Wednesday, March 30, 2011

An EBW is NOT a Strong Independent Black Woman

Today I am posting a video that perfectly explains the reasons why Black women are doing themselves a disservice by calling themselves "Strong Independent Black Women" (see my earlier post about Black women needing to change the way we define ourselves). This term has become associated with negative traits like 'neck-rolling', being loud, demanding, controlling, argumentative, and masculine. We need to stop using this term and just try to be the best women we can be without the labels.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Misleading Statistics About Black Women

We have all heard the misleading statistics about Black women that the media has been feasting on for the past few years. I have only heard these statistics for African American women (I'm Canadian) and I don't even know if studies like this exist in Canada (I'll have to look around). Here are some widely spread statistics and why reporting them is VERY misleading.

  • 70% of Black women are single: This statistic has been awful for Black women and has started a finger-pointing war between Black men and women trying to explain the cause. The problem with this statistic is that it includes lesbian women who often can not get married, common-law relationships, women with boyfriends, women who are engaged, women who are divorced, women who are widowed, and women who do not want to be married right now! It is highly inflated! The media has spun this into a PROBLEM with Black women, Black men, and the Black community that requires individuals to change. It has caused widespread criticism of Black women who focused on their careers and degrees causing them to panic that they will never be married. This Oprah Video focuses on why women are single not the validity of the statistic and was a bad move on Oprah's part! Here is a Great Video Critique of this statistic(warning foul language).
  • 42% of Black women have never been married compared to 23% of White women: 42% unmarried is better than the 70% single statistic, but the way it has been reported is just as problematic (for instance in this Nightline Report and B-NET). First of all, they only report the statistic when compared to White women! If they were honest they would also report that 41% of Black men have never been married and Black women tend to marry Black men! Based on this it just seems Black people deciding to stay unmarried. Instead, the media has focused on the unavailability of Black men who are the equals to successful Black women (and they never forget to report their unemployment rates, incarceration rates, and high school drop out rates). On the other hand, Black men have focused on criticizing Black women for their independence, dating standards, femininity, weight, hair, and attitude and all the reasons why they think other races of women are better. Watch this Great Video Commentary about this statistic (warning there is foul language).
    • Why doesn't the media report how many of those White marriages were young, starter marriages that have ended in divorce? Is it better to rush into a marriage that is uncertain or wait until an older age when one's life is more stable? What about reporting how many times White women marry compared to Black women? That could show White women tend to marry younger and multiple times (like Elizabeth Taylor) while Black women wait and only have to marry once or twice. Does the number of times you marry really show how desirable you are or do these women just demand it more or find men who rush into things the same way they do?
  • 70% of African American children are born our of wedlock: The biggest problem with this statistic is that people have used it as a criticism of single mothers (read this critique from The Atlantic and P.a.p.-Blog). The statistic does not explain if many of these babies are born to TWO loving parents who just happen to not be married. If you look at the 42% statistic above that shows Black couples are not getting married, then the babies they have will be out of wedlock. But this doesn't mean the father is not around, the mother was irresponsible, or the baby wasn't planned! Married Black women are also having fewer kids and this inflates the statistic. This statistic is problematic because it is a snapshot in time. It does not account for the many couples who get pregnant and decide to have a wedding after the birth (often when the woman is happier with her weight). White couples tend to marry more, fewer of their children are born out of wedlock, and maybe more of them rush to marry before the baby is born. This is not to say that there are some Black men who are not caring for their children, but this statistic does not identify the role of the father in the child's life. BlackVoices uses this to point at unwed Black mothers and reports some disturbing statistics (but I think they can all be explained by poverty and they are also misleading) and BNET provides opinion about American absentee fathers.
  • Black women are the least desirable on online dating sites: This ridiculous finding has been reported but it is based on OkCupid, one online site, where 74% of the members are White! So if you join this site, you are likely looking for a White partner. If you wanted someone Black you would go to a Black dating site! This article from the Freakonomics Webiste (where they should know better) and ReadWriteWeb repeat the mantra that Black women can't find a partner. Read THIS ARTICLE for an interesting analysis of the data that changes the results. Furthermore, there is no objective rating of the actual attractiveness of the profiles. It could just be that the Black women on OKCupid are not physically attractive or their profiles are bad, but you can not generalize that ALL Black women are unattractive! It also doesn't mention how quickly members respond because maybe Black women take their time. Asian and White girls may respond quickly and frequently send flirty messages while Black women do not. Maybe men only send messages to women they think they can actually get and I have heard even average White men have no problem attracting Asian women but I have not heard the same for Black women. But above all this, no one ASKED the members why they chose to respond to some people over others because that is the only way you will know if it was due to attractiveness and not something else. You can not generalize the attractiveness of millions of Black women based on ONE online dating site were most members are White!
I hope that after reading this post some Black women feel better about themselves and have a more discerning eye when it comes to these statistics. The media is not a friend to Black women or Black people in general and they love to make us look bad. They will stop reporting things like this if we stop reading these articles and commenting on them! 

EBWs Must Change the Words they use to Define Themselves

The way you define yourself will determine how others define you. This also includes the way you define yourself in your own head because that affects the way you carry yourself. The words you speak will have the same effect. These are some things we must stop saying immediately because they are not helping us and they have developed negative connotations.

  • Don't call yourself independent. You can be independent and enjoy it, and you don't have to call yourself needy; just don't use the word. If you use this term men will think you do not need them and they will not seek relationships with you. Friends, family, and coworkers may be reluctant to offer help when you are struggling. You will find it hard to ask for help if you actually need it to make your life easier. You may have used this term to avoid getting hurt,  but you are setting yourself up to be alone when that is not what you really want.  NEVER say you don't need a man or anyone else in your life or that is exactly what you will get! People might also assume that you have been single for a long time or you are a loner and these things are turn-offs. This term will help your resume but not your love life. 
  • Don't call yourself strong. This term is related to independent in it's negative connotations. I've even heard men online voicing their disdain for "Strong Black Women". Why label yourself with something that can be an instant turn-off? Being strong has masculine connotations and men you date and others may treat you harshly because they think you can take it. Because you are so strong they won't bother to treat you like the delicate flower you are. You can be strong and keep your head up no matter what misfortunes you encounter, just don't go around telling people you are strong or weak. Use other terms to describe yourself. Furthermore, if you describe yourself as strong they may assume you have had a hard life and many people avoid those with "baggage". In fact, online this term seems to be synonymous with "single Black mother". 
  • Don't call yourself a diva. Nowadays I only hear this term used by Black women or the media when referring to pop stars who are impossible to please. If you call yourself a diva men will run because they will assume you have an attitude, you have temper tantrums, you will never be satisfied, you have impossible standards, and you lead an exorbitant lifestyle that they can not afford. The reputation of the  "angry Black woman" has been spread around the world and it needs to stop!  A diva is a nice way to say b**** but it means the same thing! Don't go around calling yourself b**** either by the way.
  • Don't call yourself "hood", "street", "ghetto", or "ghettofabulous". These terms will only be attractive to other people who describe themselves in the same way. These terms are not attractive to gentlemen, professional people, or people who do not want drama or the negative things associated with the "hood". It doesn't matter if you grew up poor in a bad neighborhood, it just doesn't help you to advertise it. Be proud of what you have done with your life but don't give others any reason to discriminate against you. 
If you have screen names or you are online dating, do not use these terms in your screen name or your profiles if you want to attract a gentleman who is worthy of you. Think about the way women of other races describe themselves. Would a kawaii Japanese woman describe herself as independent, strong, a diva, or ghetto? Never! Think about your positive, feminine qualities and use them to describe yourself and refer to yourself in your own mind and try to live up to the labels. The way we think about ourselves has a definite effect on the way we behave and the way others treat us. Changing the way you define yourself is like an instant makeover!

P.S. I could also use feminist to this list because that scares men off like the plague. But as I said in an earlier post, you can believe in women's rights and strive to uphold them, but you don't have to label yourself a feminist to do so. I find that some people will shut themselves off to whatever you say if you use this term so it's counterproductive.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Elegance of Claire Huxtable


Did you read "Whatever Happened to Class?" on Blackvoices? The article refers to the Real Housewives of Atlanta, Nene Leakes, Basketball Wives and other reality shows that are devoid of classy women. Yes, the Black women on these shows have money, and they dress well, but their behaviour is no where near classy or becoming of an EBW.

The article made me think about Black female characters who are (or were) classy and their perfect example was Claire Huxtable of the Cosby Show played by the beautiful Phylicia Rashad. Just take a look at this woman! On the Cosby show she was always classy, feminine, graceful, poised, and elegant. She was educated, had a job as a lawyer, and she was a dedicated wife and mother. She was a superwoman! Claire Huxtable showed strength and composure but she was also fun. She was very sexy while showing modesty in her dress. I recently saw her in the the movie "For Colored Girls" and she still exudes elegance. You may also want to read this article about Claire Huxtable as the "perfect woman".

I know, I know, the Cosby Show was fictional and no one really had such a great life like that, but that show provided much better role models than today's reality trash shows. The class and elegance Phylicia Rashad showed also appears to be genuine. Really, do Black women on today's reality shows inspire you to be a good person, get an education, or work hard? Or do they inspire you to be a golddigger, marry a rich athlete, and then use his money to start a fashion line or write a book? Do you think today's reality shows are helping our image around the world? I don't. From now on I'm going to strive to be like Claire Huxtable even though that's fairly impossible, I'm still going to try (before I do something I might even ask myself, "What would Clair Huxtable do?" wink). I think that we can all strive to be more like Claire Huxtable and less like Nene Leakes!

I'll leave you with a quote from the article: 
Class was once considered the essential attribute of womanhood, particularly in African-American communities where your racial background already marked you at a lower social standing and status in society. 


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Should an Elegant Black Woman be Able to Cook?

"A good cook is a sorceress who dispenses happiness." Elsa Schiapirelli

"Some people like to paint pictures, or do gardening, or build a boat in the basement. Other people get a tremendous pleasure out of the kitchen, because cooking is just as creative and imaginative an activity as drawing, or wood carving, or music." Julia Child

"Cooking is at once child's play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love." Craig Claiborne, Kitchen Primer
"Cooking is an art and patience a virtue... Careful shopping, fresh ingredients and an unhurried approach are nearly all you need. There is one more thing - love. Love for food and love for those you invite to your table. With a combination of these things you can be an artist - not perhaps in the representational style of a Dutch master, but rather more like Gauguin, the na├»ve, or Van Gogh, the impressionist. Plates or pictures of sunshine taste of happiness and love." Keith Floyd, ‘A Feast of Floyd’
Since starting this blog I have changed my thoughts about cooking. For years I dreaded the thought of being "barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen"; I reasoned that if I didn't cook well then that would never happen. I also thought that if I could cook well then my man would require it all the time. Well, I don't plan to be a housewife and I don't plan to cook all the time...so should I learn anyway? I should add that I can cook for myself, but I like plain, healthy meals with low salt and fat, but I don't tend to do recipes and make big meals. So I don't think I cook things that most people (who are not watching their weight) would like.

I realize now that there are good reasons to learn how to cook:
  1. Cooking your own food will lower your risk for obesity. Restaurant portions are too big and the food is full of calories, salt, sugar, and fat. Eating out, especially at fast food restaurants, is a health risk (anyone remember "Supersize Me"). You need to be in control of the calories you consume and stick to the recommended serving sizes. If you prepare your own food then you can keep your meals healthy and keep your family healthy.
  2. Cooking your own food will save you money. Eating out and buying ready-made meals at the supermarket is expensive. If you purchase the individual ingredients and make your own meals you will save money and you will be able to make multiple meals with the same ingredients.
  3. Cooking your own food will limit your exposure to preservatives and bad ingredients. Fast food and processed foods are full of preservatives like nitrates that are bad for your health. Some high sugar processed foods can actually be addictive. Fortunately, you can buy organic or unprocessed foods at the supermarket.
  4. Cooking your own food can be a fun hobby. Cooking well is a skill that is valuable in women AND men. It takes talent and knowledge. Learning and trying new recipes can be a fun and creative diversion. If you are watching your weight it can also change your relationship with food so that you focus on cooking rather than eating. No one complains about anyone being too good a cook!
  5. Cooking is a way to show others you care. If you cook great meals then your man and your kids will be happy to come home. They will be excited when holiday dinners and special occasions come around. You can keep your family close by preparing delicious meals together, sitting down at the table, and talking about your day. This is a great way for parents to spend more quality time with their kids. If you are a good cook, your extended family and friends will love coming over for holidays and dinner parties and you can impress them with your skills. Even your mother-in-law might like you!
  6. Cooking makes you more attractive to men. We have all heard that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach so why not use that to make yourself more attractive? Many men list 'ability to cook' as an attractive quality in a woman (women appreciate a man who can cook too). Some women don't learn to cook because it is a traditional feminine role. But love of food is universal and you will be enjoying the meal too!  Plus, I am not saying you need to make a four-course meal every night. Perhaps you and your man (and your kids) can spend quality time preparing meals together so that he is involved in the work and does not expect you to do everything. The rest of the family should also help with the cleaning. You can also prepare most of the basic ingredients on the weekend (meat, rice, chopped vegetables etc.), and just heat or cook things together quickly during the week to save time. Cooking for an hour or less per night is adequate and there are cookbooks with quick recipes to give you ideas.
I have decided that once I get a stove and oven I will try out recipes and improve my cooking skills. I will use online healthy recipes and try new things. I think cooking is an asset that is necessary to maintain your health and it is so very attractive and delicious too!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Blog Review - Be Exquisite Part II

This is Part 2 of my review of the beautiful and elegant Be Exquisite blog! I started the review from page 26 to page 16. Part 1 can be read HERE. Part 2 will be about the many random thoughts and questions that popped into my head while reading her blog (that are likely to inspire future posts). Really, they are just ramblings that will probably tell you more about me than the actual blog! I will review the rest of the blog in a future post. 


These are the Thoughts that Popped into my Head as I Read this Interesting Blog

Changing Yourself: 
  • As I read through the blog I kept asking myself "is this all fake"?. Is the elegance we see in Michelle Obama her true self? Did she not receive some sort of teaching and coaching? If so, then some or us were taught early but it's still possible for some of us to be taught later. Eventually, practicing what we learn will become habit and our true selves. It isn't a natural way to behave but it can become natural.
  • Are people allowed to change? Should we not improve ourselves? Rude is rude, obnoxious is obnoxious, why accept that your true self is an obnoxious oaf?
  • Is it wrong to improve yourself to get a man? People do it to get a job and a man is more important than a job. It's a give and take. You become a better woman in order to get a better man. If you are a poorly-mannered woman then you will end up with a poorly-mannered man. Being well mannered is being nice and not offending others and I think those are good goals.
  • Is it wrong to change if your man asks you to? On YouTube men have put out mean videos criticizing Black women and of course, when we are attacked we become defensive. But what if they asked in a nice way, or if it was your man who you actually loved. Would you change for him? Some will state that he should accept you exactly the way you are. But let me give you an example, suppose you have a habit of burping at the table and your man asks you to stop doing this. Would you say "no, burping at the table is who I am and you have to accept that or we are through." Yes it is trivial. To some, this whole blog is trivial, but it's this trivial thing that is hurting Black women's reputation around the world! So based on the negative consequences of these trivial actions, why not just fix the problem so that we can move on to more important things! By the way these Black women bashing videos are being pumped out by Black men you would think this is the biggest problem facing the Black community so let's quickly fix this problem so we can focus on the real issues!
Sensuality, Beauty and Dress:
  • I liked her advice about how to keep nails filed and using cuticle cream. Simple things can make a big difference.
  • Jackie made a post about being pleasurable to the senses (i.e., sensuous). This made me think about products for relaxed hair. They don't smell good at all. I wonder if this has had a negative effect on Black women's reputation. Do people think our relaxed hair smells bad? Natural hair products smell much better and are better for the hair. We should all make the switch because smelly hair is unacceptable.
  • I liked her advice about trying to look like a goddess. Strive for that.
  • I never got into aromatherapy. I thought it was bogus, new age, nonsense. Maybe I should give it another look if it is pleasurable to the senses. I do have essential oils that I use for their properties but I don't use anything for aromatherapy purposes.
  • I think those people on "What Not to Wear" need to learn some vocabulary from Jackie because all they talk about is "sophisticated" and "sexy". Aren't there other things women can aim for when they choose an outfit?
  • I wonder what it means to "dress Black" or "dress White?" If I wear feminine, sensuous (not sexy) clothes, that are not revealing, and not hip hop inspired, then would people say that is dressing White?
  • This blog has posts about flowers. Do I like flowers? I think you spend money on them and they just die. I would prefer spending money once on fake flowers that last forever. I guess they look nice...I noticed that most of my dresses have some sort of abstract flower design on them. I guess I do like flowers :) Plus, if a man gave them to me I would feel great...maybe I love flowers!
Dating and Marriage:
  • I am a smart woman and well-mannered. Men are criticizing other women for being loud and having attitudes.  So, if I become even more well-mannered I will have my pick of men! Since there are not enough men to go around, self-improvement sounds like a good idea.
  • Men like women for their differences in mannerisms and appearance. But I think I would get along best if the man has values that are similar to my own.
  • Do we really want androgyny? Do we want women to look and act like men and do we want men to look and act like women? I think women are most beautiful when they look and act like feminine ladies (e.g., on their wedding day in a beautiful gown). I think some men actually need to tone down the aggression and clean themselves up. That rugged, mountain man, thug, angry at the world, ill-fitting clothes look is entirely unattractive to me. Give me a clean-cut man in a three-piece suit and I swoon! I prefer men who are cute an sweet, maybe even a pretty-boy if I'm lucky :)
  • I think a woman has to act like a lady in order to get a chivalrous man. I don't find chivalry demeaning, I love it! Growing up, due to feminism I thought that if something was traditionally feminine then I had to reject it! I didn't let men open doors, I carried my own heavy bags, I refused to learn how to cook, and I refused to wear dresses and skirts. Now I think the exact opposite! So we can change! 
  • There is a great post on chivalry. If a man doesn't act chivalrous towards you, does he really care about you? Never curse and your man should never curse in front of you. I don't like listening to music with cursing and way too many songs have that now.
  • Great quote "Get to know two things about a man--how he earns his money and how he spends it--and you have the clue to his character, for you have a searchlight that shows up the innermost recesses of his soul. You know all you need to know about his standards, his motives, his driving desires, and his real religion." Robert J. McCracken.
  • I think that within the first three dates women should find out if their date believes in marriage. If he doesn't then you should stop seeing him otherwise you will be wasting your time trying to change his mind. If a man can definitively say he will never get married or does not believe in marriage, take him at his word and move on.
  • I looked at her Recipe Challenge #10 and I had the vision of coming home with groceries and smiling at my husband. He asked why I was smiling and I told him I was making a special dessert. He smiled and looked excited. I think I would really like it if that happened. Seriously ladies, if you can get a guy to prefer you over other women but learning how to cook then why wouldn't you? You don't have to do it all the time and he can help you. Really think about all the expensive clothes and trips to the salon you spend money on to look attractive. Maybe you should spend that money on learning how to cook instead.
Posture and Grace: 
  • There was a great post about how to sit with grace. What was amazing to me was that I was already sitting that way! I remember being at meetings where every woman in the room had their legs crossed at the knee and I was the only one sitting with my knees together and my legs crossed at the ankles. I actually worried that was sitting improperly. I don't cross my legs because sometimes my skirt rides up and it really hurts my knees when I do it. 
  • The blog has a post about posture. Luckily my posture is quite good. I spent two years sitting on a balance ball instead of a desk chair. My abs are tight now, and I can stand up straight. I can check that one off my list.
  • The blog has a few posts about ballet. I am not a fan of ballet...but they are graceful though.
Miscellaneous Thoughts:
  • Jackie, the writer of this blog, writes very well and she is definitely well educated. I like the brief lessons and some posts are just images of art and I like those too.
  • Jackie appears to be religious and I think that 100% of the blogs on this topic were by religious women too. What does that mean? In modern times are religious women more well mannered than atheists or agnostics? Are some of these rules of etiquette and deportment based on the Bible? What benefit would an agnostic get out of reading the Bible?
  • I wish comments were allowed on more of the older posts.
  • This blog introduced me to singer Amel Larrieux. I have never heard of her but I liked her song called "For Real. Very nice :) I think listing to all that negative hip hop has probably had a negative effect on the Black community. Hip hop is the opposite of feminine and it definitely is not sensuous or soothing. All of that foul language and derogatory language is the way some people speak all the time now.
  • I really liked the post about How to Be Perfectly Miserable . 
  • I think this would be a nice blog to give to her daughter. I hope she saves it.
  • I admit, I have to work on my discretion. I was really embarrassed two years ago by being too open. In fact, this has been a big problem ever since high school. 
  • I skipped over the recipes because I'm not in the position to deal with that right now (low funds, no oven or stove right now).
So that's the end of Part II of my review of Be Exquisite. Just reading this blog put so many ideas and questions into my head. Things I never really thought about before I decided to become an EBW. Maybe this blog will change you too :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

An Elegant Black Woman Speaks Well and Defies the Stereotypes

Is speaking well and sounding educated ever a bad thing? To some people in the Black community it can be. Some people have the belief that speaking well means you are trying to "act White". Because of this, Black people who did well in school, have a good command of the English language, or grew up in predominantly White areas are often accused of "acting White". Who convinced some of us that speaking a language the best you can means you are trying to be something you are not? Who told these people that using slang and poor grammar, that most people can not understand, is being true to your blackness? Someone must have tricked these people! Maybe it was the same geniuses who thought we could "take back" the n-word by using it in every sentence or as a term of endearment!

We all know that there is a negative stereotype that Black people are not smart and speaking poorly just confirms that stereotype! People who don't like us made up prejudiced lies about us and some people are embracing them as the truth and aspirations we should live up to! You are just hurting yourself by conforming to stereotypes and you are dragging us all down. I think that we have to reinvent what it means to "act Black" because today's definition is hurting us. Here are some things I would call "acting Black".

  • Acting Black is about risking everything to get an education. I think we all have to remember those hardworking courageous people like the Little Rock 9 who risked their lives to get an education. Think about all the great thinkers like W.E.B. Dubois, Percy Julian, and even Frederick Douglas who fought for their educations when the powers that be wanted to keep them ignorant and out of their schools. 
  • Acting Black is about writing and speaking well. Think about the great speech makers like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, and even President Barack Obama? Acting Black is about writing and speaking well and inspiring your people to do better.
  • Acting Black is about political activity and activism. Think about the Civil Rights Movement and all of the great activists who fought for equality. They had to be good communicators so that they could inspire the masses and convince those in power about the error of their ways. Use your energy to make positive changes in the world. Vote and get involved!
  • Acting Black is about defying the odds. Read some Black history and look for current news about Black people who have defied the odds. People who are unintelligent and ignorant do not become astronauts, they do not have multiple patents, they are not valedictorians, and they are not CEOs. Being Black is about disproving the stereotypes and doing things no one ever thought you could.
  • Acting Black is about being on your best behaviour but not denying your heritage. We can be on our best behaviour and still be Black. Think about the Obamas, Oprah Winfrey, and Nelson Mandela. None of these people deny their heritage, but they carry themselves with dignity. They don't feel the need to act ghetto even though they were not wealthy growing up. Acting Black does not mean acting ghetto! Furthermore, many Black people are not from the ghetto so why should they pretend to be something they are not? The way you grew up does not have to determine how you act now, you can always improve. 
I hope that this post has inspired you to improve yourself and defy the stereotypes that have plagued us. Acting ignorant is never a good thing and good behaviour, speaking well, and being educated IS "acting Black" and don't let anyone convince you otherwise. If you need help improving the way you express yourself there are many resources online, books, DVDs, and speech making clubs like Toastmasters. You can always improve yourself! I am making a vow today to never swear out loud, never use slang, and use proper grammar at all times! I will always speak at my best.

Here are some online resources that can help you with your enunciation and diction:
Beastly Pronunciations (words we tend to mispronounce)
Tongue Twisters (extensive)

Here are some links about "acting Black":
What is Acting Black?
Acting Your Race (interesting but I disagree with some points)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The F-Word: Who Wants to be a Feminist?

Last night I happened to see a CBC documentary called "The F-Word: Who Wants to be a Feminist?" (visit the link to watch the documentary or read about it). This came at the right time because I have been thinking a lot about whether I am a feminist or not, whether some of the things I'm doing are sexist or anti-feminist, and whether I really know what feminism is. The documentary explores the reason why so many women today don't call themselves feminists and the history of the movement. The film explains that women make up over half of the workforce and university students, but they still earn less than men and hold few high power positions (e.g., in business and politics). It was quite informative for me.

I prefer calling myself a humanist and saying that I believe in inalienable human rights including the rights of women (a good way to avoid being criticized by men). I am anti-sexist. One reason why I don't want to call myself a feminist is because I have never actually read a feminist book by one of the famous authors and I have never taken a course. So I don't not want to claim I believe something I really don't know much about. Young North American women today have grown up in world with a lot of anti-sexist rules already in place. Many young women can tell when something is sexist or when we are being treated differently from men, and we protest when these things happen and we don't have to call ourselves feminists to do so.

I think things online have painted a negative picture of feminism for me but I don't know if these things actually came from feminist writers of if they are misinterpretations by men who are opposed to women's rights. So here are some of the negative things I have heard:
  1. Feminism was created by White women and was never intended to include Black women (my belief in this is 9/10). When the women's rights movement began and they wanted the right to vote, they only wanted it for White women. They wanted the right to work outside of the home because they thought that work was beneath them. However they had no problem giving that work to Black women. (You can note that in the documentary there were no Black feminists interviewed). 
  2. Black women were excluded from feminist meetings and their rights were not discussed (my belief in this is 9/10). Until recently, many feminists denied that they could actually be racist because they are an oppressed group. They claimed Black women were oppressed only by White and Black men. In response to that Black women created "Womanist" groups to fight for their rights. Today there are some anti-racist feminists who acknowledge that White women can be racist and other ethnic groups need to be included. (Click the LINK to read an article about how feminists have been silent about Michelle Obama)
  3. The things that White feminists wanted were not desired by Black women (my belief in this is 4/10). Black women in North America have always had to work because Black people could only get low-paying jobs and needed two incomes. They did not have the option that many White women had to stay home and look after the house and kids. The reason why I don't believe this argument very much is because I think Black women like having the right to vote and work and this keeps us out of poverty and social assistance, they don't want to be discriminated against based on gender, and they don't want men to be able to hurt them with no repercussions. These are things that feminists fought for.
  4. Black feminism has destroyed the Black community (my belief in this is 1/10). Nowadays, many Black people are complaining that our kids are not being cared for enough because Black parents are not spending enough time at home with the kids. Some are saying that if Black women did not focus so much on their careers, our children, and by extension our communities, would be better.  I don't believe this because if Black women have always been working something else must be contributing to the problems, because things haven't always been this way. Some say it's because men are not in the home, but if that was the case, children who grow up without fathers in all races would have similar problems but they do not. Many men spend months away from the home or spend little time with the kids, but their kids turn out fine. Remember, in the past it was Black female slaves who spent the most time with wealthy American White children, and those kids maintained their high status. 
  5. Acting like stereotypical feminists has caused Black women to lose their femininity (my belief in this is 10/10). Note, that I wrote "acting like stereoptypical feminists" not about thinking or having the same beliefs. I think that women can believe in women's rights without acting like men. The stereotypical feminist rejects feminine clothing, hair, makeup, and traditionally feminine activities and behaviours (i.e., believes that looking  and acting like a female is weak or irrational). She acts like a man and wants to do everything that men do (e.g., arguing, being loud, physically fighting, swearing etc.). This is a stereotype of course, but some Black women are acting according to the stereotype!  For the last 500 years Black women have often been treated like men by society and their femininity was ignored or denied. White women are still held up as the standard for feminine beauty and behaviour even though some of them purposefully act like men. Black women have not been allowed to get away with the same behaviour. I think it is in our best interest to act as feminine as possible, BUT continue to believe in equal rights and fight for them. 
  6. Some stereotypical feminists reject everything feminine and believe acting or looking feminine is harmful and irrational (my belief in this is 8/10). Have you noticed online that whenever there is a beauty pageant, advice about hair or makeup, advice about how to get a man, a traditionally feminine fashion shoot, or anything that just looks feminine, you will see comments FROM WOMEN, chastising the writers for being sexist? Last week on a blog (I believe it was The Feminine Woman) I read a post about feminine hobbies and some people commented that the hobbies were sexist and the writer should include some masculine hobbies. They commented that,  it was wrong to suggest that women take up cooking, knitting, flower arranging, jewelry making etc. as hobbies which defies the purpose of a post on feminine hobbies!. I also watched a YouTube video of a woman with natural hair who keeps her hair short because, according to her, trying to grow your hair long and doing so much to maintain it is vain and conforming to eurocentric standards of beauty. A commenter on the video actually said it was dangerous to be so interested in looking good! We are actually being discouraged from looking good and doing traditionally feminine things even though many of these things are enjoyable or useful (e.g., cooking, pampering oneself). I think that Black women need to stop listening to this! If you enjoy being pretty, keep it up! If you want to learn cooking, do it! If you like wearing dresses, don't be ashamed! Acting like men in all ways is not helping Black women and you can be very feminine and still have a job, be intelligent, have many interests, and demand respect and equality.
So these are some of the reasons why I am reluctant to call myself a feminist. I think that women should bring their feminine qualities everywhere and shape the world according to their femininity instead of conforming to masculine settings and hiding their femininity. To me, that would really be standing up for women's rights! Acting like men is actually promoting men's behaviours as ideal and more rational than women's behaviours, and this makes women look inferior! I think men should actually become more refined gentlemen and tone down some of their masculine aggressive behaviours by being kinder, more polite, and more respectiful of everyone's rights.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Tracy McMillian Explains Why Some Women are Single

Tracy McMillian has written an article about why some women are still single and it is pretty good. She has been married three times and had no problems getting married. Take a read HERE. In response, Anslem Samuel has written an article about why some men are not married and I found it to be very interresting. You can read this article HERE.

I think that I am not married for a few reasons:
  1. I have kept myself unavailable for the last five years while I finish school. 
  2. Once I decided to be unavailable I didn't keep up my looks as much as I should have (but I'm doing it now!).
  3. I did not have a pleasant expression on my face because I was very stressed and unhappy so I looked like one of those angry women. I have improved that great deal already by keeping my mouth in a slight smile at all times and it is working! Even when I'm trying to sleep I have this slight smile. Sometimes out of the blue I will feel that there is something weird about my face, then that I'll realize I'm not smiling and correct it! It's been almost two weeks since I started doing this and it's now a habit and I look so much nicer and more approachable. It also has an effect on my mood because I feel happier. Someone asked me how I was the other day and I automatically said "Very good" instead of my usual "good" or "fine" when there wasn't anything very good going on at all. This is the best thing ever!
  4. I did not make any attempt to meet men and I live in a place where guys don't just ask you out at school, the mall, or on the street. Fortunately I will be moving to Toronto where the are many more dating options so I am VERY excited!
I don't think the other things Ms. McMillian mentioned apply to me. In the past I did go with guys who were "just not that into me" because I thought I could change their minds...I never did and I will not be making that mistake again. 

What stands out for me the most is her advice about not rushing into sex and I agree. I think we should just wait three months because by then you and the man will know a lot about each other. When three months come up you can decide to either break up or have sex because by then you will know if you are a good match and he will probably be ready to have a monogamous relationship. I think that women who are dating should start with dating a few guys. When one says they want to commit and you really like him, then you stop dating the others. When the three month point comes up, decide if you still like him, and if you don't then break up and move on to dating a few men again. Don't waste time hoping things will get better because in the beginning things are supposed to be great and if they are not then that means something. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Free Online Manners and Etiquette Tutorials!

Isn't the internet fantastic? I recently found some great resources if you want to improve your manners and learn rules of etiquette that are still applicable today. However, these resources are OLD! I found a library site with many 1950s era videos that were shown to American students in school (I don't remember seeing things like this in Canada but I learned many of these things anyway). You will get a laugh out of how cheesy the videos are but if you pay attention, the information provided is very useful!





On the site (Archive.org) you can search for other similar videos and e-books :)

This is a link to Lessons on Manners for Home and School Use by Edith E. Wiggin that you can download for free. This recording is based on a book from a time when people still used people used carriages! There is one part I have to warn you about in Lesson #3. In stating an example of the way other cultures revere their elders the reader actually says "The lower races of man" and makes a reference to American Indians and Asians! That gave me pause and brought up those same thoughts I had in my previous post Is Trying to Be Elegant Also Trying to Be White? It didn't feel good thinking I'm reading a book written by a woman who would say I'm from a "lower race". I listened to the whole recording anyway and plan to listen a couple of times more because good manners and being nice is not just something White people do and these behaviours help all people to get along. So I put that unfortunate remark out of my mind, and aside from that the lessonas are actually pretty good.

Racism is a problem with old books on manners and about almost anything. I learned in my online searches that this information is in demand and some people are making a profit out of it. Modern etiquette and manners lessons are not free! There are companies and consultants who sell their services, seminars, workshops, books, and DVDs to people (e.g., business people, high society people etc.) who want to learn these skills today. Maybe one day I will invest in a DVD set. Etiquette Police is a free online program. I don't know how good it is but it's free! I signed up.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Japanese Kawaii Girls are Experts on Cuteness!

This video explains Lolita fashion culture. I tried to find someone Japanese but none of those videos were in English.

"Kawaii" is a Japanese word meaning "cute". In one of my YouTube searches about how to be cute I came across videos by young women about how to look kawaii! Let me tell you, these ladies know how to do it! They wear cute makeup that accentuates their eyes, circle contact lenses to make their irises larger (I heard these are dangerous though), false eyelashes, pink make-up, adorable doll-like hair, and cute, girlie clothes. Here are some sample videos: Video 1, Video 2, Video 3. I also found some videos by young Black ladies who are also kawaii: Video 1, Video 2, Video 3.
These young women are undeniably cute. I know that this is a young look, but I thought there were a few things I could incorporate into my look. I recently bought some pink eyeshadow and lipstick which also fits with the Barbie trend. I like the lipstick but wearing it with the eyeshadow was too much for me so I will only wear them separately. I also did something rash although I had been considering it for a while...I gave myself bangs! Unfortunately, kawaii style bangs don't look so great with my natural curls and I ended up looking like I had an 80s perm! Fortunately I did not cut the hair too short so it actually looks cute when I pin it to the side. So as a lesson to my natural sisters, just smooth out the front of your hair and pin it to the side if you want to get a similar look or you could curl your bangs. It was very hard for me to find images of Black women with a cutesy look and straight bangs but Elise Neal below comes close as does Thandie Newton. I think we try too much to look sexy and not enough of us try to act and look cute. Why? Can we only look sexy or hard? These are some videos of Black women with something similar to the kawaii look: Springtime Barbie Inspired Tutorial


There is one thing about the kawaii girls that I find absolutely charming. They have poses you can see at Asian Poses.com! These are poses that they use in photos that make them appear way cuter than the average girl. The website even has people of different ethnicities and even men doing the poses (video of young Black woman doing 28 poses). Using some of them will make your photos adorable, but I'm not sure if they pose this way when they aren't being photographed :)

Articles about how to be cute:

How to Act Cute in Front of Guys
How to Look Cute for a Guy 

Modern Femininity: Thandie Newton for Uptown Magazine

Our darling Thandie Newton is on the cover of Uptown Magazine! Always an EBW!

 
The article looks interesting too about the Talented 10 in Hollywood. This refers historically to the outstanding 10 percent of the Black community who are good examples and strive fore excellence. Their incredible skills and hard work show the world what Black people are capable of so that those who come after will not have to fight as hard to get ahead. Are you one of the talented 10th?