You are Intimidated, We’re not bitches, it’s just that….

Posted: July 4, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

mmmmhhh. chocolate

mmmmhhh. chocolate

Jessica White makes me all shy and stuttery

So I got a comment on one of my recent blog posts (scroll down) and it was so bloody long, I decided to make it its own post. I think the commentor brought up some interesting points, so I though it would be fun to let it stand on its own and see what you guys think. I was going to write comment response but there’s a lot in here. I really think some of the thought process in here is super interesting and I don’t think the commentor is alone. I’m guessing a lot of people have these opinions.  Happy 4th!

Brandon,

What an interesting post. I both agree and disagree with varying points throughout your post (as well as the comments). I have an undergraduate degree in Economics from a top-ten institution. I. Am. Beautiful. And I am currently pursuing my Phd.

I must admit that miss “Single Black Woman’s” scenario has been my own on far too many occasions. I tell a guy I am working towards my Phd and he says “wow, that’s cool” and doesn’t seem interested any more. I have no clue why, and I choose not to concern myself with this question as it doesn’t concern me. I also, however, agree with “Miko” when he states that the laws of attraction (if they exist!) are far more nuanced and complex than we can possibly imagine.

Discussing my own situation (about which I am eternally positive) is not why I am responding to your post. I chose to write back because of the following words that arrested my attention:

“how people react to you is in direct proportion to how you make them feel. When you make them feel good about you and themselves, they will respond positively to you.”

I will give you credit for stating at the end that your advice can be applied to all genders. I find your advice curious though for a several of reasons. Your entire post is not directed at both genders. It is aimed directly towards women (I will presume women of African descent). This robs those words at the end of your post of their meaning. I also find these words to be inherently contradictory, as the title of this post reads:

“It’s not that we’re intimidated, You’re just a bitch”

I understand that this is a blog and where you have to balance several (perhaps competing goals). Your apparent ease with labeling women with this awful and derogatory term would suggest that men in fact, do not have to follow this advice of emanating positivity and “making the other person feel good about themselves.” At the very least, you do not have to follow this advice.

Response: The post was really directed towards women because they’re the ones who have complained to me (or generally) that one of the hindrances towards their relationship successes is men being intimidated by them. The day a critical mass of black men tell me the same thing, I’ll write a blog about that. Awful and Derogatory, Schmawful and Shwerogatory. I personally think women have kind of hijacked the word bitch to make it much more onerous than it is. it becomes this symbol of righteous indignation. It certainly wasn’t directed at a singular person, and I wouldn’t call someone a bitch directly. Most people who try to take super offense to that term are just looking for something to be offended by so they can get their righteous indignation meter rising (See Sean Hannity). I was originally going to go with douchebag, but it just didn’t have the right ring to it.

This brings me to my third and final point and I will phrase it in the interrogative. First, it is worth teasing out some of the advice you give. You recommend that these high-achieving, (implicitly) cold and bitchy women put forth more positivity and make men feel good about themselves. And the way you put both of these in the same sentence almost conflates the two, as if they were one and the same. Yet, They are not (although they can be done simultaneously).

That went over my head. I’m gonna need one of my Ph.D friends to put that in laymen’s terms for me. Miko, where you at?

This is not, however, my point. What I wish to know is: Why should a woman need to make a man feel good about himself”? More to the point, Why should a woman who is unacquainted with a certain male individual need to make him feel good about himself? It seems to me that support is something available to give and receive once two people know a few things about each and actually have a relationship. And this does not have to be official as two people who are only distant acquaintances can still be supportive of each other.

Um, because she doesn’t want to grow old alone with a whole bunch of cats? To me, this seems like simple common sense. When I meet people, I try to make them feel good about our interaction, particularly if it’s someone I want to build a relationship with (friend, business, networking, whatever).You phrase it as though I expect the woman to throw rose petals at dude’s feet and clean the royal penis. I think it’s fairly clear that what I’m saying is simply that people respond positively to kindness and friendliness. This may be news to you, but you’re never going to get the chance to have the support in a coupling/partnership you talk about if people’s first impression of you is that you’re mean and unfriendly.

In the situation you address, where two people meet each other for the first time, you seem to suggest that the woman at the outset of the interaction make the man feel good about himself. This firmly supports an unequal balance of power as your post says nothing substantive of the male individual returning this gesture (which, is a bit much to ask during a first conversation). Yet, You insist on this point 3 times during your post.

By emphasizing this point, and implying that professional, educated women are negative, cold “bitches”, you perpetuate the power dynamics and backwards, chauvinist, sexist systems of interaction that so many women have worked diligently to reverse.

Cry me a river, why don’t you. Seriously? You not being disrespectful, entitled, or cold puts us on the path toward the revocation of women’s suffrage? As far as the male “returning the gesture,” it’s implicit that by him opening the conversation or approaching the woman, he’s being open and friendly with her. Granted, we all know this isn’t always the case, but for the sake of this conversation, we’re not talk about arm-grabbing guy in the club with the velour tracksuit and dress shoes.

No woman, or human being, for that matter, exists to make a male, “feel good about himself”. If we are partner’s/couple, and there is a relationship, this is perhaps both implied and expected.

In my opinion, a woman should scowl from time to time. My question to you is, why is it that if she scowls or if she is upset, she is a bitch? Could it be that she had a hard day at work? Could it be that her male boss made an inappropriate advance? In my opinion, entitlement (can) and should be used. It is a strategy for making it in a world where we were not meant to survive any way. (That goes for men of color too). And I do not advise taking that armor off. Because I cannot go into my place of work without SOMEONE looking at me as though I do not belong there. I cannot turn on the television without having a stereotype of my own body looking back at me. As I said before, we were not meant to survive. Excuse my platitudes, but life is full of ups and downs and no one can exude a relentless positivity at all times. And you know as well as I do that everyone tries to put on their best when they go out. And Trust, women as know what they want, and they will let go of the armor for the right guy!

Curses! By the Gods of Saturn, This Armor wont let the love in!

Curses! By the Gods of Saturn, This Armor won't let the love in!

By failing addressing to dysfunctional histories of relationship dynamics between men and women of color, (which would take into account a host of other social and economic factors) you miss many components of the difficulties faced by BOTH parties. Most importantly, FAILING (completely) to address the racisms and other obstacles that both men and women of color face on a daily basis as they rise is unacceptable.

Oy. This goes back to my point of why Africans and Carribean folk do better than us. They’re out there getting it while we constantly look for obstacles. “Not meant to survive?” Give me a break. That may be true for you, but I wasn’t meant to survive, I was meant to thrive. I play to win. I’m here to raise the champagne bottle on the podium. I grin when I fight. Are there going to be people in my way? Of course. We live in a capitalist society. We’re ALL competing for limited resources. My competitiors can and will use race, class, and every other trick in the book to get what we both want, but I would be a fool to let that paralyze me into inaction or hiding in my armor. The thing about armor is that when you have too much on, it gets so heavy that you can’t swing your sword. Entitlement as a strategy? Word? Let me know how that works out for you. As far as the “dysfunctional history of relationship dynamics between men and women of color,” how does that macro view affect your micro world? Are you seeking to repeat history or are you going to blaze a new, more productive trail?

I .Will. Not. Lose. Ever! Fuckers!

I .Will. Not. Lose. Ever! Fuckers!

While I applaud the spirit of your post, I believe that there are many women who would disagree with both your analysis of the situation (woman as bitch, ready to fight a way) and your recommendations.

Ph.D Bound


Thanks for your timely and interesting commentary. I disagree with you on about everything, but I think your voice is an important one in this discussion and I imagine many people share your view.

Comments
  1. Achitude says:

    wow. her sign off name alone indicates that she is the kind to let you know about her education level then behave as if she is entitled. her whole response grossly misconstrued a very basic truth, even Jay Z said though i forget the lyric (or was it an interview?) “what you get from me has alot to do with what im getting from YOU.” i.e if your giving positive vibes im responding kind, if ur giving negative vibes, dont look at me cock eyed and wonder why why your getting an attitude from me. it doesn’t take a BA, MBA or Ph.D to get that IMHO 😉

    Ph.D Bound also missed the fact that you were SPECIFICALLY addressing those females who go around saying that men are intimidated by them because of their status (um… yeah ok)career, education or achievements in general. She missed the fact that men are not intimidated, but often turned of by such women because they act like bitches solely as a result of having said achievments.

    hey, Ph.D Bound, if in your opinion “a woman should scowl from time to time. My question to you is, why is it that if she scowls or if she is upset, she is a bitch? Could it be that she had a hard day at work? Could it be that her male boss made an inappropriate advance?[THEN YOU SHOULD NOT INSERT YOURSELF IN A SOCIAL SETTING WITH THAT BAGGAGE AND SCOWL, SCOWLS ARE UNINVITING, UNWELCOMING, INAPPROPRIATE IN A SOCIAL GATHERING WHERE THE WHOLE PURPOSE IS TO BE SOCIAL, FRIENDLY ETC] And I do not advise taking that armor off. Because I cannot go into my place of work without SOMEONE looking at me as though I do not belong there. I cannot turn on the television without having a stereotype of my own body looking back at me. As I said before, we were not meant to survive.[ETERNAL VICTIM=ETERNAL FAILURE] Excuse my platitudes, but life is full of ups and downs and no one can exude a relentless positivity at all times. [UMMM… POSITIVITY BEGETS POSITIVITY. THOUGHTS BECOME WORDS THEN ACTION. IF YOU CANT EXUDE POSITIVITY, UNDERSTAND THAT CHOSING TO DWELL IN NEGATIVITY WILL ONLY DRAW MORE NEGATIVITY TO YOU] And Trust, women as know what they want, and they will let go of the armor for the right guy![RIGHTLY SO!! BUT NO NEED TO BE UNSAVORY, DISRESPECTFUL, BITCHY MEAN ETC TO THE “WRONG” GUY.UNLESS OF COURSE THATS HOW HE IS COMING AT YOU. IF NOT, YOU CAN ALWAYS POLITELY WALK AWAY LIKE A LADY:0)

    Ph.D Bound in your very well thought out response you stood up to be counted among the number…*sigh*

    LOL

  2. J says:

    It almost seems like the heart of this discrepancy falls to wording. (And get used to it too, brotha. The more you write…the more words you use…lol). But even I would disagree with the phrasing “make feel good” or “make him feel good about himself”. It’s misleading.

    The same no holds barred approach you take to your life, education and business — that “smile when I’m fighting” persona — men like you and I apply that to the pursuit of women too. I just need a shot to hit it out the park…no softballs, baby.

    A woman need only be “friendly” and “receptive” (better word choices, in my humble opinion) and we can take it from there. And WE. WILL. NOT. LOSE.

    J

  3. TheSweetestThing says:

    Whoa. 1st, I’m cracking up at the velour track suit and shoes…anyway,perhaps she should apply her PhD to her job, not her relationships. There are many attractive women without a man, and plenty of women that look like the Grimace that keep a nice lookin dude.I think she’s over thinking. Ultimately, men are simple and just aren’t impressed with degrees, especially if they already have one themselves. I could be wrong, but men want to be loved, fed, and fk’d. Everything falls under that umbrella. I don’t see anything wrong with showing a complete stranger some love, if you’re interested, ie a smile, toss of the hair, some convo and fliting…you know how we do.I never tell a man I first meet (unless asked)that I have a degree and graduated with honors, I mean, so….its not a job interview.Save that for the boss. Good luck ms PhD, and if you’re doing the same thing and getting the same results, change what you’re doing.

  4. hypnotic says:

    I like rocking a nice ice grill from time to time. I’ve always been OK with solitude. I spent high school listening to WuTang and Mobb Deep and writing in my journal. I was not the pep rally type of girl. Heels were for church, makeup was for senior prom. I was strictly kicks or Timbs and oversized rugbies. Fifteen years later, it’s nice to know my angry for no reason 16 year old self still exists, I haven’t completely killed her off despite prissy friends and my mother’s goading. So if you see me scowling, please don’t say “smile.” I’ll probably stick up my middle finger instead.

    Besides I’m taken!

    In all seriousness, I understand the need for armor. But I also understand the unhealthy reasons that keep me putting it right back on even though I know it should be buried in my closet. It’s a struggle, but I am constantly trying to move past my past. We all need to be open to what life offers. I’m no Pollyanna, but the world could use some more love.

  5. Wow.

    I almost agree with ol’ girl – only her delivery ruined it.
    The entire time I felt like she was being as extensive with her vocabulary as possible to make her point sound intelligent and to belittle you.

    Men can’t do the women belittling them thing… Men love your smarts, but using your wit on them and not for or with them will scare them off and piss them off, (and she definitely used her wit ON you). * I didn’t know whether to cheer or laugh at, “I will phrase it in the interrogative…”

    I digress, I almost agree with the root of her point, (sans the fancy wording and supporting documentation), which seemed to be: I am not a Bitch just because I am educated. It is not my responsibility to make you feel good just because I am the opposing gender in our interaction and most importantly just as you want room to be a man, give me room to be a woman…

    This from another woman who is often called intimidating (physically and mentally).

    This day and age we have to be a little intimidating. We have to be educated and often we have to be beautiful as well – just to get a job. It is hard being a black woman. Hard being the responsible one to hold our families together and go to work everyday and raise whatever children we have under our roof and be educated and not be a stereotypical hood rat and…

    Love a Black man struggling to do all that, with possibly a fraction of the results.

    It’s hard.
    And we have guards up and damaged hearts and it makes us all a bit much to be reckoned with at times… Many of us, educated, professional, goal oriented sistas, really want you – we just gotta make sure you want us too…

    Enter – the scowl.

    Later.

  6. jemimaaslana says:

    I have to wonder, why does telling a new acquaintance about your work on a Ph.D equate to being bitchy, entitled, disrespectful and cold? Why is it all of those things to inform a new acquaintance that you have or are working on achieving a Ph.D.? As far as I understand the original complaint was from women, who bemoan how men often skidaddle when told about higher education. How do you make any inference about HOW they were told from that?

    Also, if a woman is proud of having achieved a Ph.D. why is she not allowed to tell a new acquaintance about it? It’s sort of what she does, you know, and last I checked it wasn’t a nono for men to talk about their jobs.

    It seems as if you’re conflating “telling them what you do” with “telling them in an unfriendly way”. Those are two different things, and yet you sound as if telling a man, what you do for a living, IS unfriendly in itself if what you do is something difficult. Does this not point exactly to the point of the women’s complaint of how men seem to be intimidated by smart women? That they can’t seem to hear about a woman’s achievements without deciding that she’s just telling them to make them feel bad about themselves?

    Also, if a man asks a woman: “So, what do you do for a living?” If what she does is working on her Ph.D. or working AS a Ph.D. what should she answer then? Just curious.

    • Me? I’m not sure who you were asking, but I’ll field this one. Honestly, i have no idea. Ph.D’s don’t do much to impress me but then my mom has a Ph.D from Cornell, so to me, it’s not something weird or new. I will say this: People who I kick it with in Ph.D programs do tend to get a little wordy and can go on a little much about whatever their field of study is. Especially when they’re high. Them bammas will pull out all kind of data and correlations and 2nd order derivatives and shit, blazed out of their gourds. But then, some of them Wall Street girls don’t talk about anything but the markets, and alpha, and intraday volatility. I guess maybe it’s one of those “know when to turn it off” things maybe? I dunno. The last girl I met who told me she was a plastic surgeon, I asked her out.

  7. 05girl says:

    Wow. Newcomer to the blog. This post was a lot. A few notes of interest:

    >> Awful and Derogatory, Schmawful and Shwerogatory. I personally think women have kind of hijacked the word bitch to make it much more onerous than it is. it becomes this symbol of righteous indignation. >>
    I don’t mind the word (I wholeheartedly think we can all be b*), but Ms.PhD does have a point in the irony…one minute you call folks a b*, the next you say everyone should emote positivity. I don’t necessarily want to be positive with you if I think you’re a hypocrite…

    >>When I meet people, I try to make them feel good about our interaction, particularly if it’s someone I want to build a relationship with (friend, business, networking, whatever)>>
    I get your general point. Be positive in your interactions. Kumbaya. But at the same time, come ON… perhaps you try to make yourself feel good about the interaction. Folks act selfishly. I just doubt that you ALWAYS try to make the other person feel good about the interaction. I understand that to mean that you go the extra mile to make a genuine connection with every person you meet.

    I guess I’m just tired of the “black women are mean and bitter” message I see so much, just as you are tired of the “we aren’t meant to survive” message. Maybe we aren’t bitter. Maybe ya’ll have just gotten sensitive lol. Or maybe we are bitter, and this is just a sign of the times. This isn’t our parents’ days and we must find new ways in geniunely connecting and understanding each other.

  8. Welcome, 05Girl. I’m happy to take the “bitch” back if it doesn’t contribute positively to the conversation. All I’m trying to do is help people who’ve said they have a problem not have a problem anymore, not feel offended. If they don’t like the advice, that’s one thing, but I don’t want people to think it comes from a place of anything but helpfulness and love. and i can kinda see how the word bitch might make you feel that way. my bad.

    You’re right, I do go the extra mile to make a genuine connection. That makes people feel good. That just seems to me like the right thing to do. I’m perplexed by why that seems strange.

    I can see how you’re tired of the “bitter black woman” message. I’m kinda tired of the “irresponsible black male” message. Unfortunately, since there are so many people who fall into both those stereotypes, sometimes we all get painted with a broad brush.

    Liked your comments, thanks for posting.

  9. miko says:

    1. PhD-Bound, I am a girl. Please do not address me as “him” or “he”. Maybe because my boobs are small and I have one of those silly non-gendered names I am particularly sensitive about this but I cannot bear being addressed as “him”

    2. I still firmly believe that women cannot intimidate men. That is completely impossible in my opinion. Men rule the WORLD. Men live the LIFE. They make more money, they can settle down at ANY age they want to, they can be total whores and never be called as such, they can do whatever the hell they want to practically. There is really hardly any down-side to being a man.

    So you meant to tell me that such a powerful creature would find women to be intimidating?

    NO. Maybe little boys are intimidated, but certainly NOT men.

    That powerful creature only finds women to be UNATTRACTIVE. If this powerful creature walks into the club and sees some gorgeous women standing around and doesn’t approach them, it’s because he doesn’t find any of them attractive. It doesn’t mean you’re not physically beautiful to someone, you’re just not physically beautiful to him. It doesn’t mean your body language doesn’t work for someone, it means it just doesn’t work for him. And if you find yourself going to the club or the bar or wherever and you generally do not get approached, that just means less men find you attractive than they do that girl who looks like Alicia Keys. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you or anything is wrong with him or anything is wrong with the Alicia Keys lookalike. It just means that you are not what he is looking for. And more guys are looking for Alicia Keys. Keep it real with yourself and keep it moving.

    for example I think Michelle Obama is hot, but most men don’t think so. But all that’s really important is that Barack thinks she’s hot. So you may not have the same pull as Cassie if you look like Alek Wek. Both gorgeous women but just keep it real with yourself, Alek Wek actually went to school and she’s wonderfully dusky. I think it’s hot but a lot of men really just don’t. You may not have the same pull as Beyonce if you’re as educated as Sotomayor. Both intelligent women in their own way but keep it real with yourself, most men are looking for a nice fertile Solange-type, not a Supreme Court nominee. There are some looking for the nominee, just not that many.

    I am tired of black women demonizing black men for just keeping it real with themselves. Most of them would rather be with women who are not overly educated. THAT”S FINE… they rule the world and they deserve to have what they want. Most men would rather be with women who are extremely gorgeous. THAT’S FINE… they rule the world and they don’t have to date buggawolves if they don’t want to. Most men would rather be with a woman who is demure and subtle and mysterious rather than one who is brash and loud and harsh. THAT’S FINE… they rule the world and they deserve to have a quiet bitch who will fix them a hot plate. And if you are an educated bitch who isn’t that gorgeous, has nappy hair, and who also makes a lot of noise, you might not have as much pull as your average Beyonce but there is someone out there for you.

    My granny always says every mouldy bread have its zoom-zoom stinking cheese. Your average Amber Rose will attract much more attention for right now but by the time the educated buggawolves like me finally find our matches, surely they will have been worth the wait.

    Don’t let the pain of not being as sexy as what’s sexy to most men make you mad that all the girls who didn’t go to college or who look like Megan Fox have found their dream men. If it’s that important to you, if you ever get to meet St. Peter and he sends you back for a do-over, chill on getting all those degrees and chill on going natural unless you’re Cree Summer. But you chose to go to college and grad school, so just deal with the world the way it is. Get over yourself.

    There is no such thing as a woman intimidating a man. Period.

    • Mrs. O says:

      You say that there is no way that a man can be intimidated by a woman. Do you also think that it is impossible for a man to feel threatened by a woman more succesful than he is? A woman that makes more money?

  10. tulani says:

    there is so much here that i do and don’t agree with, but i have no time or energy to address all or any of it. i wish i caught it earlier so my comment didn’t seem so useless or ill timed, and so that i actually cared enough to read what was written before and not possibly repeat things already said buuuut who cares really.

    i find making guys or even really people in general feel good about themselves, even if it is a first meeting is extremely useful in life and relationships. my friend just said the other day that i “make it seem like the guy really has a chance” and i honestly don’t see anything wrong with it if he does, or could. When i meet anyone and I see something in them that I like I feel like its better to tell them, like if I like a girl’s shoes or dress, or I think a guy is charming, it just small talk, its not a marriage proposal and it lets them know that you are that “bitch” that some expect you to be, because at this age who has time for the games, honestly?

    write on lovey, it clearly gets people talking/writing.

  11. afro diva says:

    Very late entry here but, what was missing for me was the clarity about what “making someone feel good” mean. It’s a vague statement. It would help if in the future u include examples. One commenter wrote men want to be fed, loved & f*ckd great, but what does it mean to love?

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