April 18, 2014

Do men really want an independent woman?

As a little girl I was raised to be strong, well educated and independent just like my strong, well educated and single mom.  While these are all traits we want to see in our daughters, I wasn’t taught or even told about how to be a wife.  One of my besties and I were having one of our heart to heart discussions which almost always leads to an “ah ha!” moment.

We were discussing her last few dates. She’s beautiful and doesn’t have a hard time finding men, but quality men who aren’t intimidated by her is scarce.  She is in management and has created a great living for herself, has her Master’s and owns property.  Like many young women she desires a man to share her life with.  Why then can’t she find him?  She doesn’t go clubbing and Lord knows I don’t want her to find him there…but what’s she to do and where is she to meet him.  She’s not my only beautiful on the inside and out, educated woman friend in this position.  I’m going to dissect her next dates in an attempt to determine why.  From her past ventures I’ve come up with a list of issues: he may think she’s unattainable (I’m assuming due to her confident air), he may want to control her (that won’t work with her independent trait), he may be too agreeable (responding with yes to everything with no mind of his own), he has no aspirations for more out of life, he may be a homebody or he may be insecure.

I asked her if he was a confident, good looking, kind hearted man who worked at a low paying job if she’d date him.  Her reply was yes, but has yet to experience that type of man “step to her.”  Right now I wish I lived in the same city as her…I’m sure I’d get into a lot of trouble but is it her or them?

I have to admit, I had to learn to tone myself down when I got married (my husband will chuckle).  I realized I didn’t have to be in charge of everything as I did when I was single.  It’s still hard sometimes for me and I wander if she’s being too tough due to past pains and being single so long. As a mom of daughters, I am raising them to be smart, strong, well educated, independent.  I know they see all those things in me…hopefully they see the compromise and sharing that comes with being married, too.

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley is a wife, mom, contract paralegal and freelance editor. She writes The Posh Blog, www.theposhblog.com and is a Social Influencer for an online retail forum. She resides in Suwanee, GA with her family.

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Introducing Hill Harper’s “The Conversation”

THE CONVERSATION: How Men and Women Can Build Loving, Trusting Relationships, the new book by Hill Harper (of CSI: NY) gives insight into how individuals can find good and lasting relationships. He shares his thoughts on how to to repair the relationship between Black men and women and even holds men accountable for their silent condoning of negative behavior. Check out the trailer below.

Kristina Daniele

Kristina Daniele

Kristina, Founder and Oz of We of Hue is one of many doing it across hues-homeschooling, wifing, mothering, and business building. She is a web designer and social media consultant with a love of building communities on line. She looks forward to intelligent conversation that is eye-opening and statement-making.

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The Black woman’s burden

As much as I try not to, I often find myself spending more time than I care to admit watching reality television.  I absolve myself from total responsibility for my actions.  It is hard to avoid.  Whether it’s 500lb little people parenting sextuplets or aged rockers engaging in mass va-jay-jay testing (or dating shows… whatever), no matter which station I turn to I find myself drawn into the absurdity and calling my girlfriends to engage in mindless banter about what such-and-such did or did not do.  This Sunday night was no different when I nestled up with a big piece of cake and watched NFL player, Chad Ochocinco’s newest reality show, “The Ultimate Catch.”

Now, if you’ve watched dating shows before, the premise is no different from the rest.  Through “dates” and challenges, Ochocinco must eliminate a woman each week until in the end, he finds his “ultimate catch.”   Although the premise of his show is nothing unique, what’s sparking somewhat of a stir is the noticeable absence of black women in his dating pool.

Earlier this week, I was watching The Wendy Williams show and Ochocinco was a guest.  The visibly concerned talk show host pointedly asked Ochocinco to explain the absence of black women on his dating show.  After gratuitously professing his love for black women, the NFL player explained he loved all women, not just black women.  And for what it’s worth, Wendy was sure to point out that Ochocinco was also the proud parent of four children parented by three black women.

For what it’s worth.

A little later in the week, I read an interview with Ochocinco on Essence.com in which he offered a much more defensive answer.  In response to a similar line of questioning he responded: “I’ve never heard other races complaining about their men dating outside of their race besides Black people. I hate that we continue to pull that race card. Experience life in general. It’s not that there’s not enough of us because I’m going to deal with y’all anyway, I always have. [People] make it an issue because it’s now on camera.”  He went on to say he understood why black women may take issue with his choice but “but I still can’t appease you. I have a preference. I’m not trying to appease you on my show. I’m trying to find happiness for me and it doesn’t come from just dealing with one type of woman.” 

So, I would absolutely be lying if I say I did not get a little irritated by Ochocinco’s response.  But not for the reason you may thinking.    I grew up in a very liberal household where my mother often dated men outside of her race.  My brother is married to a woman of a different ethnicity and in the heart of my teenage years; I had posters of everyone from Brad Pitt to LL Cool J on my wall. Although I ultimately married a black man, I dated outside of my race in the past and never felt like less of a black woman for doing so. Call me crazy, I have always had a thing for good looking men who treated me well.  That brand of man can come in a variety of packages.  Suffice it to say, I am not opposed to interracial dating nor have I taken a personal stake it who other members of “my” race decide to date.  As a mom of two boys, my primary concern for when they begin dating is that they are happy.  Of course I noticed that the vast majority of women on his show were not black; I am proud to say I see color.  However, I just don’t feel this sense of ownership over him or any other black man.   I resented the fact that he addressed black women as if we all cared what he did or who he dated.

One of my closest girlfriends is Hispanic and has dated predominately black men for the majority of the fifteen years I have known her. Although we rarely talk about it, she has mentioned to me the “looks” she gets from black women on occasion when out on a date.  Conversely, my girlfriend who has been in a long relationship with a white man has mentioned the warm reception she gets from white women when out with her beau.  I can’t help but feel somewhat embarrassed.  Why is it that as black women we are building this reputation for being less tolerant?  Why does an NFL player have to explain his dating preference to us just because he is black? Am I remiss for not wanting to jump on the bandwagon to hoard black men for eligible black women, or save our race from sort of impending destruction?

Tiara Faith McCray

Tiara Faith McCray

Tiara is native of New York City and reluctant resident of the DC Metro Area. She is a writer in her heart but a lawyer by profession. She is a wife and also a mom to two boys. She is a self proclaimed and self loving oddball. She is determined to find both spirituality and happiness and like any true totalitarian matriarch, impose both on her family. She is wise enough to know that this may not happen simultaneously.

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Kiss the girls

It’s 5:00 pm.  I am running late for my son’s 5:15 pm check-up, as usual, and all of me, eight months pregnant belly, stuffed-to-capacity purse and two and half inch heels (I know I should know better), is bounding into daycare prepared to exchange very brief pleasantries with my son’s providers and snatch him up before running out the daycare door.  I enter his classroom and my plans are thwarted by my son elbow deep in finger pant, painting a picture of his recent favorite muse: his penis. 

He looks up at me smiling and runs over for his hug and kiss.  His teachers laugh as I kiss the top of his curly hair, narrowly avoiding yellow hand prints on my suit skirt and I direct him to the bathroom to wash his hands.  Accepting my late fate, I lower myself down to one of the kiddie chairs for a few deep breaths and wait for him to finish up.

He emerges, declares he is all clean and runs to give each of his teachers a big hug before we leave for the day. 

“Isaiah…” one of his teachers says as we head to the door.  He turns.

“Don’t you want to give Julie a hug?” 

A little dark haired girl turns around from a sea of blocks and raises her arms.  My two and a half year old runs into her waiting arms.  They exchange a very long embrace.

“Awww…” we all sing in unison.  I can’t even get mad as the clocks hits 5:15pm.  Then, just as we conclude our song, we watch as my son lowers his hand to Julie’s little waist and leans in for a kiss. 

The teachers and I gasp in unison and then end in an awkward laugh.

“Isaiah!” I exclaim, tugging his little hand.  He looks at me wide eyed and concerned.  I soften my gaze and remind him, “We ask for kisses and hugs, pickle.”  He nods. 

“I am not ready for this.” I joke with his teachers.  They laugh.

I am really not.

This past Saturday, it was asking a little girl named Gabby at the park if she wanted to meet his Grandma which led to an hour long courtship and ended in her kissing him on the cheek and wiping dirt off of him when he fell off the swing.  Last week, it was Madeline, a little girl at a daycare we visited.  They embraced for what seemed like a full minute before we left and my little man said, “I’ll miss you.”

Everywhere we go, my son finds a little girl to hug and attach to.  

And I know it is all my fault.

I am a romantic.

Yes, I said it.

I grew up memorizing the words to sappy movies like Dirty Dancing and dreaming to the beat of Boyz II Men and Babyface.  In college, my girlfriends and I would have movie nights that almost inevitably involved movies like Love Jones and Love and Basketball. 

You know.  Movies that ended in kisses and vows. Long before I knew love, I loved the idea of love: sharing a connection with someone no one else shared and building lives and dreams all based on an unexplainable chemistry and decision of commitment. 

Of course, what I grew to know of love grew me up a bit.  Sometimes you can love someone and they don’t love you back.  Sometimes you fall in love with someone who wants to love you but they just don’t know how.  Sometimes you can fall in love with someone and they can fall in love with you but you both know it just wouldn’t be right. And sometimes, all the stars align, you both commit to one another and life just gets in the way.

When I met my husband he was completely outside of my radar.  I was from New York.  He was from North Carolina.  I still wore Timberlands on winter days.  He went barefoot on summer ones.  I was used to guys who called me “Boo” and he said things like, “Sweetheart.”  When he asked me out for the first time, I was sure we would not have chemistry but he was a gentleman, he was charming and he left me glad I had went down a road I wouldn’t have otherwise. 

Us married gals know marriage is not easy so I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that the seven years since have not been sunshine and light.  The adult, post-dirty dancing part of me wishes that someone would finally make a romantic movie that begins with a first kiss because the real love most certainly begins after you make it through that first rough patch.  The one where everything in you wants to give up but you fight anyway.

Nonetheless, love is in my air.  My adult, still-watch-dirty-dancing-when-it-comes-on-television side loves to see my son witness the love between my husband and me. 

Now, don’t call child services. 

What I mean is, I like that my son beams when he catches my husband and I in a kiss or embrace and it is almost inevitably followed by him saying, “I want to kiss, Mommy” or “I want to kiss, Daddy.”  We find it nothing short of delicious. 

But how do I begin to teach my almost three year old about the appropriateness of that affection?  How do I articulate that very important lesson that not everyone wants kisses and hugs?  How do I teach a two year old about the boundaries of personal space? More importantly, in an age where school officials are offering condoms to first graders and leading condom manufacturers are making extra small condoms for twelve year old boys, how do I begin to make him understand that there is a very fine line between what is cute and innocent and what is sexual and intimate?  I know my son’s kisses and hugs are innocent.  However, I also know that as a young black boy, who also happens to be very tall for his age, the time for the outside world to see it that way is very short lived.  So, what do you think Moms of Hue?  How do we teach our young children about the appropriateness of affection without upsetting their innocence and being the first to break their little hearts?

Tiara Faith McCray

Tiara Faith McCray

Tiara is native of New York City and reluctant resident of the DC Metro Area. She is a writer in her heart but a lawyer by profession. She is a wife and also a mom to two boys. She is a self proclaimed and self loving oddball. She is determined to find both spirituality and happiness and like any true totalitarian matriarch, impose both on her family. She is wise enough to know that this may not happen simultaneously.

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Letters to my daughter

by Jeanine DeHoney

When my daughter was born, I prayed that I would be able to make her world as perfect as it could be. For a moment in time, those years between infancy and adolescence, it seemed as if my prayers had been answered. We were very close, like two peas in a pod, until she became a teenager and things dramatically changed. All of a sudden, we seemed to be at war, but what broke my heart the most, was that my daughter seemed to be at war with herself, her self image and her self-worth.

When my mother was alive, she once consoled me as I sat at her kitchen table nearly in tears over what to do about the uneasy relationship my daughter and I now shared.

“All daughters get to a point where they detest their mothers and blame them for being the imperfect human being that we all are. It’s a phase they go through Jeanine, but it will pass, so love her anyway,” she said.

Although my feelings were hurt, I could deal with my daughter’s animosity. Doors slamming, angry words, feeling invisible and purposely ignored as she shut me out of her world, because as my mother said, it was a phase. What I had difficulty dealing with was that my beautiful teenage daughter had issues with self esteem and I knew that this could scar both her soul and her spirit, her dreams and her goals, just as it had done to me at her age.

All of her life I had thought I had anchored her enough to know that she held beauty inside and outside of her. All of her life I had tried to nurture her soul with the love tinged words of all of her female ancestors to remind her that she was a part of them and was heir to their innate gifts. She had so much to take from, their laughter, their compassion, their insight, and their beauty. Somehow though all of my efforts failed and were shattered into a million pieces when she became a teenager. She unfortunately did not see what others saw when she looked in the mirror, and that was a unique and captivating reflection.

My daughter was being sold a false set of goods thanks to the messages she heard and saw in mainstream society and watched on videos. Some of those messages were subliminal and some were high definition blatant. Either way they made it difficult for a young teenage girl to freely be the wonderful person she should have been evolving into.

Sadly, I had once walked in my daughter’s shoes. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I began to cherish my inner and outer beauty and love the skin I was in. I paid a precious price for this though and I shared this with her in my letters. I lay it out on paper the many times I backed out of opportunities to explore uncharted paths and to meet wonderful, creative people who could have jumpstart my own hopes and dreams. I had a fear of failing, of being inept, of worrying about what folks said about me, so I never embraced the true yearnings of my heart with the anticipated haste and jubilation that I should have.

Writing letters to my daughter helped me to slip words into her spirit that her ears were unwilling to hear. It also helped me to re-mother her with more vulnerability, but also with newfound strength.

Now, my daughter is a beautiful young talented woman, soon to be a mother of a little girl of her own. I breathe a sigh of relief knowing that she will have these letters, yellowing and fragile, to anchor her and use as a template to write her own letter to her daughter years from now, if and when they go through trying times, or just because she wants to leave her a paper trail of her love.

In this day of texting and e-mails, writing letters is a lost art. But I truly hope they make a comeback because whether you have a preschooler lovin’ on you all the time or a tween whose back is defiantly pressed against your maternal wall, letters can weave threads of wisdom, love, joy, even forgiveness in a child’s heart.

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Guest Authors

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Why the hell are you so mad?

For the most part, I consider myself a fairly even-tempered person.  Unless it involves my family, very few people and very few things can genuinely bother me.  That is why it surprises those around me how genuinely upset I get when I hear the bitter and self-serving ramblings of Michael Baisden while flipping through the radio channels during my evening commute.

For those of you unfamiliar with him, Michael Baisden is a nationally syndicated radio show host who broadcasts a daily talk show about issues relevant to the African American community.  While the topics range, he typically focuses on issues of love, marriage and fidelity.  Now, I know what you may be thinking, Why do you listen? Fair enough. Initially, I was a listener.  In fact, I admired the expansive national audience and opportunity it offered people to discuss issues relevant to the black community.  I thought, what a rewarding position to be in?  Baisden had the opportunity to be a neutral arbiter to a nationwide town hall meeting every afternoon.  This admiration soon dissipated after I began to realize that the vehicle was more of a venue to push his own beliefs and agenda on an unwitting audience.  While I give him credit for powerful topics like issues of domestic violence, sexual abuse and his new mentoring initiative, his past topics have also included, “Why do black women have such a hard time finding a man?” and most recently, “Are married women secretly jealous of their single, childless friends?”  The latter is what greeted me on a recent evening commute.

“Are married woman secretly jealous of their single, childless friends?”

Now, in the legal world, we call this sort of question a leading question.  It is when the question is suggestive of the answer.  If a lawyer were to ask such a question, she wants the jury to think, “married women ARE secretly jealous of their single, childless friends” and she wants her witness to say “Why, yes” even if the thought had never entered the witnesses’ mind.  That is why leading questionings are not allowed on direct examination (when the lawyer questions her own witness).  It would be entirely too easy for a lawyer to get her witness to say exactly what she wanted her to say by simply asking suggestive questions. Well, after the topic was announced, short sound bites of listeners’ phone calls were played. In short, they were all variations of single childless women berating the decision to become committed and/or have children… something about freedom and independence.  Thereafter, Michael Baisden fueled the fire by pitting those who are married with children against those who are neither.

“Married women with kids are trapped and unhappy,” one side yelled.  “Single women are bitter and lonely,” yelled the other.

It all culminated in him promoting open marriages and spewing his concept of a marriage expiration date, which allows people to “opt out” of the marriage on a given date if they are no longer happy.  I should note, Michael Baisden is divorced and has acknowledged that fidelity was an issue in his relationship.

Objection.  Michael Baisden is leading, your honor.

Overruled, Counselor.  Turn the channel.

Is this healthy debate or just good old fashion divisiveness?  Most likely fueling the Michael Baisden audience are the recent raging statistics about black women and marriage.  Brian Alexander, MSNBC contributor, wrote an article in April 2009, discussing how Michelle Obama may be an archetypal African American female success story because she has a successful career, strong marriage and happy children.   According to the article, 38% of highly-educated black women between the ages of 20-45 have never been married.  The statistics are less daunting for black men because they are more likely to marry outside of their race.  A similar CNN article titled, “Black and single: Is marriage really for white people?” found that 45% of all black women have never been married compared with 23% of white women.  Likewise, I had lunch a few weeks ago with some co-workers and one of them mentioned a statistic that women lose 90% of their eggs by the age of 30.  This statistic comes from a study from Edinburgh University in Scotland that found women do in fact lose 90% of their eggs by the time they are 30 years old and only have about 3% remaining by the time they turn 40 years old.  The childless, unmarried women at the table looked mortified and I, 28 years old and five months pregnant, felt very uncomfortable with nothing to say but some nonsensical talk about feeling fat.  All of these scare statistics have just widened the divide.

Now, I am no card-carrying, club-organizing, spinster-picketing, proponent of marriage and babies.  I met my spouse in law school where I was looking for an education not love.  It all happened organically and our marriage and the children that followed were choices that made sense for us.  I have one fabulous friend that has spent her entire late twenties exploring the continent of Africa and pursuing advanced degrees in International Studies.  She is clear that marriage and/or children are not for her until she is at least in her forties.  She is gorgeous and happy and it is clear to me that she will have no problem having either one if and when she decides it is time.  I just do not understand why the issue has pitted one side against the other.  I do not understand why married people with children must be miserable for single, childless people to be happy and why single people must be lonely and unhappy for married people to find joy.  Life is incredibly personal.  There is no collective happiness.  Either you are happy or you are not and only you know which components you need to change in order to find your “happy”.    In the slightly altered words of one of my favorite, single rockers, I have one question for you, Mr. Baisden, “if it makes you happy, why the hell are you so mad?”

Tiara Faith McCray

Tiara Faith McCray

Tiara is native of New York City and reluctant resident of the DC Metro Area. She is a writer in her heart but a lawyer by profession. She is a wife and also a mom to two boys. She is a self proclaimed and self loving oddball. She is determined to find both spirituality and happiness and like any true totalitarian matriarch, impose both on her family. She is wise enough to know that this may not happen simultaneously.

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