Until a couple of weeks ago, I had a Facebook “friend’ ― let’s call him “Ash Bridges” ― who makes it his business to criticize women.
Ash joined my friends list via a mass add following my 20th high school reunion. I never met the dude in real life, but I came to rely on him to take a regressive stance on everything from two Black men hugging to any celebrity woman daring to show a bit of skin in public. He was so egregious with it, I started calling him out under his own posts.
The last straw was during the ridiculous Ciara Oscars outfit debacle, when Ash posted: “If you let your wife walk out the house like that, I can’t respect you and I won’t do business with you.”
He made the post public, so I shared it to my page, reminding readers that men with no woman to speak of and no business anyone cares about, who talk about what they would “let” their theoretical wives do, is a train you can always count on arriving on time.
My feed was not very kind to him: One lady posted a photo from his own page in which he resembled a cross between J.J. from “Good Times” and Riley Freeman from “The Boondocks,” wondering aloud why she would allow him to let her do anything. Ash blocked me by the end of the day.
Men telling women how they should comport themselves has been a cornerstone of the patriarchy since time immemorial. But, unless I’m imagining things, it seems there’s been a recent uptick in Black Men on the Internet with Opinions on Black Women™️.
Powered by PornHub, the ghost of Kevin Samuels and check cashing stores, these men draw from the little-you-know-what energy espoused on podcasts hosted by Black men that exist solely to bash Black women as ammunition to spout their unsolicited opinions on social media and in comments sections about women with whom they have zero relation.
Not even the most revered sistas are safe: On April 8, Halle Berry posted on Twitter a “tasteful” nude of herself standing on a balcony, her privates strategically covered, drinking what would appear to be a glass of wine, with the caption “I do what I wanna do.”
I’m middle-aged, and Berry has been a sex symbol since before I hit puberty; it speaks volumes that, at 56, she can still strip and get our collective blood flowing. Indeed, her post has a few hundred thousand likes and has invited all the thirst from men and women, young and old, celebrity and working schlubs alike.
But social media wouldn’t be social media without a few mosquitoes getting through the front door: Some assclown who labels himself, among other things, a podcaster (of course) had some criticism for Berry.
Dude was dragged accordingly, and Berry came with a clapback that was as graceful as the photo itself.
Ashanti, who seemingly spent last month on exotic vacations involving the tiniest bikinis known to man, endured a similar attack via a random Houston rapper dropping $8 on the Twitter blue check mark.
First, the idea that no one wants to marry Ashanti is patently absurd. Have you seen Ashanti? She probably wards off marriage proposals like $8-blue-check-mark rappers ward off calls from creditors.
His tweet also suggests that marriage and kids are every woman’s ultimate goals and that one should simply fling themselves from the closest tall bridge if they’re unable to achieve that. On the contrary, many Black women are starting to realize that traditional marriage isn’t the Candy Land we’ve been spoon-fed via Disney’s classic 1980s and ’90s animated film run, so men who encounter women not on a Tolkien-esque quest for the ring don’t seem to know what to do with them.
It’s part of a generational shift with which we’re still coming to terms: Black women are lapping Black men in formal education; though women of all ethnicities still earn less than their male counterparts, Black women are earning more than Black men, resulting in a shakeup of the traditional (read: patriarchal) model.
Unlike our grandmothers, who had little choice but to deal with your granddad’s trifling ass on the road to a six-decade marriage that you admire (without all the information) but which made her feel stuck, Black women don’t need to be partnered with a man anymore, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to be.
More than a couple of women I’ve met have been reticent to reveal their high-earning careers during a first date because men automatically feel threatened or hit them with some equivalent of, “Oh, you don’t need a man, huh?” Because, apparently, being able to pay your own mortgage means you should be alone forever.
The conversation of women “living in their masculine/feminine” has also been far more ubiquitous than I care for; the ash-laden podcast brothas insist that today’s Black women are too “masculine” for them… which, to me, translates to “They won’t go Dutch on a first date at Steak ’n Shake with me. Entitled heifers!”
I hear the same response to this issue from Black women ad infinitum: Softness and femininity are bestowed upon men who bring it out of them. Protect Black women and all the good things will flow thusly. (The homie Shanita Hubbard just released a great book exploring this topic.)
One thing you almost never see: attractive, successful, “high value” Black men talking shit about Black women on the internet. They’re too busy with one (or more) attractive, successful, “high value” Black women on their arm. When was the last time you saw Boris Kodjoe or Idris Elba talking about what they “let” their wives do? (This goes for both sexes, by the way.)
Fellas, here’s the simplest free game I can offer: If you want the Black woman of your dreams, try actually liking women. Halle Berry and Ashanti likely still won’t spit in your direction, but there are plenty of good sistas out there waiting for a man to step to them with respect. However, if you bow at the altar of Kevin Samuels or the like, they’ll sniff you out like a truffle pig and go Gobi Desert dry at the thought of you.
I’m sure several men have read this wondering who tailored my cape, or they’re thinking, “What about the challenging Black women?” Look, assholes come in both sexes and every ethnicity (See: Jackie on the current season of ”Love Is Blind.) But your individual experience with a “bad” Black woman doesn’t negate the trends I’m seeing.
I give all Black folks some level of grace when it comes to our internecine dating and mating challenges because I blame everything on white supremacy to some degree. But we can choose to raise our sons to have more respect and appreciation for Black women and their agency ― and that includes having a high-paying career historically reserved for men or being as naked as they please on the internet.
Maybe also teach them that not minding their own damn business is the best way to get their hairline, weight, income or unfortunate dental situations dragged for the world to see.