Saturday, November 22, 2014

Gender Role Gentrification

So, for those of you don't know, I'm in law school now. Let me just go ahead and disclaim that it is NOT all it's cracked up to be. Namely, in some of the types of people that attend law school. The know-it-all, the "I'm just here on daddy's money" types...the personalities run the gamut. (Read more about the people you meet in law school here.)

But I digress. I was having a conversation about relationships with two of my classmates; for some reason, people assume I'm some kind of relationship anomaly because I married before I turned 30. In talking to them, I began to see why; I had one friend tell me that she "would have a hard time performing wifely duties with a man I'm not married to."

My response: "What exactly is a wifely duty?"

She looked at me like I had 3 heads...but couldn't give me a straightforward answer. I was under the impression that, with this being the age of hyper-feminized, independent women, we--as a gender--wouldn't still perpetuate such dogma. My classmate went on to explain that a wifely duty was: " know, making sure his dinner is prepared when he gets home, making sure that he's taken care of intimately so that he doesn't step out. Wife stuff."

I think I could literally hear my eyes roll.

As if women don't sustain these illusions enough themselves, the internet is overflowing with "research" that these dated ideals are actually good for a household. One such article (a term I use loosely) on entitled, "Do Traditional Gender Roles Mean a Better Relationship," not only says the traditional roles are alive and well, but encourages them. "Much media attention has been given to a handful of studies that demonstrate that husbands who do more housework get more sex, as their happy wives are more inclined to acquiesce to their husbands’ needs.  Researchers from the Juan March Institute and the University of Washington, however, suspect that the reverse is true.  According to their hypothesis, husbands and wives who do more gender-related tasks tend to experience greater sexual frequency." 

In other words, women should slave away all day cleaning, ironing and taking care of home while their more important husbands enforce their dominion over home by handling the more substantial tasks, like fixing the car and mowing the lawn. Thus, in sticking to their roles, they have more sex.

I HAVE ABOUT 1898758674873HJKJDFH9 PROBLEMS WITH THIS ARGUMENT, but I will reduce it to two.

One. Marriage, and relationships in general in my opinion, is all about duality. In order for there to be one thing, there must be an opposite to balance. In terms of roles, there must be one for both parties. Hence, if there are wifely duties, there have to be "husbandly" duties too. However, in adhering to this idiocy, the wifely duties are almost always clear and defined. Cook. Clean. Take care of the children. Maintain the fire and passion in the relationship to keep your man interested--because everyone knows if a man cheats, its the woman's fault (but even if he isn't, it's okay because he's a man). And oh, Lordy, make sure you perform oral sex on him at every turn (as actress Niecy Nash advises is the best way to keep your man). Where are the husbandly duties? After he completes his three tasks for the day and passes out in front of the TV watching the game, where is the rule that says his wife deserves attention and appreciation for all she does? That, God forbid, he has to maintain her attention so that she won't cheat? Where are the scholarly articles that say she needs oral sex to, as Nash colorfully mentions, "keep the divorce attorney away"? 

Two. This myth perpetuation passes on to children, which turns into expected behavior in their subsequent relationships. If Dad is doing nothing and objectifies Mom into nothing but a cleaning, cooking, domestic sexpot, there's a pretty good chance that becomes the son's attitude toward all women. His sister, his wife, his receptionist, etc.

Just gonna sit that right there.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Media Response: “bell hooks Calls Beyoncé a Terrorist”

Just a bit of background info before I start: bell hooks (punctuation omitted purposefully) is an African-American author, activist and well-known feminist. One of her most famous works, Feminism is for Everybody, digresses on how the women’s movement for equality isn’t just for die-hard, rebel feminists.

So, first of all, let me say: I am by no means a Beyoncé stan. I think her music is catchy and highly marketable, but that’s about the extent of our auditory relationship. I think blogger Curls 4D Gurls said it best in her article "Bey is for Basic" : “Beyoncé is Queen Bey….of the Basics. She is easily one of the most basic women in the history of the music industry. People give Beyoncé credit for a lot of things that I don’t think she herself has much to do with. She isn’t very deep, as a matter of fact I would venture to say she could be shallow. There’s not much there.” Welp.

Now that the proverbial elephant has been addressed, let me also make myself even further transparent: I am not here to bash Blue Ivy’s mom. I want to make clear that bell hooks damn well may be on to something. You know that older relative we have that knows what everyone is thinking—that super rude or shady comment—but has the nerve to say it anyway? Well bell hooks deserves the biggest literary award I can think of for her most current over-the-top, borderline Marxist comment. She further stole my heart with four little words: “Beyoncé is a terrorist.” hooks made her assertion at a discussion entitled “Are You Still a Slave?” at the New School in New York, featuring fellow feminists Janet Mock, Shola Lynch and Marci Blackman.

Sensationalist? YES. Probably making everyone uncomfortable in her unflinching convictions? ABSOLUTELY. That’s why I love it.

The reasons on why people abhor the singer run the gamut. She’s beautiful, she (supposedly) pushed out this human being and was back to her banging figure in a matter of weeks, she’s beautiful, her face is quite literally plastered everywhere (I’m still waiting for her visage to be marketed on urinal cakes)…etc. However, hooks has a LEGIT REASON: she’s poisoning the minds of our future little feminists. While “Run the World (Girls)” had a lovely, flowery message of women’s empowerment, it was contradictory in portrayal:

·         If you’re “raising a glass for the college grads,” it’d be awesome if you didn’t refer to me as a girl. “Woman” suits me just fine;

·         The lyrics portray women just as history does: sneaky beings who use the art of seduction and sexual connotation to gain power/money while simultaneously bashing men. With lyrics like “Some men think they freak this like we do but no they don’t” and “see, you better not play me oh come here baby, Hope you still like me, F' you pay me.”

hooks goes on to defend her stance related to Beyonce's mostrecent photo on the cover of TIMEMagazine: “Let’s take the image of this super-rich, very powerful black female and let’s use it in the service of imperialist, white supremacist capitalist patriarchy because she probably had very little control over that cover—that image.”

Feel free to read the article on bell's comments and views in their entirety here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Confessions of a Hater.

It all started with leap of faith. In a freefall from a 55-foot wooden structure. It was there that I realized my quandry. Why I couldn't seem to stand others happy. Why it was so hard for me to let go of some grudges that had lasted longer than necessary. I had to admit it to myself...that was was the first step right? My name is Crystal, and I'm a hater.

The 55-foot wooden structure I stood on, teetering dangerously close to the end of a 3-foot wide ledge, was at Camp Kalaqua, about 40 miles outside of Gainesville. In other words, the middle of nowhere. I was at a team retreat, where some of my track athletes go to "bond" as a team. I will withhold personal comments on that. The campgrounds were complete with a zipline, rock climbing tower, a zoo, a water park, and my choice of poison, a "Leap of Faith." (The camp belongs to a Seventh-Day Adventist church, so all the activities incorporated faith. The Leap of Faith was really a free-fall from the stop of a wooden tower attached to a bungee cord. The last words of the attendee before I jumped: "I promise, it's completely safe.")

The Tower of Faith. 

For obvious reasons, people find it extremely difficult to admitting to being a hater. It was like that one person that answers all the questions in class: no one wants to be "that guy." For the less slang savvy, a hater is someone that "hates"--in the sense that that person doesn't approve of, or blatantly lessens, someone else's happiness, accomplishments, or accolades. As I seethed at the newest job opportunity or family addition of a Facebook connection--I hate the term "Facebook friend"; it's like an oxymoron--I realized the real source of my disgust: myself. I evaluated my life, constantly, on the basis of what my peers were doing with theirs. That person has a new car; why don't I? They landed a job fresh out college; great, now I'm a bum. However, one day, after having a particularly awful day at work, this cute little old lady and her husband came in a bought a Coke in the old-fashioned glass bottle. She told me, "These Coke bottles are so old, we were only dating when we had our first one. It's so funny how life goes." That could have been interpreted a million ways, but that was all the affirmation I needed to stop looking at other people's success and be happy with my own.

As I stood at the top of that tower, I vowed to let go of all my hating and love a little more. I also vowed that there had to be a less drastic way to do maybe not attached to a steel cable.

Monday, October 29, 2012

GQ Bullcrap.

Today I read my month-old GQ Magazine while eating Chex Mix (while is what any self-appreciating, self-proclaimed feminist scholar would do after a long day) and was thoroughly pleased at my abbreviated journey through momentary "man world". At least middle- to upper-class, well-dressed, works-out-at-least-twice-a-week man world. Then...I reached the last story. It was considerably well-written; yes, I actually read GQ magazine for the literary material. However, this damned picture pissed me off--enough that I felt a blog post was needed (obviously). The article was entitled "The Blind Faith of the One-Eyed Matador," a disturbing piece about a Spanish matador, Juan Jose Padilla, who'd lost a eye and part of his jawbone to a bull named Marques. In between the gory details of Marques dismissively trampling Padilla and the five-hour surgery it took to save the matador's life, the author paints a picture of how Padilla heroically learned his family all over again and entered the bullfighting ring five months later. But this picture had me open-mouthed in disbelief. The photo, which depicts Padilla and his family in the foyer of their home, ironically with a taxidermied bull head mounted on the wall. The problem I have is that Padilla and son stand in the foreground of the photo, standing proud and strong. In the background is Padilla's wife, Lidia, and daughter, who's name isn't even mentioned. The two women are standing and seated, respectively, and are both very severe. To make matters worse than the women clearly just being part of background focus, is how the article described Lidia: supportive of her matador husband, "passionate and devoutly Catholic." To add insult to injury, passionate was put in quotes, which is, of course, just a politically correct way of saying she gives it up whenever he wants. The article also goes on to attribute Lidia as "Juan Jose's girl," which sounds remarkably close to making her a possession. I totally understand the piece is about the Cyclops-esque matador, not about his poor little wife, Gentleman's Quarterly. Next time just cut out the subtlety and have her in an apron, cooking dinner while simultaneously sewing sequins on his suit.

Monday, November 7, 2011


I'm a cynic of a hopeless romantic, if that makes sense at all. I do believe that there's possibly a person that completes you, but the concept of "soulmates" escapes me. In my objectively biased opinion, people throw the L word (no not lesbians) around way too casually...but I digress. However, when a woman looks for a mate, more than likely there's a list of stipulations and qualities involved. The problem is: what does she do once she finds

someone with EVERYTHING SHE WANTS? Sadly, more often than not, she will cheat on him shamelessly, treat him like shit or do something imbicilic to drive him away. Why is it that so many women are relentlessly screwing over their Prince Charming and vying for the attention of Duke of Normalcy from the next kingdom over?

I only have one hypothesis, and I am my own basis of comparison. Even though it is my everyday goal, I HATE perfection. I absolutely need conflict, which is why I am addicted to reality shows, i.e Basketball Wives. I hate perfection for one reason only: it is BORING. Who doesn't like to discover that the woman with the perfect home, family and job has a gargantuan pimple on her lip that may or may not be herpes?

As women we should stop setting impossible standards for our current (and potential) significant others. Prince Charming could very well be an asshole under all that armor.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Double Weakness

It's not often anymore that classes actually make you discuss issues that are actually relevant in your life, much less than material that actually makes you inquire and seek answers. In my Mass Media class, my teacher made a bold statement--one that even offended me a bit--that Black women are "two steps removed" from the hemogenic culture of America. That is to say, the "normal" American culture consists of middle class White males. Believe it or not, she said, many people think of a Blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy when they're asked to conjure up the image of the average American. This country does not identify with minorities, as far as our paradigms are concerned.

However, that's not even what I'm angry about. Being a Black woman (or a woman of any minority for that matter) used to be a thing of pride and beauty. Women represent the fertility and backbone of humankind; life sprang forth from her loins. The Black woman, strong, full figured and royal, now has been demeaned to being "two steps removed." This means Black women, as a whole, are pretty darn f*cked. The White man is the center of the Universe, the White woman and Black man are fighting for what's rest of the power, while the Black woman is left patting her weave and chasing ball players.

Gracious knows, these reality television shows don't help our cause. People who don't know enough about our culture to make judgements see Basketball Wives, Single Ladies, and Bad Girls Club...what do we expect their mindset to be? Many don't know that underneath the neck rolling, soul-food eating, big butt girl is a woman...desperately (although nonverbally) crying for help. Some Black women are entrepreneurs, wives, mothers, deaconesses, backbones, strongholds, superheroines. Not all are hoodrats and "bad girls."

Somewhere along the way we lost ourselves. Became weak in a world prided on strength and zeal. Our claim to fame became our breasts and thighs, no longer our faith and our minds. All too often White women and Black men claim their syndicated objectification. Most times, Black women don't even get that.

Time out, Basketball Wives.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Monotony of Monogamy

Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. They get married and live happily ever after. As rare as the "ever after" is (1 in 3 marriages end in divorce), the "happily" might be ever rarer. Men have been yelling at televisions, changing oil, and retreating into "man caves" for centuries. Apparently, they have also been circulating the addage that once you get married, the sex stops and all the excitement drains from the relationship. In fact, many men don't deem it as a relationship, but rather an imprisonment. So...why get married?

Many people who choose a long-term relationship do so simply because of the monotony of the damn thing. You wake up to the SAME person everyday, do the SAME rituals for years on end...until the "sameness" becomes absolutely and terrifyingly suffocating. However, some people get married for the same reason. There are those who find comfort in the familiar; they WANT and NEED to know what's going to happen every day. These people are encountering the same crippling fear, but on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Finally, there are the me. I love coming home to a routine: walk in the door, set down my keys, take off my on and so on. However, my ideal marriage where spontaneity is key. Let's go to the movies on a non-date night...let's go to a bar, have a drink, and just TALK. Communication, or lack thereof, ranks pretty high on the list of why marriages don't last. Even my husband putting down his distraction (whatever it may be at the time--I don't know--curing infant ducklings of the flu) and listening to me can be a form of "spontaneousness" in and of itself.

Contrary to what many men may thing, women are simple creatures. Be intimate. Protect and provide for us, despite our dismissal of your chivalry. For God's sake, compliment us without us fishing for it.

Give us a break from the boring.