Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Bad Name Pt. 2

See Pt. 1 here

So, of course, what black men think about black women and interracial dating is discussed ad nauseam. Still, I've got some more homework for you in preparation for what will hopefully be my next lecture, so to speak. Too many late nights this week with some big, boring textbooks just have me too exhausted to think about what I've been reading lately and comment on it/make points.

Now, this here is a discussion forum for blacks in which this guy includes an excerpt from an interview Wesley Snipes did in which he made rather typical comments, yet in, perhaps, one of the more cryptic ways I've ever see, about black women vs "other" women. Since his cut/paste of the excerpt didn't run all the way, I'm going to include the full discussion here below. Before I do, two points:

1) How many more times do I have to read someone butcher the spelling of the word "woman"?????? I mean, and this time in a magazine with professional editors!! Everytime I see mistakes in books, newspapers and magazines, I get pissed. Mainly because these are jobs I'd never be able to get but would certainly perform a lot better.

Okay, so that had nothing to do with the issue at hand, but still...! I just feel like, hey, we learned the difference between "woman" and "women" in the first grade, and now everyone in this country should be able to use the correct one. And don't even get me started on when I see it spelled in some really off-the-wall "wemon"...

2) The one quick observation that I don't need all my brain cells to make about all these discussions (which is good, since I currently don't have all my brain cells), other than the fact that these men are just being chauvinists, is that men seem to be consistently associating subservience, dependence and submissiveness with femininity. I find this incredibly interesting, mainly because I think that the men and women who participate in these discussions completely miss that this is something that they really are not agreeing on.

It actually really supports this idea that I once expressed on an AfterEllen discussion thread that, I think, had something to do with why black lesbians are always labelled "butch," which was that white women (and Asians and Latinas) are more feminine than black women in society by default, and not just when homosexuality enters the picture. I argued that the skin color, our body builds, the way we carry ourselves, our attitudes and perceived "attitudes," as well as the stereotypical images in society of good looks when one is dark only being associated with men ("tall, dark and handsome) vs good looks when one is light being associated with women (Snow White)...these are among some of the things that result in men immediately, without even knowing anything about a black woman, seeing her as lacking femininity or not being as feminine as "other" women. This also, I think, helps explain why we see more black men attracting women of all races vs black women's general inability to attract men of any race. In other words, black men can be hot; black women can't. Black men are dark, and that's fine...for them...but not for a woman.

A lot of discussions that happen between men and women, as I remember arguing in one of my posts this summer in relation to what men mean by "intelligent" in reference to women, consist of men defining common terms in a totally different way than women do. Here we are again, when it comes to definining what's feminine. Men define femininity the way women do and then some. To them, it's not just about looks, is the way I'm understanding it...not that it's all about looks to women, either. But men include characteristics of femininity that women today just would be unwilling to agree with. In fact, I think a lot of women would be with me in finding what many of these men on these forums seem to think of as feminine...appalling. And that's basically why I can't see why Asian women and white women don't find the way that many white and black men describe them--and, as a result, why many of these men approach them--as offensive.

Well, I wrote more than I thought I could. More coming soon, I promise. ;)

On the personal level, Snipes, a divorced father of a "precocious" 8-year-old son, Jelani, says he enjoys spending time with "spirited" women. "Either the hot-headed ones or the ones who just think they're divas," he explains. "I like them because they have spice and creativity. I like a woman who reads. I think a number of my relationships [ended] because she didn't read and we didn't have anything to talk about.... But I'm not into the ones who want to jump up and fight and get loud. That's not my flavor."
The Asian model and restaurateur he introduces as "my lady, Donna [Wong]" has been Snipes' companion for the past year and a half When asked if he dates Black women, he says: "Primarily all of my life I've dated Black women.... Oh, most definitely. Oh, my God. Mostly. But it just so happens that now I'm dating an Asian woman. It's different. Different energy, different spirit, but a nice person." He says he is not ready for marriage; nor is Donna. "She's got to learn to deal with the love scenes in the movies first," says Snipes as he chuckles. "Got to get to a place where it's very comfortable."
Wesley says he realizes that there are Black women still who get an attitude about Black men with Asian, White or Hispanic women. "I know we've all been hurt, and we're all very wounded," he says, addressing Black women. "We have to acknowledge that, both male and female, in the Black experience. We're a wounded people. And we want to possess and we want to own. We don't want to compromise. We feel like we've compromised enough. But in any relationship you have to compromise. There's no way around it. And I say to Black women also, Brothers who are very, very successful, or who have become somewhat successful, usually it's been at a great expense, unseen by the camera's eye...
"He doesn't want to come home to someone who's going to be mean and aggravating and unkind and who is going to be `please me, please me.' He doesn't want to come home to that. He doesn't want to come home to have a fight with someone who is supposed to be his helpmate. So it's very natural that he's going to turn to some place that's more compassionate....
You've worked hard and you deserve to come home to comforting. And usually a man who has that will appreciate it. Because I've never known one cat, all those cats I've hung out with and still hang out with, who found something that they really, really like and didn't go back to it. They all go back. It's very simple."

When asked for clarification, Snipes emphasizes that he is not saying that a Black woman can not be that type of woman a man wants to come home to. "Not at all," he declares. "Absolutely not. That's the point. I want to come home and I don't want to argue. I want to be pleasing, but if I ask you to get me a glass of water, you're going to say, `Them days is over.' please. Come on," Wesley says. "A man likes that. I don't know why. It's been that way forever. It makes him proud, you know, like when the guys come over and your lady comes out with a tray of food and says `I made this up for you.' And the guys are like, `Oh man, you've got a great women.' And the man says, `Yeah, I do.' A man will appreciate it when you're kind and when you're nice.
"For successful women, it's hard," he continues, obviously quite comfortable and articulate on the subject of relationships. "The competition is fierce. And if he's a man of success and power who happens to be handsome, of course you're not the only one who thinks he's handsome. But you don't have to punish him because of that once you get with him. Don't punish him because somebody else likes him."
Continuing with his openness, Snipes says he's had his heart broken more than once, and at times by Black women. "Most definitely. Most definitely," he says.