Dating Sans Patriarchy: A Black Man is not His Paycheck

In the comment section of my Musing on Harry Allen post, two Black men stated that they agreed with my date, that he should? be able to walk on the outside, etc.

This kind of thinking goes to the heart of patriarchal ideals which basically says that “because I have a vagina” I should be treated a certain way, which is problematic. Full stop.

As Black people, We don’t want to be patronized or treated a certain way (protected like children, dominated like women) by White folks because we have Black/Brown skin, right?

The same rationale applies here. Just because my body looks a certain way does not mean that I should be deemed “protection” or “domination” worthy.

There is a thin line between protecting someone and dominating them. Word to popo.

Patriarchy (institutionalized sexism) turns on the fact that the features of your body determine how you are treated. When in reality the fact that you are a human should. Full Stop.

Speaking of patriarchy, it is Black feminism that has helped me to articulate that a Black man is NOT his pay check.

Meaning that in our society, dominant manhood is rooted in this get a job, bring home the bacon narrative. You and I both know that employment has been and continues to be trife for Black men in this country. You remember that article in the NY Times last December about how Ivy league educated Black men are scrubbing the negroness from their resumes, because they can’t get jobs. #ummhmm.

I long for the day when Black male Humanity isn’t rooted in this White, get a job and a paycheck notions of BEING.

Don’t get me wrong, we all need to work to surivie, eat, live and support our families.? I am talking about tying a person’s sense of SELF into their paycheck here.

Both my daddy and my brother were human beings and men whether they were hustling, working, unemployed, barely getting by or getting major dough.? Full stop.

This is one of the reasons why I remained committed to writing about the troubling aspects of Beyonce’s cannon of work. As many of you remembered I was very clear about “Why is a lightskinned, middle class, Black girl from the Dallas suburbs continually singing about needing a soldier or a baller?”

In many ways,? I saw that she normalizes these transactional,? a man is only worth his paycheck ideals, which is really a problem for? Black folks and our families.

bell hooks offers a great analysis of Black masculinity and patriarchy when she writes, in We Real Cool,

Patriarchal socialization says your responsible if you get a job, bring your wages home, and provide for your families material well being. Yet poverty and lack of opportunities have prevented many males from being responsible in the patriarchal sense of the term. Many Black males accept this definition of responsible manhood and spend their lives feeling like failures, feeling as though their self esteem is assaulted and assailed on all sides because they can’t acquire the means to fulfill this role.

So yeah. You can walk on the outside. But unless you superman, that shit is absurd to me. Now if we in the deep east Oakland/Brownsville/Richmond/St.Louis/NorthPhilly, and you holding something..then yeah..I can see THAT kind of protection.#ummhmm. #praticalbearAintStupid.

You still believe that you should be standing on the outside?

If yes, what investment do you have in holding onto this idea?

Can your body mitigate the impact of? two ton car?

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Comments

  1. says

    “I long for the day when Black male Humanity isn?t rooted in this White, get a job and a paycheck notions of BEING.”

    And how exactly is connecting self/being to work a WHITE notion? Men have been defined by their occupations and ability to provide for their families since antiquity…goodness we’d chalk just about everything to “the man”

  2. Justin Webb says

    1) “You still believe that you should be standing on the outside?”

    Yes.

    2) “If yes, what investment do you have in holding onto this idea?”

    My investment is the maintenance my identity as the protector/provider of my family, which extends from my appreciation for old-world values.

    3) “Can your body mitigate the impact of two ton car?”

    No, but neither can yours (the woman). Tactically speaking, being on the outside gives the man a greater chance to react to oncoming danger.

    Consider that most folks walk the side walk the way they drive (in Cali, at least) – forward movement on the right-hand side… Most threats come from the outside of the sidewalk whether it’s a splash from a dirty gutter, an on-coming car or a group of thugs walking toward us. If I’m on the inside, it will be easier for attackers to force both of us against a wall. From the outside, I can step to the front to defend us more easily.

    The most likely protector between the two of us should be on the outside; the man is the most likely protector. Acting as if this isn’t true ignores the reality that men, generally speaking, are better physical combatants (stronger, faster, more brutal, etc.) than women and better suited to deal with attackers – who are usually other men.

    You listed an exception to this rule – living in a dangerous area where the man is carrying protection…

    Back when black men placed more value on the concept of manhood, it was considered bitch-made to bring a gun to a fist-fight. A man was taught to defend himself with his hands, to stand up to bullies. Jumping a combatant – fighting many against one – was considered dishonorable. It was the fearful – the punk-asses – who introduced guns to the equation to equalize where they were physically lacking.

    The presence of a gun doesn’t change the dynamics of manhood; it only brings them into sharper focus.

    I understand that standing up for oneself these days can mean death by gun; I live in Oakland. I’m no cowboy; when I was robbed at gunpoint, I gave up everything I had. However, there’s no way that I will not stand up for *my woman*. Additionally, there’s no way I’ll stand for my woman assuming my role in our relationship as the protector. Somebody has got to do it and it’s going to be me. Why? Because I’m *the man* (and not just because I have a penis and you have a vagina).

    I’m not saying a woman should wait on a man to protect her, of course… If you don’t believe in a ‘protector’ role, that’s something else altogether. I’m sure there are some men out there who would be happy to release the responsibility… Good luck with that.

    Anyways, great post – compelling enough to pull me away from work. This is just my view; hopefully you don’t see me a infringing on yours. I’m on some primal, Capricorn ‘ish.

  3. nguj says

    Nah, I agree w/ the post, the idea of get-a-job self-worth paycheck-getting is very white. The system is white and male. It is notoriously difficult for anyone else to get through that ladder.

    Outside of this are business owners, those family businesses in the city. They’re run by minorities all around my city because we don’t want to go up the white ladder. I’d love to hear more about the people that flaunt this ladder. I want to hear about the kids that ‘fell through the cracks’ because they knew perfectly well that this system isn’s supporting them. These kids, these so called ‘failures’, they have brains and guts. Now if only we supported them, I wonder what they would’ve figured out, would’ve revolutionized.

    Providing is a family effort, men have traditionally gotten that role in a PATRIARCHAL society (that belittles a woman’s worth to feed her family- sans Beyonce).

    Mind you, I don’t mind my man on the streetside as long as he lets me do it too for the same reasons. We can dream to be superman.

  4. says

    “Men have been defined by their occupations and ability to provide for their families since antiquity…”

    That’s not entirely true. For example, many Native American and African cultures were matriarchal. The women were providers, what we would now deem the “male” role.

    Second of all, just because an idea and a way of life has been around for a long time doesn’t make it right and doesn’t mean it’s not worth examining and critiquing.

    Third of all, I don’t think examining and critiquing certain notions and ideas means you’re “blaming the man”. What it means is you’re looking at dominant culture in America for now (which is European-American. If I’m remembering the latest Census data correctly, America is still about 65-70% white) and looking at the effects of that culture on people who aren’t of European descent.

    I think it’s important look at everything that was presented here instead of cherry-picking details to get upset about.

    Why do we connect self-worth to paychecks?

    Why do we look more at material things people possess and not people themselves?

    How and why have we bought into the notion that what we do to pay bills is the measure of a person?

    And why do we subscribe to so many ancient ideas about who needs “protecting” and “taking care of”?

  5. says

    @nguj
    Thank you for stopping by and commenting.
    Wowsa’s.

    “Mind you, I don?t mind my man on the streetside as long as he lets me do it too for the same reasons. We can dream to be superman.”

    Game for free. I’m done.

    @Justin
    Wow..awesome to see you here in my little corner of the interwebs.

    Justin, thank you for being honest. It means a lot. Its why I BEEN writing and continue to write my blog.

    If you don?t believe in a ?protector? role, that?s something else altogether.
    =====
    Reason why I wrote this.
    The protector role prevents us from relating to each other from Humans.

    Patriarchy, a social system which stipulates that men have the right and duty to protect, provide for implicitly/explicitly DOMINATE women and children. Patriarchy is a straight jacket for MEN in particular, Black men specifically. #mmhmm

    Patrarchy’s narrowly defined notions of manhood keep men from being comfortable expressing emotions other than rage and it keeps men from being willing and able to express LOVE to one another

  6. jwonder says

    Ok. I agree that a man is not his paycheck. I must say though as a woman it is valuable to me for a man be a good provider to his family. I feel that this is important bc if the woman does choose to stay home after giving birth and for the first couple of years with her child its a good idea to choose a spouse(whether a man or woman) that can afford to support this decision. Also a lack of funds in a relationship with children brings an added amount of stress that even the most loving and committed couples cant handle. I dont require that a man be rich just able to provide for his wife and children. I dont believe its necessary upon meeting a man that he be well off. I do prefer however that if he is at a low income that he make effort to grow financially in the future just in addition to encouraging him to grow mentally and spiritually, etc. The truth is that money does not define a person however and can influence lifestyle due to the non socialist country we live in. To have access to quality food, health care, education, childcare, and safety usually requires an above poverty level income.

  7. jwonder says

    Ok. I agree that a man is not his paycheck. I must say though as a woman it is valuable to me for a man be a good provider to his family. I feel that this is important bc if the woman does choose to stay home after giving birth and for the first couple of years with her child its a good idea to choose a spouse(whether a man or woman) that can afford to support this decision. Also a lack of funds in a relationship with children brings an added amount of stress that even the most loving and committed couples cant handle. I dont require that a man be rich just able to provide for his wife and children. I dont believe its necessary upon meeting a man that he be well off. I do prefer however that if he is at a low income that he make effort to grow financially in the future in addition to encouraging him to grow mentally and spiritually, etc. The truth is that money does not define a person however and can influence lifestyle due to the non socialist country we live in. To have access to quality food, health care, education, childcare, and safety usually requires an above poverty level income.

  8. says

    First of all, great write-up and commentaries. Great pic for the piece too. It’s funny though, I was just thinking about related topics yesterday. I was thinking around the results of the feminist movement, at least how it’s presented publicly, and how many women I encounter want the best of both worlds – meaning, they want men to treat them how they did before women became socially and (almost) monetarily equal (as referenced to the “walking on the outside”, etc.) yet they want the rightful independence that the movement provides. This is probably an old argument, but I think the mentalities need to be Re-Defined. To me it’s like saying I was once on welfare, but now I have a PhD but I should still be able to use an EBT card. What? No way Joe-se.

    That’s not to say that I’m going to treat my girlfriend/woman/mate like a dude – that’s just weird – but when is equal gonna equal, um, equal?

    If I’m missing something here feel free to fill in some blanks.

    I’ll digress on answering your posted queries –

    1) ?You still believe that you should be standing on the outside??

    Sometimes. Depends on what’s going on or how I feel. Actually, it depends on the female I’m with as well.

    2) ?If yes, what investment do you have in holding onto this idea??

    It’s not only as a protector thing, cause I’m gonna jack someone up if I’m inside or outside. Funny, I was outside of Syracuse last weekend and there was no i/s or o/s to walk – was just a narrow passageway. What do we do then? LOL

    Also, if walking on the outside makes you the protector, why not just walk behind her? That way, if she’s attacked you can REALLY bust a mofo up! (Joking aside, from experience (with a group of females) I’ve done so and actually had to apply some fisticuffs ’cause dude was ‘unaware’ of me)

    3) ?Can your body mitigate the impact of two ton car??

    I can’t get hit by cars. It’s my mutant power. That and my verbosity.

  9. admin says

    @mediaman
    Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

    Question?
    That?s not to say that I?m going to treat my girlfriend/woman/mate like a dude ? that?s just weird
    =======
    Why is treating her like a dude weird?
    When I WAS HELLA patriarchal, meaning I would stand at BAM in Brooklyn and ogle and comment
    on women’s bodies, TALK mergers and acquisitions, watch the game, NEGROS loved it, because I was just like
    one of the guys, but a girl. The fuck?

    When I be on the street, i want nothing more than to be “treated like a dude.”
    To be allowed to walk autonomously (but for the police.)
    To not be harassed by niggas hanging out cars.
    To not have MEN talk to me, asking me to stop, what my name is, when I am clearly on the phone.

    If men treated each other they way they treat women on the street, they would be fighting
    all daggumit the time.

    I don’t want to be YOUR equal. Different men have different levels of power in this society.
    I wanted to be treated like human being, and we will be just fine.

    I hope this was responsive.
    ~Renina

  10. says

    There’s two things being said here Renina – being patriarcial and being equal.

    When I say equal I precisely mean being treated like a fellow human being, which answers your retort to my “treating her like a dude is weird” comment. Not sure who you were hanging with i/f/o BAM or wherever, I guess they were Negroes indeed, but I don’t want a woman to act like me – I want her to act like who she is (if she’s sane). That’s respect.

    Different men have different levels of power as do different women. At my regular gig, mostly women are in charge of the agency – scores of men are their subordinates. They’re not equal. Don’t present it like women don’t have any power in this society.

    That said, I’m not going to delve into “whose pain is worse” convo since harassment that women receive can be as horrible and violent as men’s own, albeit different – by inside and outside forces. I will say that men treat each other w/different kinds of ‘bad’ too often – no matter if it’s the dudes on the street corner trying to rob or beat up another dude (everywhere) or dude at the lounge who turns their nose up at a fellow brother just cause they’re of different socio-economic classes. It all comes back to that argument of treating people with a level of righteous humanity.

  11. says

    @Renina: going off your last sentence, I don’t understand how anything talked about in regards to patriarchy makes you think you aren’t being treated like a human being. Men desire women, if you think we are being inhuman I feel bad for you since, because you look good men will always have that reaction towards you, maybe not as aggressive tho, ha.

    I had no male role models growing up (I know a lot of brothas with the same misfortune) and I was taught by my mother about the things you are griping about. everyone I know was raised similarly in our neighborhood, its a part of our culture. at this point I would say you have a problem with our culture because young boys were raised to be men in the sense you want to see changed.

    My stance on the standing outside is along the lines of Justin’s, where we protect from more than errant vehicles.

    Again, I don’t see why its a problem or something I should be talked down to (the initial article came off that way) when its something I was raised to do. I am not a fighter, I haven’t had to get ill in nearly a decade because I can talk my way out of anything, but I would be heated if you started an argument over something I see as petty as wanting to protect you. prolly be speechless, no bs

    I also don’t agree on the notion of my being as white. no matter what culture you’re in, you have to earn a living and come into adulthood by stepping into a role. if “capitalism” is a white thing, I am fine with that regardless, I want better for myself and feel great when I reach another goal. Nobody would confuse me with them.

    well another thought provoking entry, love it.

  12. RalphKenolEsq says

    “Now if we in the deep east Oakland/Brownsville/Richmond/St.Louis/NorthPhilly, and you holding something..then yeah..I can see THAT kind of protection.#ummhmm. #praticalbearAintStupid.”

    The guy who agrees with you about NOT walking on the outside is more than likely not going to be anywhere near those spots. (If he is, he might dip before you if beef breaks out!)

    I’m not really sure what the paycheck has to do with the outside of the sidewalk but let me try to address that point another way. There is simply too much science fiction in regurgitated left wing ideology as uttered by people of color ™ (That’s mine and I’m going directly at bell hooks with that. Please cite me for retribution. πŸ™‚

    The relationship issues that exist at a cancerous level in the black community and are becoming a serious issue in the white community is not related to patriarchy but to the near complete elimination of male responsibility.

    There was a time not too long ago when a man who did not take care of his family was not a man. (that’s a great Godfather line) Now we have Lil Wayne. There was a time when making the effort to provide security in a community was foundational for manhood. We are not living in a moment of hyper patriarchy, we are living in a time of SUPERBOYS. It has never been this good for dudes.

    The reality is that there has never been a moment in history where men have had so little responsibility. There has never been a time in history where women have been left with so much responsibility, to disastrous results in the community. Like I said in the last comment, there are a lot of brothers who are just fine with that.
    Is that really a good thing? Is the acceptance of a lack of any form of commitment by men good?

    I guess I could say that it is an expression of the absolute autonomy of all parties and as technology allows women complete control of their bodies, they, like heterosexual men do with women, will be able to carouse with young men in their twenties because young men will want to holla at seventy year old women. Oh and kids don’t need dads.. I would say that but I am not a science fiction writer.

  13. says

    What baffles me with this whole issue is that the same females I see huntin down a black man with a fly car, their own place, and a lucrative job-DON’T have all of that themselves! I think there are too many women looking for a man to “complete” them when they are not whole themselves.

    Even though I am from a middle class background and am benefitting from higher education, I have, to the dismay of my parents, dated quite a few “hood niggas” who did not come up with my same advantages and resources. I have found that these men are sometimes more in touch with the realities of the world than guys who have had all the advantages and resources but really just don’t get it.

    At the end of the day I make my OWN money and I don’t need any one else’s, but what I can’t give myself is suplemental companionship, encouragement and affection. For me, those things don’t have a price tag. I know he got to get his hustle on!

  14. admin says

    Lili,

    Thank you for stopping by and commenting. It means a lot!

    I have found that these men are sometimes more in touch with the realities of the world than guys who have had all the advantages and resources but really just don?t get it. ‘
    ====
    Well. There is something to be said with dealing w/ someone who ain’t been in a bubble they whole life. My ex was a hood dude turned scholar and he was the first person that I *never* hesitated in thinking about taking him home to meet my family. I In many ways he reminded me of my brother, he hustler turned father w/ corn rows and gold fronts who “helps” my 8 year old nephew w/ science projects, washes the families laundry every Friday…and who accompanied by eldest niece on her drama school auditions.

  15. says

    @ENIG MUE
    Thank you for responding and being honest in your remarks.

    I have some comments and questions for you:

    Men desire women, if you think we are being inhuman I feel bad for you since, because you look good men will always have that reaction towards you, maybe not as aggressive tho, ha.
    ============
    While this may in fact be the system we live in, it is not the system that We should live in.

    I don’t want the Police harassing and surveiling yall and I don’t want yall harassing and surveiling us. Full stop.

    ***Some housekeeping shit.
    I had no male role models growing up (I know a lot of brothas with the same misfortune) and I was taught by my mother about the things you are griping about.
    =========
    Griping? Negro this is MY blog and where I work out my interior world and my scholarly life and other shit. If you can’t see that, scoot on to another site. On the real.

    everyone I know was raised similarly in our neighborhood, its a part of our culture. at this point I would say you have a problem with our culture because young boys were raised to be men in the sense you want to see changed.
    ==========
    Just because there is shit going on in the hood, don’t make it right. As a citizen OF the hood, who is concerned with the fate of Black girls and boys, I am concerned with the ways in which HALF of the population, the girls, cannot move about the street with ease. THIS is where life happens and THIS is why I offer my critique.

    Do you have a daughter? You may or may not feel differently when you do.

    but I would be heated if you started an argument over something I see as petty as wanting to protect you. prolly be speechless, no bs
    ========
    You being heated is irrelevant. I am not dating you.

  16. says

    @ENIG MUE
    “going off your last sentence, I don?t understand how anything talked about in regards to patriarchy makes you think you aren?t being treated like a human being. Men desire women, if you think we are being inhuman I feel bad for you since, because you look good men will always have that reaction towards you, maybe not as aggressive tho, ha.”

    ^^^^This is really rich. I want to respond to it…but I need to read more first before I can do so in a useful way. #ummhmmm.

    You have given me a lot to work with here and I really appreciate it.

    You are forcing me to take my academic shit, personal life and experience and my blog and MAKE it all work. THANKS OCK!

    ~R

  17. says

    @RalphKenolEsq

    Hi Ralph. I see you have dug in here. #Ummhmm.

    I am going to respond to your comment w/ my comments below. Enjoy.

    ?Now if we in the deep east Oakland/Brownsville/Richmond/St.Louis/NorthPhilly, and you holding something..then yeah..I can see THAT kind of protection.#ummhmm. #praticalbearAintStupid.?

    The guy who agrees with you about NOT walking on the outside is more than likely not going to be anywhere near those spots. (If he is, he might dip before you if beef breaks out!)
    =====
    Your read of Black masculinity is far more either or, than my life experience has shown. Meaning that some jawns will knuckle up in some situations, some will walk away. It depends. Some are hot heads. Some you can’t scuff their sneakers without them being ready to shoot you.

    What I am trying to say is that the fight threshold varies.

    I?m not really sure what the paycheck has to do with the outside of the sidewalk but let me try to address that point another way.
    ===========
    Everything. Both speak to the ways in which patriarchy keeps men in a emotional, financial, performative straight jacket.

    Stating it another way, a system that says that “real men work” yet systemically deny Black deny substantial Black men access to life sustaining work after FORCING Them to work for free for 3 hundred years is janky as shit.

    This is what patriarchy does.

    There is simply too much science fiction in regurgitated left wing ideology as uttered by people of color ? (That?s mine and I?m going directly at bell hooks with that. Please cite me for retribution. πŸ™‚
    =======
    Do you know bell hooks work?
    If so what?
    Is it useful dismiss something that you are only cursorily familiar with?

    The relationship issues that exist at a cancerous level in the black community and are becoming a serious issue in the white community is not related to patriarchy but to the near complete elimination of male responsibility.
    =======
    Ralph, we have different assumptions about “mens roles” and “womens roles” and because of this, we will have different conclusions. Full stop.

    I hope this was responsive.

    ~r

  18. Very54 says

    In my family the oldest walks on the outside -regardless of the gender for he has to “protect” the young.
    I have 6 siblings so you can imagine what it may have looked like when we decided to walk to the park…;-)

    In adressing the “outside/inside” issue we deal with a consequence of the patriarchal system rather than the system itself. Bear with me…

    To protect someone is noble, but protecting who from what? A danger? Real or imaginary?
    The danger may not lie where we think…

    Protection presupposes fear. And fear is what holds the whole patriarchal system ish together. It has always been used to assert male’s power (on other men for instance) AND control women (as well as men). If we want to challenge the system let’s start with our fears!

    I don’t NEED a man to walk on the outside because I feel I can handle whatever (I may die but hey, that’s part of life) but I DO APPRECIATE when a brother does so. That’s my own lil contradiction…;-)

  19. Very54 says

    On the notion of equality…

    There is little equality whithin the patriarchal system, especially among men. Let’s be real here, men are mostly valued and ranked by their work and their $$$ in the capitalistic/patriarchal sytem. Yet I strongly believe that self worth has nothing to do with the $$$ you make!

    Besides, equality implies a notion of sameness (I believe i’m quoting Germaine Greer) that makes me uncomfortable. The notion of equality takes the masculine vibe as the norm to which women should aspire, and it is often cruel to us women because it requires us to duplicate masculine behaviour rather than creating our own new model. Is equality in such a masculine society really appealing?

    I work in engineering (=surrounded by men) and I try to do my job on my own terms, without being a copycat and with strong work ethic. Freedom is better than equality.

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