Recognizing The True Value Of A “Mrs.” Degree ≠ Devaluing Single Women


Former blog readers often send me links to various online discussions that are taking place among Black women. Apparently, there’s another round of The Marriage Wars being fought among some African-American (AA) women online. The Marriage Wars are similar to The Natural Hair Wars. Which are similar to The Obesity Wars.
Some people are discovering that it’s very, very, VERY difficult to hold a productive conversation about important issues among AAs. In part because the slave programming causes many (not all) AAs to deliberately get everything all twisted around into something dysfunctional. As veteran Common Sense blogger Evia  (blog host of Black Female Interracial Marriage ezine listed on my blogroll) mentioned years ago, there’s a metaphorical computer “chip” embedded in many AA women’s minds. This chip contains all the new school (read = dysfunctional) AA cultural brainwashing that programs AA women to self-sabotage their own lives:

“Help a brother out.” [Even though the vast majority of these so-called brothers never reciprocate. BM are not looking out for BW. And they don’t help BW out.]
“[I don’t want] Nuthin’ but a Black man.” [Even though Black men have made it clear that they don’t and won’t restrict their dating, mating or marriage options to Black women.]

And so on with obsolete, self-defeating thought patterns. The “chip” works overtime to distort any message that’s contrary to this core programming. So most AA women can’t accurately hear self-actualizing messages. They get many things twisted. Twisted in such a way to ultimately support the self-sabotage chip’s program.

The other part of why it’s very, very, VERY difficult to hold a productive conversation about important issues among AAs is due to the free-floating hatred, rage and aggression that exists among AAs. Most AAs have been programmed to fear lashing out/showing out on nonblacks. So they save their venom for other Blacks.

Yet another part of why it’s very, very, VERY difficult to hold a productive conversation about important issues among AAs is due to many AA blog hosts’ refusal to set and enforce boundaries to the conversations. They refuse to do what is necessary to make their online spaces safe places for AA women to discuss sensitive issues. All of the above is why most attempts to have serious discussions about life and death issues among AAs devolve into one big mess.

Anyhoo, back in August 2009, the issue of The Marriage Wars among AA women came up during the comments to THIS POST. I feel that it’s worth repeating some of these comments now:
lisa99 said...
 
Regarding the comments about marriage supremacy/the MRS degree and all that...

I was on a mostly BW discussion forum where the article about marriage eluding high-achieving black women was being discussed. The usual red herrings about the stats not reflecting those who choose to be single or who are co-habitating and lesbians were thrown around, but then someone (a never-married single woman) added that she was tired of hearing about these desperate black women always complaining about not having a man and that she didn't know any single BW like that... that her circle of friends enjoyed their freedom, their disposable income, trips around the world, designer clothes, etc.

An argument ensued when another never-married woman said those things could not replace a husband and children in her life, and the first single woman got very upset, calling the comment "snobbish." She went on to say that how dare the second woman speak for all single black women and that she and her friends were happy with all of the trappings of single life and all.

The second one repeated that she was not criticizing the choice of the first person and her friends, but that for black women who wanted to marry, they should be able to express that and should not have to be satisfied with "freedom" and material things in place of a husband and family.

What I found interesting was how quickly the long-term single women -- who insisted they were fine with their choices -- took offense at the article and the single women who said they'd prefer not to be single. On one hand, members of the first group might have felt that their lives have been devalued by the outside world because they haven't married (whether by choice or not), but at the same time, many of them turn around and like to put single BW who express a strong desire to marry into a "weak-minded, needy, desperate, can't live without a man," box... thus making some of those women feel they need to then break out the SBW persona and prove that they're "okay" with singleness and try to pretend that they really do love all those "benefits" of being single.

I was caught in that trap for a few years... yes, being single was cool, but I knew I desired marriage sooner rather than later. Saying that around certain groups of black women (usually never-married older professionals, but a few older married ones too), however, was a no-no because they'd then seem to have the need to make it feel like I was somehow buying into "society's" idea that I couldn't exist without a man.

Finally, I started living according to my truths and my desires, and I accepted to myself that the Sex and the City-type lifestyle (minus much of the sex, in my case) was NOT what I wanted. I wanted a husband and children, and I wasn't going to let other BW who might not have either deter me from that.

I'm all for more promotion of BW seeking a MRS degree (done subtlely, as Evia says), and using the low marriage stats as motivation to seek marriage, if that's what BW want. And they should be free to express that's what they want without other BW arguing them down.
August 28, 2009 at 8:27 AM
 
Khadija said...
Roslyn,

You said, "We want our kids in schools with people with similar values because we know this is where their first dating/mating opportunities will occur. You don't want your kid going to school with trash because you don't want your kid laying down with trash. I don't think it's something many AAs think about, but I can assure you other groups do."

AAs don't consider these issues because we've programmed ourselves to condemn the very idea of making any sort of assessments when it comes to low- and non-functioning people. So, we throw our children to the wolves in order to avoid being perceived as "bougie snobs."
________________________

Evia,

You said, "Khadija, I've heard bw offline say this too. I know that some people online may view me as a "marriage supremacist"--not saying you do. However the main reason I promote marriage nonstop is because I and my children live well TOTALLY because of my marriages to 2 Quality men. I've been marriage almost all of my adult life and I've grown so tired of other AA women hating on me because of--what they refer to as--"my easy life." So I'm in essence saying to them that maybe they should try to make the same moves that I did and their lives might just be easier too. Marriage to a Quality person clearly has lots of benefits, but I'm in no way saying that any woman should get married if she doesn't want to marry."

Well, I've ALSO been promoting marriage. LOL! There's a difference between what you're saying above and what most AA women do. You're pointing out the benefits of marriage. AA women tend to use the status of "got a man/kids" or "ain't got no man/kids" to measure the value of themselves and their time and other women and other women's time.

What some women are rejecting is the idea of accepting condescending put-downs from married women or mothers. These insults come in many forms.

One example is many married women's and mothers' frequent assumption that unmarried women have what one single friend calls "idle time and idle minds."

This leads to the married/mothers making assumptions that the single friend/relative has nothing better to do than to babysit their kids, run errands for them, or for those who are politically inclined, participate in activist struggles that the married/mothers say they don't have time to attend.

[I had to go off on one married friend who made this assumption one time too many, and kept trying to sweat me into attending political activities that shefelt were important. Of course, she couldn't go because she was too busy with her kids. Finally, I told her, "You must think that I don't have s*^% else to do with my time but to follow through on YOUR political priorities. No, I DON'T have idle time and an idle mind."]

For another example, if I had a dime for every time a married or parenting BW assumed that she had more "life experience" than me, I would be independently wealthy. What I get is "Oh, you were wise to say/do ___________. That's why I assumed you were married." BW say and think these sorts of things as if "wisdom" (such as it is) comes from marriage and childbirth.

A number of women are sick of disrespectful treatment like the above, and are rejecting it.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.
August 28, 2009 at 8:40 AM
Khadija said...
Lisa99,

I co-sign your comment. I've also seen the weird dynamics that you're describing. Other BW (including the "single mama mafia" who insist that single parenting is just as good as married parenting) have given me the side-eye and worse over the years for promoting the value of marriage.

I think it's critical that we de-tangle and separate the promotion of marriage from the disrespectful, insulting beliefs that many AA women hold.

The legitimate importance, value and benefits of an MRS degree need to be un-coupled from the disrespect of "You and your life ain't s&%$ because you ain't got no man/kids." Right now, it's all mixed up together and I think the demeaning portion of the message is what's causing many women to verbally balk when they hear marriage being promoted.


Peace, blessings and solidarity.
August 28, 2009 at 8:52 AM
lisa99 said...
The legitimate importance, value and benefits of an MRS degree need to be un-coupled from the disrespect of "You and your life ain't s&%$ because you ain't got no man/kids." Right now, it's all mixed up together and I think the demeaning portion of the message is what's causing many women to verbally balk when they hear marriage being promoted.

EXACTLY! And being that I'm still unmarried (although I plan for that to change soon), I get this a lot too from married women... I know that at my first job, our boss (who actually was an unmarried WW, but most of the offenders were married) would constantly give me and the woman on staff who was a lesbian in a committed relationship extra work to do... work usually first assigned to the married workers who declared they were taking off for their anniversaries or children's recitals and soccer games.

I wasn't mad at the married workers' desire to do such, but I finally put my foot down about picking up their work. When I'd get asked to stay around last minute, I'd go, "Sorry, I already made plans." (Usually to sit on my couch and eat ice cream!)

They learned quickly that they needed to shift their workloads quickly to make the married workers cover their load on days when they didn't have family commitments instead of just assuming that the unmarried women would just do it.

And don't get me started on the black folks (mostly men) who've constantly asked me WHY I'm not married since I was 22. (22!!!) Yet if I later express a desire to marry to other black folks, they say, "Girl, you betta stay single and not be running up behind some man all the time."

Ugh, it's maddening! :)
August 28, 2009 at 9:08 AM
Karen said...
Honestly the responses/attacks on those that want to marry sound pretty schizophrenic....

Schizophrenia (Merriam-Webster Dictionary):

2 : contradictory or antagonistic qualities or attitudes


Everyone is on point with their remarks and things need to be separated to focus on the benefits of marriage for those who want to be and to respect the decisions of those who don't.
August 28, 2009 at 10:34 AM
 

DeStouet said...
"The legitimate importance, value and benefits of an MRS degree need to be un-coupled from the disrespect of "You and your life ain't s&%$ because you ain't got no man/kids." Right now, it's all mixed up together and I think the demeaning portion of the message is what's causing many women to verbally balk when they hear marriage being promoted."

Exactly! And I appreciate your honesty, because I've witnessed several of these conversations in-real-life and both groups (the married women and those who are not married and have no intentions) are hostile with one another.

It'll always be one woman who'll say as Evia said, "One size does not fit ALL. " But other than that, the married women are trying to convince the single women that they should be in the market for a husband. And the single women are trying to convince the married women that not every woman wants a husband and children.

(Also, this discussion will help me come up with my own unique approach on how to to be an response for marriage, and all of its many benefits --especially when speaking to young AA women. Because at the moment, I don't say much during those discussions.
August 28, 2009 at 10:35 AM
 
lisa99 said...
22!? who the hell marries at 22??
at that age you're suppose to be in college trying to FIND a husband.
I personally think 22 is too young.
i'm 21 and i can't imagine being married until i am atleast 25-27.


It was some BM jack-leg preacher who made that silly statement to me... I say jack-leg because he gave me his business card and it had a P.O. Box as an address.

The only reason I even was speaking to this man was because I was stuck in the airport after a snowstorm. I had just come back from a study abroad in Europe, and I "thought" this man was interested in my trip... then he interrupts me to ask, "Why haven't I given my hand in marriage to some young man?"

I was so caught off guard, that I didn't know what to say.

I know I'm getting off topic, but I have found that more DBRBM will strike up a random conversation with me, and then in an effort to show their "interest," they'll say, "So why aren't you married yet?"

It puts BW in a very defensive stance, if they aren't prepared for it and don't realize they're dealing with a DBR... and in a way, I can see how some of this helps to develop and add to a defensive stance when someone else tries to discuss the benefits of marriage in a non-judgmental way.
August 28, 2009 at 5:46 PM
Khadija said...
Karen,

You said, "Honestly the responses/attacks on those that want to marry sound pretty schizophrenic...."

It IS schizophrenic. But what it all boils down to is yet another example of the widespread free-floating aggression against and between AA women. What one notices is that there's no "win" for some folks regarding AA women.

No matter what an AA woman is doing...for whatevermotivation...she will often come under attack. And sometimes the attack(s) will take contradictory positions. It's crazy. And crazy-making for those who let the attacks into their hearts and minds.
_______________________

DeStouet,

You said, "Exactly! And I appreciate your honesty, because I've witnessed several of these conversations in-real-life and both groups (the married women and those who are not married and have no intentions) are hostile with one another."

My take on it that there's a LOT of free-floating HATRED among AA women. And this free-floating hate and aggression manifests in many different ways, and along many different dimensions-----be it class, skin color, marital status, educational status, etc., etc. etc.

You said, "It'll always be one woman who'll say as Evia said, "One size does not fit ALL. " But other than that, the married women are trying to convince the single women that they should be in the market for a husband. And the single women are trying to convince the married women that not every woman wants a husband and children."

I think you're being charitable in your description of the motives. I don't think that anybody is trying to convince others of anything in most of these sorts of conversations. It looks to me like it's mostly a game of one-upmanship. The unfortunate reality is that BW do a LOT of ugly things among and to each other.
August 28, 2009 at 6:34 PM
Khadija said...
Part 2

Shecodes,

Well, this is interesting because it ties into the previous "gaslighting" discussion. I trust my impressions of what I see and hear happening around me. I reject gaslighting, no matter what its source or motivation. I would suggest that other women also trust theirimpressions of what's going on around them. And I strongly urge other women to also reject attempts at gaslighting, no matter what its source or motivation.

From my perspective, there's a LOT of free-floating hatred and aggression going on among and between Black folks. Similarly, there's a LOT of free-floating hatred and aggression going on among and between BW.

And the pattern of how this hatred and aggression manifests is basically the same, no matter what particular dimension/attribute. This is part of what I've learned from observing aggression that's directed at me and aggression that's directed at others. So, I trust my own observations whether or not a particular form of aggression is personally directed toward me or not.

In plain terms, I don't have to be the one who's being knocked in the head with a bat to recognize what that kind of attack looks like. I can also recognize the hostile intentions that go into hitting other people over the head with a bat. And of course, if I can recognize when other folks are being hit in the head with a bat, I can recognize when I'm being hit in the head with a bat.

No matter how people try to explain away the fact that somebody was attacked with a bat. No matter how they try to explain away the fact that it was an attack:

"I/they just have a preference for swinging bats in close proximity to other people's heads. I/they didn't mean to hurt them...

...People are coming from a place of deep fear if they interpret my choice to swing a bat near their/somebody else's head as an attack...

...A secure person would not feel the need to defend their personal space around their head from a swinging bat...

...All we need is love and then folks won't read negative things into the bat swings 2 mm away from their heads..."


{chuckling} Ummm...no. I trust my own observations of the various "bat-wielding" attacks going on among and between Black folks and BW.


I trust my own observations of the escalating colorism within the AA collective. When BW get smacked in the head with the colorism bat, I call it an attack.

I trust my own observations of the class-based hateration/snobbery that flies around in all directions within the AA collective. When Black folks engage in class-based, bat-wielding free-for-alls, I call it a gang attack.

I trust my own observations of the "got a man" one-upmanship and put-downs that go on among BW. So when I see BW being smacked in the head with the "you ain't got no man" bat, I call it an attack.

Now, this last form of attack is what came up during this conversation, but there are other forms of family-based attacks. There's also the one-upmanship and subtle put-downs of vocally "measuring" other women's children against one's own children. There's also the one-upmanship and subtle put-downs of vocally "measuring" one's husband/boyfriend against other women's husband/boyfriend. I've watched BW engage in the "my catch is better than your catch" game.

The attributes that AAs hit other AAs in the head about are literally endless. Not all of these have come up during these conversations. And I don't expect all of them come be mentioned with specificity because the list is endless.

But, let me repeat my bottom line about ALL of these types of attacks: I've seen more than enough attacks to recognize them when I see/hear them. I trust my own observations. I reject gaslighting, no matter what its source or motivation.

I suggest that other women trust their own observations and experiences. And I strongly urge other women to also reject attempts at gaslighting, no matter what its source or motivation.


Peace, blessings and solidarity.
August 28, 2009 at 6:41 PM
Khadija said...
Lisa99,

You said, " know I'm getting off topic, but I have found that more DBRBM will strike up a random conversation with me, and then in an effort to show their "interest," they'll say, "So why aren't you married yet?"

It puts BW in a very defensive stance, if they aren't prepared for it and don't realize they're dealing with a DBR... and in a way, I can see how some of this helps to develop and add to a defensive stance when someone else tries to discuss the benefits of marriage in a non-judgmental way."


This isn't off-topic. It's all connected to the angle we've started talking about. Predatory men KNOW women's points of vulnerability/insecurity. They know where these emotional "pressure points" are located, and know how to tweak these points to knock the women they want to prey on off balance. You will notice that the Internet Ike Turners and Ikettes also use this "you/she ain't got no man" pressure point to attack various BW.*

[*As if they have any way of knowing what's going on with a stranger's life. Especially if that stranger chooses not to broadcast the details of her personal life. It reminds me of how a few random Negroes that I refused to date in college thought they would hurt my feelings by accusing me of being a lesbian. LOL!]

A sister that did a series of YouTube videos ("Ask Alexyss"---warning she's extremely vulgar and graphic) mentioned this point in her "Church Predators" video. As she explained: Predatory men know women's weaknesses better than most women know themselves!

This is why BM predators have scoped out churches as prime hunting grounds. They know that many BW go to church looking for solace because they're hurting. They know that BW are more likely to let their guards (and panties) down quicker with a Negro who pretends to be a "God-fearing man." They know that these hurting BW in these churches are desperate to believe that they (the BM predator) is a "God-fearing man" sent to them by God.

The predators know ALL of this and use this knowledge to their advantage in sexing and then discarding a series of BW in church. Incidentally, this sort of thing is the reason why my friend's church has BANNED dating between members of the church's singles ministry.

So, yes, those of us who are promoting marriage should be cautious about not sounding like this DBRBM line of attack when we're "spreading the gospel" about the benefits of marriage.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.
August 29, 2009 at 7:11 AM

Anyone who wants to optimize their lifestyle needs to learn how to take whatever’s useful FOR THEM from a discussion and leave the rest. It’s not wise for AABW to imitate AA males’ various reality-denying attempts at saving face. Marriage doesmatter. Forming stable families does matter and does shape the future of individuals, ethnic groups, and entire nations.

Let me repeat a thought experiment I mentioned several years ago.
Years ago, when I still read a few Black-love/Black unity blogs, one AA male commenter stated that he felt BW were being “programmed” to artificially want marriage; and asked somebody to explain what “real” value marriage has.

I asked him to do the following thought experiment. To picture himself becoming homeless as a result of a Katrina-like emergency, or something that lasted longer such as The Great Depression. I asked him, among the following list of persons, who would be most likely to feel some obligation to help him and take him in during such an emergency? And who would be most likely to feel obligated to help him over the long run?

1-Total strangers?
2-Neighbors?
3-Work acquaintances?
4-Friends?
5-His jumpoff’s parents and extended family members?
6-His casual girlfriend’s parents and extended family members?
7-His baby mama’s parents and extended family members?
8-His wife’s parents and extended family members?

He didn’t have an answer. Over the years, I’ve been amazed by the numbers of AAs who don’t see the obvious connection between the mass AA refusal to form families and problems like homelessness among AAs, etc. We seem to expect others to create and fund endless government programs to accommodate our mass refusal to create stable families. It’s crazy.

All of these various dysfunction-subsidizing programs WILLbe cut off.

Government programs designed to pick up the slack for an empty space where a missing husband and father is supposed to be will be cut off. Government programs that are designed to pick up the slack for an empty space where an extended family based on a network of adult married couples is supposed to be will be cut off.

This economy can’t sustain the continued existence of all these programs that are essentially used to replace the family. And marriage is the basic building block of stable family ties.

Extended families that are composed of multiple generations of single women and their illegitimate children are less resilient than extended families that contain generations of men who are husbands and fathers.

Extended families that are composed of multiple generations of single women and their illegitimate children are more physically vulnerable than extended families that contain generations of men who are husbands and fathers.

These are basic realities. Wishing them away won't change them.

I haven’t been saying any of these things (about the value of marriage; about obesity; etc.) to hurt other AA women’s feelings. I’ve been saying these things because I want AA women to live. And to LIVE WELL. The choice has always been yours.
 
You can do like negro males and focus on saving face (and the fact that some—not all, not most—messengers have negative motives mixed up into their statements) . . . while your quality of life continues to deteriorate. And in some cases, while you lose your health and ultimately your life.
Or you can focus on doing what’s necessary to live well. Whatever “living well” means to YOU as an individual.