In Solidarity w/Crunk Feminist Collective: I, too, know what it means to date Black Men as a Black Feminist
“Feminism tells us that the personal is political. Therefore, feminism is a useful frame for helping me to make sense of the gender politics that may be at play in my dating life. When a card-carrying feminist goes on a date, it is a feminist issue, maybe a micro-level one, but a feminist issue nonetheless. In my facetious blaming of feminism, I simply meant that the confidence which it instills in women concerning their intellect and the often radical politics it causes us to espouse, can very often throw a monkey wrench in one’s dating game.” —Crunktastic, July 15, 2010
Wow, for me this quote is “church” as my high school mentee would say. Meaning, this quote is the truth on the level of canonical truth. I cannot count on my fingers, toes, and follicles of hair the number of black men I’ve dated who have placed me in what Crunktastic calls the “mind f*u$k” category or as I have come to refer to it as the mental masturbation category. Meaning, [in your best non-British intellectually laced Idris Alba’s voice] “I, black man, will date you, black feminist, for a set amount of time . . . give or take three months . . . slowly draining you, my sweet ebony Amazon, of your bookish, but devilishly witty comments . . . then I, black man, will slowly nibble at your “cute” feminist push backs about my male privilege then after that I will marry La’Keisha because she has relaxed hair, childbearing hips, believes in religious “submission” and will happily keep my house and cook my dinner.”
Okay, I know this is a caricature of the some of the men I’ve dated, but the truth remains the same as Crunktastic humorously and facetious writes that, “the confidence which [black feminism] . . . instills in women concerning their intellect and the often radical politics it causes us to espouse, can very often throw a monkey wrench in one’s dating game.” And, I would go even further and say that it throws hammers, nails, the kitchen sink, and, yes, even dry wall into the mix.
You see, it is one thing to part ways with a man who you know is the progenitor of patriarchy or to part ways with a man who you know only last night read bell hooks’ Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics, but now spits black male feminist game as if he had written the book. However, it is a searing and at times palpable pain to part ways with a man who you have shared intellectual and physical intimacy with who admits he does not fully understand what feminism is, but who marvels at your commitment to it and your desire to empower girls and women with it. But, his sense of being enraptured by your feminism, your passion, and your ambition has a very short shelf life. Sure, he will date you for a time and yes, he will f*$k you too.
But, he won’t make a long-term commitment because his sense of enrapture . . . of being excited by you, black feminist, does not settle the day to day gender politics or what Sheftall and Cole refer to as “gender talk” of what it means to live with a woman who daily if not minute by minute refuses to abide by traditional feminine hetero-norms . . . a woman who prefers to spend her time reading books about women in power and debating current issues of the day . . . a woman who chooses not to have a child until her book is printed . . . a woman who prefers great intellectual conversation as a prelude to great sex . . . a woman who prefers the comforts of flat shoes because high heels impede movement . . . a woman who uses commercials objectifying women and people’s Freudian slips about girls as teachable moments about sexism . . . a woman who does not yield to patriarchal statements like—“I am the man of the house . . . I wear the pants . . . You are the wind beneath my wing” . . . a woman who is not impressed by the money you have or the length of your third arm (well, maybe . . . kidding) . . . ultimately, a woman who chooses not to make her partner the center of her universe.
Yes, he will be hard pressed to make a commitment to such a woman because she is not typical or conventional. She will not bluster and reconstitute his hegemonic hetero-masculinity for him. It ain’t happening.
So, given all of this and the honesty of Crunktastic’s blog, I am somewhat shocked that certain black feminists are upset with her story. There appears to be a quiet storm brewing between The Crunk Feminist Collective’s blog and The Beautiful Struggler’s blog, where sister blogger, Crunktastic, personal, but profoundly humorous political story of what it means to be a black feminist dating heterosexual men is under intellectual scrutiny by a fellow feminist who takes Crunktastic’s facetious charge against black feminism to heart and writes a blog about how men are “damned if they do and damned if they don’t” diatribe.
Even though, I agree with the Beautiful Struggler’s interpretation of the sexual politics of academia—“what black feminist and non-feminist alike more often encounter with our male colleagues is unwanted sexual advances that place us frequently in positions of disempowerment . . . we get labeled men-haters. However, I disagree with her general interpretation of Crunktastic’s blog. For the Beautiful Struggler, the issue of fucking is the litmus test in determining if men are “using” women. It is inconceivable for her to think that men can exploit feminists for their intellectual critical thinking prowess because she states, “I refuse to think that in the history of heterosexuality a man has ever said to himself, “I would totally bag dat is she wasn’t so SMART.”
Crunktastic’s blog is not about f*$king or wanting a sexual pursuit. It isn’t. What Crunktastic lays her finger on is the unreciprocated exchange between black men and black feminists where black men receive something—enlightenment, sexual excitement from new ideas, conscious rising—from us simply by being in relationship with us. We are not packaging ourselves to sale. We are simply who we are, but, there is a “taking” that is transpiring without our consent that occurs every time I have a 5 hour coffee date with Brother X who I have been dating for the last 3 months. He is getting something from me. Yes, he is getting the drawls, but he is also getting what Crunktastic refers to as “mind-f*cks.” Meaning, an inner consciousness within him is awakened by dating a woman who challenges him to be an unconventional man because she whether knowingly or unknowingly pushes against all the things he has been told about women . . . they are weak, they are dependent, they are irrational, and the list goes on. A part of him is growing . . . his mind, and, yes, even his penis.
However, what is insidious about “mind-f*cks” and mental masturbation is that it leaves me drained and unfulfilled because often than not he chooses to make a life commitment with another woman who is a non-feminist because he is not willing to make the “day to day” concessions of living with me meaning he would have to let go of his male privilege, daily. Heck, in his eyes it is okay to pretend to do it or to actually do it while dating, but it is another thing to have to do it for a life-time.
Matter of fact, just yesterday, my godfather who is married to a black feminist says, “Men do not know what it means to live with a smart woman let alone a black feminist woman. Mind you, we find them intoxicating intellectually and sexually, but we have no the idea what it means to live with them. That a woman can spend her entire day reading and not running behind a man is foreign concept to men . . . and it literally takes an unconventional man to love a black feminist.” And, he is right. But, what he also admits is that there is something liberating about being with such a woman that, “Iron sharpens iron. I will make a better man out of you.”
So, the issue is not about finding men to fuck us. That’s easy. The issue is about the unreciprocated exchange that happens when black feminist date men who sample if not gulp our feminist critical thinking exegeses and leave. To be quite honest, I am “sick and tired” of being taken from or giving and not receiving. I am not the Black Feminist Messiah. I was not created solely for black men to see the fallacy and limitedness of having to perform everyday their hegemonic hetero-masculinity. I am not the Black Feminist Savior who says, “Go, black man and sin no more . . . marry a non-black feminist and remember what I have taught you.” I am not that giving. I need an equal return of what has been taken from me or that which I have freely given to black men I’ve dated. I need a return and deserve a return.
So, I applaud Crunktastic for writing her blog because it is a conversation many heterosexual black feminist have amongst ourselves, but rarely publicly admit unless your bell hooks. And the reason for our silence is another blog entirely.