Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Same Ol’ G.

When I was 17, I was around 20 pounds heavier. I had no sense of fashion. And my hair always looked as though I did it myself. I was never the smartest student in the class and outside of my small circle of friends, people rarely laughed at my jokes. My father didn’t allow me to date, so I really didn’t know any boys. And I was so awkwardly shy and afraid of looking stupid in front of others that I rarely spoke up in public. But, that was then. And this is now. You’re probably wondering if grew out of it. Yes. Yes, I did. The crazy thing is, even though I noticed the change (heck, I orchestrated it), I didn’t really think others did. It wasn’t until I joined Facebook and “friended” a bunch of my old classmates, when the realization finally hit me, “Wait, I wasn’t pretty in high school?” I wasn’t delusional. I knew that I wasn’t a beauty queen back then; but, comments on my Facebook wall like, “WOW! You look so great now!” really hit home. In fact, they kind of pissed me off and even hurt. When this first happened, I was forced to sit back and try to remember if I even really liked high school. And honestly, after spending hours on hours in contemplation, I can say, “No, I didn’t.” I must have blocked out the feelings of intimidation, humiliation and shame because my single father, couldn’t afford brand new Reeboks Classics and Polo dresses (Yes, that’s what people wore when I was in high school). I remember, being so afraid that people would notice that my Timberlands were fake or that my nails weren’t done, that I would sit in class in silence and pray that the class bully found someone else to clown that day. Yeah, high school was not the highlight of my life. But, that was then. And this is now. I’m thin. Make a salary that can afford nice clothes and the occasional over-priced pair of designer shoes. I’m an active member at the gym. And have grown accustomed to people referring to me as pretty. But, what I am most proud of is that outside of loving myself more, I really haven’t changed. I still love a bad joke. Have awkward moments and root for the underdog. In my mind, I was a pretty cool chick back then, because I accepted others, cared about school and had a good heart. And I work hard every day to make sure I stay that girl. Cornball and all. So, when people, in person or on Facebook, say how much I’ve changed, it makes me laugh because I know that I’m just fooling them all.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Too Trendy for Work?

What is appropriate work attire? How can one incorporate the latest trends into her work wardrobe, while still adhering to standard codes of dress?

Is it just me or has the American office completely missed two decades of women’s fashion? I mean, do people really expect women in their twenties to wear the same clothes as their 40 and 50 something year old counterparts? Who are you, 50 year old, overweight hag, to tell me that my outfit is inappropriate or “too trendy.” I’m sorry, I had to wear this because Macy’s stopped making your pumpkin-orange, floral, walking suit, ten years ago. Yes, I have on a grey and pink pin-striped, pencil skirt, a navy cardigan and (an awesome) pair of purple and blue suede peep toes. And yes, I may look more like a store mannequin than a Program Manager; but, I also look like a young, professional. This is how we dress and will continue to do so. So, get used to it; because retirement is around the corner and soon more of your colleagues and even bosses will look more like me and less like you.

On the right side of Time

We have all been that girl. The one that loved the boy, that didn’t love her back. Sure, he “liked” her a whole lot; but, for some reason, she just wasn’t “the one.” The girl, knowing this; but, convinced her love will change him, sticks it out, for way too long and for as long as she can. Until, she/he can’t take it anymore and the relationship falls apart. The girl leaves the “relationship” hurt, bruised, and perhaps a little wiser. She recovers. She is now stronger, smarter and ready for a new relationship. It’s not coming along. There is a serious man drought. She thinks, “Sheesh, this is why I stuck with (insert name) for so long.” She wonders what he’s up to. If he misses her. Nope. He’s already met someone else his “Ms. Right.” They’re getting married. It’s only been 3 months. Their engagement picture is on Facebook. How the hell did this happen?

Men say it over and over again. It all has to do with timing. They say it so much, that I even journey to believe that it’s true, in most cases. According to them, the process involved in going from “unready,” or “emotionally unavailable” can take place overnight. Most women find this very hard to believe. It has to be the woman. She’s doing something that the others didn’t do. She has an invisible “marriage material” sign on her forehead that only men can see. He says, “No.” She just arrived at the right time.

I have been on the wrong side of time at least twice. Met and dated some really great men; respectable brothers that I could see myself with. They liked me alot, perhaps even loved me; but, for various reasons related to “timing” (career, finance, other responsibilities), he/we just couldn’t make it gel. Timing always seemed to get in the way. It became the bane of my existence, my enemy, when all I wanted was to become was its friend. When could I ever get on the good/right side of time?
And what do we make of the women who are actually on time’s side? The ones dating and marrying the men we helped cultivate throughout the years? Are they merely beneficiaries of circumstance or do they have “something special?”

According to the timing theory, circumstance and proximity to the man play a huge part; however, I’d beg to take it a little further. Yes, timing plays a huge role; however, one could speculate that these women also have the “it” factor. “It” being, they are not you. Being with you for months/ years and you having given him your all, good and bad, has taught him exactly what he wants, as well as what he doesn’t want. She has arrived right at the point where he’s open to love; but, tired of the monotony and frustration of dealing with someone that he knows he can’t be with (you). Agree??

Note: No one wants to be the practice chick. But, what about the men? They obviously weren’t the ones for you. They were practice for you. Why can’t we accept that the right time for us, might not be the right time for him?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Blame it on “the Nice Guy”

According to my brother, there are no good women out there. As a fearless, funny and “fabulous sista,” I want to disagree with him. As a logical, discerned observer, I have to agree. There are no good women out there. We (yes, I must include myself) are all bad. Not, bad in the sense that we are the opposite of good; but, bad as in spoiled, ruined or damaged. “How so?,” you may ask. Well, chivalry is dead. Lil Wayne is the new IBM and Steve Harvey has us all running around trying to “think like a man”… (How can we learn to do that when we can’t even figure out what it means to think like women?). We are doomed. Ruined. Spoiled. Bad. After having been taught to swim in a sea of sharks, one has the tendency to be a little scarred. My bro is a good guy. “Mr. Nice Guy”. The one every “Bad woman” dreams about but doesn’t think truly exists. All he wants is a Good woman, one that will appreciate and return the love she truly deserves.

As a hysterical woman, I accept my inner “Bad girl.” She’s a little afraid, sometimes defensive and very angry. Not at Mr. Nice Guy; but, at all of the “Bad Boys” that she made bad decisions with out of good intentions. Unfortunately, those men are long gone. Never to return or even look back for that manner, so that just leaves poor Mr. Nice Guy to feel the wrath of our broken, bandaged; yet, unhealed hearts.

When my brother shares these thoughts with me, I simply look at him with the same pity and distain one has for a stray cat. You feel bad for it; but, not enough to take it home and care for it yourself. On the one hand, he’s a great guy, and any woman should be happy to have him; but, on the other hand, I’m a little angry with him for blaming his dating woes on us.

I find it amazing that if a woman dates a man she has no feelings for, leads him to believe that there is a future in the relationship, then uses him for his money that she is labeled everything from “gold-digger” to “whore.” However, if a man does the same thing to a woman, his motivation being sex, society turns around and blames the woman for her misjudgment, and, yet again, the “w-word” comes into place, because she should have practiced chastity. Double standard, much?

It’s not our fault his comrades were jerks and broke our hearts. In fact, it was his. Yes, his. When was the last time he stood up for the rights of women, or himself, for that manner, and declared an end to the mistreatment of women and the subsequent mistreatment of Nice Guys around the world? Never. He just sits back, watches his (Bad) boys seek and destroy. Never uttering a word. Never saying “Hey guys you’re wrong” or even “Yo bro, you’re messing this up for the rest of us.” His silence is their affirmation. Our pain is the consequence. And because of this, I can’t really sympathize.

I tell my brother that he has two options, one, start shopping the local middle schools for girls that have yet to experience the transformative pain of reckless abandonment or adjust his perception of what a good woman is. Of course, because he is good man and not a pervert, he goes for the latter. I explain that most Bad Women have the potential to be good again. That we just need someone that is good, honest and patient to show us the love and affection that we long disregarded as a figment of our imaginations. He nods; but, his eyes say “Damn, that sounds like a lot of work.” And I agree; it will be. But, that’s what it’s going to take. Well, that and when he does finally meet, care for and marry his “Ms. Right,” formerly known as “Madam Bad Girl #34,” that they have sons and raise them in their father’s likeness. God knows we could use more “Nice Guys” in the world.

I love my brother, he’s one of my best friends and one of the best men I’ve ever met. So, of course, I don’t blame him for the dating woes of me and my sisters. My accusations are in jest. However, I just wish that once or twice, someone would stand up for us, and say, “Don’t break my sister’s heart.”

Question. What do nice guys really think of the bad behavior their brothers exhibit? Does it bother them, as much as it does us, or do they think it’s our fault that we fall for the game?

Are You A Hysterical Woman?

Most women are completely oblivious to their hysteria. Unbeknownst to them, they are carriers of this detrimental disease and unfortunately, may pass this infliction onto their daughters. This, in turn, results in generations of hysterical women. Women rebelling, challenging all that society has worked hard to stifle. So, here’s a little test. If three or more of the following statements apply to you… You may be hysterical.

You want equal respect and consideration as any other person.
You want the spouse, the house, the kids and the career.
You like to push the envelope when it comes to office etiquette and dress.
You expect him to call when he says he will. (And you’re definitely hysterical if you call him on his mal-behavior when he finally does call three days later)
You cry when you’re sad, yell when you’re angry and ask questions when you want answers.
You like sex and don’t necessarily see the correlation between the act and love.
You don’t believe in holding your tongue.
You’ve been described as crazy by two or more of your ex boyfriends.
You expect to find a man that appreciates and loves you for yourself, not your representative.

Female hysteria is a common medical diagnosis, made exclusively in women, which is today rarely recognized by modern medical authorities as a medical disorder. Its diagnosis and treatment were routine for many hundreds of years in Western Europe. Hysteria was widely discussed in the medical literature of the 19th century. Women considered to be suffering from it exhibited a wide array of symptoms including faintness, nervousness, insomnia, fluid retention, heaviness in abdomen, muscle spasm, shortness of breath, irritability, loss of appetite for food or sex, and "a tendency to cause trouble". – Wikipedia
Are you a hysterical woman? If you are Black, female, fed-up and two seconds from snapping… You just might be. The term hysterical is often ascribed to women exhibiting behavior that is uncontrollable, controversial and/or unconventional. In the 19th century, the treatments for this disease varied from incarceration and forced feeding to “pelvic massage” (use your imagination). Today, symptoms include, being loud, enjoying sex and refusing to let a man convince you that being a lady means submitting to his will. Likewise, treatment remedies have evolved to include, watching “chick flicks,” marriage to “A Safe Guy,” or buying books that teach us how to think like men and keep our legs closed.

Most Black women, by today’s standards, can be described as hysterical. Our legacy dictates this. Harriet Tubman, Angela Davis, Alice Walker and even Oprah Winfrey, all hysterical, crazy for their ambition and for having the audacity to want more than what others felt they deserved. Common terms used to describe hysterical women include the following, Crazy, Whore, Feminist/Womanist, Lesbian and of course, Bitch. Everywhere we turn, we are faced with images and other propaganda designed to “cure” our hysteria. Last year, national media went frenzy with stories of our single-dom. Reporting that we are the most undesirable, and un-marriable women on the planet and that it was all our own faults because we emasculated men with our pickiness, education and high incomes. Sensational much?

I often find myself on the receiving end of the term. People, men and women alike, stare with confusion at my wild mane, choices in attire and rebellious tongue. I say, if hysterical means following in the footsteps of pioneers, trendsetters and revolutionaries, that is what I’ll be. And I encourage all of you to follow suit. I recently announced to my friends and family that I may not ever want to get married or have children. I’d be perfectly happy if my life revolved around travel, writing, teaching, friends and family. They gladly dismissed these statements as bouts of hysteria, most likely caused by a broken heart or my menstrual cycle. I, on the other hand, felt great about the decision. In my opinion, moping around in stagnation, waiting for some man to marry me and “make my life,” is hysterical.

As Black women, we have two choices. You’re either a lady or a whore. Unlike our white counterparts, our purity and femininity is not a given. We have to earn or prove that we deserve the respect their men lynched our men in protection of. Therefore, we sometimes go too far, or too right, in our attempt to conform. But, by nature we are the mothers of hysteria. We were starting wars and ruling kingdoms before Helen (of Troy) or Elizabeth (Queen of England). Their rules and standards don’t apply to us. So, the next time your neighbor, boyfriend or boss calls you crazy, calmly reply, “I’m not crazy, I’m hysterical.”