Who’s Afraid of a Strong, Black Woman?

I am one of those supposed loud, resilient, independent, successful, and unlovable Black women.

One of the women that white people praise for my backbone, my work ethic, and my consistency– and the woman that Black men avoid at all costs because girls like me cause too much trouble. What these men mistake for unruliness and combativeness is the refusal to be treated like dirt, the strength of character to not be dismissed, a woman who is on a mission to demand the respect I deserve.

I am woman whose resting facial expression is not a smile. It doesn’t mean that I am not a kind person; in fact, I’m actually an exceedingly compassionate person–I just don’t smile very much. I don’t laugh at things I don’t think are funny, a fact that threatens masculinity everywhere because we all know how much guys just love a girl who’ll laugh at their cornball jokes.

Fact is, I like a lot of things and so the list of things that can make me smile is long and plentiful. I actually have the sense of humor of a 12 year old boy, mostly because my father’s my best friend, and I inherited his goofiness.

But I will not laugh unless I think it is funny.

My resting facial expression is one of distant, mild disinterest, with steel in my gaze that hardens at the first mention of the joke that starts “Well, y’all women…” My facial expression is a reliable indicator of the type of sentiment that’s about to leave my mouth: usually an irritable, well-crafted retort in response to the misogynoir.

The other thing is I will clap back.

Do not expect to disrespect me publicly, embarrass me, or in any other way hurt my feelings and not receive a dissertation style dissection of the offending behavior. 

Drag me, and I will drag you back. Twice as hard.

I am woman, that between my engineering, technologically articulate, handyman father and my domestic mother, I have learned to accomplish, with varying degrees of success, how to be a home owner, the sole proprietor of my financial situation, how to take care of my car, my dog, and myself– all while being a decent enough cook that I never need to eat out unless I actually want a greasy plate of food from Cookout.

Masculinity tells our men that their job is to protect, provide for, please the mild, meek, weak women they choose as their life companions.

Femininity tells women that we can only be loved if we leave the man a little something to do. 

Well, as a sturdy woman of considerable height, I don’t need protection. I can provide for myself. I have hobbies and enough to fill my life with happiness and good will. I don’t need anyone to entertain me. 

I am neither mild, nor meek, nor weak.

I am one of those women Black men are told to avoid like the plague. 

A woman that is completely self sufficient and independent appears to be the biggest threat to masculinity I have encountered yet.

 What happens when a woman doesn’t need Prince Charming because she’s her own hero?

It’s a question of rethinking masculinity and femininity, rethinking these constrictive methods of understanding the world. So, I don’t need a Prince Charming– but what would be nice is a partner, someone who encourages me in my pursuits and then I, in turn, encourage him. An emotionally supportive and communicative companion. Listen, it’s not my job to try to figure out what’s wrong with my partner; I’m not a detective. Instead, hopefully, a relationship that’s founded in honest communication and the communal dissection of problems. 

These things are not guaranteed when guys still out here looking for unopinionated, pretty princesses.

Why are we afraid of a strong, Black woman?

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