2008-12-01

The Conditioning Of American Black Women

Being a black woman is hard in America, essentially because the rules and expectations of you are completely different than with other women. The gender roles in the black community are not the same in the white community. White women had to fight to work, black women had no choice but to work. There are more clearly defined roles of feminine and masculine in the white community than in the black community. This is due to survival. Both my grandmothers worked, even though they had kids, they still had to work, not out of proving men wrong, but so their families had food on the table. Now, we won't forget that the traditional roles of men and women have been pushed upon us, but for the most part many black people don't follow these roles for a variety of reasons.

I went to school with white girls whose goal in college was to find a husband, once they found said husband, they would focus on his career, become housewives and mothers to their children. In the white world this is acceptable. If a black woman chooses to have such aspirations she is considered a gold digger wanting her man to work hard to take care of her while she sits at home doing nothing but eating and watching television. It is ok for a white woman to be a housewife, but for a black woman this is akin to sitting on welfare within the community.

Another thing we need to look at is education. White women are expected to go get an education, and when they do enter the workforce and move ahead it is considered a positive in the dating world to a certain extent. Black women do the same, and she has put her career before a man, and is damaged goods that deserves to be alone.

I've heard it said by some black men that one flaw of black women is that we expect black men to be on par with us or ahead of us financially and education wise, and that in order for a black woman to obtain a black man, she must "marry down" financially and educationally. In the white world this is all but unheard of. White men are expected to be the bread winners in their family, even if their wife is working. When they have children, the white woman is supposed to give up her career or slow it down in order to raise the family. Black women can't do that, we are considered "too uppity" by some when we expect to be with men who are on the "same level" financially and education wise. If a black woman dates outside the race to find a man "on her level" she is a sell out, and nothing more than a slave fantasy to the non black man who is with her. It is expected that non-black man is either with her for her money, or she is with him so she can be a gold digger. Than same man will be expected to call her the n-word, hide her from friends and family, and cheat on her with someone non-black. Once the black woman comes to her senses and leaves this non-black man, if she comes back to black men, she will be damaged goods, as no black man wants a black woman who has dared to be with a non-black man.

In terms of beauty, white women have it made in comparison to black women. The world tells them they are beautiful. Their white skin is a hot commodity. Even if they are overweight, they get love from somewhere, they are going to have someone want to marry them. We are reminded time again time again we aren't the ideal as black women. Our hair is too kinky and short, our noses, lips, and thighs are too big, and our skin is too dark. We are reminded of this by our marriage rates. When we do mange to get straight, long hair, and non brown eyes, it is shunned as being fake, even though white women can have collagen, butt implants, a breast enlargement, extensions in their hair, and numerous plastic surgeries and they will be considered attractive, and most men wouldn't care if they had plastic surgery or not.

Being a black woman in America is a Catch-22. You are really damned if you do, or damned if you don't. We are expected to be like white women, but chastised when we aspire to the same goals and aspirations of white women. We attempt in the best way possible to assimilate the beauty ideals of white women into our own, we are told it is ugly, unattractive, and fake. The conditioning of black woman is a harsh reality the black community needs to look at. What are the gender roles, and how do we define those gender roles. We want it both ways, we want traditional roles, but then again we chastise those who fulfill or attempt to fulfill those roles.

In the end this conditioning causes confusion, frustration, anger and resentment; it also is a cause for the low self image and esteem so many black women have. We have to figure out how to change this thinking. How we can as black woman improve our self worth and rid ourselves of this conditioning?