There are times when I feel I am being too strong for a man, and so I try to weaken the parts of me that have grown outside the lines of a woman. I have tried to shrink myself small to make them feel taller. I have compromised everything about myself, my values, my faith, my needs-in hopes that less of me, the watered down version of me-will be easier for you to swallow. How could I, I mean how could they, ever be comfortable with me being so God damn comfortable, and they, they haven’t even measured up to half of what they said they would be, and still it is me who is not enough?
To be a woman, or particularly to just be me, a strong, vocal, out-of-line, type of woman- I have found that men will either react as intimidated or fascinated-neither emotion do I regard to as more suitable because I believe that all women are like me, but men silence them. Historically they have and presently they do-systemically and innocently- the by product of American culture. Because of men, because of patriarchy, women like myself have often shrunk ourselves to please men. When I stopped shrinking myself, when I stopped diluting myself, there was a realization. I found that I only fit well with women or with men who are secure within themselves, which is to say, I do not need to remind them that ‘I am mine before I am anyone else’s“, and I don’t need to remind them that I can be more than one thing: an intellectual woman, a spiritual woman, a sexual woman, a funny woman; I am so many different things, women are so many different things, and instead of us being celebrated, too often we are ridiculed and trivialized. I subconsciously seek out men who already have an ingrained femininity, and unconditional respect for women. This profound reverence needs to come with no restriction, because women do not come with restrictions.
My relationships, and experiences are my frame of reference for what I want in a partner. I have found that mostly everything I want is encompassed in maturity. It has become of trend for women to practice self-love, self-care, and all things ‘black girl magic’, and it is unfortunate that the same has not become popular for men. Women are more powerful now than ever. We are coming home to ourselves. We are re-claiming who we are and what we want, and we are unapologetic for it. I’ve never seen sisterhood so strong, I think, ever. Just the other day I was at the doctor and the girl behind the counter says to me ” how do you do your eyebrows?”. and I was like “Giiirlll”, and I proceeded to tell her how I do them, and before you know it, two other ladies are listening, and we’re in a freakin’ circle at the doctors office talking about eyebrows. I know it might sound insignificant to you, but it brought me so much joy to see women uplifting each other in real spaces, outside of social media. It is rare that I see another woman in passing and smile, and she does not smile back – whereas before the response may have been ” Is this b*tch tryna be cute?”. Maybe its only me having these experiences, I don’t know, but I do know that women are killing it, and I really need black men to meet us at the finish line.
-Back to My Point-
I feel like when I meet men my age there is this feeling I get, and the only way that I can describe it is by saying, “I feel like we are talking two different languages“; Not that I don’t know the language they’re speaking- yes, it is recognizable to me, but I don’t speak it anymore, and so when I speak- I feel uncomfortable in knowing that nothing I am saying is translating. It feels like I am always trying to get them to learn my language, and then its like “nah I don’t got the time”. So I had to ask myself, well, what can black men do to meet us at the finish line? I think it starts with a cognitive decision to resist the American culture of patriarchy, and more specifically letting go of the demeaning view of black women that is mentally infiltrated through Hip-Hop & Rap music (a strong influence that can affect perception) I feel strongly that the overt sexism and misogyny in the lyrics of Hip-Hop music has created a comfort and space for black men to mistreat black women in the defense of ‘black culture’ (that topic may be another blog). I just want black men to do the work in the same way that women have to do/ have done the work. Black women are big on self-care which is taking care of ourselves in a healthy way: physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. We know the resources to help ourselves- and too often, we ourselves, become a resource for men. Men need to be their own resource, in the way that we are.
I think I am going to conclude this by telling you what inspired me to write this. I was at brunch one day with some friends, and a friend-of-a-friend, was pretty tipsy, and she said to me “don’t settle”. She said it to me probably 35 times (okay maybe she was more than tipsy), and she kept saying it. And then she kept telling me how special I was, and how much I should never settle for anything or anyone (I think she knew that in my past relationship I was really settling, so it was like a “Girl” by Destiny’s Child kind of moment) .Long story short, she was really drilling it in my head, and now every time I’m out, or even in relationship conflicts, I see her face in my head saying “don’t settle“. I was inspired because I don’t tell that to myself enough, and I always find myself compromising myself for people when I’m dating, and in a previous relationship I was told that “I am never satisfied”, and I thought that was a bad thing. The truth is, it wasn’t that I wasn’t satisfied- it was that, what I was being given, wasn’t what I needed. Sure, expensive dinners, dates, and gifts are all nice, but if you’re cheating on me Monday-Friday, of course I’m not going to be satisfied. Now, I’m at a place where its like, I’m not guarded, but a relationship is no longer a priority for me. On the grocery list of things I want to accomplish, falling in love is finally at the bottom. I finally don’t care. I’ve seen too many women go through hell over relationships (like myself), and I always wonder what I could’ve done differently with that time and energy. Well, this year I’m about to find out!
Well said Lakota , im very glad you wrote this because there are so many lost girls out there settling for anything just to have a man. Cheating is being tolerable because of how much “ he tricks on her” , that is sad that this is now the reality. Often times women revamp themselves and practice self love and self care after a terrible break up and then we get to a point where we know our worth( so heartbreaks are needed sometimes in order to grow ) , you won’t tolerate anything less than that. I’m glad you’re there.
Thank you Kadijah! & yes, its unfortunate that our generation has these standards, and expectations that are so far from what they should be. I’m very thankful for learning this early!