The Art of Being Feminine

IN A PATRIARCHAL WORLD, DEFEMINIZATION HAS SEVERE CONSEQUENCES FOR WOMEN

Halima, blog host of Black Women’s Interracial Relationship Circle, is holding an extremely important discussion about how many Black women have been programmed to cooperate with being defeminized. On a patriarchal planet, defeminization has severe consequences for women. As Halima points out, defeminization by becoming un-women means that a woman won’t receive what she identified as the four main manifestations of male protection: courtesy, concern, consideration, and concessions.

We see this widespread, glaring absence of male protection within Black residential areas. This absence of protection within Black residential areas is mostly due to African-American men’s general lack of interest in protecting and providing for Black women and children. [That’s how something like the Dunbar Village Atrocity happens, and how similar atrocities become everyday happenings in other Black residential areas. As I stressed at the previous blog, if you live in a Black residential area, a Dunbar Village atrocity is coming soon to your neighborhood. It’s just a matter of time.]

However, even those men (of all races and ethnic groups) who do want to function as protectors and providers are less inclined to feel protective of un-women and “Sister Soldiers.” Further, un-women and Sister Soldiers have problems escaping the horrors of the numerically imbalanced, radioactive all-Black dating scene into the wider world. Quality men are repelled by coarse she-males and un-women.

I understand how this Sister Soldiering became entrenched among African-American women. Generations of African-American women have been tricked and programmed out of women’s natural role (of being protected and provided for) and into functioning as Sister Soldiers. This abnormal behavior of Black women functioning as warriors has been normalized in the minds of most African-Americans. [Mostly for the purpose of picking up African-American men’s slack.] It’s an example of what Elijah Muhammad called “tricknology” when people trick you into beliefs and practices that are contrary to your interests.

In a recent comment, a reader named YMB succintly explained the cultural dynamics underlying this systematic defeminization of African-American women when she said:

It makes perfect sense in the context that BW are being groomed to take over the roles that BM will no longer fulfill. BW are now thought of as the primary breadwinners and protectors. I would wonder how many black SAHMs there are compared to how many BW have chronically unemployed stay at home (in)significant others. In this “help a brotha out” culture, I’m sure this is quite a common scenario.

It also makes perfect sense given the “scarcity, hunt and peck” predicament that BW find themselves in when they limit themselves to BM only. Theirs is the position of abject beggars who will do anything to entice a BM to stay. “You don’t want to have to give up having outside relationships? We can have an open relationship. Of course that will only apply to you, baby. You don’t have money for an engagement ring? I’ll take care of that, too.”

Even if no one says it as flatly as this, the prevailing attitude is that BW ARE undeserving of the traditional benefits women have enjoyed in marriage and better consider themselves lucky if they are able to convince any caliber of man to marry them.

Now for why other BW go along with this, I think it’s three-pronged. First the defeminization BW are subjected to. Secondly, single parenthood has become the sad standard among BW. Advocating being a SAHMs as a valid choice for BW flies in the face of the proud angry denial many BW have about parenting needing to be a two-parent job. Lastly, it serves as another enticement to snag reticent BM partners: “What, that BW wants to be a stay at home mother, living off her man?! I would never take advantage of my man like that.” In other words, pick me! pick me!

In modern black culture, it is an alien concept that a man would take pride in and enjoy being able to provide well enough for his wife that she could stay at home, and that he would see value in her doing so.

A CRASH COURSE IN FEMININE GRACE FOR RECOVERING SISTER SOLDIERS

We’ve had a previous conversation about how this behavior is a bad look that feeds into African-American women’s negative public image. Now, let’s talk about resources that explain and teach more attractive behavior. The kind of comportment that will better serve those African-American women who are seeking abundance in every area of life.

During Halima’s recent discussion, one of her readers mentioned a blog that I believe is extremely helpful, especially for recovering Sister Soldiers. It’s called The Art of Being Feminine. [Thanks, MissASP!]

Of course, I don’t agree with everything I’ve read over there. Even though she’s staunchly anti-feminist, the blog author is a woman who has benefited from feminism (like all modern American women). However, I believe the information she’s providing is a needed corrective for the coarse and unfeminine behavior that has become normalized among too many African-American women. This coarse behavior does not serve us well as we navigate the wider world.

TRY NOT TO HAVE KNEE-JERK RESPONSES AGAINST THE “ART OF BEING FEMININE” BLOG BASED ON OTHER WOMEN’S CONTEXTS

Let me repeat an observation that I made in an earlier post:

African-American women often buy into ideas that have no real relevance to their particular circumstances. This often comes up whenever Black women discuss the importance of marriage.

When analyzing ideas, Black women should keep their own circumstances in the forefront. African-American women are operating in a context that no other group of women are operating in. Other women may face similar issues, but at nowhere near the rate of African-American women. Black women need to stop tripping, recognize that other women’s context is not our context, and respond accordingly.

African-American women are operating in a context of a huge unmarried rate (relative to all other types of people) and a 70 percent-plus illegitimate child rate. In this context, African-American women can’t afford the luxury of calling ourselves “overcoming” the perception that we want legitimate marriage—just like every other race and ethnic group of women on the planet.

To paraphrase some other important points that Halima has made in earlier comments and blog posts:

Unlike the White female theorists who can afford to characterize marriage as a site of oppression, African-American women need to understand that marriage is important as a potential site for division of the hard work involved in raising children. Unlike the current situation where African-American women are bearing almost sole responsibility for raising Black children (as is clear from the 70 percent-plus out of wedlock rate).

Unlike women from other ethnic and racial groups, African-American women are being targeted for male disassociation and social disfellowship.

White women are generally protected and provided for within overall White American society (see the examples of how David Letterman and Kanye West were quickly chastised for publicly demeaning a White woman). White women can afford to talk that stuff about how they refuse to be “obsessed with marriage”—because they’re already reaping the benefits of marriage!

African-American women can’t afford the luxury of characterizing desire for marriage as “obsession” with marriage. African-American women are suffering the real consequences of the absence of marriage within the African-American collective. Consequences like the physical danger posed by legions of (mostly fatherless) predatory, violent criminals. Physically dangerous environments like Dunbar Village are one of many results of an absence of stable, two-parent families created by marriage.

I’m not talking about marriage as somehow saving the African-American collective. I’m talking about how the mass absence of marriage is drastically lowering the quality of Black women’s lives. And sometimes, such as within many Black residential areas, is creating physical danger to Black women.

White women and other women can afford to “trip,” and pretend like they don’t know the reasonable availability of marriage opportunities within their own group is doing something good and important for them (and their children). African-American women can’t afford to “trip” like that.

Don’t let the things you don’t like about that particular blog stop you from picking up pearls of wisdom that can enhance your life! A woman having feminine skills plus 21st century freedom of movement (especially in the Western world) is an extremely powerful combination!

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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158 Responses to “The Art of Being Feminine”

  1. Oshun/Aphrodite says:

    Thank you NijaG, YMB, PVW, and Karen,

    I really appreciate all the wisdom and insight that you have shared about this situation.

    @ NijaG

    “I don’t know how much you interacted with her, her hubby and their social circle. If you did interact with them socially then I wouldn’t be surprised if *maybe* she was getting questions about you. Also, you’d be surprised how innocent comments and compliments from her husband about you would trigger major insecurities, especially since she seemed to have let herself go like you mentioned.”

    We used to get together twice a month or so – lunch, dinner – day trips sightseeing. Sometimes her whole family and other friends of theirs were involved. They let me stay at their lake house three separate weekends over the course of two years when I wanted to vacation. I knew her whole family and would spend time at their home. In the group of friends all were married, except two women: an Afro-Panamanian and myself.

    I totally agree that we can’t let them. I thank you for giving me so much clarity about this. I was hurt and enraged and have been since I broke everything off because I didn’t understand it. I just knew that a lot of the behavior left me feeling bad, doubtful and second guessing myself.

    @ YMB
    Thank you and thank you for your analysis concerning black SAHMs.

    “I bet that she never spent any time talking about plans of leaving her perch in that catbird seat. She wanted to you to be her admiring sounding board, never getting out of your place by thinking or acting in ways to attain what she had. I don’t mean that she feared you would go after her husband. Just that she did not want to see you attain the same things she had-a doting husband of your own and a comfortable lifestyle provided by said husband.”

    You are right. She never talked about leaving ever.

    @ PVW

    “The disturbing stories you speak of emphasize, if anything, the importance of Sojourners having a “stealth” strategy, in that those who would see sojourner types as competition can be blindsided in that they have no idea the sojourner is strategizing to get where she wants to go.

    It also indicates the importance of some “old school” values like an old-fashioned word “discretion,” that ladies were traditionally taught. Old school black folks would say “don’t put your business on the street!” In other words, avoid being indiscreet. So these women who talk about their husbands (and who mistreat them) are foolish. It’s not ladylike, and they run the risk of cultivating some serious garbage, either in pushing their husbands to leave, or in attracting the type of scavenger who would take advantage of their lack of discretion.

    Here is another risk–when others are being indiscreet, they sometimes expect the listener to share, as a matter of trust and female bonding: “I told you, so I expect you tell me” Thus a sojourner type can get caught up in drama, as you have spoken here. The sojourner gets to know too much information, or the woman with no discretion starts to feel competitive as she learns of the sojourner’s plans and strategies. It is hard to exercise a stealth strategy when people know what is going on!”

    I agree. Thank you PVW. I misplaced my trust. I would never and never have shared the kind of stuff with her that she would share with me, but she did try. She was very prying when it came to my education and finances. I really resented that because she ask these questions in front of others.

  2. To The Reader Whose Comment I Recently Rejected,

    I’m not interested in spreading misinformation or mischaracterizing the blogs and sites I mention by name. This is what you’re doing in your recent comment; which is the reason why I rejected it.

    You’re mistaken—the Art of Being Feminine blog is NOT a website that tells BW to be more feminine.” It appears to be devoted to promoting femininity among the female population IN GENERAL.

    It celebrates various cultural manifestations of femininity among different demographics (Southern Belles, Fillipina women, Black women and so on). But it doesn’t “tell BW to be more feminine.”

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

  3. NijaG says:

    Hmmm I disagree with you there. It sounds like no WW is therefore accountable or should be held accountable for her actions when you say that.

    Of course WW can be cruel, mean-spirited, jealous, and plain evil to the core, IF that’s what they really are. Nobody said they all would be but I don’t understand how people are ready to believe that all WM are just ‘evil to the core’ but can’t believe that of any WW! LOL People who believe that are no better than the people (white, black or whatever they are) who make BW look ugly, too fat, too loud, uncouth, on welfare, without a man and kids by all and sundry etc., etc. !!
    White women celebrated and had their pictures taken at the lynchings of BM and they did NOT look disgusted at those displays!

    Also NijaG there’s ’subconscious’-based behavior….and then there’s COVERT behavior which has the same root and agenda as overt behavior but only diferrently staged and presented.
    ****************************************************************

    ak,

    Everyone should be held accountable for their actions, especially negative ones regardless of where it springs from.

    You’ll have to really read the original issue that promoted the back and forth discussions to get where that statement came from. White men were not really a focal point of the discussion and nowhere do I let WW off the hook for their bad behavior.

  4. Rhonda says:

    Anyone still reading this post’s comments? Khadija, if you let this through, thank you.

    In my earlier comments on this thread I mentioned that to lose weight one should cook/prepare her own meals and eat lots of saturated fat, and I talked some about the unhealthy imbalance of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fats in the American diet. Following is an excerpt from the post Dining Out and Bad Fats from the Dr. Michael R. Eades blog, which is more in-depth writing about the aforementioned:

    Chefs are not particularly health conscious. They cook for flavor, not for health. If there is a choice between making something taste a little better or making it a little more healthful, taste will win every time. Which is a good thing in many cases because chefs — like most other people — have been brainwashed as to what is healthful and what isn’t. Most doubtless believe that saturated fat is unhealthful, but, fortunately, that doesn’t deter them from using butter, heavy cream, bacon, and all the other tasty high-saturated fat foods in their cooking. If butter tastes better –- that’s what they use.

    But many things are deep fried and cooked using vegetable oils and shortenings because these products don’t impart much of a taste. That was the big advantage of Crisco when it came out: it was pure and white and left no taste the way lard did. Same with processed vegetable oils today, so chefs use the heck out of it.

    Part of my job was to make some egg rolls for an appetizer. I filled them with shredded chicken, shredded crab, a snow pea, some ginger and a little salt and pepper. Then I deep fried them. I asked the main chef, who was keeping a watchful eye on all of us pretend chefs, what kind of oil he used in the deep fryer. (The deep fryer, like everything else in the kitchen, is running all the time, and people pop stuff into it all night long when the restaurant is busy.) He told me it was canola oil. I asked him if canola was commonly used in deep fryers; he said that canola was used in every restaurant he had ever worked in….

    I knew polyunsaturated fat made up somewhere around a third of the fatty acids in canola oil. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are the ones most harmed by heat and oxygen, so it really made me wonder why anyone would use an oil containing so many PUFA for deep frying. I just imagined all the oxidized fats in the oil I was dropping my newly made egg rolls into….

    When I looked up the fatty acid breakdown, I discovered that this industrial canola oil made for commercial deep fat frying contained almost a third of its fatty acids (27 percent to be exact) as trans fats. Which is why it worked for the deep fryer. During the processing of this oil, most of the PUFA had been converted to trans fats.

    I looked at the other canola oils listed in the USDA list and found this one:

    Oil, industrial, canola with anti-foaming agent, principal uses salads, woks and light frying

    Sounds just like what you would want to eat on your salad, doesn’t it?…

    At most of the stations in the kitchen there were containers of a salt and pepper mix and containers of oil with ladles. If frying (not deep frying, but regular frying) were to be done, you threw a ladle of oil on the grill or in the skillet. If you were whipping up a salad dressing, you started with the oil and worked from there. This oil is the industrial oil with the anti-foaming agent.

    So, the take-home message from my experience is that if you eat in a restaurant you are going to get a lot of oils that you would probably rather not have. At worst, you’re going to get a load of trans fats; at best, you’re going to throw back plenty of omega-6s. Omega-6 fats are, for the most part, pro-inflammatory, and we get way, way too many of them in our diet as it is. Most of the readers of this blog know how harmful omega-6 fats are in large quantities, so I won’t go in to it here. Suffice it to say, however, that the medical literature is full of articles pointing out the hazards of too many omega-6 fats. Then there is the American Heart Association that has inexplicably come out in support of omega-6 fats for heart health (Harris, WS), which advice you can put up on your shelf right beside the advice to avoid saturated fats….

    I suspect that one of the reasons non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is reaching epidemic proportions worldwide is the ubiquitous substitution of vegetable oils for saturated fats every where. When we were doing research for the book, I scoured the literature to find studies in which people with fatty liver disease were treated with diet and found only two such studies. In both of them the fatty livers of the subjects reversed quickly — in just a matter of a few days — when the subjects went on low-carb diets. I suspect that the increase in saturated fat helped things along markedly. And, I suspect the unwarranted avoidance of saturated fats by our bamboozled fellow citizens is one of the reasons there is so much fatty liver disease.

    If you prepare your food in your own kitchen, you control exactly what goes into it. If you go out to eat, you lose that control. I suspect most restaurants operate about like the very upscale one I just played chef in, and so if you go to even a nice restaurant, you’re going to be consuming stuff you would probably rather not consume. In the old days (when I was a kid, for example) going out to eat was a big deal, and it almost never happened. Everything was prepared at home. Now people eat out more than they eat at home….

    To the left is a graph from the USDA Economic Research Service showing the increase in the home budget dollar spent on food away from home. It just about parallels the graph showing the development of the obesity epidemic. I’m not necessarily making the case that eating out has caused the obesity epidemic, but I’m not sure it hasn’t played a significant role in it. Especially now that I know what kind of oils restaurants use.

    One of the statistics I read while researching for this post was that 73 percent of adults say they are trying to make more healthful choices at restaurants now than they did just two years ago. Assuming this is true, it probably means they are ordering more salads, which seem to equate in everyone’s mind with a more healthful choice. But if the dressings are made for the salad with the oils used in bulk in most restaurants, it’s probably not the best thing you can eat where your health is concerned. But I always ask for my dressing on the side so that I can control how much I put on, you say? That’s the big joke among chefs. It’s been shown that when salads are tossed by the chef, much less dressing is used as compared to when people ask for it on the side and add it themselves.

    The point of all this is that when you go out to eat, no matter how upscale the restaurant, you lose control over what goes in your mouth. Short of bulling your way into the kitchen, you are clueless as to what oils are going into and onto your food. If you eat out a lot, you are doubtless taking in a fair quantity of trans fats and oxidized fats and plain old omega-6 fats – all fats you can stand to do without. The only way you maintain control is if you do the cooking yourself. Plus, you’ll save a lot of money because it’s almost always less expensive to prepare it yourself.

    One of the best things you can do for your health (and your pocketbook) is to spend more time in your own kitchen.

  5. Bronzey says:

    This is a great post, thank you for writing this. I noticed throughout my life that females who are feminine are held on a higher status and get treated better, even if their character isn’t that great or if they are in the wrong. Being more feminine can benefit all women and I do agree that in the African American culture, this isn’t really emphasized and I believe that so many AA women are disserviced by that.

  6. Pamela says:

    I have read the blog The Art Of Being Feminine. There are some excellent points about how to be feminine BUT as stated here a lot of the perspective is really old and does not fit today. I would highly suggest this blog to help women that either had it beaten out of them or it was never really nurtured in their young lives. Real men want to protect their woman, not compete with them. Posts like this are so needed because black women have been crammed into the role that men should be playing because of the horrible situations they have found themselves in. No one was there to pick up the slack. If all those women could see healthy relationships that black women have maybe that will show them that it is possible if they just decide to step out of the box.