Posts tagged ‘dating’

Are Marriage rates trumping our Unemployment rates?

While the rest of the Black Blogosphere is still reeling from that Nightline Faceoff about why Successful Black Women Can’t Find a Man (I guess unsuccessful Black women fare better, whatever that means), I think we’re all failing to pay attention to a bigger issue: why successful Black women can’t find a job.

A friend of mine shared this NY Times chart that shows  how different groups are effecting certain groups of people. Depending on what group you select (Black Women, White men with a degree, Black men without, etc), it shows you the unemployment rate for that group.

For Black women of all levels of education, the unemployment rate is at 11 percent. What bothers me is the gap between White and Black women’s unemployment–the same chart showed that the unemployment rate is just under 6%.

Does anyone see a problem here?

It really does seem as though perhaps Black women are being passed up for jobs that are otherwise going to white women or men. But more troublesome is that we are so stuck on how single Black women are that we don’t stop and reflect on how unemployed we are, which whether we know it or not DOES effect our dating and relationship life; if you’re not gainfully employed, your focus won’t be on finding a man; most times you’re busy hustling trying to find a job that will afford you the time and the money to actually go out and meet someone. And yes, I do think unemployment is why so many Black men are single as well (but no one wants to discuss those numbers either).

Granted, it’s not a sexy topic at all and it’s not one people are writing books about or putting on panels about how Black women can find job. But to me, this is a much bigger issue than whether or not I’ll find a Black man to marry or whether I’ll marry my current partner. To hear other people tell it, you’d think being single and a Black woman was a crisis, but what bothers me is that being single is being presented as a crisis while our unemployment rates are hardly even whispered about. The Economist of all things had a whole article about why Black women are sooo single and yet no article about the fact that some of us can’t find a job? #iCant.

Even though I’ve recently found a new job,  but I went several months without finding something after being laid off in January. But just because I was able to find a job in three months doesn’t mean that there isn’t a Black woman out there who is still looking and wondering how she’ll pay her rent. Let’s deal with that situation instead of berating her for being single (or just not married).

Black, Successful, and (not so) Unhappy

It’s taken me a long time to talk about the now-infamous Helena Andrews profile on Black Girl Blogging, because it made me so upset. Not because I think there is truth to how lonely, sad, and unlovable black women are, but because I know that there isn’t much truth to it to begin with.

What really sticks out to me are the lack of narratives about Black women who are happy for reasons other than finding and keeping a man. The “single, sad, lonely Black woman” meme assumes that without a man we can’t be happy and can’t even begin our search for happiness.

My black girl blogger-in-crime Rosetta Thurman has started a “happiness project” of her own called The Diary of a Happy Black Woman. A few nights ago on Twitter, she talked about why she has decided to embark on this new project.

I hadn’t thought about this angle of the story until I saw it mentioned in the above tweet. What really has annoyed me about the whole damn dialog about the poor, single Black women is that it not only paints all Black women as unlovable, but it also assumes that until we find a man we can’t be happy or fulfilled. It even pre-supposes that Black women should be perpetually unhappy.

Yes, there are Black women out there who are sad and who are lonely…and perhaps who are also angry. But those feelings often have very little to do with their marital status (or lack thereof). Many of us  can find ourselves feeling that way even after we’ve found the supposedly elusive relationship with a successful Black man. I should know: I was one of them for quite some time before ending my last immediate long-term relationship (another story entirely).

It’s true that I have since then started a new relationship with a new partner, but I spent the better part of 2009 getting back in tune with the things that make me happy outside of being with someone who liked me and cared about me and took me out on dates and stuff.

In 2009, I lost 42 pounds after getting back in touch with physical activities I love (yoga, dance, walking/jogging), and doing something else I loved too–cooking delicious, healthy meals. I explored new angles and avenues to the media career I have chosen for myself and began to carve my own niche. I traveled to different cities and went to some great conferences. I kept in touch with old friends and made new ones. And I did all of that despite not having  a boo by my side to witness me doing all of this. I did the “brave” thing and started last year without a relationship, having broken up with my then-boyfriend around this time last year. And I regret not one damn second of it.

My soror and friend Cheri had a great response to the profile on Helena Andrews, with whom she happened to have attended Columbia once upon a time:

She said “I’m a successful black woman” several times, listed off the things that validated the statement, and then says she isn’t happy. I know many women who describe themselves this way, and they too end up in that same place at the end of the sentence. “I’m a successful black woman, why can’t I find love or happiness?”

It might be worth while to go back to the beginning of the sentence and see where we made a wrong turn.

What is success? I’ve heard it described a number of ways: having a degree (or two), a house, a car, a job, the right clothes, and/or invites to the right parties. Some women define it as beginning married or having a child. But in many cases, all of this “success” is not accompanied with happiness.

If what you want is happiness, then are you really successful without it?

Someone along the way told us the work is done once you get the tools. We want a cake – so we get the eggs, sugar, and the flour…. but we leave them on the counter and go get ready for the club. We go out, drink, dance, have a good time, and wonder why we don’t have a cake with cute rose petal frosting details when we get back. We want the results but have not done the work.

In this first week of 2010, I’ve had the chance to think about what new things I want to do at Black Girl Blogging this year and in years to come. If there’s one thing Helena Andrews’s new book Bitch is the New Black and the accompanying profile in the Washington Post showed me, it was the need for more Black women telling their stories and having their stories told their way. Stay tuned and join me as I feature and highlight Black women (and a few men) who have made their lives and their work about a pursuit–or several pursuits–of happiness.

Follow Up: Steve Harvey, dating and the Quarterlife

A few months back I wrote this post about the Steve Harvey relationship book, Act like a Lady, Think like a Man. I got a lot of comments, a lot of my friends talking about Black women and men and relationships, and a lot of retweets on Twitter.  I also got some pretty interesting comments:

from Anthony C:

One of the hugest disconnects between men/women these days is that we’ve gone away from the fundamentals of properly dating someone and “vetting” them for a potentially serious relationship. Harvey utilizes a lot of common sense approaches that really are a hallmark of the over 40 club, but you know what? That stuff really works.

from Wise/d.l. chandler:

I’m glad you were able to gleam something from what I found to be pretty rudimentary writing. And I don’t mean that as a compliment. Harvey’s intellect (and humor, if one can call it that) is pedestrian at best. I think the blunt and ham handed approach of advise this man is schilling to the public is both deplorable and laughable. In fact, I dare say it’s going to cause more damage than add on to the wealth of the world.

I’m sure there lies good intention in his work, but having read a good portion of it, common sense and age should lead one to these so-called “insider” revelations far easier.

from Sweet Potato Brown:

I understand that Steve Harvey’s book is for the strategist, but people should be more reflective about why they think they want to marry. Otherwise, marriage will not bring them what they wanted, and they will hurt lots and lots of people, including themselves, for lack of self-awareness.

From Faith:

And yet you bought the book. And that’s all Steve Harvey married 3 times, cheating on his wife jerk trying to tell a woman how to act wanted. [editor’s note: LOLz]

Finally, from Elizabeth:

Thanks for calling out Mr. Harvey for suggesting, if not fully recommending, that women should be something other than who they genuinely are in order to ‘get’ a man!

You are fully self responsible – keep loving yourself first. And yes, pacing at any stage of a relationship is enjoyable.


Here’s the deal y’all:

Yes, I bought the book and read it because I don’t believe in making a judgment about things like this until I research it myself. One of the reasons I read the book is so that I could review it and let my readers know what I thought–a lot of people seemed to want to know and it only made sense that I gave the people what they want, right?

…I wouldn’t have paid full price for it though. Borders Reward card FTW!

But I digress.

A lot of people on the blog and on Twitter had wanted to praise my initial review. “Hell yeah! Who wrote this crap anyway?” But here’s the thing: I don’t think all of it was crap.

Yeah, you heard me right. I don’t think most of Steve Harvey’s points were total BS. I think it’s important that women and men have standards for the way they are treated and an handle on how to treat the people they date and have relationships with.

I think my biggest issue was the fact that it was decent message with a less than stellar messenger. Steve Harvey is a yellow suit wearin comedian who has been married 2 (or 3?) times with a mediocre morning show. Not sure how I feel about his positioning himself as a “relationship expert” when most of what is written in the book I’ve heard from my aunt, my moms, my sorors, and even my Dad. Aren’t those the people who can guide you in a better direction (hopefully) after all?

There was absolutely nothing new said in the book. Outside of the fact that the author(s) were Black and not white, it was really no different from He’s Just Not That Into You, a collection of things women “should know” about the way men act.

Which brings me to my final point:

Women are clueless about dating–and men are just as clueless, especially when they are quarterlifers. So why are only women given rules on how to act or think?

I’ve been single for 6 months and kind of back in the dating scene for 3, and I have to say that I sometimes feel as though I have no idea what it is  I’m supposed to do or am doing when it comes to dating. I only know that eventually I want to settled down get married and raise a family. I can’t always tell if a guy is “into me” or if he wants to date me, and even if he does I have no idea if he is thinking long term or one night. There’s never a clear way to tell what men actually want (beyond the bedroom–but I think everyone wants that at some level). No matter how many relationship books I may or may not read, this will pretty much be the case. All I know is that I deserve to be with someone who really wants to be with me, who makes me laugh, and who I can build a deep and meaningful relationship with. And I know I have the capacity to give someone else that in return.

On the flipside though, most men don’t know what to do or how to date or treat their partners either. Especially not in their 20s. So why is it that they aren’t told how they should act or what they should think or say? Why is the onus on women all the time? Also, with all the rules:

Is dating just strategy? Are we just playing this big game of chess until one of us wins the game and, apparently, the wedding ring? If so–then what the hell happened to dating being fun?

I agree wholeheartedly with the Sweet Potato Brown in the comments above, that Steve Harvey’s book apepars to be for strategists, for women who are approaching dating like a game of chess. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a husband or a life partner at all, but I think sometimes we try so hard to be a man’s wife that we take the fun out of learning about both ourselves and about the people we date. Yes we should have standards and be aware when things are awry and how to handle it, but we should also remember that things happen when they are meant to happen and not after achieving a certain number of chess moves in the  “game.”

In any case, I wanted to clear the air and bit and let everyone know that I really didn’t think the book was a whole bunch of crap. There was some good stuff in there. Too bad I learned it from my momma first instead of Steve Harvey. He doesn’t get he distinction of  “pioneer black relationship guru” in my book.




Looking for the Next Barack? Yeah, right.

Some of you may have seen Jenee Desmond Harris’ piece in the Root last week. In it, she says that perhaps Black women can learn from Michelle Obama by letting go of our shallow “requirements”: a college degree (or two), a house, a “good” job (think Capitol Hill or a Consulting firm), and yes, “swagger.”

But now there’s a follow up from a male perspective. This week, David Swerdlick’s piece entitled “What Women Can’t Learn from Michelle” really sparked my attention:

You can’t argue with Jenée’s thesis: her coterie of pedigreed, upwardly mobile black women have to dig deeper for unseen potential if they’re looking for “Mr. Right.”

But if Barack Obama Part Deux is what it’s going to take to satisfy them, then her advice is going to leave a lot of women single as hell.

Personally, I blame Dwayne Wayne. Those endless reruns of your favorite episodes of A Different World get y’all completely twisted when it comes to evaluating a potential mate. But that’s beside the point. Here are a few tips to straighten things out:

Stop comparing regular guys to Barack Obama.

I can only speak for myself—I’m biracial, went to some pretty decent schools and spent most of my 20s in a cramped bachelor pad—but that’s where the comparisons to Barack Obama end. There’s nothing cool or Kravitz-esque to see here—I’m the other kind of mixed guy, in need of a tan and a fade. Picture Benjamin Jealous after six weeks on Survivor.

He had me at hello.

So many women–especially in DC–are on a mission for their Barack Obama. Now I know this goes against my past views about this topic, and I have to say that after much thought, I think that perhaps the “find your next Barack Obama” meme is over the top and, in a word, a little silly. There is only one woman for Barack Obama, and that’s Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama.

But beyond that, I think what what Swerdlick is getting at is that many women look at the wrong things: we are looking for some inkling of Presidential Swagger that may not be there because, well, the guy you’re peeping at the happy hour is not the President at all. And he may never be President. Sad, but true.

Stop looking at his checkbook and start updating your playbook.

Just because a man can “afford” to pay for $15 apple martinis doesn’t mean he wants to. Sometimes the guy buying rounds of shots is on his third bankruptcy, and the guy drinking $2 Miller Lights owns three rental properties.

We’ll do what we have to do to get your phone number, but in case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a recession going on. If you start sizing up a man for all he’s worth right now, you’re letting him know up front that if things get too far, he’s on the hook for a three-karat rock and a mortgage on a beach house in Oak Bluffs. And if he knows that already, he might flee.

….and this isn’t to say that I don’t appreciate a man paying when we go out, but I’ll take a taco dinner at Taqueria D.F. just as happily as I would a gourmet affair at 1789. Maybe it’s the California girl in me.  It’s not the price of the time you spent. It’s about the person and how happy you are with him or her.

But I wanna know who these women keeping score based on a man’s salary are…do I know them? Are we friends? …but I digress.

And then, Swerdlick gives us one last word of advice:

Start dating white, Asian and Latino men.

And while we’re on the subject, how about trying Something New?

Not into white guys? That’s too bad because I’d be willing to bet that Bill Clinton has dated more black women than Barack Obama.

Black women hoping for a monopoly on black men have to realize that they’re like General Motors in a Toyota world—either develop your own hybrid technology or prepare to go out of business.

The bottom line: Single women should avoid using Barack Obama’s résumé as a job description for a position they’re trying to fill or treating their next boyfriend like a prospective applicant.

I’ve never been a woman who claimed to only date one race or another.  It would make sense to me, especially in 2009, that it’s okay to date outside of your race. So go ahead–holler at the token White guy (or girl) at The Park next Thursday 🙂

At this point in my life, I’ve dated lots of different guys–plenty of guys with good jobs and degrees from the “right schools”, plenty of boyfriends with “swagga”–and none of it really matters. What matters is that a man treats me with respect and love–and yeah, that he makes me laugh–among other thngs.

The rest is just plastic. It’s not about being in a power couple. It’s about being with someone who loves you for you. And well, shouldn’t we do the same for our mate?

Song of the Week

The song of the week is brought to you by Maxwell. I’ve chosen his newest single, “Pretty Wings.”

This song makes me want to believe in love just a little bit more. It reminds the listeners to trust yourself and open your heart.

I hope you enjoy this song as much as I do.

Club Etiquette: How NOT to Act

Most people who know me at this point in my life also know that I don’t go to the club very often. Even though I’m an extreme extrovert who loves to dance, I tend to shy away from a club atmosphere–especially during the week during the happy hour circuit.

However, as the weather gets warmer and my urge to break out the strappy heels and tubetops gets greater, I will from time to time venture out with my girls. Now normally I can go to the club without incident, but recently I’ve seen people–particularly Black men–engage in some very ridiculous behavior. So, I thought I’d help the brothas out and provide of list of what NOT to do at the club.(1)

This is a continuation of a list of rules I had talked about on Twitter a few nights ago after returning from an interesting night at my least favorite place, The Park at Fourteenth here in Washington, DC. (Washingtonians, don’t judge me–I went as a favor to my soror. Besides, she makes everything fun. And overall, I guess I can say I had a good time). At the request of a few of my readers, I’ve decided to turn my tweets into a real blog post. Wanna hear it? Heah go:

1.-Do not hover over a girl and her friends. You won’t believe the number of times I’ve been somewhere and a man simply hovers. Literally. He sits there with his jack and coke while my girls and I are sitting down at the lounge or wherever and just looks at us. Not a good look, fellas. If you want to talk to me, then talk to me. Don’t be a punk.

2.-Do not make known your silly assumptions based on how a girl and/or her friends look. For instance: If we say that we are members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., the appropriate response is NOT “Oh, I didn’t picture y’all as Zetas.” The same goes for if a woman says she’s a hill staffer, an engineer, a social media strategist, an MBA–that type of response is surely not a compliment.

3.-Do not act overly impressed if I use an SAT word. It only makes you look dumb. Again, this type of response is not a compliment.

4.- For those of you without a wingman: if you are talking to a girl, and her friend is close by, do not accuse her friend of being nosy. She is not being nosy, she is being a friend. If it bothers you, step your game up and get a wingman.

5.-DO compliment a woman on her overall look and style. I like when a man says he likes my hair, especially when I just got it done.

6.-DON’T Compliment a woman on her body in a suggestive or sexual way. “you got nice lips” is NOT the same as “wow, you’re pretty” or “you have a great smile.” I have nothing esle to say on this.

7. Don’t follow me around in the club. I do not come to the club to acquire a “club boyfriend” for the night. Just because you buy me a drink, chat me up, and/or look halfway decent doesn’t mean you can stay attached to my hip all night. Stop the foolishness.

8.-Don’t grab my ass in the club. Or any other part of my body. I shouldn’t even have to tell you this. I know that if I wear skinny jeans to a club or a lounge, men will look. I realize this. But please. Unless we are dating, then there is no safe space for that kind of touching. This is not an R. Kelly song.

(1) I realize that this list doesn’t have any rule pertaining to women…that’s simply because I had a hard time thinking of any. So if you do, feel free to comment 🙂

The Only Steve Harvey Post that Matters

Okay, I’ll admit it.

This Saturday afternoon, I bought Steve Harvey’s book, Act like a Lady, Think Like a Man. Latoya Peterson from Racialicious can attest to this. She ran into me in Borders while I had the book in hand.

Anyways, I read the book in its entirety this weekend. And as a womanist, I felt so very inclined to write about this book as it pertains to single women of color. Before I begin: SPOILER ALERT: I will be discussing some things the book that are not fully discussed in his TV appearances, namely Oprah.

The book certainly had some gems. I found the 5 questions that each woman should ask a man before getting in too deep was very informative. I liked the fact that it affirmed what I thought I knew, but really didn’t: which is that women have more power in relationships than we are willing to admit. We can decide what the rules are and how it’s going to go. I had never been encouraged to think that way until I read this book.

I bought the book for a number of reasons. Other than wanting to see what the hype was all about, my primary reason  was that I am newly single, having broken up with my man almost three months ago. I thought I’d read the book and see what kind of insight I could gain from it, since I am re-learning what it means to be single in my mid-20s.

Which brings me to the first issue I have with the book:

1. Steve Harvey’s book, in essence, is not for quarterlife women of color. It just isn’t.

When you are in the quarterlife, nothing is really final. You are still trying to figure out what you want, and what you don’t want. You are even trying to figure out what love really is, what it means, and what it does.

You’re not even entirely sure if you even want to get married and if you do get married when that will happen.

If you ARE in a relationship, you don’t even really know if your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner is The One or what it even means to find The One.  I know this feeling all too well.

So when I read a chapter in the book that discusses how women should tell a man when she intends to be married (ie, the date and the time), it really does sound like bullsh*t to me. Why is that? Is it because I don’t wanna get married? No, the exact opposite. Trust me, one day I do want to be married and raise a family.

What struck me as odd was that, as a quarterlifer, I don’t even know how to broach the discussion of marriage….which frustrated me while reading the book because, well, he gave no instruction as to how the discussion should be had or when to have it. Steve Harvey literally said: “just tell a man when you wanna get married and if he really loves you he won’t flinch at it.” Come on now, Steve. don’t make it seem like it is that damn simple because it really isn’t.

As I told my friends the other day, quarterlife dating and romance means being in a constant state of maybe. Maybe we’ll go out on a date. Maybe I’ll see her at the party. Maybe he’ll make me his girlfriend. Nothing is definite. Everything is a gray area. Yes, even those of you who are boo’d up will or have experienced this in some way shape or form. And more importantly, no book by Steve Harvey will change that.

Because of this fact, I maintain the Steve Harvey’s book is not written for my generation. It is written for single Black women over 35 who have bought into the idea that there are no good Black men anymore.

Yeah, I said it.

This book plays on the idea of the “man shortage” and Black women’s anxieties over finding a good man. And while there ARE some gems in the book, over all Steve Harvey is not speaking to me as a single woman in my 20s.  He is speaking to my mom’s generation, some of whom truly believe that good Black men really don’t exist. Which brings me to my next point.

2. Steve Harvey portrays independent, professional working women as women who are resentful of men who try to take care of them: taking out the trash, paying for dinner, providing for a family, etc.

…which is complete and utter bullshit. There’s no other way to put that.

As a professional womanist I was completely insulted at the idea that every independent (Black) woman out here is angry and resentful of any man who tries to take care of them by doing “manly” things: taking out the trash, paying for dinner, fixing things around the house (or getting them fixed), etc. And what does he tell women to do instead?

“Just be a lady.” A lady to him means never raising a finger if a man is in the room.

I’m sorry….are you a woman? Oh, you’re not? Because I’d rather a woman talk to me about what that means. That’s just me though.

Not only does he put every professional Black woman in a box, but he also perpetuates some very dangerous  stereotypes. I like getting doors open for me. I like when I go out to restaurant with a nice guy and he offers to pay. I like when I can get my computer fixed by my guy friend/companion/boyfriend/etc. who happens to work in IT.  I am as strong as they come…and I know I am not alone.

3. And lastly, maybe these relationship books really are a bunch of drivel. Or: what we don’t talk about when we talk about love.

Don’t misunderstand me here–some books I think are great. And yes, I DID buy and read He’s Just Not that Into You. And I did buy and read Steve Harvey’s latest effort. But…

What if  we wrote relationship books which focused not on finding and keeping a man, but on the idea of love as a concept, as an action,  and as a heart-to-heart understanding?

What if we focused on a love ethic that also tells us that in order to be ready for our mate/partner/gf/bf/jumpoff/etc. we must first love ourselves?

I threw these ideas around on Twitter this morning. @BlueMonarch made a great point: so many of us are taught that our self-worth is built on the idea of finding and keeping a man, making it hard for  flipping the script and talking about self love. I couldn’t agree more.

This might be a tad radical for what we are used to when we talk about dating and relationships, but we need to start really discussing love and what it means. We need to discuss love and its madness, it’s boundless energy. Its capacity to heal, and to teach us how to be softer, gentler, more understanding. But most of all, we need to understand how loving ourselves is almost directly related to the kind of partners we meet and the standards we set for our partners.

Steve Harvey, you made a valiant effort. But you are still missing the mark.