Review: Fascinating Womanhood

We recently had this important conversation about the heavy price African-American women pay in a patriarchal world for allowing themselves to become defeminized. After that conversation, I decided to review the ebook, The Feminine Arts of Charm and Charisma, by Melina, blog host of The Art of Being Feminine. However, the more I’ve read of her blog, I realized that many of her opinions about the nature of femininity are grounded in the book Fascinating Womanhood by Helen Andelin (which she offers on her site). So, I decided to read Fascinating Womanhood to better understand the background context of the blog host’s ebooks and opinions.

AN IMPORTANT DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE BLOG AUTHOR AND THE AUTHOR OF FASCINATING WOMANHOOD

In the first blog post where I mention the Art of Being Feminine blog, I advised readers not to let the things they don’t like about that particular blog stop them from picking up pearls of wisdom that can enhance their lives. A woman having feminine skills plus 21st century freedom of movement (especially in the Western world) is an extremely powerful combination!

I would also caution readers not to make assumptions about the blog author based on her avid support of Fascinating Womanhood. From what I’ve read of the blog, the author recognizes there are some men that women need to get away from. See her post from November 7, 2009 entitled My Boyfriend is On Adult Dating Sites and Looks at Pornography as an example. I believe she gives her reader excellent advice in this post. By contrast, the author of Fascinating Womanhood doesn’t seem to have a firm grasp on this idea. In the revised, 1992 edition of the book that I read, she kept the following so-called “success story” testimonial from a reader who said:

My husband was drinking heavily, away from home almost every night, hardly speaking to me, and I believe he was seeing other women. He told me I might as well leave because he didn’t need me. One night he locked me out of the house and told me to come by in the morning for my clothes. When I did he had my bag packed, met me at the door, and told me he would think about letting me see our six-year-old daughter. Later that day he called me from work and said he wanted me to talk to someone. Then he put some girl on the phone. This kind of thing went on until I became desperate. I was ready to leave him when someone told me about F.W. I thought they were crazy. No book would change my husband, I was sure.

After some suffering I sat down and read it and when I did I got so excited. I started the very next day and within weeks there was a dramatic change in him and in our marriage. He started staying home, taking me out, buying me things, and his drinking almost completely stopped. . .

. . . I could go on and on but the thing I would like to mention is this: He told me that I was suddenly a different person, that something happened to change me. Our little girl is a different person now too. She had become so withdrawn and nervous that I suspected she had an ulcer. Now she is happy and outgoing and her father spends time with her.

Fascinating Womanhood, pgs. 31-32. I won’t bother to note the many, many things that are dangerously wrong with this so-called “success story.” I wouldn’t be surprised to read something like this dating from when the book was first published in 1965. However, I was surprised the author still felt this was an appropriate, positive testimonial in the revised 1992 edition of the book. By itself, this particular choice says a lot about the author’s views.

A WORD ABOUT THIS REVIEW

If you check out the readers’ reviews of Fascinating Womanhood on Amazon.com, you’ll notice how polarized the opinions are about this book. Since I’m not going to bite my tongue, I expect this review to also be fairly polarizing, and offensive to some readers. I will also note that reviewing this sort of work inevitably requires a multilayered discussion, so please take the time to look at the various other materials that I’ll link to during this review. Also note that my decision to link to any particular material does not mean that I necessarily agree with it, or endorse the author’s views about anything. I’m simply using the material to illustrate the issues under discussion.

THE REVIEW—FASCINATING MORMONHOOD

I’ve been surprised at the level of fury this book has generated among so many people. Not because of the advice given in the book which, frankly, can be deadly for a woman in a domestically violent marriage. In fairness, the women in violent relationships that I’ve encountered while working as a former prosecutor and defense attorney were more invested in maintaining these relationships than any other consideration—such as staying alive or their children’s survival. These sort of women will use any material (scripture, pop psychology books, slogans like “put God in it for a minute,” anything at all) as a justification for staying with a physically abusive man. [Personal bias note: I’m not automatically particularly sympathetic to battered women. This post mentions in greater detail some of the reasons I feel that way, and the dynamics that I’ve observed about violent relationships.]

The book’s critics’ fury seems misdirected. To me, it makes little sense to get upset with the puppet instead of the puppet master. Relatively few of this book’s fervent critics openly discuss what I believe is the root of what’s wrong with the book: the author was a Mormon wife who was spouting Mormon-influenced beliefs about gender roles. I believe Mrs. Andelin was merely speaking her indoctrination. What else would anybody expect a Mormon woman born in 1920 to say? I don’t understand why so many of the book’s critics sound shocked by her opinions. Instead of directing their ire at her, angry critics should direct it at the male Mormon clergy who fed her these beliefs.

Before somebody says that to consider the author’s religious background is always bigotry, I suggest you perform the following thought experiment. If the author was a woman named Fatima Abdul-Aziz writing the same opinions from Saudi Arabia during 1965 (which is when the book was first published), would the Western women who love this book still love it? Would they have the same uncritical acceptance of these opinions from a “Fatima Abdul-Aziz”? Or would they factor in the religious indoctrination (especially around 1965) that most likely formed the fictitious Saudi woman author’s opinions?

It was amusing to read Mrs. Andelin state the following about the Mughal Empress Mumtaz Mahal (favorite wife of Emperor Shah Jahan in whose memory the Taj Mahal was built in India): “And take note of this thought: Mumtaz was of a culture where women were subservient, dependent, and kept their place in the feminine world. It was not a culture where women dominated, demanded, and tried to be equal with men.” Fascinating Womanhood, pg. 10.

It’s comical that Mrs. Andelin originally said this in 1965 as if she and other Mormon women were so much more free and autonomous than the women in 17th century India. Haven’t Mormon women traditionally been “subservient, dependent, and kept their place in the feminine world”? Other types of American women have always had much more freedom and autonomy than women in the Muslim world. Mormon women? I think not.

I believe that some of the self-professed Christian women who uncritically gush over this book need to step back for a minute. And consider exactly what it means that the author was a Mormon woman who first wrote this book in 1965. The Mormon church is not a mainstream Christian denomination. To put it bluntly, it’s not even a Christian group.

Let me stress that what I’m saying is different from the ignorance that I often hear from large numbers of African-American Protestant Christians. I hear them say phrases like “Christians and Catholics,” as if Catholics are not Christians. The profound ignorance embedded in these sorts of statements irritates me. It’s irritating because when I ask them, these same African-American Protestant Christians have never heard of Martin Luther or the Protestant Reformation. It’s irritating because they don’t even know the historical origin of their entire Protestant branch of Christianity. They don’t know that unlike the Coptic Church and the various Orthodox churches (Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, and so on), the Protestant branch has its origins in a breaking away from the Roman Catholic church that began in the 1500s.

Let me also note for the record that I’m irritated by the smug attitudes that I’ve observed from more than a few African-American Protestants about the ongoing pedophile scandal within the Catholic church. Meanwhile, I don’t hear these people admitting that it’s not just the Catholic church that has institutional and systemic issues with sexual predators. See this post about the various pending sexual abuse lawsuits against a number of Church of God in Christ (an African-American Protestant denomination) clergy and other personnel. I don’t hear them talking about incidents like the COGIC in Toledo that allegedly had four, count ’em FOUR, pedophiles on the payroll with the pastor’s knowledge. See this post for details.

Nor have I heard them talk about the behavior of celebrated individuals such as Rev. James Cleveland. I believe that part of what goes into this is that, unlike their coverage of the many atrocities within the Catholic church, the media report these stories as isolated incidents as opposed to a systemic problem when this happens among Protestant clergy (Black or White).

[Personal bias note: My mother’s family is Catholic, so despite my own differences with the Catholic church—I never believed in it and I accepted Islam as an adult—I’ve been annoyed by hearing ignorance-based, anti-Catholic prejudice since adolescence. A legitimate, well-considered difference of opinion is something that I respect. But not mindless slogans from people who don’t even know the history of their own denomination.]

Anyway, I say that Mormonism is not a Christian denomination because there are common sense ways to distinguish groups that are within the broad family of a particular faith tradition versus groups that are not within that same faith tradition. One way is whether the group under examination is using the same scripture, and holding the same basic beliefs about the origin of the universe and humans as the rest of the denominations within that particular faith tradition. When a new so-called “denomination” is using scriptures and/or a cosmology that are unknown to the “parent” faith, then it’s not really part of that “parent” faith (despite typically loud protestations to the contrary). These sorts of differences are several orders of magnitude larger than doctrinal differences.

To put it simply, when a “Christian” group is talking about scriptures and core beliefs that no other Christian denomination has ever heard of, then it’s probably not a Christian group. The same applies to “Muslim” groups that are referring to core doctrines that no other denomination of Muslims, past or present, has ever heard of. I’ll mention two example of this: the Mormon church versus mainstream Christianity and the Nation of Islam versus mainstream Islam.

All Christian denominations (Roman Catholic, the Coptic churches, the Orthodox churches, and the Protestant churches) are grounded in the Bible. And they have the same understanding of what source material constitutes the Bible. The Bible is the Christian scripture. Historically, none of these various Christian denominations mention, use, or have heard of the Book of Mormon. Meanwhile, the Mormons use the Book of Mormon as scripture. They refer to it as “another testament of Jesus Christ.” See this.

The introduction to the Book of Mormon states, “The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fulness of the everlasting gospel.” See here.

In terms of Muslims, the Nation of Islam similarly has core beliefs that no Muslim denomination (Sunni, Shia, or anything else), past or present, has ever heard of before. One example is the Nation of Islam belief that God “appeared in the person of Master W. Fard Muhammad, July 1930—the long awaited ‘Messiah’ of the Christians and the ‘Mahdi’ of the Muslims.” Message to the Blackman, pg. 164.

Another reason I mention all of this is because the author refers to “Celestial Love” (which she describes as the highest kind of love between a man and a woman), and has a chart of “Angelic Qualities” that she says women should cultivate. But yet I don’t recall seeing any biblical citations for these assertions in the book. Could it be that what she’s talking about is NOT biblical, and is instead rooted in the Book of Mormon? I don’t know. I’m not going to invest the time into researching the Book of Mormon to find out. But if I were a Christian reader who was serious about my faith, I would be concerned about that.

I’m not saying I believe that Christian readers should avoid reading the book for that reason. I’ll read heretical material that, despite claiming to be “Muslim,” does not fit within my faith tradition (such as Elijah Muhammad’s Message to the Blackman). But I do so with my eyes wide open. And with that, on to the book’s main points.

A SUMMARY OF THE BOOK’S SUGGESTIONS TO WOMEN

In terms of a woman’s direct interactions with her husband, the author recommends the following:

(1) Accept your husband as he is, don’t try to change him.

(2) Appreciate your husband as he is, overlook his faults.

(3) Admire his masculine qualities.

(4) Put your husband at the top of your priority list (Khadija speaking: I find it interesting that honoring God is not the first priority. What if what your husband wants is directly contrary to God’s will?).

(5) Obey your husband and have a girlish trust in him.

(6) Don’t wound his sensitive masculine pride.

(7) Let your husband function as your guide, leader, protector and provider. Don’t work outside the home, and let him handle all the finances.

(8) Understand that once you apply Fascinating Womanhood principles, your husband will feel more secure in your marriage and he may start venting anger and other hostile feelings on you. Accept this, and allow him to empty his “Pandora’s Box” of negative emotions.

(9) Be sympathetic to your husband’s problems, but don’t offer to help or solve his problems—at least not in the beginning (as I understood the book, the author is arguing that trying to solve his problems might imply that you’re not overlooking his potential errors in judgment that helped create the problem. See pgs. 177-178).

The author then goes on to give detailed instructions in how to best function as a “domestic goddess,” and how to acquire and enhance a feminine appearance. The author states:

A noticeable characteristic of the feminine woman is that she gives careful attention to her appearance. She doesn’t neglect her hair, face, figure, or clothes. She looks as pretty as she can at all times. This is instinctive in her nature. An ideal woman, however, doesn’t focus unduly on her looks. She doesn’t spend endless hours on her appearance, and in so doing neglect important duty. She devotes herself to those things which need her time and attention, but manages to find time to look attractive.

Fascinating Womanhood, pg. 248.

THE TAKE-AWAY POINTS OF THIS BOOK

I believe that a savvy woman with healthy boundaries and healthy self-preservation instincts can learn much from this book. For example, I believe the problem of women trying to change their husbands usually reflects the woman’s failure to properly vet and screen the man before getting heavily involved with him. Women need to identify in advance what their “dealbreakers” are in a relationship. And refrain from getting involved with a man who has “dealbreaker” traits. I believe that between the heavy doses of obvious madness, there are huge chunks of useful advice in Fascinating Womanhood that can be a corrective for modern illusions about gender relations.

Meanwhile, this same book will contribute to the downfall of an emotionally needy woman who lacks firm boundaries and a healthy instinct for self-preservation. It all depends on the reader’s preexisting mindset and inclinations.

Equality is not the same as uniformity. Men are not the same as women, and generally don’t have the same emotional priorities or needs. Often, nonverbal communication is superior to verbal communication. Actions say more than words. Indirect actions are often more useful in shaping other people’s behavior than direct confrontations.

I also believe that more modern Western women need to get it through their heads that acquiring and maintaining an attractive, feminine appearance works to their advantage. Instead of trying to pretend that men don’t respond differently to different women’s appearance. Or trying to browbeat men into pretending that they’re not visual creatures. That doesn’t work.

What happens is that men learn to stop talking in women’s presence about their preferences. Overall, this is a losing strategy for women. See the illustration in this post for an example of what many men think about women’s appearance. Note the sense of entitlement embodied in the illustration: there’s no realistic portrayal of many Western men’s similarly overweight silhouettes, but yet these similarly less attractive men feel entitled to have what they consider to be the most attractive women.

Ladies, I hope you’re not getting yourselves agitated about this particular author, his subject matter, or the illustration he used. What this man is saying is simply an extreme version of what many other, healthier men feel to varying degrees. The point is for you to leverage these particular aspects of male psychology to your advantage! Look at the increased leverage you’ll have with men in the Western world (outside the African-American subculture) if you get yourself physically together, and into the “attractive” category of women!

Don’t waste a moment on being angry about that author. On a patriarchal planet, any man who can’t compete within the context of his own native culture is a loser and an undesirable. Who cares where such men go, or what they do? I know I don’t. I also don’t waste a single moment on being upset about what those sorts of men think about anything. I don’t care about them. Incidentally, I found it interesting that this particular blog author felt it necessary to ‘fess up that a large percentage of the men interested in his subject matter are looking to beat the foreign women they date and marry. See this post.

Anyway, it’s a better strategy for a woman to do what she can to maximize her leverage. As that particular blog author notes in this post, different areas of the world (and different cities and subcultures) have different leverage distributions between the genders. As anyone reading this blog knows, the African-American subculture is a male-empowerment zone. For the long list of reasons that we already know, such as a huge preexisting numerical imbalance coupled with a high African-American male incarceration rate, and so on. Any African-American woman (especially a dark-skinned woman) who restricts her dating life to African-American men will be at a severe, life-crippling disadvantage.

Ladies, take what’s useful from whatever source, and discard the rest. A woman having feminine skills plus 21st century freedom of movement (especially in the Western world) is an extremely powerful combination!

THEMES FOR DISCUSSION

Since the themes in the book touch on so many different underlying issues, I don’t think it’s helpful to try to isolate or limit this conversation to one main theme. So, please feel free to discuss whatever points that you want that were raised during this post.

With one big exception: I won’t publish comments that whine about or analyze male privilege, the prevalent male sense of entitlement, or male dysfunction. We already know all about those things. Those things are what they are. And the men who are heavily involved in that sort of distorted thinking are undesirables—they’re the sort of men who shouldn’t even be on a sensible woman’s radar. My main point in all the conversations here is on what strategies savvy, self-actualizing African-American women can use to maximize their enjoyment in life.

COMING NEXT IN BOOK REVIEWS

The next book review will feature the ebook, The Feminine Arts of Charm and Charisma, by Melina, blog host of The Art of Being Feminine.

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36 Responses to “Review: Fascinating Womanhood”

  1. NijaG says:

    I’m member of a few women relationship advice forums that focuses on relationships and other issues affecting women. We’ve discussed many books (The Rules, Surrendered Singles/Wives, Getting to I Do, Technique of the Love Affair etc). Helen Andelin’s book was one we looked at but later dropped once we discovered that her book was basically 70% lifted from a set of writing in the 1920’s. The rest was her adding her religious and personal upbringing. The original pamphlets were much better received by all.
    *****************************************************************

    This is a set of pamphlets written by authors unknown. In her 2 books, Fascinating Girl, and Fascinating Womanhood, Andelin used the principles found in the original pamphlets.

    The link is: http://pds.lib.harvard.edu/pds/view/2573605?n=5&s=4

  2. NijaG,

    My goodness . . . {shaking my head}

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

  3. NijaG says:

    Opps!!!

    Didn’t mean hit submit yet.

    The pamphlets (Fascinating womanhood, or, The art of attracting men. St. Louis : Psychology Press, c1922) were never published as a book.

    One thing I will say is that both writings, The original FW and that by Helen Andelin were written as a response to certain issues and movements in those eras. The original FW was written in the 1920’s after WWI and Helen A. came out with her version in the 1960’s as a counter to the growing feminist and sexual revolution of the times.

  4. NijaG says:

    I believe that a savvy woman with healthy boundaries and healthy self-preservation instincts can learn much from this book. For example, I believe the problem of women trying to change their husbands usually reflects the woman’s failure to properly vet and screen the man before getting heavily involved with him. Women need to identify in advance what their “dealbreakers” are in a relationship. And refrain from getting involved with a man who has “dealbreaker” traits. I believe that between the heavy doses of obvious madness, there are huge chunks of useful advice in Fascinating Womanhood that can be a corrective for modern illusions about gender relations.

    Meanwhile, this same book will contribute to the downfall of an emotionally needy woman who lacks firm boundaries and a healthy instinct for self-preservation. It all depends on the reader’s preexisting mindset and inclinations.
    ****************************************************************

    I agree with you. Due to various factors I think the last two generations of women have almost lost the important wisdom of our fore-mothers when it comes to understanding male-female dynamics/relationship. Basically, most threw out the baby with the bath water. These principles would definitely work on your average decent husband/BF. The women (married and single) who followed some of the principles definitely saw positive results. They won’t work on a DBR or manipulative husband; or a man not interested in a serious relationship or marriage. That was one of the negatives in Helen Andelin’s version. She basically assumes that majority of men intentions towards women were always good. In her single version (Fascinating Girl) I *think* she does cover some aspects of vetting men. I think the pamphlets are better though.

    Like you say, with any material, take what resonates and leave the rest. There are many modern day spin-offs of FW. Some of which I mentioned. Another good one is by Dr. Laura Schlessenger, The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands for those who are married.

  5. NijaG,

    {still shaking my head} So, it’s safe to guess that the sensible bits of the FW book are mostly lifted from the other (unknown) authors’ pamphlets.

    You said, “These principles would definitely work on your average decent husband/BF. The women (married and single) who followed some of the principles definitely saw positive results. They won’t work on a DBR or manipulative husband; or a man not interested in a serious relationship or marriage. That was one of the negatives in Helen Andelin’s version. She basically assumes that majority of men intentions towards women were always good.”

    Yes, this was another distinction that I noticed between Melina (the blog host of The Art of Being Feminine), and Mrs. Andelin. The blog host understands that there are ill-intentioned, destructive men out there; and has written many posts about how to identify such men.

    It’s interesting. As I was reading FW, my mind kept drifting back to the historical courtesans that the blog author often mentions. I think the courtesans are, in several critical ways, better models for modern women (who are often needy and confused). Mostly in that the courtesans “knew what time it was”—they completely understood just how vulnerable women are. They also understood the dynamics of what was at stake with their interactions with men. Courtesans couldn’t afford to have illusions about how reality works. They knew that their survival depended upon certain things, such as how well (or poorly) they maintained themselves. Most of all, the courtesans knew that they could NOT afford to get emotionally “caught up” with a man who was not contributing something tangible to their lives.

    Meanwhile, most modern women have a lot of delusional beliefs about the dynamics of male/female interactions. Many modern women are hopelessly lost on the Fantasy Island of how they feel things should operate—as opposed to how things actually work. AA women CAN’T afford these delusions—at least not any AA woman who is serious about living well.

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

  6. Karen says:

    ..”Another good one is by Dr. Laura Schlessenger, The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands for those who are married.

    ^^This sounds awfully close to a book for pets..LOL

    Back to the subject at hand, for me there is no real debate. A sensible woman who wants to be in a relationship with a man under the auspices of marriage, should take what is useful from any of these books and toss the rest.

    As NiGa and Khadija have stated here and in other posts, it is first important to ensure that the potential husband is dealing in good faith (hence vetting). It is also true that you cannot change someone else. It is possible to enhance the positive traits and minimize the not so desirable traits over time in a healthy relationship BUT the basic character will not change.

    I also agree that over the last two decades much was lost with regards to western women and their use of their most powerful asset “femininity”. Hopefully, there will be more AA women that will rediscover this asset and use it within a 21st century context to increase their chances to live well.

  7. Rhonda says:

    I also believe that more modern Western women need to get it through their heads that acquiring and maintaining an attractive, feminine appearance works to their advantage….

    The book “Women and Beauty” by Sophia Loren, which was published in 1984 when she was 50 years old — much of the advice in it remains timely. The best, and least expensive, way to get one’s hands on it is through the public library (if your library doesn’t have it, then through its inter-library loan program).

    A few notes from the book:

    Beauty is within your reach.

    Beauty is worth working for.

    Recognize that it is worth the time and effort it takes to be beautiful.

    Take the necessary time to maintain your appearance.

    Take your beauty seriously.

    Commit yourself to the effort that real beauty requires.

    Clothes are one of the most immediate means of communication. We all use “fashion” to tell the world something about ourselves and it is important to be aware of what that personal message is and whether it is accurate.

    Charm is the “invisible” part of beauty. Charm can make a plain woman uniquely appealing. Charm dissolves a multitude of physical imperfections. Beauty gets you noticed, intelligence and wit demand recognition, but charm will make you memorable.

    The real soul of charm is personal warmth.

    Humour is a great part of charm.

    There is lots more, but I shall stop here, just in case my comment is off-topic with this post.

    • sweetgumbolady says:

      thanks for this reference Rhonda. I was able to find a copy via interlibrary loan, and now I want one for my own library. All teen girls should read this as part of their rites of passage. Great book. I’m surprised at how down to earth and wise this bombshell is. Saw an interview with Raquel Welch recently and thought the same thing. Thanks again!

  8. Karen,

    You said, “^^This sounds awfully close to a book for pets..LOL”

    Yes, it does. It reminds me of another book that I vaguely recall played on the words “animal husbandry.” *Smile*
    _________________________________________

    Rhonda,

    Oh no, you’re comment is NOT off-topic! And I’m excited by the resource information that you bring to these conversations. [As a side note, I’m impressed by how well-read so many folks in the audience are! This enhances the conversations here.]

    I’m willing to discuss the structural roadblocks to abundant life within the AA collective (some of which are points that were indirectly raised by the post). NOT in the sense of yet again analyzing what’s wrong with defective AA males, or how they got that way (I’m bored with those sorts of conversations).

    I’m willing to discuss the mental roadblocks to living well that are within so many AA women’s minds.

    I’m also willing to discuss the cultural changes that have created roadblocks to living well. One of the changes that has negatively impacted on AA women (like WW in the US) is the decline in our general comprehension of femininity and its advantages for women.

    But my main point in all the conversations here is on discussing and brainstorming what strategies savvy, self-actualizing African-American women can use to maximize their enjoyment in life. And your comment mentions another source material that can help with that. Thank you!

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

  9. mochachoc says:

    Khadija you’re a better woman than me because I have a hard time finding the pearls of wisdom when I can see a pig charging toward me. I know I ought to be mature about it but I have a hard time finding nuggets of truth in amongst the smelly dross. I’m working on it though.

  10. Mochachoc,

    {laughing at your reference to “the smelly dross”}

    Well, I must admit that it was a real challenge with this particular book. LOL! As I read through “the smelly dross,” I kept thinking, “This woman was a sock puppet.” But then I would stumble across a fairly large chunk of something useful—which we now know probably came from the anonymous pamplet writers that Mrs. Andelin copied from [thanks for this info, NijaG!].

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

  11. Jackie says:

    Khadija, your observation re: courtesans is spot on. Courtesans were allowed to be educated, to converse on any subject, to mix freely in society . . . they experienced a freedom that no other women of their time enjoyed. In that way, their experience was much like ours today. There is definitely something to be learned from the ways they were able to work what we take for granted to their favor.

  12. Rhonda says:

    Okay, now that I know that this is on-topic…

    From “Get Serious About Getting Married: 365 proven ways to find love in less than a year (serious tips from a successful matchmaker)” by Janis Spindel with Karen Kelly:

    Make it a priority not to stay in any relationship for more than five minutes with someone who doesn’t treat you well and with respect. Spend time with people who honor your self-worth.

    Look your best — exude confidence and energy — be friendly, oen, considerate.

    The images of love that you see on television and movies, and read about in books, are fairy tales.

    The unvarnished truth: Men are attracted to pretty women (looks count)!!!

    In order to compete in the dating world you have to do everything you can to look your best. It is not shallow, frivolous, or silly to care about the way you look. Improving your appearance is within your reach. Your style and beauty routine can, and should, be fairly simple.

    Not looking for your mate will result in not finding him; you have to actively participate in finding yourself a mate. Every where you go, and every thing you do, from now on, presents an opportunity to meet someone. Look your best at all times.

    Say “goodbye” to any one who makes you miserable.

    “There are no ugly women, only lazy ones.” — Coco Chanel

    Dress for men.

    Smile!

    Men are attracted to thin, fit women; you need not be “model” skinny.

    What are you doing that is stopping you from meeting new people? What can you change that will allow you more access to social situations and new experiences?

    Get in the Mood and Become Date-able!

    “Take the Hello Challenge”: When you wake up tomorrow vow to simply say “hello” to three men and see what happens. Do it every single day for a week. Saying hello is easy, and it’s so natural that no one will be put off. There is nothing more charming than a friendly woman. See how many men you can say hello to in one day. Challenge yourself to increase the number every day. The only way your friendliness will become natural is if you practice, practice, practice. If a man says hello back and seems interested, keep the ball rolling and go with it! Pull out a pickup line. If not, it doesn’t matter. Just move on to the next guy. The point is to practice. There is nothing easier than saying “Hi.”

    That was just a taste; there is plenty more in the book.

  13. Rhonda says:

    But my main point in all the conversations here is on discussing and brainstorming what strategies savvy, self-actualizing African-American women can use to maximize their enjoyment in life….

    Nutrition and Physical Regeneration (another of the few health blogs I subscribe to, and which is run by a black American man) posted this inspirational story (and YouTube clip) about a 73 year old black American woman who is in better physical shape — condition-wise and visually appealing — than many women 40 years her junior! Here is the link to the post and video:

    She’s 73. She’s A Weightlifter. You No Longer Have Any Excuses.

    …It wasn’t until she turned 56 that she began to exercise with the aid of her sister. They were both spurred on to join a gym after shopping for bathing suits and thinking they didn’t like what they saw in the mirror.

  14. Oshun/Aphrodite says:

    Hello Khadija,

    I want to thank you so much for these posts. They have been so emotional for me, but in a positive way because they are so validating.

    I know I have shared some of my experiences with other folks and I am getting past that…

    It is so affirming to have this kind of encouragement and I greatly appreciate it.

    @ Rhonda

    I am on the floor at the 73 year old! I kept staring at her and thinking – why does she look 18 -25 from the neck down?? LOL

    I googled her and another BW, M. Newlin, popped up she was (she unfortunately passed sometime not too long ago) 86 years old and she is giving me the same 20 year old from the neck down body!

    http://grayironfitnessblog.blogspot.com/2007/08/morjorie-newlin-is-unreal.html

    I am so impressed! I had no idea BW like this existed. I bet there are more. I know there is a hot 100 year old BW out there somewhere.

    This is some serious inspiration. I definitely can keep plodding along and have something to look forward to!

  15. @Rhonda and Oshun/Aphrodite,

    WOW!!!! {DEEP martial arts bow in salute to these ladies}

    These ladies are ample proof that the statement quoted from Sophia Loren’s book above IS true: “Beauty is within your reach.”

    Indeed!
    _____________________________________

    @Oshun/Aphrodite,

    You said, “I want to thank you so much for these posts. They have been so emotional for me, but in a positive way because they are so validating. I know I have shared some of my experiences with other folks and I am getting past that… It is so affirming to have this kind of encouragement and I greatly appreciate it.”

    You’re welcome! I’m delighted with the turn that this conversation is taking. For me, focusing on these sorts of angles is SO much better and most of all, energizing, than doing DBRBM-centric analysis of issues. LOL!

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

  16. truth p. says:

    Hi khadija this was an excellent post with sooo much to think about.I think i’ll be rereading this over a couple or few more times.Thank you.

    Khadija you touched on soo many things so I hope i’m not too of topic here.Some of the things you touched on that really caught my eye was your comments about different groups having very different and independent beliefs but still claiming to be christianity islamic jewish.You also spoke on the indoctrination of the mormon woman writer as well as the hypocrisy of certain churches in their calling out the catholic church for it’s wrong doings towards children but not keeping things within their own churches in tact.Well I just want to say that the one thing that I noticed about seemingly all of these different groups and their independent doctrines is
    that they all seem to have one very important thing in common doctrine wise.They ALL seem to,in some way, believe in the part of the bible 1 corithians 6 that states:

    1Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?

    2Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?

    3Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

    4If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.

    5I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?

    6But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.

    7Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?

    8Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.

    Most of the time their practice and insistence of handling things on the inside of the church ONLY seems to be of a big disadvantage to women and children first and foremost.Especially when you couple these sayings with many of the other very patriarchal views found in religious writings.It therefore makes alot of sense to me, and doesn’t outrage me at all, that a woman could have written many of the things that this woman wrote.It seems to me that, even with some of the more blatant abuse of women and children, if you have men and women taught to never go outside the church for answers or help then it becomes an environment where people can be easily indoctrinated and subject to abuse.

    ps.I hope nothing in my post offended you as I am not muslim and don’t know if you’d be offended by me quoting bible scripts.If I did my apologies in advance.

    God bless you,Allah Baraka Feek!

  17. TruthP.,

    You’re welcome! Thank you for your kind words about the post; I truly appreciate it. And may God bless you! *smile*

    Oh no, I’m not offended by Bible quotes. In fact, there are several Bible passages that I’m quite fond of, such as Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” This is part of the reason I try to steer conversations here toward hopeful, productive ends.

    You said, “…the hypocrisy of certain churches in their calling out the catholic church for it’s wrong doings towards children but not keeping things within their own churches in tact.”

    Oh no, I’m not so much talking about “certain churches.” I’m talking about the members of these churches. I’m talking about the large numbers of Protestant (mostly Baptist and COGIC) Colored girls that I’ve encountered who sneer at the Catholic church out of ignorance—as opposed to sneering based on informed differences of opinion.

    Meanwhile, these particular Baptist and COGIC AA women—who don’t even know the historical origins of their own churches—can’t/won’t see the parallels between the problems within the Catholic church and what’s currently going on within their OWN denominations.

    For another (blunt) example, I hear these foolish Baptist and COGIC Colored girls sneering about the celibate, so-called “brides of Christ,” Catholic nuns.

    But yet these same Baptist and COGIC Colored girls are embracing the SAME type of doctrines that lead to PERMANENT celibacy for them as women! They just call it something other than being a nun. What is the difference between being a Catholic nun and being a Protestant AA woman talking about some “Soulmate” stuff? http://www.soulmatefilm.com/

    I don’t see any meaningful difference between these 2 postures. Those 2 types of indoctrination are having the SAME net effect on these women’s lives. At least the Catholic nuns go into it with their eyes somewhat open. They KNOW the path they’re embarking on leads to forever sacrificing the hope of marriage and children.

    Meanwhile, the sneering Baptist and COGIC Colored girls didn’t quite knowingly sign up for that—they backed their way into that SAME type of life. And then came up with “Soulmate”-type doctrines to justify the frustrated lives that they ended up with.

    All the while, the answer for these Baptist and COGIC Colored girls is fairly simple: Leave these all-Black Protestant churches, and start attending mixed and/or majority White, Protestant churches. Unlike AA churches, White-led Protestant churches tend to have a large pool of available, single Christian men. And unlike the AA churches, these White Protestant churches tend to be serious about providing wholesome opportunities for their single members to meet, court, and ultimately get married.

    But noooooo. Instead of doing that (the prospect of interracial marriage shouldn’t be that much of a problem because I was under the impression that Christianity is not supposed to be a racist faith tradition)—these Baptist and COGIC Colored girls continue to passively sit in their mostly female, marriage-lacking, all-Black churches. And then they start talking stuff like this “Soulmate” talk. And as they’re doing this, they turn up their noses at the Catholic nuns who at least knowingly signed up for the permanently marriage-free and child-free lifestyle they got themselves into.

    I’m annoyed by hearing that sort of arrogant stupidity. And it’s been a struggle for me to hold my tongue while listening to these foolish women pontificate.

    Anyhoo, I’m not so much talking about the corrupt religious leadership of these pedophile-infested houses of worship. These men and the women who enable them are obviously ethically insane. The topic of ethical insanity came up at the previous blog.

    http://muslimbushido.blogspot.com/2009/08/catalog-of-ethical-insanity-part-1-down.html

    As I said during that post, the African-American collective is TEEMING with ethically insane individuals. Individuals who retain their intellectual capacity but harbor strange and depraved ideas that are FAR outside the bounds of decency and propriety.

    So, I dont’ expect much from the full-blown ethically insane indviduals among us. I’m talking about the uninformed, confused, but yet complacent, rank and file among AA women believers.

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

  18. truth p. says:

    Khadija,THANKS A MILLION FOR MAKING THAT AS CLEAR AS CAN BE!!!I AGREE WITH YOU WHOLEHEARTEDLY!!!Sorry to type in caps but “sista you preachin”!.I think you and others have discussed many times some of the very weird things that some african american women do.My favorite point that I believe you,i think it was you?, bought up once upon a time was the professional african american women who go their whole lives avoiding Tyrone and all the deadbeats so that they won’t end up a statistic, i.e single bw with child,eventually choosing to adopt Tyrones baby while they’re still unwed.It makes no sense.I still need to read this post some more and let it marinate.I might have some questions too so bear with if you can.

  19. Jackie,

    Sorry, I missed your comment before. You said, “Courtesans were allowed to be educated, to converse on any subject, to mix freely in society . . . they experienced a freedom that no other women of their time enjoyed.”

    Yep. And, after acquiring financial independence in the form of large sums of money and property from various clients, some of these women ultimately settled down to marry wealthy men. Of course, these courtesans were at the very TOP of the heap in terms of that particular field. There were still the day-to-day street-level prostitutes who suffered and went hungry.

    Again, what strikes me most about the courtesans was the total clarity about reality that they needed to have in order to succeed, and not end up as a common streetwalker.

    When I get a chance, I’ll check out the book Grandes Horizontales: The Lives and Legends of Four Nineteenth-Century Courtesans by Virginia Rounding.

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

  20. Jacki says:

    “Of course, these courtesans were at the very TOP of the heap in terms of that particular field. There were still the day-to-day street-level prostitutes who suffered and went hungry.”

    Yes, and the most important differences between the two was education, the ability to function effectively in higher societies, and the exclusive association with those in that society.

    Thanks for the book tip! I will checking that out myself.

  21. JaliliMaster says:

    I very much agreed with your statements regarding women trying to browbeat men into pretending that they’re not visual creatures or trying to pretend that men don’t respond differently to different women’s appearance. From an ‘outsiders’ point of view, I’ve noticed that majority of AA women’s reaction to not only AA men dating/co-habiting with/marrying non-Black women but also the various reasons they give, both the real and bogus ones, as to why such significant numbers of them do, particularly the more well-to-do ones, is similar to the reaction WW have to WM partnering with non-White women, Asian women in particular. I should point out that the protests from these women has in no way diminished the frequency/numbers of men marrying “out”. In fact, it’s done the opposite. Anytime I see comments made online or in articles or hear them spoken, I always wonder why instead of complaining and criticising the ‘other’ women, either accept that these men in particular are not interested in you, or address the issues they raise.

    Before I continue with my post, I think I should state the following: I refer to AA women in particular as opposed to BW in general for the following reasons:
    1. I’d have to include the BW in UK, and the BM in UK (at least the Caribbean origin ones) who, as we all know mate out at very high rates do not tend to PUBLICLY slate Black Caribbean women as unappealing the way I’m so used to seeing AA men do, and

    2. The Black Caribbean Women do not PUBLICLY wail about ‘their’ men doing it.

    Therefore, the only issues I can address re: femininity and desirability, concerning women ensuring that they do not create a playing field that does not serve them well, will partly hinge on what I commonly hear WM say when it comes to WW vs Asian women and AA men say when it comes to AA women vs. other non-Black women, and what WW and AAW say. Now back to my post.

    As you said, men are more attracted to feminine women. Much more. They always have been and as far as I can tell, always will be. I have never bought the idea that women thought men didn’t care about female femininity, or that women were somehow confused as to why feminine females attract more men. For women who complain about it, I ask them…..what attracts you more, a masculine man or a feminine man? When I say masculine, I am talking in terms of protector, provider, being driven and ready to compete with other men, chivalrous, alpha male types. The answer is always that they prefer masculine men. Yet they still get angry that men prefer feminine women. Now when I say feminine women, I mean nurturing, caring, soft and physically feminine woman.

    It is common to hear WW label Asian women as subservient or other more derogatory labels that I won’t repeat when WM date them. I have no doubt that there are many WM who date these women for that reason. However, the majority always say that Asian women are more feminine, softer, nicer to be around, more easy going/laid back, have less aggressive personalities and seem to enjoy the whole idea of being a woman as opposed to turning themselves into pseudo-males. In reply, all WW tend to do is label them as weak. The same happens with AAW when it comes to AAM. Undoubtedly, some of the reasons they give are bogus. However, it seems that the general discussion has moved from AA women refuting their claims to some AA women accusing these men of being the cause of these negative traits. In other words, they are now accepting that the accusations are true. I believe that the increase in the number of WW who are now leaning towards a more ‘traditional’ view of femininity is somewhat in reply to what a lot of WM have been saying regarding Asian women. They realised that no one was listening to their excuses especially as more men (Black, Hispanic and NA) also started going after these women. I don’t know whether the same thing is going to happen with AA women. This need or desire to be everything to everyone (i.e some type of superhuman that can shoulder everyone’s problems) needs to be dropped. Women who do this may end up being something/everything to someone/everyone, but also end up being a woman to no one. It is not only BW in America that have a problem with ever decreasing marriage rates. WW are starting to experience it too. I think they looked at their situation and compared it to that of AA women and knew that something was going to have to change.

    Men only tend to speak honestly when they are amongst other men. So any messages we as women may be getting is the sugar coated version of it. In many cases, the truth is there for us to see, but because it goes against what we so want to be true, we discard/ignore it, to our own detriment. It is unwise to keep on labelling men as shallow because they are attracted to a woman’s beauty. Most people are not a 10/10. On average, people’s looks hover around a 5-6/10. Then there are those of us who are great beauties, and those on the lower end of the scale, but most are average. It is called ‘average’ for a reason! I have noticed that some women try to force men t be attracted to almost any woman. It is common to hear White British women say (in reference to a slim woman) that ‘real’ men prefer curves. I should add that the average female size in the U.K is a 14 – 16, which is an American 12 – 14 (I think). I should also add that when women talk about curves, they usually mean something VERY different that when most men talk about curves. When Beyonce lost a bit of weight for her role in Dream girls, men would have still seen her as curvy. Yet I saw comments online from various women (both Black and White) that she should ‘get her curves back’. I looked at her body and saw a curvy woman. A poll was conducted sometime ago, and men and women were polled separately. Both said that they felt curvy women were the most attractive. Yet when they were asked to pick celebrities who fit their ideal of a curvy woman, all the men picked slim (like say Jessica Alba type) or medium (like Beyonce or a Jennifer Lopez). When men say curvy, it means just that. Curves on a woman really has to do with body shape not size. There has been a concerted effort on the part of certain women to force men to accept a different definition of the word ‘curvy’. It may surprise you, but who did the women pick as their ideal body type………Victoria Beckham. This woman is a size 0 (00 in America). These women on one hand hate the idea of seeing very skinny women on the arms of the men they want, yet their desire is to be skinny like these women. This is despite the fact that most men, when asked, say they are not attracted to someone with the body type of a Victoria Beckham.

    A lot of Western women try to blame everyone/everything else for the state of their romantic/social life. Either because the men are too shallow, yet these women have rather shallow ‘deal breakers’ when it comes to a suitable date. Most women (myself inclusive) prefer tall, fit men. No one questions it. Most men prefer slim, fit women. Yet that choice tends to be questioned and attacked by most women. We are even luckier because there does not tend to be a height restriction, some men like petite women, some like average height women, some men like tall women. However, most men tend to be somewhat indifferent as to the height of their partner (or just as long as he is taller). Why is it okay for us to have this physical requirement on a man, based on something he had no effect on and can’t change (his height), but it is such an abomination for men to have a requirement on something that was most influenced by us (our weight)?

    As has been mentioned on this blog, when things are not going right, do what is being done by those who are living well. Some years ago, there was a blog hosted by a BW who was married to a WM. She had this woe is me attitude, and seemed to think that Asian women all had it so easy. She would get angry that they were slim and say that her size was because she is Black, and BW are naturally larger. She was under the impression that Asian women were at the top and BW like her were, in her own words, at the bottom of the totem pole. All I would say is that this woman is lucky that she was already married because had any self-respecting man come across her blog, he would have ran in the opposite direction. She mentioned how she only used to date ‘hot’ WM, when she was younger, but ended up marrying a ‘geeky’ type. I don’t know what her definitions of these words are. She always said that BW should stay away from attractive WM because they are never interested in marriage. It seems that a lot of her blog visitors agreed. Yet, they all ignored the fact that she had mentioned previously (and on several occasions) that in her younger days, she used to dress like a ‘h—chie mama’ (her words). She was unable to make the correlation between how she presented herself and how the men she entered into relationships with treated her. She eve so far as stated that she doesn’t understand why her hubby married her because she never used to carry herself in the ‘marriage material’ type of way. Yet she was confused as to what she did wrong that most of the men she dated had no interest whatsoever in marrying her, especially as some of them, not long after they break up, would end up marrying some else.

    The fact is that if you are trying to get a certain type of quality man, you HAVE to be a certain type of quality woman. Some WW were surprised when they first saw Melinda Gates, as they were expecting Bill to marry a playboy or model type. They felt that given his billions, she just wasn’t all that ‘cute’. They didn’t seem to understand that the way she carried and presented herself would have made her attractive to her future husband in a way that most other women would not. There was a professional AA woman who complained that as she was 40, she really wanted to marry and settle down. But the problem was that she enjoys going to hip-hop clubs and ‘grinding’ on the dance floor next to girls less than half her age, and she didn’t see any reason to stop doing it, even though the men she was meeting were of a certain calibre and not interested in marriage. Several of the other AA women tried telling her that her doing that in those sort of clubs was inappropriate. She just argued with them. The problem is that she was only later able to see the problem in terms of how she was socialising in an environment with men who were over a decade and a half behind in terms of what they were looking for. If she decided to go to a more suitable spot, she would still carry that behaviour with her. She couldn’t understand that her behaviour was not a good look. Getting on the dance floor and gyrating, be it on the ground or on certain body parts of males you may barely even know is very unfeminine. The fact that it is the female that does it does not make it feminine. A lot of people only look at femininity as the opposite of masculinity, as opposed to looking at it on its own.

    There is also something I have noticed about BW in the West in general (irrespective of country of origin). A lot of us tend to underestimate the importance of being ‘nice’. It makes people respond to you better. It also makes men more likely to view you in the sense of man/woman, as opposed to man/not-man.

    • Rhonda says:

      …Some years ago, there was a blog hosted by a BW who was married to a WM. She had this woe is me attitude, and seemed to think that Asian women all had it so easy. She would get angry that they were slim and say that her size was because she is Black, and BW are naturally larger. She was under the impression that Asian women were at the top and BW like her were, in her own words, at the bottom of the totem pole. All I would say is that this woman is lucky that she was already married because had any self-respecting man come across her blog, he would have ran in the opposite direction….

      JaliliMaster, I think I know the blog that you referenced. (And I think it is still active.) If it is the same one: Not only did she write about black women being at the bottom of the totem pole, but she would complain about her white husband not seeing “racism” in every nook and cranny as she did. The woman saw racism in darn near every social situation: If a waitress in a restaurant was not very friendly towards her, then that was because the waitress was a racist [towards blacks]. From reading her blog posts (the many rants about how lucky Asian women have it with white American men; the endless looking for racism in everyone, and the expectation that her husband see, relate to, the world as she does; the many postings that, in my opinion, degraded, put down, her husband–a man who went to work while she stayed at home without children), the song “What Did I Do To Be So Black and Blue” accurately described her psychological state and the tone of her blog.

  22. JaliliMaster,

    You said, “I should point out that the protests from these women has in no way diminished the frequency/numbers of men marrying “out”. In fact, it’s done the opposite. Anytime I see comments made online or in articles or hear them spoken, I always wonder why instead of complaining and criticising the ‘other’ women, either accept that these men in particular are not interested in you, or address the issues they raise.”

    Indeed. I firmly believe that AA women need to focus on getting their OWN needs met, instead of worrying about what BM are doing.

    And you ZEROED in on one of the underlying point of my posts when you said, “Therefore, the only issues I can address re: femininity and desirability, concerning women ensuring that they do not create a playing field that does not serve them well…” I believe that AA women are doing a number of things that creates a playing field that does NOT serve us well!

    That’s why I’ve been talking about these femininity issues.

    You said, “Men only tend to speak honestly when they are amongst other men. So any messages we as women may be getting is the sugar coated version of it. In many cases, the truth is there for us to see, but because it goes against what we so want to be true, we discard/ignore it, to our own detriment. It is unwise to keep on labelling men as shallow because they are attracted to a woman’s beauty.”

    I agree. I believe that 99.99% of AA males’ excuses for not wanting AA women are BS—they’re happy to marry WW and other non-Black women who have the SAME traits that they claim to find so undesirable. BM do this so often that obese White actresses like Kirstie Alley can “joke” about it, and everybody knows exactly what she’s talking about.

    However, this does not negate the fact that large numbers of AA women have bought into behaviors that are NOT appealing in general. And certainly are not appealing to quality men. Behaviors that create a playing field that does NOT serve AA women well—public cursing, publicly lewd (“grinding” on the dance floor) and/or coarse behavior, obesity, and so on.

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

  23. Amanda says:

    I very much agreed with your statements regarding women trying to browbeat men into pretending that they’re not visual creatures or trying to pretend that men don’t respond differently to different women’s appearance.

    I remember bgurrl mentioning this in one of her posts. She was talking about a forum in which guys were talking about how they thought women cursing were unfeminine. Many agreed until the women started in on them being chauvinist and then all of a sudden the men started agreeing and saying how they had girl friends who cursed etc., but what she noticed was that many would later say how their wives didn’t curse or smoke (which goes into another discussion)etc. This also goes with a forum on women smoking. She said they also talked about current girl friends, but if everyone noticed these are/were girlfriends they never said their wives cursed or smoked. She informed bw to read between the lines. When I read that post and was like I’m not the only one who’ve noticed this happen with men online and off.

    • Amanda,

      You said, “When I read that post and was like I’m not the only one who’ve noticed this happen with men online and off.”

      You and the other woman you mentioned were wise to listen.

      All browbeating does is drive opinions underground—it doesn’t change anybody’s views. Now, some opinions need to be driven underground—for example, people should NOT be allowed to feel comfortable enough to use racial slurs in public.

      However, other sorts of opinions are what they are. And sometimes, people would do well to listen. I’m not saying to necessarily agree—but simply to listen and see if there’s any useful lesson in the statement.

      Peace, blessings and solidarity.

  24. Amanda says:

    Oh and I have been debating reading that book. But when I read what it was about or her views I decided against it. I saw the FW by the unknown author, but thought it was the original. Thanks for posting this because I can read that one. I also plan on read The Technique of the Love Affair and Cindy Lu’s The Four Man Plan

  25. Sabrina says:

    I’m of the opinion that all of those sorts of books whether Fascinating Womanhood or the “Rules” are not good reading. Those books encourage women to be manipulative and not be their true selves and then what happens after they land the man they think they want and then want to be themselves instead of being “fascinating” and playing by the “rules?” Way I see it, the best “rules” for women and femininity comes straight from Proverbs 31 in the Bible…and the best part? It’s free!

    • Oshun/Aphrodite says:

      Why would a woman stop being fascinating and playing by rules after she is married? I think Khadija had a post about keeping yourself together/flawless while being married…in order to stay that way and so that you are positioned well in the event the marriage does dissolve.

      I don’t understand how teaching women to put their interests first equals manipulation.

  26. Sabrina,

    Let me stress that I support folks applying their scriptures to their lives. So, I’m NOT at all quibbling with your Bible citation.

    I AM pointing out that—apparently—AA Christian women’s application of that particular scripture is NOT working out. Not at all. In fact, it’s working out so poorly that a number of them have even come up with a “Soulmate” doctrine to justify their permanent state of being (involuntarily) single. http://www.soulmatefilm.com/

    I don’t know why that is—I’m not in their churches, and I’m not that familiar with the Bible.

    So, I’m asking you, Sabrina—if you would, please explain the following:

    If the quick answer to the problem of the overwhelming never-married rate for AA Christian women is an application of Proverbs 31, then why are the vast majority of these church-going, AA Christian women (permanently) single? Why are AA churches overflowing with (involuntarily) single women—to the extent that something like “Soulmate” theology gets started up?

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

    • KM says:

      Because to be a Proverbs 31 woman, you need to have a Proverbs 31 man. She was running the house, spinning cloth, able to sell and do what she wanted because, as it is implied in the scripture, her husband was supporting her. She didn’t have to work to support her family, her husband was doing so. IMO, he was so proud of her because instead of being lazy with her time, the Proverbs 31 woman added to the wealth and well-being of her household. But then, at the same time, Proverbs 31 could be read as some things that a woman can do but she doesn’t and shouldn’t feel like she has to do those things but she has the option.

      As someone who has been in the AA church, the Proverbs 31 woman is used as another stranglehold on BW. You have to be perfect, support yourself and be willing to do for any and everyone and then, you’ll be worthy of being a wife. However, when this Proverb was written, a wife was married to a husband who supported his wife and family.

  27. KM,

    You said, “Because to be a Proverbs 31 woman, you need to have a Proverbs 31 man.”

    Indeed! You said it ALL right there. These traditional wife roles only work properly when the husband does HIS part!

    I didn’t (and don’t) want to get into a scriptural debate with Christians about their Bible, but I was concerned when I pulled out my (KJV) Bible and read those verses. The woman being described in those verses seemed to be doing a LOT of hard work: seeking wool and flax and working it with her own hands; bringing food from afar, getting up in the night to give meat to her household and a portion to her maidens; buying a field and planting a vineyard with her own hands; making linen and selling it…and on and on…and on…

    My goodness, if the wife is doing all of that, what’s left for her husband (or servants) to do?

    Let me mention something else. I firmly believe that AA women can’t and shouldn’t even try to play out these traditional wife roles with most AA men—it’s not safe for an AA woman to do that with most AA men. Because the vast majority of (mostly fatherless) AA males are NOT Proverbs 31-type of men.

    And there’s already been a large segment of AA women who ran the experiment of trying to live out these scripture-based traditional roles with AA men—Sunni, “orthodox” (non-Nation of Islam) Muslim AA women. For the most part, that particular experiment in AA women trying to live as scripture-based, traditional wives to AA men has FAILED. Miserably. With a lot of damage done to “orthodox” Muslim AA women and children along the way.

    What a large chunk of these AA Sunni Muslim men did was turn their “wives”—a number of these men were involved in illegal plural marriages—into what has been called “holy whores” (because these veiled women who believe they are in polygamous marriages are NOT legally married—only the 1st wife is actually married to the man). More than a few of these AA Sunni Muslim males sat around and refused to work (while calling themselves “religious students” who couldn’t work for “the infidels”), and signed up their stay-at-home, homeschooling-the-children “wives” for welfare benefits.

    Large numbers of these AA Sunni Muslim men lived off of their traditional wives’ welfare benefits. When I did a rotation in my jurisdiction’s child support courtrooms, I observed quite a few of these AA Sunni Muslim “holy whores.” They came off as extremely naive, young women who accepted Islam in order to get with the AA Mooz-lim (and I say “mooz-lim” because there is nothing Islamic or Muslim about what these Negro pimps are doing) male who then commanded them to wear full veils and sign up for public aid.

    Here’s a blog post that mentions a WW Muslim convert’s experiences with these sort of AA Sunni Muslim males and the “holy whores” on public aid. In part, she said:

    “This particular masjid was usually only occupied at prayer time, except for a group of young American, convert men who always seemed to be there. Other members of the congregation were either students or employees, or both. Not this particular group. They were neither. I would come to know most of them as I studied Islam before I said my shahada. And sadly I would come to learn what a blight they were on the Islamic community. They were the source of most of the fitnah and destruction of brotherhood/sisterhood among us.

    I would first like to say that when one has too much time on his hands, Shaytan uses him as a plaything. Under the guise of “Islamic education”, this group lounged around the masjid day in and day out.

    …It came to be known that white converts—and there were many women especially—were a prized commodity to those slackers who lay in the masjid all day. They tried to snag us at all costs. Somehow they believed the addition of a white feather in their caps would give their group legitimacy—something it was sorely lacking. They often complained that the Arab brothers “stole the white women” away.”

    …They were all, with the exception of one, married to black women and on the prowl for a second or third wife—preferably a white one. Their families lived on welfare because it was “haram to work for the kuffar”. The kuffar would not allow you to wear a turban and jalabayih to work, so you couldn’t work for them, as “Islamic” clothing for men was wajib. It was not haram however to take charity from the kuffar. So these families existed on full welfare, which back in those days—before Clinton’s welfare reform—was a bundle.”

    …It was suggested to me that I might like to become the wife of one of these fine brothers. I politely declined, not just because I was uninterested in living on welfare, but because I couldn’t get with the polygamy aspect, being that not only was it illegal, but I would have to lie and pretend I wasn’t married to my husband. This is how the welfare department in our city came to call the Muslim women on the welfare role “the Holy Whores” – because they were often dressed in all black and niqaab and having children (as far as the state was concerned) out of wedlock. The second and subsequent wives could not be legally married to their spouse, and the government didn’t give a damn about or recognize a so-called Islamic marriage. And so the “Holy Whores” were born and I wasn’t eager to join their ranks.”

    According to her account, this woman went on to marry an Arab man and then they were both ostracized by the AA Mooz-lim male slackers in that mosque. It’s not a pretty story. And it’s part of the hidden history of how “orthodox” Islam among AAs has been destroyed over the past 15-25 years.

    {still shaking my head in disgust}

    Now, one may argue that this experiment in scripture-based, traditional roles has been successful within the Nation of Islam. However, unlike what I can see of the AA Christian church, or “orthodox” AA Muslim mosques, the Nation of Islam requires its male members to honor their end of the bargain and function as traditional protectors and providers for women and children.

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

    • KM says:

      Khadija,

      I’ve always interpreted those verses as things the woman could do/have done and isn’t doing all at the same time because given the overall tone of the Bible and what the Word says about male/female relations, it makes no sense for the woman to be doing ALL of that. Just my opinion though.

      But like the AA Mooz-lim men you mention in your reply, lots of AA “Christian” men use Proverbs 31 to browbeat AA Christian women into a “traditional” role while making the woman the breadwinner. It’s a con game in both respects and AA BW need to wake up and get with the program.

      As for the book…. I was considering getting after seeing Melina’s website but I have no interest in support Mormons, especially considering their theology towards Blacks and BW. Not supporting people who do not support me.

  28. NijaG says:

    The woman being described in those verses seemed to be doing a LOT of hard work: seeking wool and flax and working it with her own hands; bringing food from afar, getting up in the night to give meat to her household and a portion to her maidens; buying a field and planting a vineyard with her own hands; making linen and selling it…and on and on…and on…

    My goodness, if the wife is doing all of that, what’s left for her husband (or servants) to do?
    *****************************************************************

    LOL!!!!!!!

    That Proverbs passage use to rub me the wrong way growing up when I heard it in church as I started seeing and understanding some of very sanctioned unequal dynamics in many male-female rlsps/marriages. Back home, just like in the AA community there are some dysfunctional messages preached to women. One word I hate with a passion when used in the context of a married women is ENDURE. It makes my skin crawl because it’s almost always about making a woman (especially married) stay and put up with crazy-making behavior from her husband. The worse thing I can hear is to have ENDURE coupled with PRAY, in these kinds of situations. If you want to make my head explode put those two words together in those kinds of situations.

    I always tell these so called “Christian” men that like to throw words like “submit” and “dutiful” that when they become “Christ-Like” and “love me the way Christ loves the Church” then they might get my submission.