The Cold War Between Straight Black Women And Gay Black Men » VSB

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The Cold War Between Straight Black Women And Gay Black Men

(Alex Hardy/VSB)

 

A Facebook friend recently sent me this video. Another distraction from all this pretending to write, thought I. Now, unlike the cats-are-assholes videos and clips of happy, dancing Black babies that occupy way too damn much of my day, this video prompted a big ol’ screwface. Ten seconds into the clip, I rolled my eyes back to childhood.

The thumbnail told the tale: light-skinned gent with light eyes and a pretty mouth in a wig or weave, portraying a Thotasaurus Rex, tap dancing, drunk on self-satisfaction, through the land of cheap jokes and uncleverly distilled hatred of Black women. Whew, shit. Yawn, motherfucking yawn, yo.

Now, I don’t know this guy, YouTube personality Tré Melvin, master of the validation-seeker’s war cry, the Mysterious Tumblr Nigga Brow Furrow, personally. I do know that he recently came out as bisexual, and there was a big hullabaloo about that, for some reason. So perhaps he does not necessarily fall squarely into the gay category, but what he’s pushing is a familiar brand of antagonism. It relies on the same lazy characterizations and feeds (on) the same passive and overt aggressions between Black gays and Black women.

I am told that this young sir’s other videos are on point. Good for him. I’m not suggesting HE is the issue or plays a huge part in this dance of mutual disrespect and dependency. Tré Melvin is simply continuing an ongoing trend. Black men and everyone else jump to the hood/ratchet/unworthy Black chick stereotype, put on some tragic wig and tacky clothes and become LaQuaysia, the fatherless ho with five kids by eight men whose misfortune and lack of tact shall bless you with entertainment and half-baked life lessons. It’s all so damn tired.

This antagonism and foolishness between Black women and Black gays? It’s exhausting. This eternal spring of joke-wrapped anti-Negress vitriol is a side effect of Black men historically finding a whole new rack of material by putting on dresses, wigs, and pearls for laughs once they run out of engaging roles to play as themselves. Some say it’s problematic on some “effeminization” shit, which is a whole different barrel of bullshit to unpack. It is, however, an ugly mutation of an existing, also tired-as-fuck comedy trope. We need less of this.

It is clear that many gays consider women an easy target. Many of the jokes, Vines, and memes that involve Black men (gay, straight, and otherwise) portraying Black women employ the same cheap hat tricks. Though many attempt to exclude gay men from the Kingdom of Manliness, gay men still benefit from male privilege. This allows us to crack jokes at the expense of Black women, critiquing their hair, weight, bodies, and life choices under the guise of tough love, just like our vagina-hunting brethren. This, all via low blows and demeaning characterizations that would surely be deemed homophobic if delivered by a Black woman towards a gay man.

Gay men are not, of course, exempted from misogyny and sexism. Male privilege makes sure of that. Our need to fix women by molding them into better and prettier versions of themselves by helping them become more glamorous beacons of womanhood is informed by some of that misogyny and sexism. We often feel empowered when a woman places her beauty into our knowing hands, ready for a
miracle.

On the other end, I’ve seen Black women, on television and elsewhere, float the idea of their ex-boo being a homo, as an insult. (Hello Chili. Hello Porsha Stewart.) Publicly suggesting a dude is “sweet” is the perfect deflector. (“Oh, you know, she may be right,” the public usually says.) Why can’t the way to chop down worthless husbands and beaus be to just call him a swampdonkey or a deplorable human? How can you love “your gays” today and sling gayness on someone tomorrow?

A) Because eeeeeverybody knows that’s the easiest way to wound a straight Black man, and

B) The slime left by public accusations of homosexuality, the worst kind of offense, never completely washes away.

We all have work to do.

Look. Black drag queens and some flamboyant gay men perform caricatures of Black women/Black womanhood when they borrow from and dramatize the personas of their favorite divas. Oftentimes, on television and elsewhere, Black women in turn perform caricatures of Black gays performing caricatures of Black women.

“YASS HONEY CHILE GET YOU SOME GAY FRIENDS THEY’RE GREAT I HAVE SIX #slay,” and such. Nothing is wrong with any of this, on the surface. The relationship is typically a harmonious, mutually beneficial one. My unions with my ladyfriends are fruitful and necessary. Gays and girls often serve very specific purposes for one another. The flow of influence is bidirectional. We socialize and are socialized in the same spaces. Exchange of culture and behaviors is fine and expected.

Interpretations of femininity have evolved based on its proximity to queer expression. Gay Black expression has evolved due to the influence of femininity. Consider certain aspects of Beyoncé’s high-octane stage presence and choreography. Over the years, a host of Black gay choreographers, directors, and guiding hands have helped her craft her onstage dramatics. Janet, Bey, Mya, and even Christina Milian have vogued on stage, incorporating elements of Black gay ballroom culture into their work. All totally fine. This is not to suggest they are simply the hosts, waiting to be occupied and directed by an all-knowing gay man. On the contrary, I love the exchange. The give and take is beautiful to witness.

Publicly, this relationship so greatly benefits Black women, as evidenced nightly on reality television. When Black gays and Black women share screen time, the Black gay almost always exists as an accessory of the Black woman. He is either her ornament or her prop, dispatched from the Land of Delusion and YAAAAASHUNTY to help the newly empowered Miss Girl get her hair, wardrobe, or makeup situation together.

We ChocoHomos have the peripheral fabulousness industry on lock.

Both sides have their gripes. Black gays push to be seen and portrayed as regular, job-having, non-ornamental human beings who don’t necessarily speak in exclamations and insults. Some Black women believe that their gay besties want to be like them. Others believe they want to be them.

But pointing fingers and playing the blame game solves nothing. Jabs, though often momentarily cathartic or fun, do nothing to advance the collective progress or visibility of We Who Are Not Privileged Straight White Men. Rather than reading and shading one another into oblivion, our time would be better spent joining up like Double Minority Voltron and uniting against our common enemy: Andy Cohen.

Both groups suffer from a lack of public visibility and humanity in our representations. We are types first and then, if we’re lucky, people. The hairdresser. The shadeful, drink-throwing frenemy. The sassy Black co-worker. The grandiose jester. I’m tired.

There is no singular solution. There is much to unpack here. Our communities are deeply intermingled. Our respective struggles are valid and demand attention and compassion for any improvement to be seen. As partners in underrepresented nonWhiteness, it would behoove us all to set aside our differences and engage in some honest, open-minded truth telling, loving, and learning. We all have work to do.

Alex Hardy

Alexander Hardy is the dance captain for Saint Damita Jo Jackson's Royal Army. He is a writer who escaped Hampton, Virginia and is now based in Panama City, Panama. There, he runs The Colored Boy, and consumes copious amounts of chicken. He has written for EBONY.com, CNN, Gawker, and Huffington Post among other outlets. Alexander can likely be found daydreaming about his next meal or Blacking It Up on someone's dance floor. He also doesn't believe in snow or Delaware. Read more from Alex at www.thecoloredboy.com

  • Donovan X. Ramsey

    So, so, so good. And necessary. And careful. Thank you.

  • Rachmo

    This was a really good piece.

  • Aly

    Fantastic post, Alex. Kudos. And you’re right, we all need to do better.

  • menajeanmaehightower

    Alex, i didn’t even know that black gay men and black millennial women had a problem with the other.

    • Aly

      I think it just comes down to more awareness and sensitivity.

  • Val

    What about the downlow myth? That’s something that is perpetuated by many Black women to the detriment of both themselves, because it’s a myth and causes Black women to look for the wrong warning signs as far as HIV transmission is concerned, and Black gay men as it demonizes them.

    I absolutely agree about Black gay men dressing as and mocking Black women. That needs to stop because, as you note, it’s mean spirited and harms Black women.

    • Rachmo

      *rolls eyes into the back of my head* that DL myth needs to die a fiery death. Like for real one of my least favorite phrases

      • menajeanmaehightower

        Soooooo, spoke with my friend a few weeks ago. We were catching up and he told me how he was hooking up with a guy and saw a wedding ring. Dude was married with a wife who had no idea and now this guy is stalking my friend. I wouldn’t say it’s a myth but maybe not as prevalent as people make it out to be.

        • Rachmo

          The dude sounds bi. I think the real issue here is that he is cheating on his wife.

          • menajeanmaehightower

            The real issues are that he is cheating on his wife, married her under false pretenses (wife doesn’t know), and is stalking my friend.

            • Val

              That really over-simplifies what may be going on. Gay men don’t get married because they enjoy fooling women. They get married because of societal pressure and bigotry towards gay people.

              • menajeanmaehightower

                Doesn’t matter when it comes to what i typed. Societal pressure and bigotry doesn’t mean the person can turn around, lie, and potentially ruin someone else’s life.

                • Val

                  But, that is exactly the result of societal pressure.. You can moralize on the one hand but ignore the implications of what hatred does in these situations. Get rid of the homophobia and bigotry and you get rid of the behavior.

                  • menajeanmaehightower

                    We can agree to disagree. He’s a liar. Downlow men (black or whoever) do exist. I just don’t think it’s as many as people make it out to be and hopefully it becomes nonexistent as more and more states allow for them to get married and people become more tolerant.

                    • IcePrincess

                      I agree mena. I’ve seen it up close & personal, in real life. DL ain’t no myth. At least not in atlanta anyway

                    • Aly

                      No one said they don’t exist. The point is, it’s been blown out of proportion.

                    • OSHH

                      Come to the District and you’ll see plenty mo

              • Rachmo

                I actually agree here. Like is he bi? How much does the wife not know? Did he love her at a time?

                • Val

                  Exactly. It’s not as simple as this guy just enjoys fooling his wife into thinking he’s str8.

                  • Rachmo

                    Do they have an agreement that he can step out? If a dude told me that he was cheating on his wife with men and she didn’t know i’d have a LOT of questions to ask.

                    • menajeanmaehightower

                      He told my friend that his wife doesn’t know and it’s his first time. My friend and i call BS.

                    • Rachmo

                      His wife doesn’t know what that he’s cheating or is interested in men?

                    • menajeanmaehightower

                      LOL. Both.

                    • Rachmo

                      Does he like women as well? Laughing at me hmph haha

                    • menajeanmaehightower

                      *sigh* I feel like you and Val are missing the complete point or going around the point. Bottom line, downlow men exist. This guy told my friend that his wife does not know that he likes men. Therefore, he is a down low man who has lied to his wife about his orientation and being faithful. This guy is now stalking my friend. There is no other way around this.

                    • Rachmo

                      Well like I said there really can be layers. I was reading this article in Oprah I believe about women that were with women later in life. As in they were married and thee WHOLE shebang for years and then switched to women. I’m still not too into ol’ boy lying OR stalking bc that’s not cool.

                      However maybe he didn’t have the courage to explore this until now. Shoot does he even know he likes men yet? Me no know bc I don’t know the dude. All I do know is marriage, chexuality, and infidelity can be pretty complex.

                    • menajeanmaehightower

                      I read an article once that said women’s chexuality is more fluid whereas mens are not as fluid. If i can find it, i will post it.

                    • Rachmo

                      Really? Yeah if you find that post it. As you can see I’m all into this chexual fluidity thing. Blame Oprah.

                    • menajeanmaehightower

                      I read another one that stated bi men do in fact exist and they read the brain scans that show they are attracted to men and women. Glad things like this are truly being studied.

                    • Aly

                      “bi men do in fact exist”

                      Of course they exist. This way of thinking – “oh, he’s just confused,” or “he’s really gay and just doesn’t know it,” or “(for women) she’s just doing it for attention” – drives me nuts. If a person says they’re bisexual, why not just believe them? Why question someone’s sexuality? It’s
                      insulting.

                      I’m all for studying sexuality, but not to somehow “prove” that bisexuality exists.

                    • menajeanmaehightower

                      I don’t agree with this @Alyson_P:disqus. Since many feel that, even today, societal pressures causes men (and women for that matter) to lie and cheat instead of being who they are, then why not study, prove, and get the information out that bichexuality is a real thing in both genders. The more the information is spread, the more it can possibly become accepted.

                    • Aly

                      Did you need a study to tell you that you were straight? I’m guessing not. To me, these types of studies are a form of othering. Picking people apart instead of just accepting how they choose to identify themselves. Again, I don’t mind studying sexuality in general, but not when the end goal is trying prove or disprove people’s innate sexuality.

                    • menajeanmaehightower

                      I don’t see it as picking someone apart as trying to understand why we are the way we are.

                    • Epsilonicus

                      That info is out. Science knows and has demonstrated bisexuality. It is the layman that refuses to just accept it. It is almost how Republicans feel about climate change

                    • Epsilonicus

                      “When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.” – Maya Angelou

                    • Aly

                      It’s amazing how that quote works in so many different contexts.

                    • Epsilonicus

                      Over the last few months it has fit in so many different contexts

                    • Val

                      I blame Oprah for Global Warming and also high gas prices.

                    • menajeanmaehightower
                    • Shay-d-Lady

                      I definitely believe that sexuality is fluid. I think it is fluid in both women and MEN though it is socialized out of men. I also think as we mature as people the things that we find attractive become less and less tied to the physical. but that thought comes out of my own personal experience and so I really don’t know if its a truism.. though I like to think it is

                    • im with you 100% on this….I’ve always been taught to understand that sexuality and gender expression are on a spectrum and very few ppl are on either side, MOST of us fall somewhere in the middle one way or the other…..its so counterproductive tryna fit folks into neat lil boxes

                    • Shay-d-Lady

                      lol the funny thing is.. I was all about boxes and labels.. till I no longer fit into one. God is funny that way sometimes..

                    • Val

                      And, I feel like you missed the point. My point; one story does not make an epidemic. Talking about one individual obfuscates the issue. Which is the numbers of gay men on the so-called downlow are very small. And, that society’s bigotry toward gay men is the root cause of the downlow in the first place.

                    • menajeanmaehightower

                      But you’ve obviously missed the other comments i made. They do in fact exist but not to the extremes people want them to be. Downlow black men is not a myth at all.

                    • Val

                      The myth is that there are huge numbers of gay Black men pretending to be str8. Otherwise you simply have Black men who are still in the closet just like you have White or Hispanic men that are still in the closet.

                      Example; there is a myth that all Black men have big johnsons. And the fact that some Black men have big johnsons does not change the fact that it is a myth that they all do.

                      So, yes, the downlow thing is a myth.

                    • menajeanmaehightower

                      Ok Val.

                    • Val

                      Lol. You’re so predictable.

                    • menajeanmaehightower

                      Meaning not wanting to keep going around in circles? Agreed.

                    • Val

                      No, meaning you are so caught up in wining an argument that you would rather take your toys and go home rather than really acknowledging what the other person is saying.

                    • menajeanmaehightower

                      No. I would rather just not continue to argue because it is pointless.

                    • Val

                      Lol. Aight then.

                    • Rachmo

                      *gives Mena a sugar cookie*

                    • Val

                      *well, since she doesn’t want it.*

                      *grabs Mena’s cookie and runs*

                    • Rachmo

                      #PettyBetty

                    • Val

                      Just because you put a hashtag in front of it doesn’t make it true. Lol

                    • Rachmo

                      *smooths Val’s brow*

                    • Val

                      Lol. Thanks. I love to have my brows smoothed. :-)

                    • IcePrincess

                      Don’t back down mena. I’ll even take it a step further. DL men are sociopaths, & I can’t stand them. That kind of deception is diabolical. Don’t give them a pass, and they dam sure ain’t no dam victim. Yea I said it.

                    • OSHH

                      @ IcePrincess and Mena, ITA it is not a myth at all and I also think it irresponsible to even suggest that. Sleep if want but I am wide awake.

                    • T.Q. Fuego

                      The crux of you and Mena’s disagreement is the word “myth” so I looked it up. According to dictionary.com (in this context) it could mean

                      3. any invented story, idea, or concept: His account of the event is pure myth.
                      4. an imaginary or fictitious thing or person.
                      5. an unproved or false collective belief that is used to justify a social institution.

                      Downlow being a real state of existence isn’t a myth at all. The idea that it was ever a grand epidemic of drastic proportions IS a myth (definition 5). So it sounds like a dismissive oversimplification to say that “downlow” as a concept is a myth, but if all you’re saying is that it was overblown and exaggerated by the media (and the women who bought into the hype) then I completely agree. Better yet, it’s a myth that the down low was ‘a black thing’ that other races don’t do. Yeah right

                    • Aly

                      Thanks for the clarification. I agree.

                    • menajeanmaehightower

                      “Downlow being a real state of existence isn’t a myth at all. The idea
                      that it was ever a grand epidemic of drastic proportions IS a myth
                      (definition 5).” This is what i was saying the entire time so i didn’t understand why there was an argument to begin with. I said at least 3 times how the numbers are overblown.

                    • Andrea

                      Yeah…I guess it depends on how you are using the word myth.

                      I am glad this article made me look for some research on that. Cause I had no clue about the numbers. I found some cool research.
                      ‘Myth: HIV/AIDS Rate Among Black Women Traced To ‘Down Low’ Black Men’
                      http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=114237523

                    • Gina

                      If you’re going to give DL men a pass on willfully deceiving their partners/spouses because of “social bigotry” then let’s be fair. Everybody gets a pass for screwing over others when society made them feel like they couldn’t be free.

                      The root cause of deception is not social bigotry. That’s an internal issue. There are plenty of homosexuals who are NOT faking it in hetero relationships.

                    • Epsilonicus

                      Val it is no use. People discuss these topics from their own emic point of view. Which is in America, everything we do operates out of our individual choices. However, when people live in groups there are lots of conscious and unconscious group pressure and norms that govern our behavior.

              • MonaMia

                Or they get married so that they can use a woman in a way they can’t use another man, i.e. To impregnate, to have a partner who has a lower std rate, who is more loyal, more stable etc., etc. Straight women make easier marks than gay men do.

            • Rachmo

              I think the stalking and cheating are really bad but there could be layers to that marriage that we and your friend don’t know.

        • Val

          Anecdotal stories are part of the problem. Sure there are men who are not out and date or are married to Black women. But, the numbers are so very low that they do not equal the over-the-top hype about the downlow.

          • menajeanmaehightower

            As i said, the down low brother isn’t a myth. The fact that people think there are a ton of downlow brothas is the problem.

          • I remember reading a public health story that closeted gay men tend to have *fewer* sex partners than out gay men. Simply put, the DL couldn’t spread disease if only because they aren’t getting any. $exually transmitted diseases required, ya know, $ex to spread.

      • Val

        It really does. We have Oprah and JL King to thank for this.

        • Rachmo

          HAHA.

        • MysteryMeat

          Man listen… I know I’m a day late reading this but Oprah did so much damage when she called out the scccaaarrrry DL monster on her show. As a black man i was offended and as a gay man I was pissed. INSTANTLY some of my female friends began asking me about every single straight guy I would speak to in public “is he on the DL?” or “mmm is see you getting your mack on” WHAT?? This lasted for years.

          I was also super angry because here is yet another strike against us black men. Now all of a sudden that weekly Saturday basketball game or the random card party with the homies gets a side eye. I had girls asking me on a regular “I think he might be gay because (insert random situation) about their boyfriends/husbands/boothangs to where they would get a blank stare from me. Then all of a sudden phrases like “no homo” pop up out the blue and I started noticing some straight friends I was really close with got kind of distant. From the outside looking in the whole situation was weird. All of a sudden it seemed there was another broad stealth attack on the black male body except this time it was coming from some invisible force on the inside. More division. It was painful to watch And even after awhile dudes themselves started believing the hype.

  • Kelsey

    This is super thoughtful–seriously, much to process here. Thanks for reminding us of how much this mimicry actually sucks for black gays and women, and of our responsibility to check ourselves. I’ve been watching Tre Melvin for a minute now and I have typically found his ghetto quips entertaining even though,in a way, I was the punchline.

    Maybe black women are getting used to being joned on by everyone. Minorities tend to pick on other minorities. White people picking on black people, black men picking on black women, black women picking on gay/poor black women, and so on and so forth until every subset of minority is just pissed off and moody. I think a lot of it may be an internalized self-hatred projected on a imaginary trope/character that ‘society’ calls a ‘black woman’.

  • Andrea

    I loved this. I haven’t come across many pieces on this subject.
    “Black drag queens and some flamboyant gay men perform caricatures of
    Black women/Black womanhood when they borrow from and dramatize the
    personas of their favorite divas. Oftentimes, on television and
    elsewhere, Black women in turn perform caricatures of Black gays
    performing caricatures of Black women.”
    I am so curious about the evolution of all of this.

    • menajeanmaehightower

      I’m more curious of why black women are so easily ridiculed and picked a part for other peoples enjoyment. Is it because we are an easy target or people feel that we are the lowest common denominator and therefore deserve to be torn down?

      • Val

        It’s because they figure they can get away with it. There will be no price to pay. Example; Tyler Perry dresses as a Black woman and mocks us and who are his biggest supporters? Black women.

        • menajeanmaehightower

          Is this because black women have been conditioned to see ourselves mocked, because of self esteem issues or due to not caring?

          • Val

            “Is this because black women have been conditioned to see ourselves mocked..”

            That might be it.

            • Yawn. Black Women have proven themselves quite capable of “punishing” anyone they deem has “dissed” them – Satoshi Kanazawaa and Shawty Lo (“All My Babies’ Mamas”) easily come to mind.

              If Black Women as a group are really concerned with being clowned, they can start first and foremost with the fact that so many of them clown themselves; one doesn’t need to hit up an old Flip Wilson or present day Tyler Perry skit to see this in action – it’s all over YouTube. As always, Charity begins at home…Ladies First…

              O.

        • Andrea

          Why do you think some black women/gay men seem to be performing caricatures of the other?

          • Val

            I’m not sure. I think the relationship between str8 Black women and gay Black men is complicated for a lot of reasons. What do you think?

            • Andrea

              I do not know. Confusing.I remember reading this in Clutch…and being confused after…
              ” how there can be any “pure” debate about ownership of these terms. Many of these terms came out of black drag queen culture. Black drag queens are often creating personas that are homages to the black women they love – both the iconic and the familiar – leading to quite a few of them sounding like Patti LaBelle meets your profane grandmother. These same men then create something new that’s a mix of black lady tribute and something wholly unique to black gay culture, but now you have straight black women imitating the black gay men who created a slang meant to mimic/give tribute/make-fun-of them.”

              • Val

                Yep, complicated.

      • T.Q. Fuego

        That’s a good question. I think ya’ll are an easy target. For one you’re a double “other” to a lot of people, but I think just as important is the fact that yall seem to consistently react the strongest. I’m not saying you’re wrong for it, it’s hard to ignore certain slander, but I think it’s similar to the kids that got teased in school the most. The kids who laughed it off and weren’t bothered weren’t as fun for the bullies and @ssholes to make fun of. Black women are very outwardly emotional about their public image. You unintentionally support your aggressors by giving them the thrill of seeing you react each time (not to mention page views and comments). It seems like a lot of black women just can’t help it…

        Long story short, yall are the most inclined to feed the troll.

        • @TQF:
          Happy belated b’day, by the way! Many happy returns.

          If I may, the even bigger question is, why are Black Women as a group, so complicitous in its own clowning? As I’ve said elsewhere, a quick perusal of YouTube confirms that the single biggest clowners of Black Women are Black Women. There are literally hundreds of thousands of videos of Black Women doing all kinds of stereotypical stuff – and when you point this out, the supposedly “Not Like That(TM)” Black Women *will go out of their way to defend the Racthetry*(!!).

          Why is that? What is up with that?

          If Black Women are really serious about cleaning up their public image, as I’ve said before, they can begin right under their own roof.

          Good luck with that…

          O.

          • T.Q. Fuego

            Haha, happy early birthday you mean. It’s a week from today. Thanks anyway though.

            Hmm, I’m not sure black women are the most complicit in their own clowning. Never thought about it. I do think women (not just black women) are more brutal and ruthless about each other than men are. They do more behavior and appearance policing than we do when it comes to other women. Also there are hundreds of thousands of videos of black men doing stereotypical sh*t (fighting, making it rain at the strip club, playing basketball, sagging their pants etc;) but I don’t feel like I need to defend that against the insecure idiots who feel the need to try to use that as “proof” of our inferiority. I have more fruitful endeavors I would rather engage in. I got a lot of respect for the black women who do the same.

            • @TQF:
              Whooops, must’ve read the Faccebook tea leaves wrong. My bad! Well, happpy-happy when it finally arrives.

              And yes, I’ve said this before – I could get all the fellas of VSB into a room, and within about ten minutes we’d pretty much all be in agreement on the fact that there are an not insignificant number of Black Men out there messing up and that we have no need or desire to defend them or their actions, fullstop – with time to spare to get pizza and beer, LOL. But when it comes to Sistas, even, especially the ones who claim they’re “not like that”, they seem to bend over backwards defending the BSery that other Sistas clearly do. I mean, is the Herd Mentality that real? I thought so many Sistas out there were oh-so-“strong and independent”?

              Also, I’d dispute the idea that there are as many videos of Brothas doing knuckelheaded stuff as there are of Sistas doing Ratchet-stype stuff. No doubt, the former has way more than its fair share, but I don’t think it’s on par with or bests the stuff Sistas be cranking out on social media on the daily. Outrageous!

              Finally, I don’t buy the notion that Women, in this case Black, somehow are mini-Robocops on each other – if that were true, the Ratchetry wouldn’t be a household name, for in-house policing and shaming from the Sistahood itself. Instead, we have all manner of de facto white papers coming from Black Feminists and the like defending it, under some ridicoulous notion of pushing back against the “politics of respectability” and other such pablum. What a lot of Black Women want is to act a fool and still be respected – Bzzz! – it doesn’t work that way, nor should it. And Brothas themselves should act like they got a pair and refuse to put up with this BSery. That’s a big part of the problem too, because lots of Black Women know that Brothas be thirsty as all get out and will put up with anything just to get next to them. Put your foot down and lay down the law, and watch them ladies come to heel.

              :)

              O.
              O.

              • T.Q. Fuego

                Hmmm, I think the herd mentality is strong amongst all groups, but women probably are just more used to being gregarious with each other and uniting to find common ground and support for each other than we are. (Women are inherently more social creatures imo) Men are more “deal with your sh*t and get back to me” than women. That doesn’t mean we’re less inclined to group think though, even though it seems that way sometimes.

                A lot of women in general want to act a fool and still be respected. It’s more of a Solipsist first world approach to things. Americans are known to want to have their cake and eat it too. It’s just that society (meaning men and women) encourages women to act out in this way. We all directly or indirectly communicate to women that this is ok and that they CAN in fact have it all AND that they have the right to never be judged negatively for their actions. If you do judge negatively then you must be a s*xist or misogynist. Can’t blame them alone for that. We gotta castigate the dudes that coddle them and perpetuate this belief as well.

                And politics of respectability is a real thing (just like the down low is) it’s just that some people hold on to the concept (and its problematic nature) as a crutch/shield to allow them free reign to ignore the tastes, preferences, and desires of those who they deal with. What I’m trying to say is that there should be a balance. I wouldn’t get caught up trying to please people’s respectability politics, but I also won’t act like my reputation with other people is irrelevant just because I don’t want to have to think about how I come off to people.

            • ” I do think women (not just black women) are more brutal and ruthless about each other than men are. They do more behavior and appearance policing than we do when it comes to other women.”

              And you know this, man.

              • Epsilonicus

                Men always joke that women don’t dress to impress men, they dress to impress other women. I would change that to say they dress to protect themselves from other women

        • menajeanmaehightower

          So should we stand down and allow for it to happen? I feel like black women just started speaking up for themselves (starting in the 60s and 70s).

          • T.Q. Fuego

            I mean, do whatever brings you joy. If arguing with some stubborn ignoramous on the Internet who has issues with black women feels like a solid use of your time then knock yourself out. I was just answering the question of why you’re so easily ridiculed and picked apart for fun.

            • menajeanmaehightower

              I am asking your opinion. Do you think that standing down will change things?

              • T.Q. Fuego

                Change things with whom? Standing down and focusing your energy in more productive places will definitely change things with you (for the better). You can’t change a stubborn troll’s mind whether you argue with him or refuse to engage. To me it’s more about improving your own peace of mind and emotional state. Let them seeth in disdain and negative energy alone. I was under the impression that ain’t nobody have time for that lol

                • I see it twofold. We all aren’t impervious to hurtful words.

                  • menajeanmaehightower

                    Twofold how?

                    • LOLOL! You caught me. I was all ready to type out a response and then I didn’t feel like it anymore, so I just posted that.

                      1. We aren’t all impervious to hurtful words. So we react. And I think it’s perfectly normal. It feels disingenuous to say, Why you letting them get to you? As if we are all made of thicker skins than the ones we were born with.
                      2. Sometimes the most healthy thing to do is disengage and ignore.

                    • menajeanmaehightower

                      This is what i thought you meant. I agree with both of your points however, where i disagree with @t_q_fuego:disqus is where he seems to simplify what is happening. It isn’t simply that you shouldn’t react and as we have seen, historically, black people have been raked through the coals. If we continued to keep silent, would we be where we are today? Probably not. What black women are going through today with the verbal assaults being thrown at us left and right isn’t as harmful as what happened 50 years ago, but the harm is still there. Sometimes you do need to engage. I think the main problem is that when you are hit hard so much, the engagement falls on deaf ears.

                    • T.Q. Fuego

                      The harm is still there, but when black women fought it in the past wasn’t to argue with racists individually, it was to practice activism and display dignity (ie they demonstrated through their behavior that they were a better quality of human being than their oppressors). I’m speaking about talk here (that cheap resource that there’s too much of). It’s more a matter of HOW you react to people’s slander. Also what does it say to the men who respect, adore, and prefer black women when yall spend most of your time on the Internet paying attention to your detractors and giving them all your conversation? It’s like saying “Yeah, it’s cool that yall are interested in building with us and communicating our differences to make progress but we’d rather battle these trolls to no realistic end.”

                    • menajeanmaehightower

                      Hmm…first, i think it’s the loudest ones that bark. I only comment on VSB and have tried my hardest (though i have failed) to read comments on other sites. Even the entire white gay men vs. black women was blown up over one article that i STILL haven’t read. I think we are talking about different things. I’m speaking more in general, in life why is it this way where it seems you are focusing on the internet and comments though i could be mistaken.

                    • T.Q. Fuego

                      Definitely agree that the loudest ones bark. The other side of that coin is that the hit dogs and insecure egos always bark back the loudest and most often. Maybe we are talkin about different things though. I’m mostly focused on why it happens on the Internet cause that’s the only time I see it. Does it happen that often to you (or the people you know) in real life?

                    • menajeanmaehightower

                      I only see what you are referring to on the internet which are the comments and think pieces (which i hate by the way and the gay men vs. black women is shockingly disturbing). However, you can watch the news, movies, tv, etc. to see what i referred to originally which is this attack on black people in general but specifically black women. It’s the making fun of, the caricatures, the assumption that every black woman is walking around with 20 baby daddies or even 4 baby daddies, is fat, busted, loud, etc. So that is what i am talking about. Not the internet but the overall picture.

                    • T.Q. Fuego

                      I hear you, but what has complaining about that ever done of substance? Has it created better representations or just more Internet outrage? (I don’t know how yall haven’t burned out at this point) You would do a much greater favor to black people (like myself) who want to see representations that are closer to our version of reality if you were online passionately singing the praises of a show (or movie) that portrays us as full human beings while managing to still be really entertaining (I’m sure a few of these exist). That’s what I mean about a productive use of energy. It’s just like when Dara was explaining all the things a man should NOT do while approaching rather than talking about what he should do. The focus seems to keep shifting to the negative.

                    • menajeanmaehightower

                      To answer your last question, no. From the ages of 11-21 (so 10 years) i didn’t have the best experience with black people in general but since 21/22, i don’t experience this personally but i have always seen the attacks on black women since forever through the avenues i mentioned below.

                    • T.Q. Fuego

                      Of course nobody’s impervious to hurtful words, but it just seems like yall run to them no matter who slings them at you whereas black men just shrug their shoulders like “Of course you hate me, you not my kinfolk” when it’s an ignorant white person talkin sh*t. It’s only when black women are the ones dissing us that we have somewhat of a strong reaction. It seems we kinda figured out the pattern of Internet racists. They win when you respond to them. We care about black women’s opinions and perspectives more so we’re more likely to argue with yall or be hurt by yall slandering us and reinforcing shallow or destructive hierarchies amongst us.

      • LeeLee

        I’d say it’s a bit of both, particularly on the easy target front. In social settings at work and even in grad school, I notice this. I’d reach out and ask about lunches and other outings with other races in an effort to get to know them better. But there was this unspoken sentiment, among both men and women that: “she’s on her own.” “We won’t have anything in common.” “She probably has an attitude.” And when you’re “on your own” and people don’t understand you, they mock you. And other groups unite around mocking you, thus making you the lowest common denominator. I’m not sure if society understands or even wants to understand the diversity and complexity of people period, much less (in their eyes) black women. It’s so much easier to laugh and mock and dismiss us as “characters.”

        • menajeanmaehightower

          That last sentence.

      • miss t-lee
  • Shay-d-Lady

    I love this article. everything about it. it address and brings up the issues on both sides and doesn’t give anyone room to point and nod in agreement and place blame solely on the other party. However i think the issue starts to dissolve when we develop deeper relationships with each other. I have two gay male friends. for a long time both of them were just that, my “gay accessories” we would have a great time, drink be flamboyantly ridiculous and that was the extent. because I only dealt with them at surface level, it allowed my surface level feelings and generalizations to stay in tact. As i got to know them and care for them as HUMAN beings, when I started to witness the hurt of family cut offs, and the sting of public shame when i was with them in “regular” life situations.. my perspective and understanding changed.. I stopped thinking and believing that all “flamboyantly black gays were happy “wanna be” women who were messy and secretly wanted to be me. and hopefully their friendships with me helped them release a lot of the stereotypes they harbor about black women.
    if we could also address the issues between the gay male and lesbian community next that would be amazing.

  • Best VSB post I’ve read in weeks. Thanks Alex!!!

  • Like i said downthread, sexuality and gender expression exist on a spectrum….so it only makes sense that there are some intersections btw the two…..

    This is a great post because it makes us think for a minute about the similarities btw us and what good it would do if we spent more time working together rather than insisting on highlighting our differences….

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