Monday, December 12, 2011

Assertiveness Training Will Save Black Women!!!

Yes, the post title is full of hyperbole but it is sort of true :) As those of you familiar with this blog can tell, I have been struggling to figure out why people keep criticizing Black women for being unfeminine. I've explored some areas where we can change to improve our feminine appearance and mannerisms:
  • clothing and fashion
  • make-up
  • hair
  • smiling
  • manners and etiquette
  • embracing feminine qualities
  • body weight
  • independence (boasting too much about it)
  • listening to masculine music
  • traditional hobbies (e.g., cooking, sewing both very practical skills)
  • reducing overt sexuality
Some people even say that because of our dark skin tone people will automatically judge us to be masculine. I don't believe in that though. A woman can be very dark and highly feminine (like many African models) or very light and highly masculine (e.g., Rosie O-Donnell anyone?). It's so outdated especially considering how many light-skinned women tan today. I don't think it's only dark skinned Black women who are being called masculine so that defeats the argument. Being feminine is a combination of many traits.

I think I there was one very important trait that I was missing! The problem is that many people expect and prefer women to be passive and equate that with being feminine! The stereotype for Asian women is that they are very passive (I've learned this isn't really true). People tend to call that submissive and some men say that's what they prefer about Asian women. Passive is defined as: Accepting or allowing what happens or what others do, without active response or resistance. Very scary when you think about it that some men seek a woman who will do whatever they want like that! Men who need this have problems and we should all avoid them! Yes, it's very feminine to be quiet, speak softly, not cause a scene, or argue, but being passive all the time will only lead others to take advantage of you and you will not get your needs met. There is a difference between being easy-going and laid-back and being a door mat or push-over for everyone else.

On the other hand, Black women are criticized for being too aggressive. Aggressive is defined as: 1) Ready or likely to attack or confront; characterized or resulting from aggression. 2. Pursuing one's aims and interests forcefully, sometimes unduly so. It is necessary for people to defend themselves and pursue what they want but do you don't have to argue about everything and always get your way? I've heard Black women say they won't put up with the things other women do so they speak up or break up. These Black women are aggressive while other women are passive. Plus, given that some of us are constantly harassed and criticized, being passive and accepting it all would lead to victimization and depression. So what is the best way to be feminine, not be a door mat, get your needs met, and stand up for yourself? Is it even possible to do all of that?

Yes it is possible if you learn how to be assertive!!! Early when I began this blog I posted links to some articles about assertiveness but I never specifically wrote about it. I have done assertiveness training and learned about conflict resolution, but many people have not. This may be the most important thing I ever post on this blog!
Assertiveness is the ability to express one’s feelings and assert one’s rights while respecting the feelings and rights of others. Assertive communication is appropriately direct, open and honest, and clarifies one’s needs to the other person. Assertiveness comes naturally to some, but is a skill that can be learned. People who have mastered the skill of assertiveness are able to greatly reduce the level of interpersonal conflict in their lives, thereby reducing a major source of stress. (source)

When I started this blog I posted many areas where I needed to improve, but I tend to be too passive instead of aggressive and I can be assertive when I need to be. This is what I think Black women need to start doing. Passive and assertive need to be our default instead of aggressive most of the time. Assertiveness training is too much to go into here but I have a list of great online resources for you to read so that you can learn how to be assertive instead of aggressive. I strongly recommend doing this! This will help you to get what you want out of life but not leave you vulnerable to the abuse of others. This will improve our communication with everyone and greatly improve the way we appear to the rest of the world. An EBW must learn how to be assertive! Yes, men should do their part and learn this too!

Improve Your Assertiveness (excellent quality online workbook)
How to Be More Assertive (great lessons)
Setting Boundaries Appropriately: Assertiveness Training (even better lessons)
Assertiveness Skills Training Tips (very good)
Reduce Stress with Increased Assertiveness
Learn Assertive Communication in Five Simple Steps
10 Top Tips to Being Assertive Without Being Aggressive
Six Steps to becoming Assertive
How to be Assertive with Friends or Family
Assertiveness Training


  1. I agree with the list you provided regarding the improvement of our feminine appearance and mannerisms. First impressions are very powerful.

    Good post. Thanks.

  2. I agree with you already. Many bw were not taught to be feminine. How to do our makeup dress for our body shapes etc so I am excited about this.

  3. I"m wondering what skin color has to do with it,are people still that color struck as to believe that only those with more white blood could possibly be any good?
    Generally I've heard people criticize Carribean and African women for being pushy; a bit like fishermen's wives. The need for assertiveness training is amusing to say the least.