How to respond to femininity haters

 

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.

http://www.wikihow.com/Respond-When-Someone-Insults-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…

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16 thoughts on “How to respond to femininity haters

  1. This a great post. I’m a part-time SAHM, and I can tell you it only touches the tip of the iceberg.So, I’m looking forward to the next post on the topic in July. If you would like another perspective, then please let me know.

    To your commenter, I have to agree with OLS, you have to be on your guard. Regardless of how old you are, I will go one deeper: Now that you have made up your mind, you now have to ACT it.
    What I mean is, you now have to show others around you that YOU have weighed all pros and cons, made your decision and now you are DONE. You are not going to entertain any discussion, because you are not looking for anyone to talk you out of it. It’s a done deal.

    In my humble experience, I have found that if you act unsure of yourself, those haters/shamers will pounce. Because they think they have a chance to change your mind. Or shame you into dressing like everyone else, even though you want to dress differently. Don’t waste your time engaging in any kind of argument, because that suggests that these folks have a chance of arguing you around to their thinking.

    If you are in a community where you may not feel so safe wearing skirts and dresses, then you might want to wear more feminine tops and blouses, or wear your hair in more feminine styles. Until you can live where you want. If you’re into heels, these can soften jeans up a bit. Slacks, palazzo pants and even capri length pants can look more feminine than jeans.

    Practical responses:
    “Don’t worry about it.” Then change the subject.
    “Oh, it’s just sooo hot today!” Works especially well in the summer time.

    • This a great post. I’m a part-time SAHM, and I can tell you it only touches the tip of the iceberg.So, I’m looking forward to the next post on the topic in July. If you would like another perspective, then please let me know

      I think you should definitely give another perspective. I realize that I may not be able to fully answer a question the way someone may want so I definitely love when commenters add in what they know.

      I agree you must be sure of yourself otherwise you are a sitting duck for people who think they can change your mind.

      • Seems to be three themes here: a) being a SAHW b) resources and c) responding to haters.
        The last one has been covered well here. For resources, definitely read your way through the Blogroll. I can also recommend http://www.workinghomekeeper.blogspot.com, and for the first…

        It depends largely on her situation. If she were already married, I would have to say, talk to your husband and work out whether you can afford to be a one-income family – what about vacations, eating out, entertainment, going shopping whenever you felt like. If there are children (actual, on-the-way, or planned), maybe that’s one strong argument to be a SAHM or a part-time working mom. Money discussions are the number one causes of arguments among marrieds… It’s a topic no one but the couple themselves can work out.

        If the young lady is not married, but is in a relationship or looking, then her best bet would be to be upfront and honest with any young man she meets. The worst thing would be to spring this on a longtime boyfriend. Ideally, the kind of guy you want, is someone who also thinks it’s a good idea for the wife to stay home and take care of the family (either because his mom stayed home or he wished his mother had).
        Still, you want to be careful, that this doesn’t come across as if you’re looking for someone sweep you up and rescue you from the stress of the workworld.

  2. A simple tactic that has worked for me and is almost foolproof is “silence”. I really mean that, say absolutely nothing and look at them as neutrally as possible. As the silence draws on, the person typically changes the subject or if possible, I just walk away.

    For the slow learners who after a long silence state or ask again, then I say “there has been nothing said that I need to respond to” smile and move on.

    When it is a stranger, there is no reply…move on.

  3. Just to offer another input on this matter: one aspect of being feminine that I feel many black women omit, is the concept of letting men fight your battles for you.

    I think black women find this idea really hard to wrap their heads around because for so long our men have been so bloody remiss in this area, that we’ve taken it upon ourselves to fight both our battles as well as theirs!

    If you can crystalise the whole concept of the feminine role into a single principle, in my opinion, it’s the idea of letting men do most of the fighting, struggling and hard work.
    Because in direct contrast to what most black women in the BC believe, the more you let men do these things on your behalf, the more they value you and put you on a pedestal. And the more you try to protect and coddle adult men, the more they end up hating and reviling themselves which they then project onto you!!!! This is where BW have gotten it so wrong compared to other races of women.

    So if possible, I think the commenter should allow her significant other to confront and handle the ‘haters’ in her family and circle of aquaintances, and try to remove herself from the conflict as much as possible.

    He can talk to them about the JOINT decision that you’ve both made about you being a SAHM, and demand that anyone who has any problems with the idea be answerable to HIM.

    Allow your man do the fighting, cos remember it’s his job to protect you, and remove as much of that unnecessary stress from your life as possible.

    • Absolutely! I find that the people who have the ‘strength’ to come hassle the wife very seldom have the ‘strength’ to tell a man anything. Because they KNOW they are wrong to be meddling in the marriage of two grown people.

  4. “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 somepeople, 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.”

    Yes. You can not change what people choose to believe, feel and behave with just words, so stop trying. I learned by the time I was a junior in high school that some people really just want to engage BW in a verbal sparing match for the purpose of making us looking as tacky and aggressive as they are. Don’t fall for it.

    “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 aggressiveyou will have records to take to human resources if you were not able to avoid them.”

    I’d like to add that part of that record keeping should be date, time and who was present if anyone. That way when HR investigates your complaint there will likely be plenty of people who were present multiple times, and who cannot just claim that they don’t remember anything. It’s even better if you record some of the witnesses voices during the incidents. You can always count on rational people to be self-motivated.

    OLS, It is so sad that BW even have to worry about the consequences of just being our own feminine selves. And it’s even worst that many of us are made to feel that we must justify our god given femininity to others. It’s crazy! Does any other group of women have to put up with this insanity? I doubt it.

    • I agree many people simply want to reaffirm their “place above” black women. And it has nothing to do with anything else except “proving” that.

      Yes the date and time and any other witnesses should be included.
      Thanks for adding that.

  5. One of the good things about the internet is that the good stays out there. So many Black Women have been tricked out of everything that is their normal birthright. I always say everything has a tipping point and many people did not know that BWE was going to take off like it did. I know that as other Black Women improve themselves physically, mentally, and socially those lies like Evia mentioned is becoming more and more savvier. Black women hold 90% of the black people wealth. I can safely say that because the Black churches are forever being funded by us and not benefitting us. I think Black Women allowed the Black Love say it loud I’m Black and I’m proud to get to the extreme. I mean that as we were taking on male energy, the bm was using his energy socializing with other non-black women. Then once they better themselves, we did not catch a clue and start to better ourselves, so we had a lot of catching up to do. In the mean time we let our image out there and then came hip-hop to further taking away our femininity and so we have 2 or more decades to recoup our image. But with the internet and social media we are making sure little by little that our image and the future generations of Black girls and teenagers can benefit with out too much struggle.

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