Sunday, July 13, 2014

My Opinion about the State of Black Women's Empowerment Sites (BWE)

I have been blogging for a long time. I think I started in 2004. I think that was before BWE even started. I remember reading Black Women Blow the Trumpet before it became private. I was there when What About our Daughters started. I tried to get involved, it went bad, and I quit blogging for a few years. I kept reading things here and there and found I really liked Beyond Black and White and after a while I was asked to write there. I like Christelyn Karazin, I haven't interacted with many of the founding members of BWE, and I have had negative interactions with some of them. But I prefer Christelyn because she is less extreme, more open to differing opinions, and respectful. I also appreciate that she saw something that interested her and tried to help and bring resources to the movement. I believe in what Dorothy Height said, if we worry about who gets credit then the work doesn't get done (or something like that). If the goal is to improve the lives of Black women then who the hell cares who started BWE and who makes the most noise as long as the job gets done? So after the whole hubbub about Christelyn happened I definitely did not want to be involved with the founding members and their rules. My opinions are based on what I have seen and I have the right to comment on this as an observer.

I was really surprised at what happened to BWE. I have the Canadian experience where maybe 90% of the Black media I'm exposed to comes from AA women (including bloggers). So it's rare that I would see a Black Canadian woman or Caribbean woman in the media or online. That is the experience for many non-AA women so that is why we have an opinion about the AA media we consume and how they portray Black women. It's all we have really. There may be some non-AA women we watch but they are often in American films anyway. All the models, advertisements, music videos, and songs are the same ones you are exposed to but BWE sites are saying our opinions don't count, we don't know what we are talking about, and we are "the enemy" now. Just as AA women complain that they are not represented enough in the media and make do with what the White majority gives them, non-AA women are not represented and have to make due with what the White majority AND AA-minority provides. Yet we are not asking for them to represent us more in the media, we are asking that they represent themselves better for their own good, and for the good of Black people all over the world. What they present affects all of us so we should have a say.

Furthermore, if as some sites say, there is a more positive view of Caribbean and African women then why not look at some of us for ideas just as Black women all over the world frequently look to AA women for ideas? It seems that they only want the influence to be one sided and ignore the fact that non-AA women have lived with their outside influence and are still able to maintain unique parts of themselves. Why can't you look to other women for ideas and influence as many of us look to others including yourselves? If your goal is the be better respected and date interracially as many non-AA women do, wouldn't it make sense to figure out what non-AA women do and start enacting those things? I have no problem looking to AA, Asian, and even White women for ideas about how to do things. I look to men for ideas about how to do other things. Observe, learn, and make it your own for your own benefit while remembering who you are.

Unlike what I have read on BWE sites, I don't see the success of AA women as taking something away from me. AA women looking good does not make me look bad so I don't want them to fail or be mistreated and I do care. Unfortunately it seems like BWE sites are telling AA women to view success of any non-dark skinned or non-AA woman as a personal rejection and as taking something away from them. That is how our experiences and reality differ so I'll leave that alone. I am all for diversity of skintones and features but you can advocate for that without the anger and personal attacks on light or biracial women. It would be great to see someone writing who has a perspective similar to my own. It would be great to see all women of African descent, regardless of how long their ancestors have been away from Africa, no matter their skin colour, be able to discuss the improvement of their global image which happens to be strongly influenced by the American media. BWE writers can see that the White majority has the control over how Black people are represented in Western countries and still feel they should have a say, even when they don't control the industry. Well, AA-people are overrepresented in the media presented to Western countries, and even though non-AA people don't control the industry, we also want to have a say, and what we want is to see YOU better represented. This isn't just a media thing either. We want AA-women and Black women everywhere to be viewed with higher regard. Those same Eurocentric standards apply to all Black women, not just AA-women.

I think what BWE sites are suffering from is groupthink and group polarization. Groupthink happens when a group of people makes decisions, there is a charismatic leader/leaders, many people think the same, and dissenting views are discouraged or strongly rejected. This leads the group to ignore different perspectives and not weigh all facts and possibilities. In BWE, by ignoring dissenting views, views from outsiders, or refusing to weigh alternatives or play devil's advocate, they are in danger of making unwise choices (e.g., fostering hostility towards biracial/light-skinned women while ostensibly advocating for interracial relationships that produce biracial children, or trying to do everything alone and starting from scratch instead of using trying to benefit from what other people have already done). Group polarization happens when a cohesive group becomes more and more extreme when compared to a group with more diverse membership. BWE is becoming extreme. It's narrowed itself from being about the improvement of all Black women down to only AA-women (who don't have recent African or Caribbean roots), who are not light skinned or biracial.  So anything that supports someone who doesn't fit that mold is rejected, criticized, and called the enemy. Their views are extreme (e.g., reject other Black people, reject all media and make your own, boycott almost everything, don't listen to many people who could have good ideas, don't support anyone who isn't AA, and not supporting the end of atrocities in other countries like those 200 girls kidnapped in Nigeria...yes seriously that happened). How can sites support interracial marriage that produces light-skinned and biracial children and at the same time call those women the enemy? 

When a group like this wants mainstream change they will not appeal to the mainstream if they are so extreme. They will lose the support from women who are light-skinned, biracial, or foreign who BWE writers have said have advantages and privileges they could extend. I'm all for AA-women advocating for their best interests first but I think these other women could be allies that can help by playing devil's advocate, being less emotionally-involved, and having a different perspective. I stand by my belief that when you are drowning take whatever help you can get and make due. If you are starving take whatever food you can get because you may not get anything better for a long time. Use these other people as a crutch until you can walk on your own. If you want to eliminate something from your life go ahead but there is no need to be so hostile and cruel to people who choose mainstream views and are doing just fine. We all have choices, the right choice for you may be an unnecessary choice or the wrong choice for others. Promote dark-skinned women all day long but don't burn bridges insulting people because they don't want to get on your bandwagon because they may be beside you for your next cause.

I know that BWE sites like to compare how they are treated by Black men and feminists and talk about intersectionality to defend their right to put themselves first. As a Canadian woman I am not asking AA women to put anyone else first or put their needs to the side. That is the difference between non-AA Black women, Black men, and feminists so please remember that. Women like me want AA women to do better and live better and if they make that a priority it's fantastic. I am not asking them to put non-AA women, Black men, or White feminists first so please don't compare the situations. I am not trying to sabotage you. I am trying to help you avoid groupthink and group polarization that is causing strife in your group and turning off the less extreme members. If you want mainstream change you need to make views acceptable to mainstream Black folks with moderate views, that's just the way it is. The more extreme and narrow your message, the more disparaging you are of people who are attracted to your sites (e.g., Black women around the world with various skintones), the less support you will get from those people and others who care about those people. You may feel you can do all of this on your own, but ask yourselves, how well is it working?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Women are not entirely to blame for PUA sites!

I am no longer a follower of Black Women's Empowerment sites. The reason is because these sites have made it clear that they are meant for African American (AA) women and that non-AA women do not have a place in their conversations about the way AA women are perceived. Our opinions are not welcome in conversations about how to improve the image of AA women and how they can improve their lives. We have been told to deal with our own problems (frankly, I tired of the continual focus on television in their posts). I realize that my life is different from AA women and I don't need to do many of the things suggested on their sites. It's okay for me to think differently from them and to not feel serious issues for them are serious issues for me. That's fine. So I stopped regularly reading those sites.

For some reason today I was bored and couldn't find anything to read so I ventured over to this post on Neecy's Nest (the issues on the blog are for AA women so I don't have the same opinions about them and I won't post on BWE sites anymore, but I can always post on my own blog). The post is called It's time for Western women to fess up. First off, I can't believe what I read. In my opinion, the post basically blames women for Elliot Rodgers going on a shooting rampage in Santa Barbra, California because he couldn't get women to sleep with him! Talk about blaming the victim...

At the time when the shooting occured I read many articles about it and opinions. This was the FIRST time I saw a WOMAN blaming WOMEN for the shooting! This guy was a a former member of PUA (Pick Up Artist) sites and when he was still unsuccessful with women he joined a site called PUA HATE where men complain about PUA sites and bash women. Now I can understand why writers blamed the sites because of the things written there that influenced Rodger's thinking. There was some really hateful stuff posted on those sites, but for the record, apparently Rodger posted some alarming things and members tried to talk him down but it didn't work.

Well the thing that bothered me about Neecy's post was that there was no empathy at all for women's experiences with dating and how that influenced them! I think both men and women are to blame for the state of dating nowadays. In the post it seemed as though women were stupid, selfish beings who purposefully chose "bad boys" instead of "nice guys" just to be mean or because they didn't know what was best for them. Nice guys are apparently innocent victims of women's evil. This is the sort of thing that is written on PUA and Manosphere sites and it's coming from a woman! I will admit that I have gone in on feminists, didn't have entirely negative views of PUA sites, and think women are partially to blame for the state of dating today but I never supported the aforementioned ideas because they are totally one sided. So below I'm going to list some common experiences and beliefs that many women have about relationships and what they want that may leave "nice guys" without partners. I think it's ridiculous and harmful to blame women who are strangers for getting shot because they didn't want to sleep with someone! I chose to write this because I was just so shocked by what I read!

  1. Many young women do not know what nice guys are.  Some girls grow up with fathers/relatives who are mean/abusive to their mothers or themselves so they can like someone who treats them badly  while women who have good fathers would never date the same guys. These women think there is always abuse in relationships and that not being mistreated is a fairy tale. They expect guys to mistreat them sooner or later so they are not scared off when a guy isn't nice to them. Unfortunately the abuse has confused the women so they go for men like their abusive fathers. These women often have low self-esteem and think they are worthless and don't believe it when people say otherwise.  PUA sites give advice about how to find women with low self-esteem or how to lower women's self-esteem in order to get sex. If a woman ends up with bad guy after bad guy she may assume they are all bad and be suspicious of "nice guys" who she things will turn bad eventually anyway. These abused women will often have sex quickly too because they feel it is the only thing they can offer and that men only value them for sex. 
  2. Women become wiser and should not be blamed for not knowing more when they were younger. Later on when women realize what they were doing they change who they date due to that wisdom. I think it's totally unfair to chastise young women who aren't even fully mentally developed for making wrong choices when dating. Everyone makes mistakes. Young men also make many mistakes. Young men may be abusive, make poor life choices, sacrifice grades and career development for fast money to impress girls and end up with nothing to impress grown women, engage in criminal activities that make them non-marriage material etc. They may go for looks over character and personality for most of their lives. The same men on PUA sites have only been attracted to women rated 7-10 for most of their lives and have yet to figure out that they could have relationships with women closer to their attractiveness level! These men are still choosing women entirely based on looks and are surprised when some women do the same. Many of these men continue to prioritize sex over relationships when they know women don't and are surprised when women don't have sex with them right away. They keep trying to get sex with new women when men in relationships have the most sex. So both men and women make strange choices.
  3. Women are not mind readers and may not know if a guy is nice or mean until she gets to know him. I don't know why people assume a woman will automatically know a good guy. Most men are on their best behaviour when they meet a woman and it's only later that the bad behaviour comes up. The women don't know the guy was abusive, a criminal, or a cheater. Unless you have known a guy for a long time you won't know if he is a good guy or not. Many bad guys lie about being good guys and if they are handsome and charismatic then a woman will fall for it. They may be persuaded by an attractive man giving them attention because they don't feel they deserve it (just as a pretty woman can talk men into doing things they wouldn't do for a less attractive woman). On the other hand, if a supposed "nice guy" is awkward and unattractive he may not be able to convince women he is a good catch. PUA sites teach men how to convince women they are good guys. Our society also teaches that people should get second chances, don't judge a book by it's cover, and that people change so even if a women hears negative things about a guy she may still give him a chance. Many young people also think they are special so a young woman may believe that even if a guy is mean to others he will be good to her. Or she could believe "love conquers all" and that the man's problems won't matter as long as they are in love. This is constantly the message in romantic films, books, and songs.
  4. When people are abused as children they often (consciously or unconsciously) blame themselves for the abuse and try to prove their worth to bad guys. So when a girl meets a guy and he isn't nice she may blame herself. She then thinks that if she acts nice, treats him well, doesn't complain, or makes herself look good (ride or die type of girl) then he will start being nice to her. Many women have the belief that if they are nice or look good then men will be good to them. It happens in fairy tales and romantic books and films all the time (e.g., beauty and the beast). Just think of any film where the man is hard, mean, or in trouble and a nice, kind woman is exactly what he needs to see the error of his ways, open his heart, and transform himself (e.g., manic pixie dream girls). Women are taught from a young age to be kind and nice and that they can change men. 
  5. The halo effect is a psychological phenomenon where people associate good traits with people who are good looking (or have other good traits). So, if a woman sees a good looking guy she may unconsciously believe that he has other good traits but will unconsciously believe an unattractive guy has negative traits. As said above a woman may be pursuaded to date or sleep with an attractive guy just as men are easily persuaded to date and put up with attractive women who are not good for them. Men sometimes try to shame women for going for guys based on looks but this is hypocritical. If women went for men based on popularity, talent, or money someone would be complaining about that too. People look for more than one thing in a partner and personality unfortuantely is not enough. Think about how many times you looked at someone and were surprised at the negative things you learned about them because they looked so clean cut, nice, attractive etc. That's the halo effect and women are often surprised when the popular, handsome, successful guy turns out to be a terrible guy.
  6. Women may settle for whoever chooses them. Bad boys may be more bold and assertive in asking women out and pairing that with charisma and attractiveness leads to their dating success. A quiet guy who doesn't put in the effort or seem like he really wants a woman is not going to get her. If you act like a friend a woman will assume that friendship is all you want. Men who are successful with women tend to ask out way more women than men who are unsuccessful. It's partially a numbers game. Men often say they can tell within minutes if they would sleep with someone and if they are girlfriend material, well women do the same thing and they just may not be attracted to you.
  7. A woman may regret getting used by an unattractive man more than being used by an attractive man. Many girls and women have had the experience of being used by men, especially for sex (e.g., sleeping with someone and getting dumped, mistreated, or shamed soon after). So women learn that it is risky to sleep with a man because he may dump her or change right after. So women are selective about who they take that risk with. Many would prefer taking that risk with someone who has relationship potential but one can never be sure of that. The one thing a woman can be sure of is that they are attracted to someone a lot. So, if a man is really attractive a woman may be willing to risk being dumped after because they enjoyed being desired and sleeping with someone attractive. On the other hand, being desired and sleeping with someone unattractive may not be worth it to some women. Having a great thing once is worth more than having a mediocre thing once. Sleeping with someone you are not attracted to is like going to the dentist, but if your dentist is hot it makes it less unpleasant. Many women barely enjoy sex too so it's often a sacrifice only for the man's pleasure so at least they get the pleasure of looking at someone attractive. 
There are more things I could write but I think that's enough for now. When I think back over my choices in men I know that most of these things applied to me and affected my choices. I tried dating a guy I wasn't attracted to once and he ended up being a jerk just like the attractive guys I dated. I've turned down men because they were unattractive to me, they didn't achieve much in life, had kids, were separated, lived too far away, barely had anything to say, smoked, did drugs, or didn't planned to move away so there are many reasons. Many guys are just looking for sex so they don't care about those things. Women and men have different goals and dating standards a lot of the time and it is self-defeating and delusional to expect them to act the same way and make the same choices.  Anyways, the point of the post is that we should not uncritically believe everything these Red Pill guys say because they are only looking at things from one perspective while ignoring most of the reasons why women made the choices they have and instead attributed it to us being stupid or evil. Most of these men would have women if they didn't continually go for women who were out of their league, if men in general would be satisfied with one women for more than a one night stand, and if they stopped insisting that women sleep with them right away.