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Monday
Mar262012

Barbara Jordan Was a Politician Not a Pole Dancer: Male-Dependent Women's Empowerment ... and other Absurdities

HA! So last week , I put up a post noting that the resident misogynist over at Shadow and Act, was panning a Barbara Jordan biopic, before he's seen so much as a treatment or outline of the film, because it wouldn't have any sex scenes in it. Not to be outdone the Male-Gaze-Dependent Wing of Black Women's "Empowerment" blogging joined in on the Barbara Jordan biopic bashing by labeling Barbara Jordan an "asexual Mammy". Yes folks, go Google Barbara Jordan and "asexual Mammy." They wrote it- not I.

Well clearly Barbara Jordan isn't "asexual" because folks can't stop talking about her sex life.   But to call Barbara Jordan a Mammy underlines the absurdity of limiting Black women's "empowerment" to a bloggers perception of another woman's ability to capture the male gaze.

To be blunt, Barbara Jordan does not look like Diana Ross or Halle Berry and that apparently hurts the "brand" of Black women. Never mind that she was a historical and rhetorical genius, little Black girls shouldn't admire Barbara Jordan because these bloggers think she didn't flirt enough during the Watergate hearings. Maybe they think she should have shown a bit more cleavage when giving the keynote address at the Democratic National convention.

Maybe she should have showed them a little leg and batted her eyelashes while testifying before congress about constitutional law. 

By all accounts, when Barbara Jordan fell into a swimming pool during her later years in life, someone was there to pull her out.  She did not die old and alone to be eaten alive by nine cats. In addition to having schools and airport terminals, streets and bridges names after her, she has one of the most vibrant living breathing legacies of any Black woman living or dead because of her ties to one of the largest public universities in the country. Here is the Barbara Jordan essay competition.  There's a Barbara Jordan annual forum. You name it and there's a Barbara Jordan version of it at the University of Texas. 

We can have a conversation about Black women's femininity in pop culture, but we don't have to tap dance on Barbara Jordan's grave to do that. This assault on Jordan isn't some high minded revelatory insight, it's just self hatred with an internet connection.

The only thing we know about this biopic is that it is about her.  To take that sliver of information and surmise that the movie will depict an "asexual Mammy" has nothing to do with the movie and everything to do with the fact that these Black women bloggers have a problem with how Barbara Jordan looked. She looked like me. That's why when I was walking down the hallway from Sunday school class at 4 years old and  passed up Jane Kennedy Smith and Lola Folana, I stopped at her poster. Barbara Jordan looked like me and I wanted to be like her- a lawyer. I'll write a separate post about allowing 4 year old children to make lifelong career choices- very bad idea :) 

But back to the Male Gaze Dependent Wing of Women's Empowerment. . .

It isn't Barbara Jordan's responsibility to get you a man. If you're single and don't want to be, I would suggest you stop reading blogs and go get a life. If you're taking advice about desirability from a blogger, I think you should demand a full length photo and media kit from that blogger. After all, if they are experts on capturing the male gaze, let's verify their credentials. The same goes for bloggers doling out relationship and marriage advice. Where are the video testimonials from their husbands/partners  certifying that a) they actually exist and b) they are happy? Don't think such verification is necessary? I present to you the story of Kimkins:

Heidi Diaz joined Low Carb Friends, a site dedicated to low-carbohydrate diet support, in November 2000. She quickly gained attention for her claims of rapid and spectacular weight lost, specifically, 198 lbs in 11 months, all while following her own 'tweaked' version of Atkins. This 'tweaking' involved very low calories and nearly no fat or carbohydrates, which results in a diet of almost pure protein. Heidi freely dispensed advice to others on the various forums, and had an ongoing thread called 'Ask Kimmer' in which she evaluated other people's diets and gave advice. She developed quite the little following of admirers, one of whom dubbed Heidi's diet 'kimkins.' Kimkins eventually gained its own place as an 'other' plan on the LCF website. She also gained several 'haters' with the result that Heidi left LCF in 2006 and started her own for-profit site, kimkins.com. SOURCE

I'm not saying that the leaders of the Male Gaze-Dependent Wing of Black Women's "Empowerment" blogging are unqualified to issue opinions about male gaze capturing, I'm just saying based on the mean spiritedness, humorless, hatred of other Black women, I find it difficult to believe these bloggers are capable of having a happy relationship with ANYBODY- man or woman. You can't give what you don't HAVE! Think about that. 

 

P.S. Does anyone remember the sex scenes in all of those Martin Luther King biopics? What about Malcolm X? The King's Speech? Haven't seen the Iron Lady yet.- are there any in those? 

 

Reader Comments (23)

Since when does being a politician and a law professor classify as a mammy? The only female politician referred to as "hot" is Sarah Palin and we all know how that ended. There are attractive politicians but if all people can say about you is that you are hot, you will not be in office very long.

I notice many black relationship bloggers aren't married, many of them are over 30/ 35. Not that there is anything wrong with not being married over 35 but I don't feel that they are in the place to give advice to women who actually want to get married.

I find that the interracial bloggers are most guilty of this self hatred b/c I never see such from black dating "experts" even from the ones who say go the the strip club for a date. After they attacked black women about weight, now its about not being hot enough. Those women were quick to call out black men for colorism and various other tastes but when it comes to white men they tell black women to change to appease them (do they notice the blatant hypocrisy?)

I doubt that most interracial dating bloggers are even married or in a relationship and still waiting for that white man in shining armor anyway. I don't know any woman in a interracial relationship that would do or say such things

If Barbara wanted a man she could have one just like everyone else. These women need to worry about being beautiful and accomplished in their own right. We have had black Miss Americas, movie stars, Michelle Obama, Janet Jackson, Erykah Badu, Robin Roberts, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte and Beyonce if people don't know Black women are fierce by now to hell with them, they can jump off a bridge.

By the way how is their hero Halle Berry's life going right about now. Did she write those child support checks for Gabriel yet?

March 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterblkchik

I don't see anything insulting except for the mammy part. It's like, the color of your hair, or the shape of your toes,etc. Let me clarify. There is nothing wrong with being asexual. As an asexual person I feel abnormal and I WOULD like to see an asexual Black woman on screen (fact or fiction). Some of these sisters are willing to throw people like me under the bus so they can look hot and sell-able for White men or men in general. I am sorry but you will not erase my existence because you feel embarrassed. In fact sexual, conventionally,thin attractive women, are over-exposed, overrepresented in the media.And really, "our brand"?Seriously? What is this "brand" these BWE bloggers keep going on about? It scares me. You're not cattle, and you're not an object! Sheesh. I don't exist for men's viewing pleasure,and neither did Barbara Jordan. People need to be worrying about her being accurately portrayed/written than how they personally feel. There are plenty of movies starring the likes of Megan Good, Zoe,Halle,Gabriel Union, to validate your "brand" and help you catch all dem hot White menz.

March 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMissIce

Oh the privilege to be who you are and to not be defined by the hollow aesthetic. Do Black women not deserve that as well as anyone else on this planet? I am sick and tired of those that say that Black women should be proud of who we are and then turn around and say that we need to subscribe to being only valued by the same thing that cripples and confines ALL women-- being primarily defined by sexuality.

Why should Barbara Jordan's life and legacy be reduced to whether or not she would arouse the male member or "represent" Black women by a beauty aesthetic that was designed to exclude us? "Pretty" doesn't set precedents. "Pretty" doesn't engage a country to do better. "Pretty" doesn't challenge the status quo. Barbara Jordan was a dynamic human being. If she had allowed warped conventional standards and ideals to determine her worth and contributions to the world she would have NEVER achieved the epic things that she accomplished in her life. She is just as worthy of a biography on her life as any other important historical figure.

People need to stop projecting their issues onto Barbara Jordan and start reflecting on why it is they feel the need to do so.

March 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTrulyPC

I don't know why I keep underestimating them. i never thought they'd top the obscenity that is the Mammy Chronicles, but damned if they haven't and then some. And their hypocrisy is breathtaking. Black men are to be shunned for talking about "dark butts," but "asexual mammy" is okay? As my teenaged niece would say, "What's the diff?" Make no mistake about it, these women's hatred of black men is exceeded only by their loathing of black women.

I think it's particularly ironic that the majority of those who call shenanigans on the notion of "empowerment by white penis" are interracially married black women. Of course they call us haters and claim that we don't want them to have what we have. Never mind that I've been encouraging black women to date interracially for nearly twenty years. And somehow I've managed to do so without employing racial epithets, or denigrating icons.

Bottom line is, none of them have a chance in hell of marrying anybody of any race. No man wants a woman who is only with him for political purposes. One thing you'll notice from reading those blogs is the lack of talk of love, romance or even sexual attraction. They don't want a white man. As near as I can tell they don't want any man! Interesting that they should be the ones flinging the word "asexual" around, when they are the personification of it. They spend far more time talking about black men than they do white men. It doesn't take a Philadelphia lawyer to figure out that they only want white men so that they can play out a bizarre revenge scenario against black men. In fact, at least one white male blogger called them this very point and they hounded him until he stopped blogging!

They talk about vetting a lot on those blogs, and Gina's right. Any reader of their blogs would do well to start the vetting process with THEM!

March 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoslynholcomb

Actually it would be very interesting if the film focused on Barbara Jordans's love life. She was involved with the same woman for most of her adult life. So she was anything but asexual. In fact calling her asexual just shows how ignorant that guy is.

March 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVal

I had a long comment to post, but it would have just been a jumbled mess. I think the crux of the issue, specific to the reaction to Barbara Jordan's biopic, has already been mentioned by Gina on Facebook (don't have an account so can't comment over there):

I'm sorry have any of you READ the Barbara Jordan screenplay? So explain to me how you can make a conclusion that she is going to be portrayed as an asexual mammy OTHER THAN your preconceived notions about how you think she looks?

Also, Jerise's comment there pretty much nailed the whininess. True colors are shining through...

March 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaphne

Dear Blogmother, I am glad you brought up the movie, "The King's Speech." I have seen that movie two times and each time the end has moved me. England was going to war and the king needed to be able to speak so he could reassure the people. No sex in that movie, no breasts, no naked bodies, no "hotness." The movie didn't need any of that because the story is good. I find that movies that have all of this blatant sexuality, need it because the stories really aren't that good. So a movie about Barbara Jordan doesn't need to be sexed up, it doesn't need nudity, all it needs is a good story. That's it. Period.

March 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEva

I am a black woman married to a white man, and a while ago, I stumbled upon a couple of interracial relationship/bwe sites. I thought it would be interesting to see what others had to say, (which, in retrospect, was kind of silly, b/c being in an interracial relationship is not a problem that requires much thought or controversy). Anyway, after a little while checking in the blogs to see what they have to say, I became shocked and appalled.

I take issue w/ the suggestion that black women who find themselves in love with nonblack men are some kind of white-worshipping self-hating fools. But damned if a lot of those women weren't just that. I read some of the most absurd ish. Women were going around encouraging other black women to change their names to something "less ethnic" to attract a white man. And folks were even going around saying that it is only natural for your white mate's family to stereotype and be suspicious of black women, and it is our job to prove ourselves "different" from the "norm."

It was plain bizarre. So I'm not at all surprised about the hit job on the Barbara Jordan biopic. They're just a nutty group. And it's kind of sad. Anywhoo. I did see The Iron Lady, and I'm happy to report no sex kitten shenanigans in that movie either. Imagine that. A movie about a powerful woman that doesn't dwell on her sex appeal. I'm looking forward to the Barbara Jordan picture.


P.S. You're right that these women are a bunch of nuts, but I caution against categorically painting women in interracial relationships with the same brush. You love who you love. And if the man God put on this earth for you isn't black, you don't argue with it. Who would refuse a blessing because it didn't come in the color you were expecting? That, too, is just plain nutty. :) Good day, all

March 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGuest1234

Not all of us are so daft when it comes to Barbara Jordan.

She rocked my world as a future political science major when I heard her at the Nixon impeachment hearings. In fact, I honor her with a post on the anniversary of that speech each year.

She passed away too soon.

peace, Villager

March 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVillager

But this is the key point - Barbara Jordan looks like a normal woman.  Like she could be any one of us.  That's what underlies her appeal: her extraordinary dynamism, vivacity and intellect juxtaposed against a face and body that looks like one from our family albums.

The other point: stories are the medium that we use to tell the world and ourselves who we are.  They are the next step away from direct experience and so they're deeply important. 

We as BW lose out when we're portrayed in ways that don't reflect our realities. This is our general complaint about the media: that we're shown in ways that cast us as the other at best, as deviant in the common use, and at worst, as a threat to order, civility or normality.  This constant depiction of us in this way is the reason why we don't see our missing children on TV alerts - little black girls are rarely seen as victims.  It's why we don't see nerdy black girls, or scared black girls, or ordinary girl next door black girls in the news.  It's exactly why people are in a snit over the casting in Hunger Games, because of course, even when a black girl is specifically listed in the text as being a main character, the fact that she's given a primary role means that she's read as White. 

The media reinforces the racist power dynamic that being Black and normal in any way isn't possible.  This supports the foundational tenant of the racist dynamic: that Blacks are substandard, and so they must always be shown with a component that reflects some deviancy, some otherness, or some fundamental inequality in comparison to other groups.  This is why normal Black women, and their stories are not considered to be marketable.  Something must be taken away from that woman, or we rarely see her on the screen.  To be exceptional and Black isn't possible within this dynamic.  And we know that Hollywood supports this, much more often than it subverts this dynamic.

When this happens to a media image of normal Black women so often, it's entirely reasonable to think it will happen to a Black woman with an extraordinary life. 

Portraying Sen. Jordan as a lesbian is right, because it's an accurate statement about her.  Portraying her as masculine or unattractive isn't right, because it's not accurate.  Not from what we know of her public image.  (NOTE: I am not equating masculine women with unattractive women.)

Portraying normal Black women as if they were more masculine than any other group of women is othering us, because we are so rarely seen in non-subordinate roles in the media. 

This is beside the main point of it being inaccurate.  There's a price that we pay for bait-and-switch: we are depicted as men are, as possible perpetrators rather than possible victims.  If we are not perpetrators, we aren't shown as needing help or consideration, in the way that other women are. 

There is a way to show Senator Jordan as a charismatic, intelligent, dynamic woman, and to incorporate her sexuality and relationships without "unwomaning" her.  There are plenty of lesbian women who are openly in relationships who are not butch (or super-femme).

There is not a problem with either presentation, but it does not appear be the case for Senator Jordan.  However, it's a reasonable assumption that Hollywood will tack on a dowdy, masculine identity, and this shouldn't be imposed on Senator Jordan by the (as we all know) frequently racist Hollywood industry.  It's not who she was. 

But if Hollywood does this, it just reinforces something that I mentioned before in your blog:  when there are attacks (and this is a subtle, but powerful one) on the high-achieving Black women, the result is to narrow the "acceptable story" for all Black women.  Subtle, because it could be true, and because it's problematic to say that being more masculine can hurt women.  Powerful, because there is a backlash against women when they do so. 
 
We live in a society that assumes that the Black experience is monolithic and predictable, and stories are our lives-by-proxy.  So intelligent, charismatic Black women who look like us should not be portrayed as manly because it's unpalatable to think that we, as women, can't exist.  One does not need to be a "pole dancer" to be within the range of commonly-seen femininity.   Being desirable does not end at the limits of what men see.  It’s a natural, human feeling to want to be seen and wanted within one’s own personhood.  And since Senator Jordan had a decades-long relationship, it’s safe to assume that being desired was something important to her.  
 
But it's not right to truncate what the range of femininity contains and overlaying a masculine veneer over a respected Black women is one of a few main tools that Hollywood loves to use to accomplish that.  The other tools are to take an average woman and overlay her with vulgarian attributes, or to shift her over into irrelevancy and away from the story’s areas of heroism.   Really, irrelevancy is the key term here: Hollywood likes to portray us as non-threatening, and this label won’t stick on her intellect, charm, integrity or achievements.  So where’s the next target?  On her personal life, and by proxy, ours.

Finally, I have not been following the blogs for some time, and I find this new trend of passive-aggressive backbiting about other blogs and picking the most uncharitable reading of someone’s work to be very disturbing.  If we can not discuss issues regarding BW honestly, and in good faith, then we're fighting alone on issues where we could be fighting together.  I fail to see where we’ve achieved such levels of safety and equality that we can afford to be so careless with each other.   
 

March 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTertiaryanna

@Tertiaryanna I wasn't trying to be passive aggressive. I meant to be aggressive. Passive aggressive people are cowardly - I think I was pretty clear. Black women's empowerment through men is NOT empowerment.

March 26, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Blogmother

What an extraordinary woman!! I absolutely love her diction.

Thanks for calling this BS exactly what it is - SELF HATE!

Regardless of what these women claim to be about, they are highly insecure, which is why they are constantly comparing us to "other" women, especially Asian women. Many of them have this odd obsession with Asian women and their perceived favor with white men, so we have to "brand" ourselves to be more like AW and blah, blah, blah. As if black women haven't been "branded" enough, we're supposed to take on AW's variety of stereotypes and fetishizations.

lol I hope you're ready for them to take their weak, passive-aggressive swipes at this entry like they did the last one when you pulled their card. Little Miss Karazin has already linked to a comment in this post, playing it "non-chalant." Girl, please!

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkicks

I'm proud of Barbara Jordan.I admire her fierceness,intelligence,and career achievements.
She was an amazing woman.
Who she slept with is her business and doesn't take away from her greatness.

But I have some questions
1..Does the majority of black women in America being considered overweight or obese and seen as such on television have a negative affect on our lives?do people OTHER us and view us a less worthy of basic human rights ,protection, and other things necessary to survive such as, but not limited to, love because of the weight issue?Do people see a fat person and automatically think that person has some kind of INTERNAL,non weight related, issues going on to have gotten so big?

I ask because weight and appearance are issues that are addressed in most black women's blogs not just Bwe blogs.Most people know that just looking a certain way has benefits in the real world.Sometimes appearance can trump other things when a person applies for a job in person.Jobs where sometimes men will be doing the hiring.

2.Is health and appearance not an empowerment issue or tool?


3.Can we believe that a movie about an overweight professional black woman who is a lesbian and has a white lover will be done in a way that shows respect for and pays homage to Barbara or will it be more of the same."Othering" using thinly veiled disdain,disrespect and dehumanizing black women while being called an empowerment film.

I have a very sinister view of most people when it comes to black women.
Even when they claim to be for us I wonder if they have other motives.
I very much so KNOW that Barbara if no one else deserves a film that done right I would LOVE to see.
BUT we saw what they did with Red tails.This could easily be trash.
I trust no one,not even well known black movie makers, with this film.

I understand why some people are turned off with the usage of the term asexual mammy being applied to women who are fat.I think the women who use the term are aware of how negative it is but from what I've seen of the BWE bloggers who use the term,the term is being used to describe what the rest of America or the world sees when they see a woman like Barbara Jordan.Barbara Jordan's looks being the first thing many people will see before they read up on her accomplishments ,I think they will first think she was a mammy figure.

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTruth P.

Co-sign-->I find this new trend of passive-aggressive backbiting about other blogs and picking the most uncharitable reading of someone’s work to be very disturbing. If we can not discuss issues regarding BW honestly, and in good faith, then we're fighting alone on issues where we could be fighting together. I fail to see where we’ve achieved such levels of safety and equality that we can afford to be so careless with each other.


Gina-"Black women's empowerment through men is NOT empowerment"<---And this is where it gets grey and you and I,and I'm thinking maybe some other bwe bloggers,may disagree with each other.The way you worded what you said could have had me nodding my head in agreement but sometimes people say something and what they say encompasses a whole lot of things.Some things I could agree with, some I may strongly disagree with.What you said could be taken a number of ways and doesn't seem so black and white.It doesn't seem that simple to me.Just the other day you questioned why men don't police other men.You said "I don't know why there isn't an uprising from MEN demanding that their wives, daughters and sisters be able to travel freely without the cloud of DEATH hanging over their heads if they don't respond to unwanted sexual advances from men." To me men doing that for their daughters sisters moms wives etc. would result in black women's empowerment to an extent.So, I don't know.

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTruth P.

But the question is Truth P. are black women "otherized" because of our appearance? I'd say hell no. If that was the case my mother who would be a size 00 by today's standards would not have been treated the way she was for most of her life. After all, black women haven't always had high obesity rates. Trust, it will always be something.

Black women are otherized so that white women can be maintained on their pedestal. If every one of us were reduced down to a size 2 tonortow that wouldn't change. After all, do you think they lack slim attractive black actresses in Hollywood? Of course not, but those aren't the ones they feature and they won't be featured because that's not their purpose. And no matter how many times we denigrate one another with hateful words That's. Not. Going. To. Change. People don't change until and unless it's to their benefit to do so. Featuring attractive black women is of no benefit to them. Look at the hullaballoo over a black CHILD in the Hunger Games. So we turn on each other with a cruelty and viciousness that is unparalleled. We treat one another the way we've been treated. We hate and despise the phenotypically unacceptable in the same manner, and how does that benefit us? You would think those who continually instructs others to ask who benefits would stop to ask herself the same question. It certainly doesn't serve to elevate black women, and the path to achieving empowerment for us will have to be different just as our circumstances are different. We cannot employ the techniques used by a group who were never enslaved, never subject to Jim Crow law and most importantly, aren't present in high enough numbers to trigger whit flight.

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoslynholcomb

So exactly what would not doing Jordan biopic accomplish? Will it stop Hollywood from making The Help, Return of the Jedi? Hardly. Hollywood makes mammy movies because america loves mammy. Mammy is profitable and they will always do that which is profitable. And if they don't mammify black women they'll put a black man in a dress and mammify him, but they will have mammy. Is there anything we can do to stop them? No, there's not. And this is what comes down to the crux of the matter: we have absolutely no control over what Hollywood chooses to do. We can't get skinny enough. Pretty enough. Ladylike enough to change that. We're like a child abuse victim begging for the blows to stop. We think if we can just be "good" then the dehumanization will stop. But just like that abuse victim we have to come to the simple realization that it won't stop because it was never about us in the first place.

And that is scary. In fact it's so freaking scary that we turn on each other. Oh if "those" black women would just get it together. Never mind that many of us have it together and always have. Black women empowerment will not come through interracial dating mating. For your own sake you'd better already be empowered before you jump into that pool, otherwise you're liable to fall prey to the first Captain Save A Ho who comes your way. It eill not come through others at all. After all, quo bono? No, black women will be empowered the same way women have always been empowered: through love of self and then through love and support of other women. It is not until we as black women love and embrace one another warts and all that we will truly know and enjoy empowerment. We are enough, and until each of us know that about ourselves and each other we will continue to languish in the wilderness.

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoslynholcomb

@Roslyn

I don't think I could have articulated that any better than you just did. Brava! I am always suspicious when people suggest that by insulting other black women that we are supposed to believe that they are somehow concerned about them . I think it insults the intelligence of many black women to suggest that many of these bloggers are truly concerned about the "health" of fat black women. I have grown up around many black women that were bigger than a size 8, and normally when the conversation of weight and looks come up, it is something derogatory. The people leveraging the comments could give two damns about the health of the women they are commenting on. If it were truly the case, the language used and the approach to the women they are dealing with would be different. Individuals deliberately attempting to provide unsolicited feedback about another woman's weight and "health" is the anti-thesis of the action of empowerment.

Frankly, my vision of black women's empowerment is just as Roslyn suggests -- black women embracing each other, regardless of what path to empowerment we take. I truly don't have a problem with black women who want to expand their marriage options outside the black community. Dating and marrying after all, is a numbers game. I don't agree with the belief system that a marrying out strategy is a panacea for the problems facing black women. It is a superficial ideology to me that ignores the other complexities -- institutions, psychological, sociological issues that are engrained in American culture. Especially using another ethnic group of women as a model. A group of women that have a different history, culture and relationship to the dominant group than black women do. We are unique in our history and in how the dominant culture is socialized to view us. That socialization has been created and reinforced throughout centuries in this country. It is codified in our laws and reflective in how Americans deal with black people. Gina's post regarding the Hunger Game viewer's reaction to Rue is just one example of many. I think the issues facing black people and particularly black women are much more complex. As such, our success will require a multifaceted approach.

It has always been my opinion that the more black women embrace the idea of their own empowerment and pursue it in whatever fashion they see fit, it benefits us all in the long run. Our success comes from diversity. Our empowerment will not come from just one strategy. Again, for those women that feel marrying out and securing protection from men in the dominant culture as most beneficial -- great! Those women that feel that educating themselves, living their passion and supporting other black women in the process is the right path -- great! Women that are pursuing a strategy where black women now are moving forward to put forth varied images of black women's humanity out in the media - awesome! There are really so many things black women can do to advance ourselves and our issues, that we really have no need to bicker about one strategy that is more superficial in its approach. If we are being honest, that strategy is not desirable, beneficial or realistic for every black woman. We as black women should be okay with that, and not castigate someone because their approach to empowerment is different. I just really have a problem with people implying that this discussion was about a select group of black women's "concern" about the health of fat black women. Especially when comments are made that, "The more fat black women there are, the less competition for white men there is in relation to me." (my own paraphrasing) Let's just all be honest -- that is the first step to true Black women's empowerment.

March 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSeriouslyReally?

What some ignorant black men don't seem to understand that before Obama, before Colin Powell, before Jesse, Barbara Jordan name was the first one that popped to mine when people spoke about the possibly of a black president.

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMonica

@Roslyn

". We think if we can just be "good" then the dehumanization will stop. But just like that abuse victim we have to come to the simple realization that it won't stop because it was never about us in the first place."

Amen! Agreed, 100%. There is absolutely nothing we can do to ingratiate ourselves with racists. And I, too, will never understand all the whining about "branding." As if being skinny and "feminine" is suddenly going to stop the hate. These folks haven't seemed to notice that the more fabulous we are, the more fierce the hate becomes. It's not the other way around. Shoot... after Michelle O became first lady, the hate-machine got real serious, real quick. It isn't about us being unworthy. It's about the single most oppressed group in America being strong and fierce, rising to pretty great heights, and all without anyone's permission. (And I must say, I include black men in this, too. They're just as angry at us for being all types of wonderful without their permission. And they too, have done more than their share of "punishing" us for it. Let's keep it real.) Black women have always been a powerful force. And as the years go on, the power becomes more fierce. And that's frightening to a lot of people.

In fact, I actually read a very interesting post at:

http://thealternativefeminist.com/2011/08/17/black-women-and-the-making-of-an-american-monster/

It was interesting to see a feminist be so honest about the impetus for the vitriol spewed at black women, lately.

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGuest1234

No truer words have been spoken!! Some of these bloggers in BWE are misleading so many neophyte sistas who want to "swirl" down the wrong path and unfortunately, these "newbies" think that Jesus himself came down and imparted a tablet on "How to Get A WM"...I have been married IR for over 15 years and it just makes my blood boil because they don't know how "faulty" the messenger and message is...I don't call these "STANS" of certain BWE bloogers, "Kool-AID" drinkers because that would be "too Black" as "TANG" would be more appropriate.

The level of self hate is obvious..the level of needing to feel validated by a non black man is obvious...and I think in the initial post by WAODs when the question was posed about having some of these BWE bloggers have confirmation that their "lives" were "so perfect"....Mmmmmm..Let me just say this...Some of the squeakiest wheels are not being as authentic as they would have you believe...TRUST!!! But, I am not going to put a Sista out there like that......Don't take your situation and anger out on the uninitiated..that's just mean...

Barbara Jordan should NEVER have been part of this "fluff" conversation...Folks should have just kept their mouth closed and pushed for a SALLY HEMMING biopic with some size 2 enticing Nubian sista with natural hair turning Thomas Jefferson into silly puddy in her hands.

March 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNon TangDrinker

It is the over representation of the butch, unfeminine, sassy, loud-mouthed, in-your-face, drug-addicted, obese, abused, work-horse, finger-pointing, head rolling, asexual she-male which has contributed to why no one gives a damn about our daughters. And if anyone thinks Margaret Thatcher didn't know how to utilise the male gaze you didn't see her in action. Men adored her and she knew it. Seduction is a very powerful tool. From the clip you showed of Barbara Jordan it seems she knew this well.

March 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMochachoc

I read something completely different from the post in question. What I thought MB was saying is that, due to the fact BW are already thought of in masculine ways, celebrating portrayals of them in such a fashion can lead to the stereotype being further ingrained in people's minds. It has nothing to do with Barbara Jordan and everything to do with the fact the box office is already bleak for BW and the only roles that people seem willing to push are the ones that do hold us in a certain stereotype.

Whether or not Barbara Jordan was a "butch lesbian" is relevant. It's what the constant portrayal of BW period as "butch" can do as far as affecting our image. If we want to make a change via the media, then we do indeed need more portrayals of us that are more well-rounded, nuanced and diverse. I didn't view it as her calling Barbara Jordan an "asexual mammy" but rather was speaking about how this role PORTRAYS HER THIS WAY, her actual sexual orientation and personal mannerisms aside. If you notice, she didn't call Viola Davis an "asexual mammy" either, but was rather referring to a specific type of image/charichture/portrayal of characters.

Furthermore, it seems to me that she is calling for BW to question how images, even if they are intended to be positive, can negatively affect us. When you think about it, this is EXACTLY what didn't happen with Blackspoitation films and Hip-Hop. Everybody was so psyched to see blacks on the screen, or making money or being successful that they never realized the incredibly negative affect that it would have just a few generations later.

As long as BW continually see themselves portrayed as "asexual mammies" they may come to believe it about themselves and the idea will be reinforced for yet another generation that being a black women means being more masculine and little black girls will grow up believing it.

This is my take from what MB wrote. I didn't see where she at all attacked Barbara Jordan at all.

April 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJae

@Mochachoc

Amen to your comment about Margaret Thatcher! The fact is Margaret Thatcher's political career was due in part to her husband's wealth and resources. He actually financed her legal studies for one. Its wonderful to think that women can be empowered and achieve their goals without any reliance upon and/or support from men but the reality is that is not the world in which we live. Despite all the progress made by women, men still control most of the world's resources and they are not going to just give that up to and/or share with women in the name of equality. Any woman genuinely interested in empowerment has to be aware that men still make the rules and they only make rules that benefit them. We can't make changes in the world if we are oblivious to or in denial about how the world is in the first place.

December 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLL

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