Five Times It’s Perfectly Okay Not To Fight For Your Girl

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***In light of the news that Columbus Short seems to be taking this “Gladiator” thing a bit too seriously, I decided to revise and repost a piece that’s quite apropos.***

“Would and could he fight for me?”

It’s a question that somehow manages to be completely relevant and completely irrelevant at the same damn time.

It’s relevant because it’s never not at least a consideration when a woman is deciding whether she wants to commit to a man. Perhaps “Would and could he protect me?” isn’t the first question she asks herself, but she’ll definitely ask herself that question.

It’s irrelevant because, well, no one actually gets into fights. Actually, lemme rephrase that. Some adults still do get into fights. But it’s a very small percentage of us. And, the 7% of adults who still somehow get into fights at least once every other month probably make up 97% of the adult fight total between themselves. And they’re not reading this. Because adults who get into fights have corns. And people with corns spend all their internet time researching corn remedies.

If you asked one of the 93% — the corn-less non-fighters — about the last time they got into a serious fist fight, I bet most answers would fall between 5th grade and “That time in 9th grade when I thought that I was big enough to talk back to my dad. I was wrong.”

A few days ago, Columbus Short apparently sucker punched a guy who said something disrespectful about his wife, breaking his nose and knocking him out.

I’m not sure if the wife was there, or if she personally felt threatened. If so, although a sucker punch is some sucker shit, he’s somewhat justified. (Extra emphasis on “somewhat.”) You’re supposed to defend your wife. But, is there ever a situation where your woman is disrespected in some way and you’re actually not supposed to fight for her? Of course!

In fact, here are five of them!

1. If she kinda, sorta, had it coming. 

Lemme put it this way: If I’m at a club, and I see some dude push my girl and call her a “bitch,” we are going to have a serious physical problem.

But, if my girl happens to be Erica Mena-ish, and she’s talking shit, throwing drinks, and spitting in people’s faces for no reason, and I happen to see one of the guys who she spit on push her out of his face and call her a “bitch,” we are going to have a…conversation. And then we are going to leave. And then I am going to stop at a gas station. And then I am going to ask her to get me a pack of purple Now & Laters. And then I am going to drive off and leave her there.

2. If you’re definitely going to lose…badly.

Look, I can handle one Kimbo Slice. And by “handle one Kimbo Slice” I mean “sucker punch and run from a Kimbo Slice.” (And yes, I would expect my girl to keep up with me. What’s the point of being in Black Girls Run if you don’t take it literally?)

But, if my girl comes over to me upset that some dudes disrespected her, and she points to a table of three Kimbo Slices and three “Comb That Nigga’s Chest Hair” dudes, I figure a slight scowl in their direction is an appropriate response.

3. If you’re definitely going to win.

If you’re 6’5 and 350 pounds and the Kevin Hart doppelganger at the bar calls your girl a bad name, he’s actually putting you in a no-win situation. You can’t put your hands on him, cause you’ll be a lame for fighting a dude half your size. But, you can’t not do something either.

My advice? Just pull out your dick, with your arms extended outward in the “Ta-Da!” pose.Hopefully this’ll shame him into silence. (This also has obvious backfire potential, but you have to do something, right?)

4. If you’ve been wanting to break up with her for some time, but haven’t had the opportunity or guts to do it.

Usually, men in this predicament try to sabotage the relationship by cheating and hoping he’ll get caught. But, why do that and expose her to all types of STDs? Just let her get disrespected in front of you, and let her get mad enough at you that she ends it. Now, you’ve rid yourself of a problem and you saved her from syphilis. It’s a win win.

5. If you’re busy.

It’s not your fault she picked the 4th quarter of game seven of the NBA finals to get disrespected. She needs to learn that if she wants a good defense, she needs better timing.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Things About Being Engaged You Don’t Learn Until You Get Engaged

"I'm smiling now, but I'm still pissed you told that lettuce-scented n*gga he could come."

“I’m smiling now, but I’m still pissed you told that lettuce-scented n*gga he could come to our wedding.”

***An actual conversation I had with my actual fiancee a couple days ago***

Me: “We need another computer chair.”

Her: “We do?”

Me: “Yeah. The one I use upstairs is hurting my back.” (This is true, btw. My back isn’t at “back problem stage” yet, but it’s definitely holding court a couple stages before you get to “back problem stage.” Basically, if “back problem stage” is Rick Ross, my back right now is Anthony Anderson.)

Her: “Ok. Do you want to buy one now, or when we move?” (This move, btw, may not happen until 2015.)

Me: “You know what? What if we just put one on the registry?”

Her: “I don’t know about that”

Me: “Why not? I mean, a computer chair costs less than the type of appliances and shit people put on them.”

Her: “But…those are for the house.”

Me: “A computer chair isn’t for the house?”

Her: “I mean, if you want to put a chair on it, we can put a chair on it. But a computer chair isn’t a registry-type of gift.”

Me: “Basically, the registry is just for gifts the wife would use more often?”

Her: “I love you.”

Me: “You didn’t answer the question.”

Her: “But I love you. That’s the only gift you’ll need.”

So, if you’re keeping score at home, the wife-to-be gets…

1. A diamond ring (which could run in the tens of thousands of dollars)

2. A wedding shower (with gifts and games)

3. A bachelorette party (with more gifts and games)

4. The majority of the gifts from the registry and the actual wedding

Meanwhile, the husband-to-be gets…

1. Maybe a random ass cheek or boob in his face during a bachelor party

…and, if this stripper happens to be from Cleveland or Baltimore…

2. Crabs

Granted, I’m not complaining about this. Plus, I’ve always had a thing for rust belt born strippers. They seem to have more character. But, this gift inequity is a part of the wedding process I wasn’t fully aware of until I actually took part in it. Sure, I’d heard about it and kind of knew about it, but you don’t knowknow what it’s like unless you actually go through it. Basically, “the wedding process” = “getting head while smoking crack.”

Anyway, I’ve been engaged for four months now. In that time, I’ve learned quite a few things, including…

People will invite themselves to your wedding. Often. Like, be prepared for this happening several times a week 

***An actual conversation I have with actual people several times a week***

Person: “When is the date?”

Me: “July 19th.”

Person: “Word? I can’t wait, dog. I’ll see you there. Make sure your girl invites some of her single friends.”

Me (in my head) “No you will not see me there. Why? Because you won’t be there. Why won’t you be there? Because I can’t afford to invite people I haven’t seen or talked to in person in four years. Plus, the last time I saw you, I think you stole the lettuce off my junior bacon cheeseburger. I have no proof of it, but all I can think of when I see you is lettuce. And there will be no lettuce at my f*cking wedding.”

What I actually say: “Aiight, man. Word.”

“The wedding” can be your out/excuse for anything

Seriously, “I’m preparing/saving/getting ready for the wedding” is the ultimate “get out of jail free” card. Actually, it’s not even that. It’s a “don’t have to commit to shit I don’t want to do” card.

A party you were invited to but don’t really want to go to? “I’d come, but we’re still working on this invite list. Plus, she wants to go to the candle store. To look at candles. We might be there all night.”

Impending marriage makes you a bit of a hypocrite

If you went back far enough in our archives, you’d find a couple posts where I was very dogmatic about why married couples should have a joint bank account. Very, very dogmatic. This dogma wasn’t false, either. I believed it. So much so that even before my fiancee and I started dating, I matter-of-factually mentioned it to her.

But, when we actually had our first “How are we going to budget/handle money as a married couple?” conversation, my chest literally tightened at the mention of a joint account.

“Wait…wait…what? You want to know exactly how much money I have? “My” money is now going to be “our” money? I…I think I need a drink.”

Making things even worse was the fact that she wasn’t even suggesting or pushing for it. She just brought it up as an option. We have somewhat similar incomes, and I (obviously) trust her, so I know my issue isn’t about her. But just the mention of it made me feel like I accidentally swallowed some wasabi.

I think it’s just that the idea that someone will have access to your everything can be jarring, even if you want to give them that access. Which makes absolutely no sense. Until it does. And then it makes perfect sense.

Basically, it’s just like marriage. (I hope.)

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Reminder: For the next two weeks, you can purchase your own I Love Bougie Black Girls t-shirt via Teespring for the insanely low prices of $11.50 for a men’s shirt, $13 for a women’s shirt (don’t ask why the women’s shirts are more expensive, because I have no answers)

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and $24.50 for a hoodie.

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The campaign ends Sunday, March 23. So, if you don’t buy one before then, you, um, won’t have one.

Anywho, they’re available now, so go and BUY!!! and be fly.

One Woman Gets The Pedestal, Does Another Deserve The Trash?

1920041_605008909581805_2046567800_nThis cartoon has been making its way around the Internet. It was brought to my attention via Facebook. As I watched the discussion unfold, everybody separated into two very polar and distinct camps:

1. Why must we praise one woman at the expense of another just because some of us don’t agree with their persona, representation, etc.

2. Burn Nicki Minaj in effigy as she is nowhere near a role model or person to be held up by any body, not even her own mother who should be ashamed for bearing her onto the world to create music like “Lookin’ A** N*ggas” and “Starships”.

For those who can’t see it or don’t get it allow me to recap: Cutnedge Cartoons created a cartoon that shows a little girl who has fallen in love with with recent pedestal queen Lupita and looks upon her as a new role model while discarding to the trash her pictures/posters of Nicki Minaj, presumably her previous misguided role model. Or at least that’s the point I’m taking from it.

I don’t purport to be a woman nor do I pretend to understand what its like to be a Black woman. So I won’t be speaking for women here. And for the life of me, this isn’t even as much about Lupita vs Nicki Minaj as it is this: while I get what the cartoon was doing, is it really necessary to specifically point out somebody in attempts to eschew an image that perhaps has met its end?

For the record, despite the cartoon’s intentions and no matter how happy us renjas (reading ninjas) are about the win, Nicki Minaj is just as likely to remain a media darling. Somebody wants her to win no matter how much some folks claim to hate her. Which I don’t get at all. I absolutely do not get the Nicki Minaj hate. In fact, I didn’t even realize it existed until reading the comments on FB.

What it brought to mind was what happens all the time: something isn’t an issue until we make it one. Many people are worried about children they don’t have or can’t stand and don’t want these children looking up to Nicki Minaj all the while forgetting that if you raise your kids right then hopefully they’ll make decisions that allow them to own their own self-identity no matter who they like.

In fact, this is my goal for my daughter. I remember having a conversation with a friend (I may have shared this before but bear with me) about his hope that his daughter didn’t end up like Beyonce. My counter was that while it isn’t my goal, I wouldn’t be mad if my educated and self-confident made choices to become the next star and owned her image and sexuality. As long as she’s in control and doesn’t end up being exploited. That’s how I feel about Nicki Minaj. And oddly, about Lupita.

Let’s have an honesty box moment: Lupita is getting A LOT of love these days. Like a lot a lot. Yes, she’s beautiful. But she’s catching love from folks who haven’t even seen 12 Years A Slave. The idea of Lupita seems more lofty than the actual person at this point. She represents something. Maybe its the counter to the ratchet woman out there (Nicki-types). She’s the anti-basketball wife: a well-educated, well-spoken, beautiful woman of color, who has achieved at her craft, and she represents the “natural” woman. Because let’s be clear, Jennifer Hudson won this award some years back and I don’t remember people caring nearly this much. Point is, Lupita represents something to many people.

And she’s doing it on her own terms. So it makes sense why so many love Lupita. But does that mean that loving one means that the other has to get kicked to the curb? Why not toss the image of women being exploited or whatever is wrong in our community in the trash. Nicki Minaj represents a woman who is winning in a man’s field (rap) and winning in the American art of media. She may be selling sex, but so is Rihanna. Hell, Rihanna is only selling sex because its not like she’s a good singer, dancer, or actor. So how does Nicki Minaj end up as the target? She’s successful.

I don’t know, I know we view success differently depending on how its achieved. The best pr0n star on the planet is still a pr0n star and thus not worthy of praise. And I can understand that argument. But a Nicki Minaj like individual is achieving it as a rapper and as a pop star. Why is that okay to trash? She’s not part of any scandals. The most annoying she’s been was on American Idol with her diva behavior and she was on there with Mariah Carey, one of THE most diva-like divas of all time. She looks sexxy while spittin’ like a dude. And she’s won because of it. What am I missing?

My question is more along the lines of folks who think a) its okay to uplift one person while pissing all over another; and b) believe that the picture makes perfect sense because Lupita is this glamourous woman of virtue while Nicki represents the worst of Black womanhood or something. I love ‘em both and respect them.

Break it down for me. What do you see in that picture?

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka TANGLE JIG P aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

Why We (Men) Don’t Write About Our Sex Lives

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A scoff. A prolonged, intense, and bemused scoff. Followed by an aggressive bite of a granola bar.

This was my first reaction when reading “Why Is It So Hard for Men to Write About Sex?” — a piece from Slate’s Amanda Hess that gave some sociological (and, potentially, biological) reasons for why it’s more difficult for us (men) to write about love-making.

I mean, had she not been to VSB? (Probably not, but play along.) Had she not read the dozens of pieces I’ve written about sex, sex acts, when to have sex, when to have certain sex acts, who to have sex with, who not to have sex with, who to perform certain sex acts on, what you’re supposed to do when an eager cat is watching, etc? Did she not know that the longest chapter in Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm At Night — a book about dating, relationships, and SEX — was titled “19 Things About Sex I Definitely Didn’t Learn In Sex-Ed” and contained 28 pages of sex-related topics written by me, a man?

Basically, what the hell was she talking about?

But then I finished my granola bar. And another. (I like granola bars.) While in the middle of that second bar, I started to think about the sex-related pieces I’ve written. By the time I was finished, a realization hit me: She was right. Well, she was right when it comes to me. And, since she’s right when it comes to me, she’s right when it comes to (straight) men.

As mentioned earlier, I’ve written about sex quite a few times. And the sex-related topics have varied. But, despite this variety, they all seem to fall under one of three categories:

1. “Explain” pieces. Usually tongue-in-cheek, these bring up a sex-related topic, and “explain” why you need to do it, why it’s not important, why you need to do it differently, etc. Example: “The Dos and Don’ts of Making a Sex Tape”

2. “Mandom” pieces. These tend to adopt a collective male voice while giving insight into a “difference” between men and women. Something with a title like “Why Men Love Sex On The First Night.”

3. Anecdotal pieces. These are usually humorous stories about a sex-related incident in my past. Example: “My First Time.”

While these types of pieces serve their functions, all stay on the peripherals of sex, using humor, observation, and an occasional bit of sophomoric overshare to talk about sex without actually talking about sex. VSB has been up for almost six years now. In that six years, I’ve had sex at least 1,000 times. (2,000 if you count sex with myself.) Yet, I’ve never written about my sex life. Nothing about the myriad feelings — physical, mental, and emotional — associated with sleeping with someone. Nothing about the difference in preparation and performance between sleeping with a one night stand and sleeping with a f-buddy. Nothing about the awkwardness of being with someone new, or the extra awkwardness of sleeping with someone familiar but thinking of someone new. Nothing about any sexual fantasies. Nothing about my own sexual prowess (or lack thereof).

Of course, there’s one very obvious reason for this lack of openness. Every woman I’ve been with in that time is aware of VSB. Some of these women also have friends and family who read, and it just wouldn’t have been the best idea to provide sexual details about those relationships.

But, while this reason is practical, it’s a bit of a cop-out. I’ve written about other intimate relationship-related topics before. Some of these topics were very sensitive in nature, but that didn’t stop me from finding a way to express myself without being too explicit. Also, even if the women I’ve been with didn’t read VSB, I still wouldn’t feel very comfortable sharing anything sexual.

Why? Well, it’s complicated. Part of it is stylistic. My work tends to be more observational/distant, and that type of writing doesn’t lend itself to detailed conversations about the bedroom.

Also, it just doesn’t feel…right. Writing about sex makes me feel like I’m either humble-bragging or pandering. There’s no inbetween. Even earlier, when I mentioned how many times I’ve had sex in the past few years, I was tempted to delete it. Despite the fact that it’s an innocuous stat and a (relatively) unremarkable number, it felt tactless to include it.

This feeling of tactlessness is present whenever I see other men writing about sex. Sharing those type of details seems, for lack of a better term, feminine. And yes, I realize the irony in thinking that a straight man sharing details about sex with women is feminine, but I can’t deny that the feeling is there. Considering how rare it is to see straight men talk openly and explicitly about our own sex lives, I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that way. We’ve been socialized to think that sharing those types of intimate details about what happens in our bedrooms is something women do, not men. Sure, there are the storied “locker room” conversations, but those are more about reporting conquests than sharing details about them.

Also — and this goes back to the humble-bragging point — because of the language commonly used to describe sex, it’s difficult to really talk about it without using certain verbs and adjectives that suggest that you are, in fact, bragging. The way words like f*ck, bang, screw, pop, hit, beat, and bone are usually incorporated drive home the conquer/conquest concept. And, if you prefer to use less aggressive language that suggests you were receiving more than giving, it feels soft. Unmasculine. So instead of striving to find the perfect language to hit that sweet spot between “too aggressive” and “too weak”, we just don’t talk about it. (And, if we want to, we use a fifteen-year-old rap song as a proxy.) The best writing is inherently, sometimes painfully vulnerable. And we (men) can be vulnerable about family or fear or even love. But, when it comes to (straight) male sexuality, there really isn’t much room for it.

This brings me to my last point. Perhaps we don’t talk about it because no one really wants to hear it. Maybe there’s just no real audience for a straight male version of someone like Feminista Jones. Which sucks for me. Because I did want to start talking about my sex life more often.

Actually, nevermind. Even if there was an audience for it, there’s one person — a person I’m marrying this summer — who I know wouldn’t be happy with me sharing. So I won’t.

Drats.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

The NFL Is F*cking Evil (…And We Don’t Give A Damn)

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It was Sunday. We (my fiancee and I) were at my dad’s house, watching the Heat/Bulls game. It was halftime, so I started channel surfing. We landed on the NFL combine.

Her: “What’s this?”

Me: “The closest thing you’ll ever see to a televised slave auction.”

Her: “Ha. Seriously, what is this?”

Me: “It’s the NFL combine. Where all the college players hoping to get drafted work out and get measured in front of NFL teams.”

Her: “Ok.”

***30 seconds later***

Her: “What do they measure?”

Me: “Basically everything from speed to hand size.”

Her: “Hand size?”

Me: “Yeah.”

***30 seconds later***

Her: “Yeah, this is super slave auction-ey. Feels like I’m watching 12 Years a Slave.”

Me: “We haven’t even seen that yet.”

Her: “After seeing this, I don’t think we need to.”

For the next five minutes or so, we made increasingly silly joke after increasingly silly joke comparing the combine to a slave auction. At the height of the silliness, we both adopted “overseer” accents (which probably actually sounded Jamaican) when mimicking the commentators’ vocal inflections whenever they’d mention a player’s “loose hips” or “wide wingspan” or “thigh width” or “watermelon picking nose.” But beneath the silliness was the realization that we actually weren’t that off.

The nature of football dictates and demands that a premium is placed on prospects proving themselves by performing tasks — vertical leaps, bench presses, etc — more based on physicality and athleticism than actual skill. This is unique to that sport. A great 40 yard dash time and high vertical leap alone won’t get you drafted in the NBA, the NHL, or Major League Baseball. In the NFL, though, it could make you a millionaire.

And, while the slave auction comparison was obviously hyperbolic (to my knowledge, no slaves were signing multi-million dollar contracts), when watching this group of very young and half-naked (mostly) Black men perform these tasks while being picked, prodded, and assessed by a group of much older, fully dressed, and (mostly) White men — men with the power to decide exactly where these young men are going to be employed — it’s a natural connection.

But, we kept watching.

Yesterday, I published a piece by Maya Francis that asked us to rethink Bill Cosby’s legacy in light of the multiple sexual assault allegations against him. A couple months earlier, I wrote something similar in content but much more scathing in tone about R. Kelly. In it, I made no qualms about calling current fans of the R-uh idiots.

These pieces are mere drops in the accountability/outrage ocean we now all seem to swim in. From Chris Brown to republicans to Woody Allen to Gabrielle Union to Chick-Fil-a to Robin Thicke to Papa Johns to Miley Cyrus to Kanye West to the state of Florida, recent popular American culture is filled with examples of a large number of people deciding that a popular entity’s behavior is too troublesome to continue to purchase and/or patronize their product(s).

But when it comes to the NFL, an organization whose negative headlines over just the last six months read like stories from an off-brand Law & Order franchise (“Next on Law & Order: Tampa Greyhound Station: Handsome NFL heartthrob by day. Multi-state serial rapist by night.“), this outrage seems to wane. And by “wane” I mean “not fucking exist.”

Well, maybe we say it does. Maybe we say that all the issues plaguing the league — domestic violence, murder, rape, racism, sexism, homophobia, bullying, steroids, teams named after racial slurs, bounties, permanent brain injuries, lawsuits from people with permanent brain injuries who contend the league lied to them, evidence the league is attempting to silence the lawsuits — really bother us. Maybe we say we’re turned off by the post-racial racist audaciousness of the league considering a rule prohibiting Black players from saying “nigga“, and maybe we realize it’s a smokescreen to distract us from stuff like star running backs knocking out their fiancees in casinos and dragging them out of elevators. Maybe we’re bothered by news that a multi-billion dollar industry that makes a big production every year to show how committed they are to breast cancer research only gives 8% of the proceeds from the campaign to actual research. Maybe we’re bothered by how it ties itself to patriotism and militaristicness, and maybe we see the irony in it branding itself as “America’s Game.” Maybe we care that it’s the most violent and physically demanding of the four major American team sports, but the only one not to offer its workforce fully guaranteed contracts. Maybe we care that the cost of a family actually attending a game is more than their mortgage.

But, we keep watching. In record numbers. So it doesn’t really matter what we say, does it? This isn’t just us putting our heads in the sand. It’s us putting our heads in the sand, and demanding deeper, hotter, and heavier sand.

After turning the Heat/Bulls game back on, I sporadically turned back to the combine during commercial breaks. She wasn’t pleased.

Her: “This slave shit…again. Why?

Me: “The Steelers need a big receiver. I need to watch.”

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)