From earlier this morning into the late afternoon, I’ve been in several discussions about relationships and more specifically marriage. I attempted to tackle this subject directly in another post at the behest of the Asylum Board of Directors. After some reflection, discussion and reading, I feel more prepared to further build on my observations.
Those of The Asylum already know the usual disclaimer when I address topics like this…I’m not a relationship guru, I believe you have to have a degree from the Kings of Comedy school of love to get that title….
It is always good to step outside of the discussion and deal with the asili, the root ideology of the cultural practice. We live in a patriarchal country. A capitalist, or corporatist patriarchy at that. This means that materialism will be high, and male dominance even higher. Couple in the factor of white male dominance in this particular era and you have a cultural influence that states that strength is male, white, violent or financially oppressive. No where in this equation have I used the term “love”.
White male dominance doesn’t contribute to the affectionate nature of people. The oppressive force of western imperialism speaks to the violent nature of people and objectifies us to the degree that we identify ourselves by our job titles, the cars we drive, the neighborhoods we live in, or the clothing we wear. The man who kills for a living gets medals of honor, while the woman that creates life is shamed if she isn’t legally attached to a man. In a psycho-social environ such as this, it is expected that marriage will be less about the feelings of affection, nurture, and spiritual bonding in the minds of males being marginalized in this economic warfare. In fact, a simple look at what was considered a love song written for a male singer to sing in the 1970s compared to one in 2010 will reveal much about the growing objectifying force of western thought on the black peoples born in the USA. It has gone from “love song” to a “slow song”.
Poetry and music, which are usually associated with the concept of loving and expressions of affection, have taken a cynical view of black love. The embrace of terms such as “captain-save-hoe”, “trick”, and other terms that conceptualize men that show monetary concern for women objectified as the lower, the “eve” displacement, as being worthy of scorn and derision is a reflection of the warfare of economic patriarchy. This scorn and derision is not limited to locker room banter or the insular world of male bonding. It seeps off the tongues of women who are socialized to view mating as a game of being selected by the male with the most pretty feathers. In the same manner that males are socialized to compartmentalize women based on their sexual promiscuity and the degree of their sexual willingness, females follow the lead of the males and regard males who are loose with their generosity as weak.
Co-modification of the female form, especially in forms of media geared for urban black audiences, has created a market for women like Karin Steffans, Kat Stacks, and Nikki Minaj. Not to disparage the behaviors or actions of the aforementioned, let’s be honest, they have done nothing more than address the economic advantage of women who allow themselves to be objectified by a masculinity trained to “make it rain” for naked and gyrating female forms. The contradictions are so obvious, at times I have to make sure I’m simply just transcribing my observations, and not a victim of illogical thought. You are a “captain save a hoe” if you treat a woman you are interested in building a relationship with to a dinner, but you are the “man” if you toss that same money at a naked woman hypnotizing you with dances and sexual innuendo. It is not surprising to me that in a country where men marry “trophy wives” for the sake of status display, that black women feel the need to dress in the most scantily clad fashions. If you got the figure why not show it off, right, ladies? Yeah, some attention ain’t worth the trouble.
So, we are discussing relationships and marriage in a country where sex is constantly used to sell us our day to day products. A country where men are expected to be the provider for women, yet in some communities viewed as less than a man for…providing for a woman. A country where men are bombarded with the female form in all of its bare assed glory, trained to regard the man who sleeps with the most women that other men wish to sleep with as the ideal, and yet looks upon any woman that does the same as lacking moral fiber. The same country where those same men will spend their whole earnings on a woman that they consider as lacking moral fiber, but deem it less than prudent to date a woman with children because of financial concerns. The country where some women define a “good man” as one that can be a willing provider, wait until they are older to “settle” down, and then complain that all the “good men” are taken. A country where masculinity is often nothing more than the ability to be violent and uncouth, according to most standards, and we wonder why the domestic violence rates are as high as they are.
I don’t know if my logic is going to allow me to deal with relationships in this country. The elements that govern this country’s culture are some of the most unconducive for a relationship to thrive in. What are the divorce rates in the US versus that of the rest of the world? Which means that it is going to be even worse for those that are economically and militarily(I consider the police the local military) oppressed. I’m not at all alarmed by the women I read and hear making statements that love doesn’t exist. Look at who you are loving! Look at who you are passing up love from! I’m not the least bit awestruck by the degree of insecurity and commitment phobias expressed by men. You spend your earlier years spending all your money, time, and energy seeking the women you can have sex with the least degree of serious intent to forge even a casual relationship with, the women that look the most like the ones being force fed down your visual esophagus dressed in the latest form fitting fashions, and then one day decide to “settle” down, and now you are concerned about who your fiancee has done that “one thing” with before she met you! You spend your early years of independence(and thus learning) in the pursuit of the exact opposite of what you deem as ideal, and wonder why the ideal always seems so tarnished when you find yourself with it.
Oppression will make ant shit look like an obese elephant’s dookie.
The most common solution for problems facing the black community to emulate or simply imitate the white community. When the impoverished forms of behaviors that descend from an oppressive patriarchy visit the community, we wonder why. I’ve heard and read that black males must organize themselves for protecting the black community in the same manner as the white male, since we are in a patriarchy. Understandable assertion. However, do you think white militias started off as well developed world wide military forces? What do you think those gangs derived from? A well formed quasi-military(by national standards) group. What do you think a war zone looks like? Haven’t been following the news stories coming out of Chicago, LA, and most urban outlets? What does all this have to do with love, right?
The white model of behavior, as most patriarchies will have to be, is the epitome of hyper masculinity. Every form of this model gets emulated by the black community, from the mannerisms defined as “professional” to the rules that govern our forming relationships, and yet, the major element of love for Black woman doesn’t get modeled. As a person that does a lot of reading of tutorials, I realize that if an element is missing from my tool box that is necessary to mimic a particular model, I have to improvise. It seems as though the improvisation in the instance of blacks modeling the white structure is for Blacks to put white women or white men on the same pedestal that white people are allowed to place themselves on. When we look at the love stories of the white community, even the ones where a Latino woman is playing the part of a white women, there seems to be a major element lacking from our obvious attempts to replicate in the black community that which is in the white one. The high regard of one another.
Beyond the objectification that comes with seeing women as damsels in distress, there is a large degree of misogyny in the black community. It has run rampant through our media for the last four decades. Who could ever produce a movie where a Black woman as a prostitute would be embraced by a Black male millionaire, have the Black millionaire fall in love with the Black prostitute, and live happily ever after…no sequel? And although I enjoy films that display black love, I sense a familiar pattern. I agree with Aaron McGruder’s comical assessment that many of Tyler Perry’s movies, the ones that reach a wider audience than his plays, carry this note where the darker Black man is the brute, or the pimp, and woman is swept off her feet and saved by the lighter brother, or latino, or even a white man. Even to the point of killing off the black man.
I sometimes ask myself would Ice Cube’s “Player’s Club” have worked if a darker sister played the role of Diamond…just one of those things that I consider when I reflect on these sorts of discussions. As a media analyst it is very difficult for me to pass up the observation that the main point of conflict in the movie “Love Jones”, one of two of my favorite black theatrical love stories, is that the two main characters involved in the romantic engagement are pressured by their respective friends to say that they were not in love with the other. Although, “Jason’s Lyric” is one of my all time favorite Action/Romance movies, I can’t help but to compare the relationship between Jason and Lyric to that of Alonzo and Marti, and in some ways an even more darker comparison between that of “Mad Dog” and Gloria. Due to the many backdrops and subplots going on in the movie it can be difficult to focus on those three relationships, but I’ll try my best here.
You have a couple that has the typical gentle romantic involvement. The romance between Jason and Lyric is seeped in escapism, which is for the most part the overarching theme of the movie – escaping from the black community. The climactic boat ride, the warshing(it’s an Asylum post…) of the feets(…again…), the slow and deliberate sexual engagement that tends to mark “love making” in our culture is all wrapped in the imaginary role playing, verbally staged in Paris, France, and Jason(“You see me”, worst southern accent imitation in movie history Allen) is Prince Charming. Jason becomes Lyric’s escape. This is also emphasized in the statement by Gloria when she says,”You found quiet in a world full of thunder.” I would like to emphasize the physical traits of Jason and Lyric, but I do feel my colorism can only go so far in one post. However, since I did address the pattern in Perry’s movies, I will admit I noticed the darker brothers fit the role of the brute, as ascribed by white movie makers. You have “Mad Dog”, once the ideal of fatherhood, mentally scarred by his duty in the Vietnam War, who is so brutally drunk that one son wants to murder him, and the other accidentally kills him. I suppose with an all black cast I can’t get away with the old adage that the black person is always the first to get killed here. Alonzo, the other dark brother in the movie(I know, I know…), played by the porn star turned rapper again Treach, is the leader of a gang of bank robbers. Besides that fact that Alonzo and Gloria’s sex scene, staged outside against wall, is more to my liking(don’t judge, everyone has their own expressions of love), I do realize that a contrast is being made here. Possibly a foreshadowing of Treach’s future “acting career”, the scene works to cast a certain light on the relationship between the “hood” guy and his woman who feels that she has to show cleavage, because, “the bigger the tits, the bigger the tip”(I died a little, too). The Buck meets the Sapphire caricatures if you will. Of course, I would be amiss if I didn’t mention how hard it is for me to not sense the writer of the movie casting Lyric as the tragic mulatto. It helps my analysis that even when Jason and Lyric have less than gentle embraces, it is scripted as out of concern, and not so much “to hose” her down.
My media analysis skills to the side for a second. I don’t believe that black people should model themselves after the people that created the system that has oppressed so many. I address our cinematic portrayals of love and not so much so because life has a very weird tendency to imitate art, and of course the not so art.
A peoples attempting model themselves after a group of people that only sell “love” to their middle class economic engine for the purpose of maintaining a social network that will produce more workers tend to regard “love” as for suckers or squares. What is interesting to me is the depth with which capitalism can reach and taint something so effervescent. The co-modification of love has got to be the coldest trick the devil ever pulled.
We’ve become so materialistic that our goals are more important than our evolution, our continuance of the human. Sex is only one of the qualities that we experience with regard to Life’s ever coursing desire to be. We are trained to frown on the emotional aspects of our nature, as if emotion was the reason our ancestors were sold by their elite brethen on those west Afrikan shores all those years ago. As if money didn’t have any part of the reason Black women were used to breed, and now we seek the best business contract to be brought to the table before we consider a birth prudent. We don’t fall in love, we make investments. And I don’t want to belittle the financial aspect of a relationship, because it is a very real consideration. Yet, for a people that produced the likes of Harriet Tubman, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Ida B. Wells, people who “LOVED” black people…for free…it moves me to remember that even finance has a place below love. We like to use phrases like “passion”, “drive”, and “hunger” when it comes to getting money, and yet those terms are frowned upon when we discuss the natural emotional attraction of two people.
It is well regarded in this society to be emotional about money, but it is ill reflected upon when we discuss love. The one thing we lost during slavery, we don’t consider as the reason why we are still in the same position collectively in the hierarchy. The one thing that made US slavery the worst form of slavery in history, the very one thing that gave it new meaning, is that same thing that we are sacrificing everything for. From hip-hop to our own personal individual lives, love has been squandered for money, and we continue to berate those that say they love something other than money more than they seek money. I’m not saying I don’t want to live better, I am saying that I’d rather die for what I love than to die for money. I know what it feels like to go out for a dollar. I don’t have to live by the standards of a system of sick humans wallowing in their apparent sickness. But, I’m supposed to be building on relationships, right?
Yeah, I know…I just did.