A few weeks back I was speaking with Tracey Rose about how as women,
we will drop what we are doing, a paper or a project, to kick it with a man.
I understand that a distraction is a distraction, and sometimes you desire
one because you just don’t want to be working on what you have in front
of you at that moment.
However, there is something to be said how men can put work
first and companionship second, whereas we are willing to sacrifice
our work, for the opportunity for companionship.
I mentioned this to Filthy and he offered that as women,
we are socialized to make the love from a man our number one priority.
He and I than began to have a discussion about how one of the ways that
patriarchy measures manhood is by dollars so it makes sense
that heterosexual men are willing to put emphasis on work
over a desire to be with a woman. They do this because they have
been socialized to do so. This is a narrow cell to live in.
I sensed in him that it was a moment of realization for both of us.
It became clear that this may have a tendency to damage the quality of
life for both women. In that moment, I became empathetic towards
men about the fact that we may expect them to perform in ways that
they haven’t been taught or given the tools to carry out.
Capitalism is able to maintain its hold over the spirits of men by telling
them that they are what they take home after taxes.
Furthermore, as Black people, who were originally brought to this
country to work for free, and to give birth to children to work
for free, I suggest that we be cautious with tying our humanity
to pay after taxes.
I also added that if men are encouraged to pursue work
over women, then implicit in that line of thought is
that women or a woman will always be around to be pursued.
This would indicate that we are expendable, replaceable
and in ample supply.
In addition, I heard him tell one of his friends in a conversation
about how women go about relationships differently and the
the implications that this may have for community organizing work.
He mentioned how women have a more astute understanding of
the fact that relationships need to be nurtured along in order to
thrive. I liken it to a church metaphor. If you attend Bible study
on Tuesday, and church on Sunday where you eat Ms. Johnson
cobbler or Ms. Jacksons greens, it is much easier to help Ms. Johnson
with her landlord problem if you have been eating and praying with
her twice a week for the last 6 months.
Filthy and I went on to have a conversation about how, because
of our socialization, we tend to constantly evaluate
our careers against our relationships, trying to see how the fit, if they
are mismatched, how they are progressing into the future and
finally whether may be healthy or unhealthy. He remarked,
matter of factly that men tend not to do this because they are
not socialized to evalaute their careers against their families.
After that conversation I thought about the messages that
fairy-tales send us, I thought of my roommate in law school who
was working class Persian lady from Los Angeles who joined
a fancy and expensive art collectors group with the hopes of
meeting a rich man at an event, I thought of how some women
go to college with the hopes of meeting their husbands.
As for focusing on work or choosing companionship, I have done
both. On one have I have been too rigid in
insisting that my kicking it time is planned out ahead of time,
just so that I don’t, in my opinion let a dude know that he can
disrespect my time by calling me in the middle of a
afternoon Tuesday afternoon, (we were both students)
saying “What ‘chu doing? I am on break from class,
you don’t have class today, why don’t you come through?”
I remember look into the phone like, dude you don’t have it like that.
He then accused me of treating relationships like work product.
I have also shelved working on a project to hang out with a guy.
I knew that I was suppose to read for class, but I got a offer for
Sangria and see a new independent film. Next thing I knew I was in
the shower and out the door.
However, it became clear to me 2 years ago,
that there seemed to be something amiss in a mans
ability and perhaps more importantly the societal
expectation that he should focus on his work yet, I should
be flexible when he was free.
For instance,The Graduate stayed in the library. Sure, he liked
him some M.dot, and would give lip service to wanting to hang
out, but whenever I would catch him on the phone, he was
going to or coming from the library. In seeing how dedicated
he was to the library, and with my competitive nature,
I started going to library for five and six hour stints.
It was in observing him that I came to see how someone
placed reading and writing at the center of their schedule
and built everything else around it. I am sure he dated and
that were women on the scene, but his main priority was taking
care of his grad school work.
Thinking about this issue has reinforced, for me, how the
gender roles and expectations that we are expected shape
our choices and actions. For instance, even when my female friends
have mentioned to me that I should focus, or that men are a distraction
for me, or that I should not give out more than I am getting, I think to
myself that their comment is about them, not about me. I also think
that perhaps they are not taking care of the things that they need to
do hence the desire to tell me what to do. I have also wondered if they
would say the same things to me if I were a man.
Thats not to say that they don’t mean well when they say
these things because more than likely they do.
However, I know that all personal transformation takes place
from the inside out, so someone inquiring about my essays,
about how my book is going, how grad school is going, how 100 V
is going, how Filthy is going and then proceeding to tell me
that I need to focus, is highly unlikely to inspire reflection
What I do know after reading think about this, is that being
a gender rebel is not for the faint of heart, feel me?
Any one tell you to focus recently?
Have you had any second thoughts about changing your
plans to hang out with someone?