R-E-S-P-E-C-T My Mind

Posted: November 22, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

So I figured I’d break my little hiatus to talk about something that was on my mind. A couple Saturdays ago, a friend of mine hosted a gathering in the community room at her complex to ostensibly talk about Hill Harper’s book, the conversation. Since most of us had only gotten halfway through the book, the actual conversation kind of went off on its own accord. But it was a really good conversation as these things go People were honest, candid, and upfront. People disagreed and cosigned, and did both respectfully for the most part.

And while there was a lot of singleness in the room, I think there was also a lot of opportunity for people to create connections in that environment because of that word: RESPECT. People listened to each other, heard each other, and got to appreciate each other’s point of views as people, not just as cute faces, good resumes, or sweet, sweet pieces of ass candy.

The homie April mentioned the other day that she has started to notice more men seeking what she calls the “Michelle Obama” type. I don’t know that it’s that more men seeing that so much as many of us are starting to get to that age range where we are seriously considering people as partners. It’s just the natural shift in priorities that happens as people move through different stages in their lives. I think, if anything, Michelle Obama gave a face and a name brand to something most of us were lookign for in the first place. Someone we can respect as a person and a partner.

To some degree, we as men haven’t really seen a partner to someone that we idolize that’s really an awesome woman in her own right since Claire Huxtable. And Claire was, well, fictional. I  mean all respect to Juanita Jordan, but she wasn’t that compelling. Neither is, say, Denzel’s wife. You could argue for Jay and Bey, but they were both superstars before they got together. There was no real sense of building there. Probably the closest we really see to the Obamas as far as a respectful loving relationship is Will and Jada.

The thing is, this may seem somewhat novel because many of us have been raised or lived in situations for a long time that were devoid of respect. Both respect for others and respect for ourselves. To a large degree, society teaches us to be disrespectful of others and ourselves. Think about the last rap album you heard. I’ll bet 70% of the songs contained a reference to belittling someone, or making someone feel inferior, or labeling someone less than the rapper.

Cashmere sweats,They come out next year, but they my last year sweats
And my hoe’s so sick,
Your new chick can’t fuck with my old bitch
And you know this shit,
I’m professional, they novices

-Jay-Z, Off That-

You see my point? We’re so used to treating other people as our inferiors that it’s difficult to just go ahead and treat people as equals. And this carries over into our relationships. What is dishonesty? Disrespect. Lying to someone is probably the greatest form of disrespect out there. Because not only does it steal someone else’s ability to make informed decisions, it implies that you’re too weak or stupid to handle the truth. and this is easy enough to attribute in obvious situations. Infidelity, lying about how much money you make or whether you’re really still talking to your ex-girlfriend on IM every night, these are easy things to peg as lack of respect because they’re so obvious.

But there’s an undercurrent of not respecting people that also runs through the rest of many of our dating interactions which we have to stop if we want these things to work. Think about all the little games we play where we kind of toe the line between being up front and respectful and not.

When you’re fucking a girl who you have no intentions of wifing but you know that’s what she wants. Now, you never tell her you’re going to, so I mean, it’s not like you’re lying to her. But are you really respecting her? And is she really demanding the respect that she wants. She knows there’s all this ambiguity in the relationship, and yet she continues to follow through with it. Because respect is difficult. It means doing things which may be painful. Or telling people truths which they’ll get mad a you for. Or take the case of the woman who accepts drinks at the bar from some guy she has no intention of giving her phone number to. I mean, she doesn’t owe him anything for that drink. so her taking it shouldn’t be a signal to him that she likes him, right?

From a technical standpoint, sure. You can justify a lot of shit that you wouldn’t want someone to do to you because it gives you some advantage. But you’re also not giving yourself full credit. You fucking that girl or taking that drink or necklace or whatever, that’s just you selling your moral standing as a person. And for what, a piece of ass or a $9 Apple Martini? Can’t we do better? Don’t we have to do better? I know what you’re saying. Well, you can’t trust anyone else to do the right thing, so why should I? Well, sure, I’ll admit, it is a battlefield out there. And a lot of people aren’t playing fair. But it’s up to you to decide whether you’re going to play at their level or not. And I’ve failed at this probably more often than not. I’ve done things not because they were the right things to do or the things that would lead to  greater outcome, but because they were the easy thing to do. they were the non-confrontational things, the things that kept shit smooth, the things that didn’t force me to explain myself. But as someone who’s experienced the flip side of that coin, I try to not put other people in that situation, because, personally, I don’t really like the feeling

Give you an example, someone once not so long ago showed a huge lack of respect for my time, and by extension, for me. And had they just told me what was going on, shit could have very well been cool. Whatever it was, I can accept and respect someone being honest and forthright with me even if they think it’ll hurt my feelings. You’re just not that into me, I can respect that. Your old flame is in town and you’d rather stay in and  have sex with them, I can dig it. You’d rather watch paint dry than spend time with me, hey, it is what it is. Having that info, I could have gone off and done what I was originally planning to do anyway. There would have been no hard feelings. But when someone doesn’t tell me the truth, it tells me that in their eyes, I’m not worthy of being honest with. I’m someone to be lied to or dismissed casually. And that’s not really a feeling I enjoy. I imagine some of the women that have dealt with me in the past may have had to deal with similar slights. But I should do better. So I think I will.


Comments
  1. awesome work as usual…much to discuss and consider…you’ve inspired me to get to work…off i go. xoxoxo

  2. Jdantv says:

    This is one of the best things I’ve ever read in my life! I loved it. Except, if someone buys me a drink I feel like I’ve already entertained them with my conversation, giving them my number is above and beyond lmao But other than that. LOVED IT! I have nothing to add.

  3. 05girl says:

    Good stuff…. hopefully you touched on this at your event…spread the word…

  4. leyonie says:

    This post is spot on. I know how hard it can be to “man up” and tell someone what you need them to hear and not necesarily what they want to hear. Being casually dismissed sucks, like how dare that person not see how great, sucessful, loving and “Michelle Obama-esque” you are. Lol. Seriously though, respect is a two sided coin, respect for others and respect for self. When I think back to most of my dating interactions that went terribly wrong a lack of respect and consideration for my feelings are not the only things that hurt. There are times that I went along with less than stellar shit because I was scared of rocking the boat, those times were the worst because I know I compromised my standards and beliefs and how can you live with disappointing yourself? I’ll get over being mad at them but being mad at yourself takes much longer to get over.

  5. Nara G says:

    Great work of ART…I know sometimes it can be difficult to show RESPECT because folks are use to living and treating people a certain way. I can say this was me before meeting my husband. I know that he is by no means a chump of any kind and he deserves ALL the respect in the WORLD. Good article!!

  6. Tunde says:

    good post. i think people lie to others to spare their feelings. no matter how much a person may say they want the truth, no one likes to have their feelings hurt. it hurts to do it and it hurts to have it done but i think that people shouldn’t hold cut cards and tell the truth as much as possible. it may hurt now but not as much in the long run. also like you said you won’t have the disrespect factor.

  7. Great post. Funny, when someone lies to me, I consider it a form of disrespect. I love this line:

    Because not only does it steal someone else’s ability to make informed decisions, it implies that you’re too weak or stupid to handle the truth.

    When I lie to someone else or lead them on (because I have), I look at it as me not wanting to hurt their feelings, me having a hard time being confrontational. I know though, that is all a horrible cop-out and basically bullshit. No lie or form of disrespect is better than the other.

  8. Yes, yes, everything yes. Fucking spot on.

    “But when someone doesn’t tell me the truth, it tells me that in their eyes, I’m not worthy of being honest with. I’m someone to be lied to or dismissed casually. And that’s not really a feeling I enjoy.”

    This part hurt me to read it. I think this is the worst part of being decieved: not just being unwanted, but feeling unworthy of respect.

  9. I really appreciated how relevant this is. I myself have had a woman waste my time but not just being upfront with what’s going on. Like you’d said, if you tell me you have better things to do, I’m a big boy – I can handle it. I’d like to think the assumption of the inability of “correct comprehension,” (which is that whatever truth you want to tell won’t be taken in the “correct way,” and that way is the one that prevents you from looking like a bad guy) is because of a couple of things –

    1 – We don’t want to rock the boat. It’s a difficult enterprise as opposed to just letting things “run their course,” where somebody admits they want more or lets it die;

    2 – We don’t want to be the bad guy. Few people enjoy being the bad guy, but in my estimation you’re being an even more “bad” guy by trying to circumvent being a regular bad guy. Nobody enjoys being the bearer of bad news, but you do it because of a responsibility to the other person to be honest, even if it hurts them.

  10. “But when someone doesn’t tell me the truth, it tells me that in their eyes, I’m not worthy of being honest with. I’m someone to be lied to or dismissed casually.”

    This quote really struck a cord with me. I’ve been there, and it definitely sucks. People say they lie to spare the feelings of the other person. But that is BS. We tell ourselves this to make us feel better. Every time I tell a man I have a BF when I am single and as free as the wind, I’m not doing it to spare his feelings. I do it b/c I don’t want that short, awkward looking dude to think he has a chance. It would be much easier to tell him the truth nicely and respectfully, than to disrespect him by lying and corrupting my own moral standards. Great Post, Faraji!

  11. ladyday says:

    LOVE this post. Very well put. Thanks Sis Toldja for putting me on to this blog. It’s so on the money.

  12. moongoddess71 says:

    I am not going to focus on the respect issue, and the honesty, that all speaks true. What got my attention is: ” The homie April mentioned the other day that she has started to notice more men seeking what she calls the “Michelle Obama” type. I don’t know that it’s that more men seeing that so much as many of us are starting to get to that age range where we are seriously considering people as partners. It’s just the natural shift in priorities that happens as people move through different stages in their lives. I think, if anything, Michelle Obama gave a face and a name brand to something most of us were lookign for in the first place. Someone we can respect as a person and a partner.”

    Well, I don’t think that this is something new. I think most men have an image of what a wife, life-partner should be (even before Michelle Obama became a public figure)…that is cool but guess what? Michelle Obama did was not born that ‘ideal image’ of a mate, she had to experience and grow through her relationship with Barack. I have read plenty of what she has to say on her relationship to know this…I have also experienced a long relationship that resulted in marriage to know this..What I am saying is, it is a-okay for men and women to have an ideal image of wife/husband but the only way to find that mate is by experiential living. You can only truly grow as a human being and a mate, through the experience of relationship. I opine that men especially have to stop closing off themselves from relationships, hoping that the the ideal wife is just gonna fall into place.

    I am not quite sure if I am expressing what it is I mean but I will give a quick example from my own experience. A few years back, my husband said to me ” you know, sometimes when I confide my deepest feelings to you, I don’t always want an opinion..” this was after he confided something to me, and he felt like a cut him down…I was enraged because I thought I was just being supportive. I got very defensive and said “well if you want a woman who doesn’t have an opinion, get a blow up doll…” Turned into a huge fight…fast forward few years later. I have learned that what he was saying was sometimes I just want an ear of support…i don’t need you to judge me…So, now sometimes I just listen to him, even if I have all sorts of opinions of what a jackal he is swimming around in my head…not to appease him, but because I have learned through time and experience with him, when he needs me to just listen…and not only when but how I can offer an opinion with out knocking him down.

    Again, I say all that to say: yes, we should start with the kind of person we want. Barack saw a smart, beautiful, family-oriented woman but only through their living and growing together, has she become HIS perfect first lady.

  13. moongoddess71 says:

    ugh, lots of typos…rushing…

  14. It’s all a part of growing and maturing. Once you realize how you want to be treated, you seek out people who will treat you that way. I think as we get older, we become more introspective, and more concrete in our feeling about what we want, who we want & why we want it. it reminds me of the sentence (paraphrasing here)… “when I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, when I became a man/woman, I put away childish things”

  15. […] Eh, except for I just don’t think I should have to be aggressive with a man. I gotta carry these two shoulder killers around and fuss over my hair, I shouldn’t have to do all the romantic work….right? I don’t really have a strong thesis behind all of this, my lovelies. This is just my dispatch from the battlefield of love. I’m unpacking some frustrations and I love you for listening. Another (occasional) blogger released some of his today and I found them to be very valid. Read for yourself:“R-E-S-P-E-C-T My Mind”. […]

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