Monday, June 10, 2013

Reconstructing your femininity

It took me working in a school environment in rural England last year to understand how damaged black femininity can be from an early age.

The fact of the matter is that black women do not come under any sort of social protection so the only way older people have found to 'protect' black women is to clamp down on that aspect of black womanhood that would expose them to predatory males and this happens from an early age. In some cultures we hear of Breast ironing  which is essentially a means of removing a female characteristic that is seen to draw the attention of males with its attendant ramifications for the girl in question. Well something similar happens with blossoming young womanhood in black spaces in the West. Adults in very crude fashion, refuse girls their normal and natural female responses or self expressions so they dont become the target for predatory males. These adults may 'mean well' but the result is stifled expression of femininity, anxiety about aspects of being female, inability to respond with a carefree attitude to being a woman and being sought out for the functions of femaleness in society, and a general fraught attitude to those things that distinguish one as a woman.

Inability to connect freely with others

This whole issue of having a fraught relationship with ones femininity and being in a state of anxiety and tension with your very femaleness was highlighted to me one day while quick walking to the nearest train station to take me out of the area back into London. I fell into step with a Norwegian college student who proceeded to chit chat with me about everything and anything. Let me mention here, I was blown away by how naturally and freely she said hi and began to talk with me a stranger, confident, that I would respond and engage with her in a genuine and pleasant fashion. I wondered then, what kind of protective and caring environment would one have grown up in, that would enable them stretch out their hands to their society unflinchingly, and with every expectation of a positive and optimistic response. How often do I see young black girls peering at me from behind a book or etc, not having the 'freedom' and courage to strike up a conversation. It makes me feel sad that I am alienated from these young ladies.

Watching this young pleasant girl freely and unguardedly interact with me made me think on how white masculinity is restrained in such a way that to a great it extent allows white femininity to blossom, while on the other hand, unfettered and marauding masculinity is allowed in black spaces which means black femininity can often contract inwards. In fact anything less than marauding masculinity in black males is seen as a sign that 'the man' has neutered him! Am I saying that there are no wayward white boys causing damage to young women? No, but in white environments there is 'control' exerted on men to allow young females to be and do what young females do without damage.

Braggadocios femininity 'I can do it like a dude'

The likes of Jessie J tell us they can 'do it like a dude' and they go on to win accolades from the music industry. In fact a white girl mimicking 'rude gyals' from Jamaica is the surest route to fame these days, maybe because it contrasts so much with the category in which the white female is placed. But lets be sure about this, these women are being rewarded for their 'act'. Let's also not forget that white females are a protected specie and they can perform 'she-malism' without it tainting their femininity … yet!

Nothing is more off putting to me than brash young ladies, shouting and cursing and being harsh and unkind with each other. In our turned upside down society it seems that being harsh with friends and calling them unkind names in the full hearing of the public is suppose to endear you to them! 

Inability to flirt?

If you cannot engage with men on a level of flirting or if you feel anxious or afraid to be a woman with an interested man, then it might be that your femininity has been damaged. Some of us remember flirting with boys innocently only to have an elder, a big sister or parent twist our ear or make us feel that we had done the worst thing possible. Indeed we had committed a sordid act for which we should be ashamed. Often the feelings of 'wrongness' of flirting with men will always be lurking in the background for us and will possibly require 'therapy' and healing of some sort in many cases. But you know the funny thing, years later the same parents or elders that scarred you and damaged your natural reactions to men will be the ones to ask why you haven’t 'found a man' or settled down yet!

It took me being in a classroom where girls oozed girlishness without being crushed, slapped down or made to feel dirty to realize just how much damage is done to young black girls as soon as they exhibit behavior which is just natural for them as blossoming young women.

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E.N. said...

All I can do is clap at this post. I'm at a loss for comments and contributions, Halima, the last paragraph about how black girls are stifled in interacting with the opposite gender - and later reprimanded for staying away from the opposite gender just as they were told - really resonates with me. I feel like I'm playing catch-up now to build a family and life for myself, and find a mate, because this happened to me. I just really appreciate this post - I'm babbling, but I have no other words!

Ann Aria said...

WOW! I'm a long time lurker but his post has really hit home for me. I remember my mother getting really angry with my twin sister and I for hanging out with a mixed group of friends. Mixed as in boys and girls. We were fourteen years old at the time and the way our mother reacted you would have thought we had just told her we were pregnant. Yet all we did was spend time with our friends, SMH. At the time it totally stopped me from feeling comfortable around boys and later men. I'm doing much better now, but I've wasted an awful amount of time being ashamed and scared without really knowing why. Now I know my mother (and dad) probably meant well, but they just went about it the wrong way. I forgive them, but I keep my guard up when she wants to give me advice.
Thank you for all you do, your blog helps me to stay motivated to not hold myself back from living well.

ak said...

Halima thank you, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!! This is one of your best posts since the one about black girls and women and their relationships with their mothers.

Breast ironing?! I swear to you that until this post I'd never even heard of it, only the mortifying and devastating clitorodectomy and girls forced into marriage and giving birth from the ages of 11 or 12. But I tell you say 'The apple doesn't fall far from the tree'. At one time I did wonder if disregard, misogyny and extreme abuse and control of women really was brought over to the West from Africa by the black slaves themselves already and now I really feel that it has more and more.

I remember when I was a kid and I read a Vibe magazine article when the magazine was still rather new and some young black woman journalist mentioned a quote from (c)rapper Ice Cube stating that 'Black men learned how to be sexist from the white man's example and mistreatment during slavery' and even she at the time said 'Oh please!' basically and asked 'What about clitorodectomy, etc. in Africa that's still going on?'.

Yes Halima, black girls through to womanhood have the lovely, fluffy, frilly, pink and purple lighter-than-air and 'floating' sense that femninity can bring beaten, squashed, burnt and branded out of them from an early age from the larger, more significant and devastating larger scale from the horror stories based on truth that we've read on all the BWE websites for the past few years to even the smaller scales such as the thing black people have about telling black women and girls 'not to wear any makeup'.

I remember seeing and hearing black people tell black girls not to wear makeup because 'it doesn't look right' or 'it looks like you have something to hide' and even then as well as now I look back and I'm like 'Huh?'.

I know that I used to hear some black girls and women say that they can never find their colors in makeup ever, especially if they were dark but come on Fashion Fair makeup came out in the late 60s and by then Flori Roberts makeup already came out in the early 60s and I've seen footage of Grace Jones, Diana Ross and other black women during the 70s who are medium to dark to very dark wearing great makeup. So why did a lot of adult black women especially insist on going out so bare-faced without even lipstick on no matter where they went?

In the white suburbs in Florida before the 90s, even Revlon had great makeup wearable for black women except of course their foundations and powders so I can't see why some black women even to this day go out unfinished to this day when makeup brand choices are better than ever.

ak said...

I don't know about the 'meant well' business at all and I have to 'side eye' that one because as usual in the manner of the basis of the horror stories published on BWE blogs in the black constructs, the foot is hard on the neck of the black women to the point when she is pressured not even to stand up for herself and fight for justice (as in many unreported cases of sexual assault/rape) meanwhile the black men in the same constructs are as unrestrained in everything as a rocket being launched up into the air from Cape Canaveral! Even other black men get blasted and shamed for talking about black men and boys such as Bill Cosby and Obama during that Father's Day before he became President.

I just can't understand or see 'well-meaning', caring or empathetic (please...) people coming down like a ton of lead bricks all the time on those from the gender called 'the fairer sex', 'the weaker sex' or 'the gentler sex' while letting those from the other gender walk around and do absolutely EVERYTHING and ANYTHING and that's the gender built biologically to take the hits, cuts and bruises in life without help. Useless is a construct or 'community' that cannot reach out, help or protect the physically weakest and gentlest of their members!

Even one woman about to be stoned to death by typical one-sided bullies and hypocrites was ably defended by one lone man in the Bible named Jesus!

ak said...

On a newspaper website the other day, I saw a white woman state in regards to the recent devastating displays of girls being gang raped, drugged, recorded and published on Facebook, etc that 'It's unnatural to have one gender walk around in total and constant fear of members of the other gender all the time' and this is very true.

I've walked around in impoverished, totally black constructs before or been out to events or establishments surrounded by people from those constructs and there were times when black men and boys there had me feeling like a rape or a molestation was imminent regardless even though none had taken place because they NEVER read the body cues or face cues of black women in public social settings yet because black women are just always naturally 'miserable' or 'bitchy' or 'we all just like a lot of drama' and they ignore the word 'No'. They ignore the natural literal and physical sense of space, that people facing each other have while they are conversing that people also usually do NOT like having invaded, when they're conversing with black women and girls. They have you nose-to-nose and then it soon becomes 'octopus' time with more tentacles than a plate of calamari!

I've been attracted to parts of usually northern European culture of chivalry from men and gentle treatment of women especially in public yes even regardless of the slave history of my ancestors, yes I said it! Because being treated nicely, gently and with courtesy is highly appealing to me and I'm sure that a lot of white and Asian women would feel the same way I do! I've never been attracted to the more sexist, 'Me Tarzan, You Jane' machismo or macho bravado culture and ways found in the Latin/Mediterranean European culture really where men may come across as sexy or even romantic at times but they still want you handcuffed to the kitchen like their 'Mama'.

As a woman gets older and (hopefully) gains a more mature outlook on life and the people in her life for the most part, she looks past only the stunning, striking good looks of a man's face and body and eventually has to look at his ways which are obviously the most important aspects of any man if she wants a proper husband and father to her children, plain and simple.

ak said...

I remember my mother and even her friends who were also black Jamaican women telling me things when I was a pre-teen and a teen like 'If you marry a Jamaican man and you don't cook, he's gonna beat you'. Is it any wonder I've been on the hunt for a great and regular therapy session for the past few years?! What the hey??

Menawhile ever since, especially when feminism reared its head for the for the first time in the 70s, white women have been hating to cook, never cooking or really bad cooks and they've been married left, right and centre and even accumulate husbands in the manner of Liz Taylor and Joan Collins! LOL

A lot of black people just loathe black women and take it out on their womanhood, which is their natural state and birthright, in may different parts of the globe.

Then as Halima said in the West especially, these other black people wonder why you haven't settled down yet or why you're never dating or horribly wonder why 'you're not pregnant and had a baby yet' without marriage. And the famous 'black women just gotta be STRONG because a black woman can take anything and do anything and everything' yet 'black women are too emasculating, humiliating and won't submit and they're to blame for black men not being around'.

If harmless flirtation, natural conversation in public social settings with boys and men, physicality of women, adornment such as makeup, quiet soft-spoken manners, empathy etc. are banned among black girls and women do you really need Einstein to tell you that a black girl or woman may come across as more 'manly' than womanly?

In black constructs, black girls and women are turned against each other quite a bit from the grimacing side-eyes to the 'put up your dukes' business like Tyson v Holyfield is about to happen. And then sadly you have black women, in earnest, complaining and asking why black men, white people, etc. never see them as women and feminine in Western society compared to every other color of women?

It's so sad but naturally one thing leads to another so there's usually only one kind of outcome. Every other girl is allowed to be fluffy and frilly in her precious femininity well into and through womanhood among her own kind and other kinds of people except for a lot of black girls who have to snap out of the inclination to put on a frilly pink tutu by the age of nine or 10.

tiffany stanlofskin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ak said...

Regarding what Halima said 'The fact of the matter is that black women do not come under any sort of social protection' and I'm sure that a lot of black people may see things this way but what I want to ask is why do black people have to look for social protection from white Western society in order to protect black women and girls anyway in the first place?? Who told black people that that's the way it has to be? Why do black women and girls need the thumbs up and 'You're A-OK with us' acknowledgement from white mainstream society in order for them to be treated with consideration, dignity, respect and with a thought towards their safety and protection among other black people as well as non-black people?

Last time I checked this wasn't 1933 and Martin Luther King Jr is still dead so I don't see why or how black people cannot respectfully secure the protection of black women and girls without looking for some kind of permission or go-ahead.

I may be wrong but Asians and Latinos don't strike me as sets of people waiting for whites to give them the go-ahead to respect and protect their own women amd girls, particularly not the Mexican-Americans! Penalizing the softer gender while the tougher gender just runs rampant and roughshod over everything and everybody? And in THIS day and age WHO is forcing black people to keep things this way? Huh? I just don't get it...

In the US especially, the right to bear arms, the NRA and the whole 'Don't tread on me' flag business was set up especially for people to protect themselves and their families without the interference of the police and government or if the police and government's assistance was suddenly unavailable so something must be posdible to be worked out on black women and girls' behalf am I right?

ak said...

I've always been grateful for Khadija Nassif creating her two blogs and her book and one of the many good ideas that she'd mentioned in the past was to look on the website called 'The Art of Femininity' of which the creator of that website has created a newer sister website that's similar to that one.

The creator of those websites is a white born again Christian woman and to me anyway I'd say 85% of her websites have great ideas for any ladies reading this post who want to reclaim the aura and feeling of the natural birthright of their own femininity.

G said...

All I can say is, this post is an answer to prayer.