The Motley News


Do you ever feel, you know, not so feminine?

I worked at the bookstore today, wearing my alma mater’s sweat shirt, blue jeans and no make up. If anyone had a problem with it, I was prepared to tell them where they could put their complaint. When I wake up at seven o’clock to walk to a job where I lift boxes of books, ring up books, and dump the boxes that once held books into dumpsters . . . I suppose I have no desire to look cute.

But alas, you know that saying: “If you look good, you feel good.” I knew I looked like a bum and so I feel like my mood reflected it. I felt a little sullen and unattractive. Is there truth to that adage? Will looking pretty increase my productivity? In some weird depressing way, it might.

Tonight is going to be a night I will dedicate to self-pampering. I have a set of curl formers and spiral rods that I finally want to try. It’s possible that I might want to document the process for all of you. I might paint my nails some winter color like merlot. I might drink a glass of whiskey too.

There might be something to this self-beautification that women need in order to feel their best. I don’t put a whole lot of stock in this, but I am conscious of the fact that I ask Noah: “I know we’re about to go out, but you don’t mind if I look like a bum do you?” Of course, he never minds, but later, I’m the one who feels like they didn’t try hard enough that day.

Tomorrow is always a new day, right? If I’m discovered by a modeling agency at the ripe age of 27, I’ll owe it all to tonight’s self-beautification project. Ta-ta!

Leave a comment

Accurate or Offensive?

I first saw a video through a friend and had mixed feelings about what Shit Girls Say. I’ve definitely heard women speak this way, I’ve even been known to drop an unsolicited “Shut UP!” Are videos like this simply criticism on human behavior or kinda offensive? My friends and I swapped emails about it after viewing the “white girl” version of this video and came to the same conclusion: This could be damaging to women.

And then I saw the “black girl” version by a comedian named Billy Sorrell:

I thought to myself: Bummer, now we have to have this conversation. Is this funny? It is a little humorous! That’s what makes me a little uncomfortable. Making fun of women can be a hairy situation, making fun of black women seems acceptable. I don’t know if I like that.

I also don’t know if I like men doing this. Tyler Perry has built an empire on cross dressing and telling black women a thing or two about themselves. It doesn’t seem like it’s hurting anyone, but the image of black women is a precarious one. And when men feel as though they’ve figured us out enough to mock us like this, it hurts my feeling

I’d like to think that I’m slightly more nuanced than what Sorrell has illustrated. I’d like to think you are too. You can’t sum up all black women in one three minute video. If you have issues with your image as a black women and you fight hard against defying stereotypes, please check out yesterday’s book review for Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America.

1 Comment

Let Me Holla!


Some of you might already know what a “raging feminist” I am (insert eye-roll here), but I have to remind you of an unnecessary nuisance that’s still thriving on the street. That, of course, is street harassment, or “hollering.” You might already know what I’m talking about and have experienced it yourself.

I was held up at a local pita shop, trying to get my lamb gyro on, by a young man who took upon himself to tell me how gorgeous I was. I’m not one to turn down compliments no matter how random they are. My mom always taught me it doesn’t cost anything to say “thank you.” But the compliments didn’t stop there.
“You are so beautiful.”
“I love your hair.”
“You have amazing eyes!”
“You’re gorgeous now, but you’d be so much more gorgeous if you didn’t smoke.” Thanks MOM. Though he might have been correct about that, I still call it unsolicited advice. But then he asked for a smoke. Which I gave him because it’s only polite. Was I fueling his interest? Where does one stop being polite and start being annoyed?

“You’re married?” he asked in amazement when I told him. “Jesus, for how long?”
None of this was his business, but I felt held hostage by this conversation.
“If you weren’t married, I’d ask you for your number or something.”
I laughed it off and said: “Okay, I think my gyro might be ready. You take it easy, man.”

The whole interaction reminded me of Chappelle Show’s Holla, Holla, Holla Guy:

This wasn’t a conversation that I wanted to have with him. I will accept one compliment, but the rest of them mean that you’re asking for something else. They were not given freely, without obligation, if you will.

Now, what if I had stopped him in his tracks? There’s a good chance I would have bruised his ego and he would have lashed his insecurities out at me.
“I’m just trying to be nice.”
“Damn, you don’t have to be like that.”
“Just take a compliment”

I’ve heard all of those before. Especially the last one. When you don’t want to be bothered by unwanted advances it’s your problem. Not theirs. If you can’t be accommodating, you must have a problem. What’s wrong with you that you can’t be NICE?

Well, now I’m increasingly becoming a supporter of fuck that noise. I don’t have to be nice to you all the time, I just want a damn gyro!

If you find you have a problem with this and to a more severe degree, you need to see this website Hollaback! These women keep an eye on street harassment all over the world. Women who experience this share their stories and the photos they take of their perpetrators. It’s helpful with identifying pervs in your neck of the woods and it’s comforting to know you’re not alone.

“Can I holla at you? Let me holla holla hollaaaaaa!!!!”

Leave a comment

Sigh. Was That a Good Idea?

Cadbury Chocolate should have known better to get on the bad side of super-model, Naomi Campbell. But no, the Kraft company thought it would be a great idea to compare black women to consumable objects. Well, gee, I don’t know why Campbell would demand this campaign to be pulled.

Say what you will about Campbell being a foul tempered diva with phone throwing tendencies, but this insult still stings black women everywhere.

Brown Sugar

These are all euphemisms for making black women more consumable, more objectable. . . a little less human. Cadbury is pulling the ad but not apologizing over the situation. Not that I would expect them to. It’s cute and it sells chocolate bars because people don’t really think about how it makes others feel. Now what if another company, who made, oh, I don’t know, taco sauce made their slogan: “Move over, J.LO, there’s a spicier diva in town.”

Don’t you find that equally horrifying? Women nor women of color are commodities.


Are You Running This World?

I am so late on everything, including seeing this music video called: Run the World (Girls) by Beyonce. But I have finally seen it and I’m. . . stunned. The visuals are pretty spectacular for today’s “Gaga” standards.

The setting is a dystopic, post apocalyptic, “We Don’t Need Another Hero” landscape. There are leather and metal studded ladies who have reclaimed the Earth. There’s a lion on a leash, even hyenas on leashes! There are what look like dancing eunuchs and overturned cars and sand. Tons of sand.

Noah said he appreciated the Irish jig that occurred in the beginning. So did I.

What I wasn’t impressed with were the lyrics. Who’s running the world? Girls. Holy shit! I shouted (spitting my morning tea) When did this happen? Where was I? I had receive no notice on this. Then I watched this next video and was brought back to reality.

The commentary of the latter video can accurately describe the lyrics and how harmful they are to women’s self worth. So I won’t beat a dead horse in that respect. Instead, I would like to discuss the visuals.

Men on one side, women on the other. The women are obviously besting the men with their awesome dance moves. It does remind me of the Sharks and the Jets, but it is a tried and true theme for videos.

What I find interesting about Beyonce’s interaction with the riot control police force, is her super sexy slinking. She seduces the men and also scares them at the same time with her “Irish Jigging”. Historically, women have always had the “power” to seduce men with their wiles and then destroy them. Women were made to be revered and also feared.

But it’s the mother/whore dichotomy that has held women back from positions of authority and real change. For example, women’s seductiveness and evil persuasive nature has stopped them from being leaders in the Catholic Church. On a much smaller scale, the mere fact that women menstruate, make them an object of fear and awe. 

Beyonce’s use of sexuality is tired. We get it. Women can be sexy. In essence, the media has made it our only JOB. To what end, can we use that power? What can we to gain from using our feminine wiles? Jewels, money and cellphone bill payments? We’re not exactly courtesans anymore.

What we’re doing is keeping an ancient gender standard alive in a modern world. In a world where women are career and education oriented, the media is asking us to fall back on older means of “power.” This video is only affirms how little power we actually have and how we’re okay with that.

Are you okay with that?

1 Comment

My Sister’s Keeper


How many girlfriends do you have? A good tight group? Or like many, none at all? Are you one of those women who claims: “I don’t get along with women that well.” Or “I deal better with men because they’re less drama.” I used to be one of those women also and I wondered why that was. I was afraid of getting to know and trust women on because of the back-biting and gossip typically associated with women.

I’ve met many young women who have said the same thing and would much rather keep the company of males. There’s nothing with have male friends, but having only male friends sure is lopsided! I love my husband very much and one of my best friends is a man and I know while they are sympathetic to my menstruation plight, they have no idea what I’m going through. They also don’t know how a good shoe shopping spree might be good for the soul. They sure as hell don’t want to spend all day watching reruns of Girlfriends with me. That’s what girlfriends are for!

But for some reason women are good at “hating” on one another. As a black women, I can see it clearly within my own race. Instead of finding the friend who we can trust, fall back on, cry with, shop with ect., we’re caught up with the superficial stuff. Hair: where did you buy it and who does it. Clothes: Who are you wearing? Cars, shoes, handbags. . . so on and so forth.

But think about it. Your sister (yes, that’s what she is) is just like you. She’s got your stresses, your worries, your hopes and your aspirations. She’s a woman, just like you, living as an oppressed female in a male dominated world, just like you. For all you know, she might have it worse than you. Her boyfriend might be knocking her upside her head nightly, but all you see if her cute Prada bag and you shut down.

Well please, for the sake of sisterhood and friendship, don’t shut down.

The next time you see a woman, black or white, you need to give her a smile, “hello,” or friendly nod of the head. Let her know that it’s okay to let her guard down. Let her know that you’ve got her back. Let her know that you understand where she’s coming from. Who knows maybe she too will one day stop saying things like: “I just don’t like women, they’re haters!”

Help her begin to love herself.

1 Comment

Workshopping Women

This past Wednesday, I participated in an on-campus (Columbus State University) workshop called “For Colored Girls,” named after the play/movie. It was the first meeting of minds for this all inclusive support group that covers issues from the play.

So far we have discussed race relations/understanding, body image and women in higher education. This is a weekly meeting, Wednesday’s at 12 pm and if you’re in the Columbus, GA area, you should come.

If you’re not, please get together with females on your own college campus and create a support group! School is hard enough on its own, but if you add social stresses, it sometimes leads to high drop out rates. We don’t want that for women who really want and need to go to school.

I’m the wife of a faculty member and a graduate, while attending this workshop, but feminist issues certainly don’t stop after you finish college. So even though I would have greatly appreciated something like this while I was in school, I’m not going to miss an opportunity to sit down with other women and talk about important topics!


You Cool, Chris?

All of Chris Brown’s fans may have forgiven him for his assault on his then girlfriend, Rhianna in 2009. . . but I have not. Maybe it’s because it doesn’t appear that he’s learned his lesson or toned his rage down these days.

This morning, during his appearance on Good Morning America, Brown tried to deflect Robin Roberts questions about the 2009 beating. He was very focused about plugging his new album F.A.M.E and didn’t want to talk about the past, even though Brown is still on probation.

Fortunately, for him, he was able to perform for his fans and leave with all sorts of buzz. Fortunately, for me (and I am smirking) he wasn’t able to do all of that without “Hulking Out”. After his performance he went back to his dressing room where,  he was “screaming so loud, the people in hair and makeup became alarmed and called security.” Oh and then he threw a chair through a window. This childish scene made him miss a performance and plug opportunity at ABC.

I say keep acting like an asshole. Let people see the monster they keep forgiving. Maybe soon someone will want to put him in prison and keep him there. Brown thinks he’s invincible or at the very least, really cute. Well, he is neither. Fans (mostly young girls) need to see past his cute face and slick dance moves. Let’s get straight to his core, he’s an abusive man who will abuse the next women he finds, until he sorts his life out.

Brown’s Tweets after the incident:

 UPDATE 6:49 AM PT:  Brown just tweeted, “I’m so over people bringing this past s**t up!!! Yet we praise Charlie sheen and other celebs for there bulls**t.”

UPDATE 6:59 AM PT: Brown has already deleted the previous tweet … and added a new one that reads, “All my fans!!! This album is for you and only you!!! I’m so tired of everyone else!! Honestly!! I love team breezy!!”

Leave a comment

Passing Down the Banana Skirt

When asked what kind of music she likes, my 16 year old cousin squealed: “I love Nicki Minaj!” I didn’t know who Nicki was or what kind of music she made, but I could tell was particularly “awesome” from the way my cousin Yolanda began hyperventilating. I thought to myself, I gotta find this Nicki Minaj!
I saw Nicki on television, a beautiful woman with a futuristic pop fashion sense and comical British/Queens/Spanish accents. At the time she just seemed cute, a painted black Barbie making strides in the rap community. But then I saw the music video Monster, the latest single from Kanye West, where Minaj makes a guest appearance. (*Note: I have a lot of problems with this video and hold Kanye West accountable for most of it. If you’d like to watch an analysis of his music video and how its images are harmful to women, make a quick stop here.)
In Monster, Minaj is continuing her multiple personalities gimmick with black leather clad dominatrix persona and her sweet bubble gum Barbie persona. “Dominatrix Minaj” was fully sexed up. She was not an ordinary sex bomb, but wild, savage, and essentially monstrous. This imagery is not new at all. Black women have been represented in the media as loose Jezebels, who thick hips and asses were solely for the purpose of pleasing men. Black women were bought, bedded and sold on these physical attributes in this country three hundred years ago.
Which brings me to Josephine Baker, an American ex-pat of the early 20th, who wowed French audiences with her exotic dancing. One of the most enduring images of her comes from her performance in Danse banane. It doesn’t take too much of a leap to say the bananas are sexually provocative but they are also culturally specific. Baker was bringing to life a wild jungle image that whites expected from a black performer back then. She was also in films like Siren of the Tropics (1927) and Princesse Tam Tam (1935).  I won’t deny that Baker went on to do better things. She was a spy during the second World War and went on to be a powerful voice in the Civil Rights Movement in America.
What’s remembered, however, is Baker’s image. If we fast forward to today, we meet up with Nicki Minaj, a performer who is built entirely upon image. She graces the covers of magazine, ass first. Her hips and butt are prized and make her a 21st century “hot n tot.” She’s another sex symbol, yes, but built on old stereotypes that are harmful to black women today. Not all of us want to walk the streets representing hassle-free sex. Not all of us appreciate cat calls that bring attention to just our butts. Not all of us are performers with sex to sell. 
Minaj and other black performers like her i.e. Foxxy Brown and Lil’ Kim are problematic for black women today because their image is stopping an entire group from progressing in today’s society. There is no room to grow if we’re hiding behind our “thickness.” I’m not fine with having no autonomy. I have a brain and I do other things besides dance. I write. I investigate. I change. 
These are things I want to tell young black women: “You have choices!” I want to tell my cousin that there’s nothing wrong with pop music and the people that sing it, but do look closer at what else they are selling you. If you find that they are perpetuating unhealthy imagery and problematic social constraints, then you need to consider your loyalty to that artist.