me think about something that's been bugging me recently:
    who invented color contacts?

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