That Conversation, Week 4- Not Every Tooth Is A Smile: The Cost Of Rape Culture

This week’s conversation is written in cis-het terms. -JBHarris

 

In the current culture, there is a shift towards everything mystic, cystral-powered, and the drawing of the what is called the Divine Feminine.Here is a brief definition (taken from Anna-Thea.com):

The Divine Feminine is sacred, sensual and often beyond the realm of day to day living. It’s something that can’t be seen but rather experienced and felt. It’s a healing force beyond the physical world. The Divine Feminine is also the positive expression of the feminine side of us that exists in both men and women. The divine feminine principle is within us all.

(taken from Anna-Thea.com)

My mother, when she went out into the world to subdue it, had this air about her. From the clothes, the perfume to the makeup she wore, she positioned herself in such a way that the world had to notice. It is that same confidence, that I take with me. This sense of self independent of what other people think, know or make up! It is this concrete sense of self that allows me to move through the world as I do. This same sense of self I desire to give to my children–my daughters.

There is a certain magic that allows being woman and feminine as you move about in the world. With that femininity, you see the grinning teeth of rape culture:  the world thinks everything pretty is community property.

As a girl whom was a pretty teenager, whom is now a woman, I can only respond with #MeToo.

What I tell my daughters is as they grow up, they have a right to wear what they want, when they want. No one is allowed to touch you when you don’t want to be touched. Just because you look completely delicious doesn’t mean someone needs to take a bite out of you!

As a woman and a mother, you stand at a precarious intersection. There is information that we know, we may be scared to utter to ourselves–let alone our girl children. I don’t want to cite rape statistics, or become compulsory about checking their phones, or to tell them date rape is a prolific reality. I especially don’t want to tell them most people in the world don’t want to believe when women are raped; there is still a class of people who believe Black women and girls can be raped. I don’t want to tell them there are those whom upon hearing a woman/girl is raped ask these two questions before asking if the girl/woman is a living victim or survivor.

Question 1:

“Well where was she at?”

 

Question 2: 

“What did she have on?”

 

The answer to both these questions is “It does not matter!” Women are not objects! The purpose of women is not to serve the sexual needs of a phallus public! We, as the fairer (stronger) sex, have the right to move and be in the world as they see fit. It doesn’t matter what ‘she had on’. It is that rage that makes your femininity stoic.

Rather than tell such bitter truths to children, you dress it up. You finesse it as best you can. For me, I learned that if I wore baggy clothes to catch buses home from work late at night, no one would be able to tell I was a girl. I learned to always have emergency transportation and a charged communication device. I learned if  I let someone know where I was–so if I didn’t come back, they would know where to look for me last.

This is the insidious nature of living in and around rape culture–it makes you aware of your mortality, your body and how both present/interact with the world. It makes you hyper-aware, scared more than you can whisper. Yet, you have to pretend it doesn’t phase you. The tears women shed over the knowledge we bear, fills ocean–and fills rain clouds which grow the seeds we plant in the lives our children.

My daughters, these fabulous children, I have to equip to deal with a world which shows not every tooth is a smile. And I have to believe the giving of my womanhood secrets, the teaspoons of my own pain, be enough to give them a clearer map. A way forward. A way to be both woman and warrior.

Then, I pray that it be enough.

The Matter of Blue Ivy Carter

Before anything else, I need y’all to understand she is a Black girl. And I will not tolerate any disrespect or denigration to her or her mother, or her father. You will be put off this site. -JBH

Image result for blue ivy carter

I have never understood why the world hated this little girl so much. I mean to the point that the world had something to say even about how her mother styled her hair. I have never, ever understood that.

I, having grown up as an ABG (Awkward Black Girl), I was teased for being smart, tall, too Black, too quiet–everything. And that type of thing is not easily conquered (that God for these 26 letters–they have been salvation more than once). But as it relates to Blue, Shawn and Beyonce’s daughter, the world cannot seem to shake the expected aesthetic it wants for this child.

Enter the fetishism of Black women and girls.

As of this month, Blue Ivy Carter is 8. She’s eight.  I have stayed away from this internet debacle because I thought is drivel and stupid! The ability for a Black girl to be aesthetically pleasing to the world around her allows her safe passage through it. What does this mean you ask? If so, I am so glad you did.

The world does not like when the monolith it constructs for Black women and girls is challenged. It does not like to be both sientent and flexible. As Dr. Brittney Cooper says in her book Eloquent Rage, “Sass is an acceptable form of rage.” The world loves to see us either as model gorgeous like Iman (whom is riding age like nothing known of this world) or like Fannie Lou Hamer. There is no space to differentiate. No space to just be–you are constantly picked at, prodded and told with a smiles on faces exactly what you are not. Or can ever hope to be.

Blue, sadly, is not an exception to this.

Image result for blue ivy carter

The thing I hope, the thing that grants me such a hope, is the fact her mother and father know exactly who they are–and will not allow her to be anything less than what she is. In a side by side comparison, she looks like her mother–as most daughters do. How dare Blue’s genetics not make her a pretty Octoroon or gazelleesque Creole Barbie? How dare Blue’s genetics produce a phenotype that look like her father first!

To me, I think that’s who she looked like first–and now she looks more like her mother.

From her hair, to how she dressed to how she looked–the world had something to say. Only now, is that beginning to calm down. That calm, quite frankly, is unsettling to me. It’s almost like the wolves have gone further down the path, waiting for her to turn 15, 16–that’s when the extra lewd, trifling comments will come. On queue.

Ask me how I know.

But the difference between myself, my daughters and Beyonce and hers are exposure, visibility and money. I am of the insistent persuasion that raising a child, whom navigates this world as Black and female, is to have a hypervigilance paired with a empathetic compassion.

You have to both shield, protect all while you equip her to deal with a world that may never accept her as she is–and be okay with that. That is hard. I cannot imagine how had that is when you have cameras, bodyguards and the paparazzi is a daily an occurrence as pouring cereal.

Let Blue be. Just let her be.

Her parents allow her to be seen when they want her to be seen. They understand their role as parent and protector. They also understand (or should understand) that precarious position of being uber-visible in and around Black culture:  everything they do is monitored or scrutinized. Including the kids.  What I love, what grants me hope, is they give and have given her space to be herself. She has space to grow, and do, and be and it is glorious. They are raising her, and radically loving her. These elements will ensure Blue will have a sense of self that is not determined by likes, shares or other articles shared on blogs or other social media platforms.

In 2020, can we resolve to love all Black girls the same way? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[first image from PageSix.com, second from eonline.com]

For My Daughters-Lesson 4: Mama Doesn’t Always Get It Right

The best thing that God let’s us do is to grow up and see our parents as human.

 

My daughters-

You all are proof that there is still love in the world, and I must have more love to give to it. I want you to know that I, your mother, me, Jennifer, I am not perfect. But I try to make your world as clean, clear, and perfect as possible. And sometimes? I mess up. I don’t always say the right thing, I sometimes am late to what you want me to show up at. Sometimes, I don’t get it right. 

You two are the dearest things to me, and I would give you all of I have for you to not experience any of the heartbreak I have. I would give anything for you not to cry over a boy, fall off a bike, have your heartbroken…but I can’t. I send you out in the world armed with all that I will teach you and all that you are. But this doesn’t mean I don’t (or won’t) mess up.

Sometimes I am too short with you. Sometimes my tone is off! Sometimes I scream when I should listen. Sometimes I overrule what you want, over what I think you need.

Some days you may hate me.

Some days you may call me a name when the door is closed.

Some days you may hid things from me because you’re not sure how I can handle any ungood news you have.

But I want you to know I love you, with all I have. And a lot of parenting, especially of daughters is sans any instruction manual. It is a mix of what you know to be right, and what you wish someone had done for you. What I wanted someone to do for me was–listen.

This is why I talk to you all so much. This is why I give you the power of your own thoughts! This is why I tell you that you can come to me with anything. Any. Thing. But I want you to remember Mama is not perfect, and neither am I trying to be.

Everyday, I try to be a better Mama for you.

You are the best parts of me, and you deserve the best of me–everyday.

With that in mind, give your Mama a break–and extra hugs. The world is hard for mamas too.

Love,

Mommy