Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Awwww Yeah. Now We Talking

Well, ain't this article interesting?

Go ahead, take some time and read it. I promise that if you're a black man you'll find yourself nodding your head, and if you're a black woman you might be ducking your head in shame. That's because that article rehashes one of the most popular conversations in the black community.

Why can't all these good black women find themselves a good black man?

The answer is simple.

(Black women) expect men to resist what society tells them about ideals when it comes to us—God, help the brother who admits a preference for skin or hair displayed on every magazine cover; or the arrogant fool who holds out for his own Clair Huxtable, not acknowledging that The Cosby Show was fiction. We’re justifiably upset when unrealistic standards are imposed on us, but many of us don’t seem to give black men any breaks in return when it comes to the superficial.

Standards, standards, standards.

Y'all know I talk about standards and values a lot on this blog. I regularly exhort all of us to find a moral compass and then let that be a guide in our lives. Those of you who are regular readers also know I tend to suggest a moral compass based on Christianity, although I respect everybody's right to choose another route.

Standards are cool. They are important. But, sometimes standards can be the reason why the only thing you have to comfort you at night is a quart of Chunky Monkey and The Rabbit. (Yeah, I went there.)

The point of the article I linked was to encourage women to relax some of their unrealistic standards if they truly want to capture a quality man. The author lets women know that while most of them may make google eyes at Barack Obama now because of how he treats Michelle, back in the day he would have just been the corny brother with the funny name, big ears and lack of rhythm.

I think that's an interesting and necessary message for black women, and the general public to receive.

Don't worry, I'm not one of those perpetually scorned brothers who is always whining about how black women love "thugs." I hate those cats. Truthfully, while I was never Rico Suave, I still managed to pull a few shorties here and there.

I know that the reason women are drawn to thugs isn't about their flashy cars or nice clothes, although those help, it's also because of a certain confidence and swagger that those cats often display. A devil-may-care attitude is a bigger aphrodisiac than any luxury automobile, trust me.

Plus, there are millions of black women who are emphatic about their dislike of anything "thuggish." These women, often the ones with degrees and jobs, want a man that can match them in the professional and cultural world. But, they also want a cat that makes them feel safe and has a little "bop" in his walk. That's understandable, at least to me.

In fact, if black women only had the the aforementioned qualities along with some basic additions like honesty, intelligence and maturity on their wishlists for potential mates, well black folks would be marrying like Mormons. Unfortunately that ain't life. In real life, young, successful and attractive black women have more items on their wishlist then rich kids at Christmas.

It just doesn't add up. If your fishing in a pond with limited fish, you better ease up on throwing back perfectly good ones because their scales don't match your outfit.

Yes, it's important to be attracted to someone, and yes they must interest you. But, as the Root article points out, if you have a long list of demands that any man must meet before he can get his foot in the door, well you're probably going to miss some perfectly good gentleman callers.

A friend of mine told me recently that when men enter a relationship they have a core list of non-negotiables, while women often just settle for whatever they get. I actually think that's true in some cases, but it doesn't explain the totality of the situation.

See, Men have a list and it looks like this: Milk, butter eggs...

Women have a list that looks like this: Butter, but not that butter with the trans fat and too much cream. Although I do need cream, so it won't be nasty. Make sure it's the yellow butter, not the white one. But, I don't want Ronald McDonald yellow, it has to look real. And it better not be too soft, but I can't stand too hard either...What else was on my list again? Oh crap, the store's closing, better grab something before I miss out...

Men have non-negotiables about marriage and serious dating. Not so much with random interactions. Women have non-negotiables about random interactions, but when it comes to marriage, well that kinda goes out the window. The lure of the dream is too great.

Men, by and large, will give any attractive woman a chance. We may not settle down with you, we definitely won't marry you, but if we think you're reasonably attractive we'll give you a shot. It may only be a shot to have sex with us, but we will give you that shot.

I've noticed that women are much less forgiving when it comes to giving men that initial shot. They will deem cats unacceptable for "dating" because of seemingly minuscule problems. They may still keep these men as friends, (Or "mind whores" as I like to call them) but rarely will the relationship progress past that.

Women and men respond so differently because they have different goals in relationships. Men initially are worried about present gratification, while women are concerned about future gratification. So, many women don't want to deal with a man who doesn't seem like marriage material immediately because they view it as a waste of time. This only changes when the pressure to get married weighs so heavily on women that they are willing scrap all of their standards just to find somebody.

In my opinion, black women are in a difficult position. If they are convinced that they want marriage, they must accept the reality that they are facing a stacked deck and they may not be able to make their decisions under optimal conditions. That means reevaluating how they consider potential mates. I'm not arguing that women should settle for anything, but maybe they need to rethink exactly what Prince Charming looks like.

Before he rides away on his white steed.



Anonymous said...

No you didn't go there bringing up the rabbit? LOL Overall I gotta say I agree with you and I liked the article.

Yep, I do think for every sista wishing she had a Barack that had they met him back in the day...they would have dropped his behind like a hot potato. I read some of the comments after that article and folks were saying well he was a Harvard grad, etc.

That don't matter, too many women and I know em want a man who is the complete package when the reality is no one is the complete package.

I agree that while women need a idea of what they want, that idea should be steeped in reality. A solid professional Black man whose got the education and stability may look more like Urkel than say Morris Chestnut or some other hot cat.

That Girl said...

And ironically, in an article about re-evaluating standards and broadening the pool, the most obvious limitation of all (perhaps the most taboo) is left untouched (smile).

Way back in middle school, I learned quickly that if I was waiting for my Barack, I was going to die lonely.

My unfortunate reality (or fortunate since I'm pretty giddy about my catch) was that the "good" black men (aka, professional, college educated, the fun uncles) were not married to black women. The "bad" black men (aka, drinkers, abusers, horrible step daddies were. That role modeling and the fact that in a heavily black middle and high school in the heart of a 70%+ Hispanic city, maybe TWO black boys would even look a sister's way.

I probably brought enough of the disinterest on myself with my nerdy ways. But I was also one of the "hot girls" on the dance team (this was WAAAAAY back in the day) and I worked my odds as the manager of the boys’ varsity basketball team. For four years.

Still. Nothing.

I didn't fret it; I just turned my head the other direction in the cafeteria when the brothers looked right past me. One of my first boyfriends was a very awkward in a “cool way” white dude. All I can say is old habits died hard and I married a white guy. He is NOT perfect (no where near it) but I have everything I wanted and more with the one "relaxed standard" being the "dark" part. Cause he is tall (6'6") and handsome. Perhaps I had my fill of dance and basketball in high school so it doesn't matter to me that he can't game or cut a rug. I'll have to mull that one over.

Big Man said...

That don't matter, too many women and I know em want a man who is the complete package when the reality is no one is the complete package.

Praise the Lord!

Big Man said...

That Girl

I think that raising the issue of interracial dating would have opened a whole 'nother can of worms.

Honestly, I'm not sure interracial dating is the cure-all for what's ailing black women in their search for a man. There are so many issues tied up in interracial dating, that it takes certain kinds of folks to overcome them and stil manage to deal with the regular stress of being together.

I may have to write a little about this, although I'll admit my firsthand experience is nil.

Max Reddick said...

"I know that the reason women are drawn to thugs isn't about their flashy cars or nice clothes, although those help, it's also because of a certain confidence and swagger that those cats often display."

I never thought of it that way, but it's so true. A number of ladies try to live out their thug misses fantasies through their man not realizing he's living some Fifty Cent fantasy. In the end, they will realize that they have wasted a whole lot of time and money (or should I say, hopefully they will realize) and dignity in the process.

Lisa J said...

Hmm, not sure I agree, I'll have to think on this more but 2 initial points. One, the eligible pool of black men is not proportionate to the number of single black women given this nation's practice of disproportionaly throwing black people in jail for things that they don't send whites to jail for, the high death and suicide rate (as little as it is reported) of black young men, and also if you take out the number of men who are homeless, mentally ill etc there are not as many guys out there as you think. As for the "thug" thing, that is something that SOME women in every community do. It is just with white dudes they call them "bad boys". So given all of that it doesn't seem fair to blame black women alone for having standards that are too high. I mean for some women (of any race) that is the case, but not for everyone and probably not for the majority, at least in my experiences. I am still single in my 30's but that is largely b/c I don't get approached by that many black men (accept for homeless dudes on the street for some reason) and though I keep reading this meme on the web that black women need to "open" themselves to dating white men, I, as someone who grew up went to school in and work in, predominately white settings have never seen a stampede of white men interested in dating black women. Some, yes, but many no. I think black women face a stacked deck and sometimes you can say people's standards are too high, but is it wrong to want someone with similar backgound? I mean if you are college educated and middle class is it wrong to want someone with a similar background? I don't see anyone telling white women with college degrees to go out and marry the bus driver or the the store clerk? There families and friends would think they lost there minds. Of course there is dignity in all work but how much are you going to have in common? I'm rambling, I'll go now.

Big Man said...


No need to leave.

Did you check out the Root article?

If you check it out you'll see that the word "standards" applies to broad range of things depending on who you ask. My point was simply that some of hte things deemed "standards" are instead items on some ridiculous wishlist that needs to be eliminated.

So, standards are important. The problem is about what folks consider to be their standards.

Deacon Blue said...

As most of y'all now, I'm not a black man, so I can't comment on that part of the male-female dynamic at all personally.

But I will say that I still co-sign on a lot of this in terms of the unrealistic standards and the fact that women see a Barack Obama kind of guy, for example, and get weak in the knees, but don't consider that back in the day, they probably would have written him off.

That I can speak to with at least a little experience. I was one of those "mind whores" you speak of...women never wanting to move past friendship with me...and my wife almost wrote me off when I asked her out because I WAS a bit of a geek. It was only becuase her mother noted, "One date and you get a free meal at least. What do you have to lose?" And so she said yes eventually, and she found out I was something much more than a geek and someone with relationship potential.

Standards are indeed important but putting up unnecessary walls that keep you from finding a good match is detrimental. And sometimes, women (and men) need to put down the list of superficials and micro-management issues so that they can find real people with whom to connect.

Lisa J said...

Oh I'm not going anywhere, I just meant I'd stop rambling. I get long winded as I'm sure you've noticed. I meant to go read the article before I commented but had so much to say that I had to say something while it was fresh in my mind. I just read it, I see what you mean. That made me laugh about her running her dude down in the parking lot. Gutsy lady!

Also, unless I inexplicably lost the ability to access the internet or my job became unbearably busy or I was swept up in a whirlwind romance and become blind to all things or all of the above, you'll never get rid of me! And even then when I have the time I will still read up on back issues and comment even if the posts are old :-) You're stuck with me. LOL

Mr. Noface said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. Noface said...

"It just doesn't add up. If your [sic] fishing in a pond with limited fish, you better ease up on throwing back perfectly good ones because their scales don't match your outfit."

There is so much truth in that statement that it's spilling over. One must ask, "With all the negative images of black men that we were inundated with as children, where did this ridiculous ideal of the Perfect Black Male (i.e. total package with the side of fries) come from?”

@ Deacon Blue

Thank God for wise mothers, eh?

Lisa J said...

Hey Big Man, check out The Black Snob's take on this

Raving Black Lunatic