Monday, December 28, 2009 Rewind - Are Black Women Each Others' Own Worst Enemies?!?

[Editor's Note: Yep, I'm back on that Rewind tip this week. I'm off The Day Job till next week, and enjoying some badly needed time with the fam. Enjoy.]

I'm getting up there in age, and with age comes a recognition of your limitations, and self-defeating behaviors. In short, at some point, a man has to grow up and realize that some of the things he's doing aren't good for his health and sense of well-being. Yep, one of these days, I'll quit watching Fox News, quit eating and destroying all evidence of such before I get home Taco Bell, and perhaps most of all, quit reading black gossip blogs.

I was reminded of why when I visited a couple of to-remain-nameless black gossip blogs, which featured the ESPN The Magazine cover with a bukket nekkid Serena Williams, hitting shelves later this week. Bear in mind, Williams' nude pose makes perfect logical sense given the fact that this is "The Body Issue", whatever the hell that means.

But don't tell that to the bloggers, and the assorted comments that followed.
"well at least i’m not the only one that thinks she looks a little manly"

"She's one of the best female tennis players ever and she's on the cover of an ESPN Magazine butt naked? Sometimes she acts like she doesn't have the sense of a turnip."

"If ESPN editors wanted to be funny they could have Photoshopped her head on Reggie Bush’s body and we wouldn’t know the difference."

"you can take Serena out of Compton but u cant take the Compton out of Serena. She showed her ass ON the court, now she's showing her ass OFF the court...LITERALLY! Is this sum kinda peace offering 4 da fans 4 threat'n the line judge? Wuts next, Playboy? Video HOE'n? Tiger hit the BILLION DOLLA mark & ain't even take a dayum shirt off. U got talent, money, fame/fortune...WTF? Common aint givin yo ass NO ATTENTION?! Shout-out to Kindom Hall. Come & get your Jehovah's Witness cause she's ova here backsliding...BUTTNAKED!"

"she has some big ass feet!"

"She should’ve took the wig off too."

"did they hafta use a whole bottle of baby oil on her?!?!"

"She couldve did away with that ridiculous wig"

"Why must SOME women show their azz?? Can we just keep our clothes on?? "
Sistas, can we talk for a second?

Ya'll confuse me. Seriously.

On one hand, ya'll (and yeah, I'm generalizing) decry all the misogyny in cRap music, as well as the oversexualized images of black women in music videos and pop culture.[1] Ya'll complain (rightfully) about how the eurocentric standard of beauty reduces women of color to permanent 2nd string status, and forces many of ya'll to do some desperate things (weaves, perms, colored contacts, skin lightening) just to catch a brotha's eye.[2] And all that stuff is perfectly valid. I'm with you there.

On the other hand, every time I peep a gossip blog and read scores of comments from other black women routinely poppin' sh*t about women like Serena Williams, I'm perplexed. Ask 10 brothers if Serena looks great, and you'll get 10 yeses. In some way, shape, or form, Williams has been responsible for a gradual shift in the perception (mainstream, and within black circles) of the very beauty paradigms mentioned above. Which is why the continual hatred (let's call it what it is) lobbed in her direction is hard to figure out. Seriously, what's not to like? She's pretty. She's accomplished. She's smart. She's rich. She dates brothas.[3] You'd think sistas would be a bit less critical.

I hate turning this into a color thing yet again, but anytime I read comments about Serena, or Usher's now ex-wife[4], I can't help but wonder if something deeper is going on here. Ya'll tell me.

Question: Is Serena's ESPN The Mag cover a sad example of black women's bodies being objectified, or a celebration of the black female image?

[1] And in all my years of premarital clubbin', not once did I see a sista leave the dance floor with "Put It In Ya' Mouth" came on. Not once. Not na'er time.

[2] No denying it: black men have long since been indoctrinated.

[3] Well, mostly.

[4] Whom I think is a perfectly good looking woman for age 40-something, having popped out 1/2 dozen kids.

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