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Why can’t I Say you’re beautiful?
EarthJeff. Guy, what can I say?
I read your thread and while I stayed out of the fray I was shaking my head. It would be easy to just throw up my hands and say “Women!!! You are damned if you do or if you don’t.” Now frankly I did not see a stinking thing wrong with what you posted. I see my lady wife the same way that you expressed in your post. She is beautiful as a women and as a BLACK woman. Why can’t I praise that? What is wrong with me saying that about ALL black women? Why the hell do I have to limit myself to only making statements about the black woman I am personally involved with?
Who is making these rules up? What is the endgame here?
White men have been shamed, pressured, ostracized and legislated against in the past when it came to stating and exercising our preferences for the women we want to be with. Not any more! We are now free to be with the women we want.
But now look what is happening? Some of the very women we are attracted to and want to love are placing restrictions of how we express that love and how we talk about our attraction? What gives? Why can’t I say you’re beautiful? Why can’t I say what I think and why do I have to limit my admiration to the women I personally know?
For too long, white men have been told that our attraction to black women was something to be ashamed of. It was a fetish … a passing fancy … unnatural … taboo! We have been ‘othered’ because of our preference for black women. We have been made to feel that our wanting you is something low and base. The conventional wisdom said that for white men, black women were never wife material but tolerated as something that you kept on the side hidden from respectable company. A ‘shorty.’ You are no more than the spoils of white privilege and our dominance in the world. You were and are told this about us. You, as black women, were told to be very suspicious of us. We get that.
I thought that times were changing. I really did. I can relate to FriendofJay when he tells his story about how things were in the past and why his own interracial relationship did not work out. Both families were up in arms, and brought heavy pressure on the young couple. So they both had to go their separate ways. It is an old story and it happened a lot back then. It still happens now, and not just to white guys.
But Things are Getting Better
Jay and I are about the same age and I remember how it was. He went on to meet and marry a white women. I was married to two white women and one biracial one before I met Brenda. So what? Even so, he and I we still find black women beautiful. You are women, who just happen to have a dark color to your lovely skin. So, what is wrong with expressing our appreciation? A man still has eyes and our attractions do not turn off just because we have made a lifetime commitment to one women … be she black or non-black.
Am I to understand that none of the women on this site are allowed to look at attractive men of all types that cross your path, after you are in a relationship? Right, sure you don’t. I have seen enough buff beefcake on this site to know better.
Men just like women. Period. All shapes and all shades. Ladies, marriage does not change that!
Brenda has always told me that she does not care what whets my appetite so long as I eat at home. Then she drools over a certain drop-dead, hunk, male lead on the Scandal series. So, that goes both way and about sums it up.
That ‘Chip’ Balanced on Your Shoulder
You know, the one that a non-black guy can dislodge with the slightest misstep, phrase or even a look that you don’t approve of. That ‘chip has been there since the advent of the bra-burning Women’s Liberation movement of the late sixties, and has gotten ever more precarious and deadly-if-dislodged with First-, Second- and, currently Third-wave Feminism. While viewed by many as an upper-middle-class white woman’s viewpoint, I see it happening in sepia as well as white.
Two things are operating here, and both are deadly to a developing IRR.
The first is that so very many women hear a generalization and immediately take it PERSONALLY. They take a phrase, spoken in conversation, as a personal insult, and then expand it to include all black women. They take a look, a raised-eyebrow, a quirked lips or even a blank expression, and morph it into something that demands a sepia-toned diatribe, using the catch-words, such as ‘womyn,’ ‘patriarchy,’ or ’8,000 years,’ and leading ultimately to a description of a man as a ‘male, chauvinist pig!’
The second is that these same women display a total lack of EMPATHY regarding the objects of their attacks. Men are the ‘enemy’ and cannot have any redeeming qualities. ‘Filthy-minded dogs.’ They are all racist, black-womyn suppressing brutes.
Both of these expressed viewpoints are poison to any developing cross-racial communication, between a non-black man and his object-of-interest, a black woman. After a few of such encounters, might it seem likely that a given white man just might turn his attention to little miss Asian ( As per Law Wanxi “Roaded? He roaded? How roaded he is?”), or to a tall-and-utterly-dark African women … from Africa.
The Good Old Catch 22 and Black Women.
Those of us of a certain generation remember Joseph Heller’s book and later movie titled Catch22.
Here is a definition of the term from Wikipedia:
“A catch-22 is a paradoxical situation in which an individual cannot or is incapable of avoiding a problem because of contradictory constraints or rules. Often these situations are such that solving one part of a problem only creates another problem, which ultimately leads back to the original problem. Catch-22s often result from rules, regulations, or procedures that an individual is subject to but has no control over.”
Hey, Jeff, did we just step into a Catch 22 moment in the comment section of your article?
If you look at some of the comments on this site you find the following:
Black women do not want to be ignored. OK. Down with it.
Or criticized. Got it. Speak your truth.
But, now it seems some of you do not even want to be complimented.
Scratching my head on that one. Reminds me of the definition of Protestant Calvinism: ‘you can and you can’t – you will and you won’t – you’re damned if you do and your damned of you don’t!’
I get where the first two issues are coming from. I do. That third one has me thrown however. In addition, it seems that, not only can’t I pay black women a complement, but if I do transgress and actually do it anyway, said complement must be specific only to the black women I know and not black women in general.
To the women who hold that position, that does not make any sense. It puts me in mind of some of the crazy stuff I had to endure in the sixties and seventies during the height of the bra-burning feminist movement. From the mid-sixties right through to today, men were castigated as utterly wrong to view a woman as a woman and respond to that, simply by being gender male.
Do you think this just might be a reason that, aside from preference, so many white men expanded their dating options outside the narrow categories of their race and ethnic class?
The stance some of you ladies here are taking seems to me a variation on that theme. But, it is not only gender but race. White men–hell, non-black men in general–are viewed as completely wrong to view black women as black women and respond to that, simply by being non-black men. We can’t talk about the qualities that make you unique from other women. We can’t talk about what attracts us to you and why we are attracted with out having to run a gauntlet of some sort.
What is up with that? Then–after seeing some poor guy shredded if he express that he is reluctant to engage black women–you are surprised and another Catch22 is set up … this time telling us to “man up” and go for it any way. Ah huh.
Not. Gonna. Happen!
Is There Room for the Benefit of a Doubt?
We are not black men. Obviously. Most of us won’t have ‘swag’ or at least ‘swag as defined by the black community’. We don’t have the history, We don’t live the culture. We do have our own thing going though, our own style, culture and history, and quite frankly we like it like that. Let the black guys have their ‘swag,’ while we quietly bling-up and ring-up the women we fall in love with! The differences are part of the attraction.
White culture is the dominant in the US. It is everywhere. That is just a fact and as a non-white women you have picked up a lot of information about whites in general and white men in particular. Some of it may be wrong, or has been filtered through someone else’s viewpoint.
White men on the other hand may not have picked up as much about your culture as you may like. White men don’t spend half a lifetime trying to figure out American black culture. Why should they? Just telling it like it is. Sometimes the message is going to miss and get mangled in translation. So, if we want this interracial-attraction ‘thing’ to work between us, we have to meet in the middle, give each other the benefit of the doubt and take the time to get the message straight.
In other words, compromise. In a relationship we learn your culture in fits and starts, just as you have had to learn ours … or those of any other non-black man. That is all part of the deal with cross-racial relationships. It is part of the adventure. We should be able to share what we have learned on this site or come here to get the straight dope with out getting killed.
One Man’s Concern
There is a definite pattern that is developing on BB&W and it is troubling to me. A male, usually white, posts something about what he likes about black women or his interactions with a black women he has met and BOOM! A certain subset of black women pounce. What gives? This is an interracial site after all. If a guy can’t safely express this stuff freely here, then where? An Asian male says something and BOOM! Or a white guy’s facial expression is neutral, but you don’t approve and again, BOOM. Where is the understanding, the empathy, for us non-black men that you demand for yourselves?
After a long, often times challenging life, I am very happily inter-racially married to a black women. Several of us men on this site are. I feel that there are qualities that she possess as a black women that are unique and that make our marriage a success, where my other relationships were not. Why am I getting the impression that I am not safe to explore that thought here?
Other men are in various stages of relationships with black women or are looking to get into one. For some men, our experience is in the past and while we are not currently in an IRR, we feel that we have something to add to this conversation. Still others of us, though not married to black woman, may have a daughter who says, “Daddy, guess who’s coming to dinner?” … or a son who is with a black woman … … or wants to be. Again, if we can’t talk to you, the women we want, then whom?
I would like to feel that non- black men do have something to add to this site. We should be able to share our viewpoints, our experiences, our perceptions not only with you ladies, but with other men who live this life as well. Of late that is not always seen as easy or entirely safe to do.