Friday, December 18, 2009

Bitch is NOT the New Black: Are You Really Lowering Your Standards or Becoming Reasonable?

Over at Racialicious they've been discussing Helena Andrews' book "Bitch Is the New Black" via a piece at the Washington Post that once again seeks to figure out why black women are single and apparently lonely.

Andrews and others go on about their misfortune with dating (what I gather to be black men) in the DC area:

Andrews writes about what it is like for a young, black woman dating in D.C., trying to find a mate who seems ever elusive. The futile rituals are familiar: the dressing up, the eager cab ride over to the party, the hold-your-breath as you walk in, scanning the room quickly for any looks returned. The mantra sounding in the back of your head: "So-and-so found a man last year at a party like this. Maybe tonight is my night." Then one by one, the men prove to be disappointments and disappointing: married, uninteresting or uninterested.

The disappointment as you end up at the bar once again, committing straw violence in your drink (stirring the drink frantically and unconsciously).

Andrews writes the truth of those nights. The truth is for too many, they never work out. Not for Andrews and not for her friend, Gina, who is a prominent character in her life and in the book.

You know I get tired of reading about how single black women are and how lonely and basically unloved we are if we are "successful" (more on that later).

I, personally, can't understand it because I, on a personal level, cannot relate. All of my black friends who are women are either engaged or married (to men of varying races, including black men) as well. This doesn't mean that there isn't some kind of pattern or "phenomenon". However, I guess I just wonder what's the purpose behind regurgitating the same old information.

When I first started my sojourn into dating, I only wanted my guy to be two things. He was either supposed to be a fuck buddy, someone I would only hit up for nights on the town and good sex afterwards; or my dream guy. That was it. Dream Guy had to be just as intellectual as I, willing to debate and discuss religion, astronomy, philosophy and psychology, spirituality, and be on a constant chase for more knowledge. Money was never an issue. I valued a larger than life personality, super sharp intellectuality and, I won't lie, a degree or the pursuit of a degree was on the list.

When I first talked to Mr. Slim, he told me worked as a mechanic on aircraft. I was impressed. I could never in a million years grasp his job and I respected that he knew so much about what he was doing. It wasn't just a job. He had also come from a legacy of engineers, so I knew he had some modicum of pedigree, and a family that would not accept anything less than at least keeping with the legacy of putting in hard work.

He was making nice money when we met, but I honestly didn't care. He was sweet and respectful (and he was loving). He had goals and he had a career. Now, working where he did didn't automatically make it a career. Caring about his job and striving within his field indicated that he had a career. He sounded like he was going places, and he indicated that he had goals to keep going forward. In order to go forward, he had to take a large pay cut, but it meant security and a better life, and I respected him for that. I supported him through that too. It was the thought that counted.

He went to a technical school, but he wasn't like me, Mrs. I Love College So Much I Wanna Go Back. That didn't bother me either, and after all, he could always go back to college. At times I pushed him to go forward with getting a college degree, only because it was a Plan B and C and D should Plan A not work out. He is going back in January, but it wasn't easy for him to see it my way at first.

We are very different in some things. He's more blue collar. He's got the rougher hands from working with them all day. Sometimes he gets bruises. Sometimes he makes spelling mistakes and grammar mistakes, and he doesn't seem to want to get into these deep thinker conversations all the time, but I still love him. That's why I love him. Because he goes against damn near everything I thought made a man perfect and still loves me, and is perfect for me in his own way (not to mention that talking about airplanes and tools and stuff is a turn on).

I'm glad I let my guard down otherwise I would've missed out on him.

My counselor told me one time that the kind of guy I wanted would be larger than life, and would probably kill me in an effort to match my will and intensity, especially when I am upset. That's some serious shit.

Sometimes I would be such a hard ass with Mr. Slim, and I sometimes I would spout off that shit about not lowering my "standards." Sometimes, I was right, but I have to admit that most times I was wrong. Those tenets that I held on to weren't standards, they were unreasonable rules that were imposing and establishing rifts that were sometimes difficult to mend. I was trying to be "the man" and I was at times using my life and accomplishments as a rule of thumb with him, when he was bringing just as much to the table.

When I was pregnant with our child, he stood up to the plate. He worked overtime. He still does. He's working that OT for my ring. He doesn't have fancy degrees or a huge stock portfolio. He doesn't wear Armani suits to work, but he works and he works hard, sometimes seven days a week. I respect that.

I make more money than he does, but he doesn't care and quite frankly, that doesn't bother me either. It's not about the money or the supposed prestige that comes with it.

I know I'm a good woman, and that I can trust that I will not let some thug or jackass into my life. There are just some things that are hardwired, and dating someone completely unworthy (cheater, abuser, liar, etc) is not in my standard operating procedure. At the same time, I had to make the call that while I was bringing a lot to the team, I wanted to be the woman, and that meant being reasonable and letting Mr. Slim be the man.

Sisters, we can't wear the pants and the skirt too. This is why some of us are having issues in this dating game. We need to be able recognize which standards are archaic and draconian, if they are even standards at all.

If the man you seek has to have all kinds of degrees, stock portfolios, nice cars, fancy suits, a network that would make Myspace and Facebook envious, and other forms of prestige, then you might find yourself single. I'm not saying lay up with any old cat, but I am saying that standards need to be evaluated to see if they are really standards or just plain, old irrationality.

Men can be "Cinderellas" too.

Check out more of my musings (and rantings) at


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