This post (which is a response to a comment) comes at the end of May’s Readers Suggestion month. I would have posted it on the 31st but my computer crashed and I had finals to finish up on and I my brother was graduating, So forgive me for being late.
Anyhoo. A commenter asked this question:
I want to be a stay at home wife and mother. What resources I can look for that help black
women who desire to stay home. Also how can I respond to haters who don’t want black
women to be feminine?
Well I can’t answer the first question right now, simply because I have to do more extensive research on this topic (and I’m pressed for time at the moment) and also because I have a post of this nature planned for later in the month of June (most likely)But I will answer the question of how to respond to femininity haters.
As many black women know there is a certain segment of people ( that doesn’t stop with one race or gender) that simply can’t stand it when black women are feminine. And by simply can’t stand it, they gnash their teeth, pull their hair out and almost blow their brains in at the idea that black women could possibly want to be treated in any way that goes beyond being a garish
The first and foremost way to deal with these people is to be on your guard. Here me out. As someone who is hoping that black women can remain neutral some of my biggest advice would be to avoid these people. I don’t even have to write a full post about the fact that because of your decision there will be guilters, shamers and the like just waiting to attack or shame you.
So one of the biggest things I can advise black women to do is to be on your guard. That means be able to spot a shamer and deal with it accordingly.
How do you spot a shamer? A few ways:
- Shamers / Detractrers most likely travel alone. I mean most people who like to attack others are usually cowards (off line that is).
- Shamers/ Detracters are usually passive aggressive. Because of the fact that shamers are cowards they are most likely passive aggressive. That is most are the type that fall into a few categories (they are usually that woman at work that will make “catty” remarks to you that is layered in something else. A lot of Shamers usually don’t just come out and create a confrontation they simply want to make you feel bad about yourself.
- The shamers that have skipped the passive part and jumped straight into aggressive, they are generally the men that are going to catcall you on the street (women are less likely to simply be violent)
- The shamers and guilters are also more likely to be supposed “well meaning” family that feels that you should be living the way that they want. Or sadly enough they have their own agenda for what you should do.
- The shamers and guilters are also more likely to be feminists that are angry that you jumped ship.
- The shamers and guilters may also be “Friends” who are simply jealous of you and your life.
Why did I previously say keep your guard up?
Because from these categories it is possible that these people could be surrounding you all the time.
As someone who promotes the idea of being neutral I would advise black women to avoid confrontations with these people. (Online you don’t have to respond at all you can simply leave spaces in which these people habituate and go somewhere else.) Offline is more difficult because these people aren’t going to be as aggressive because again most of these people are passive aggressive when actually faced with you. That is where keeping your guard up comes from. Because you need to be paying attention to those “well meaning” friends/ family/ coworkers who could potentially be passive aggressively insulting you. You need to be able to decipher if they are, not so you can confront them( this rarely works) but so you can avoid them if possible.
For example say for instance someone you know starts going on about how they don ‘t understand *why* any woman would want to be feminine. “Sexism and all that” they say attempting to draw you into the conversation. If you have your guard up, I would advise you either smoothly change the subject and if you can’t do that, politely excuse yourself. If you know that a person who likes to go on and on about the way you dress for example, spend their time in the break room, I would suggest going to the break room while they aren’t around. Or if you go to class and you know someone is particularly randy to engage you in conversations about you dress/ behave the way you do, you could politely excuse yourself and sit in the front of the class. ( Heck you could even say that you can’t see the board.)
You may believe that I am justifying the behavior of people who choose to target black women for being feminine. I am not. But recognize that confrontations rarely help things (especially since black women in a lot of cases end up being the loser of that.) This isn’t to say to hide your beliefs or pretend to be someone you’re not. What I am trying to say is that some people, those people who simply can’t *fathom* feminine black women whether white, black, man, or woman, may try and drag you into their own hate/shame for you or what you stand for. I am simply providing you the easiest most simplest way to avoid such people (who will never change their opinion) is to avoid them or extricate yourself out of situations in which they spend their time. So you can have peace of mind.
Further when dealing with people who don’t want black women to be feminine. I would advise you to keep records of what is going on. Many bloggers have written about the harassment they’ve gotten from women at work who tried to outwardly or subtly sabotage them on the job. I would suggest that you keep records of each time they insult you. If you have to record the conversation I would suggest that to. That way if the passive aggressive becomes aggressive you will have records to take to human resources if you were not able to avoid them.
Speaking of aggression; there are some black women who live in terrible neighborhoods that might want to be feminine. I am aware that being feminine in *certain* areas may make black women a target of bird brained black people (men and women) for street harassment , assault , violence etc. I would suggest that if you live in a neighborhood that you feel may make you a sitting duck, that you hold off on that simply so you can stay safe until you can move out of the area.
This should also be how you respond to family that are just adamant about you being feminine. For example if you are living with your family and they are constantly going on and on about you being feminine I would suggest that you try and either change the subject. Spend as little time alone with them as possible and (quietly) save up money to leave.
Listen, I know that you may want me to give you some sort of reasons to give your family about why you like to be feminine. But the truth is that there is no perfect response to people who feel the need to respond to haters. That is why they are haters. The best way to spare yourself is to avoid them. Even family.
For example sometimes my cousin likes to talk about feminism. Instead of trying to rebut her I usually tell her that I don’t want to talk about that and change the subject. That generally does the trick and we can move on to other neutral and enjoyable topics. (and my cousin doesn’t push.)
If you have family who does push however that would be the moment to get up and leave the room. Again if they don’t respect your wish to change the topic or keep their opinion to themselves they aren’t going to truly want to know why you enjoy being feminine. The easiest way to handle everything is to simply leave the room when they start doing it. Again as I said if it is a common every day occurrence I would definitely suggest that you save up enough money to (again quietly move out) so that you can limit your contact with such people.
If they are a friend I would suggest you stop being friends with them altogether. Because chances are they are not actually friends but passive aggressive people who fall into one of the categories that I listed earlier.
Finally, let’s move on to actual responses….
Some of you may find that you won’t be able to take the neutral choice and leave the room or avoid the person altogether. You may find that yourself in a gathering where you are put on the spot by someone. (passive aggressive people love to do this to others.)
I read a very good article on WikiHow about how to respond when someone attacks your convictions.
I think this is a very good article that presents a number of situation in which (if you are cornered) so I definitely think that you should check it out.
Finally, if any other commenters have any other ideas I would suggest that you please leave a comment. I hope this helped a little bit.
Until Next Time…