An Analysis of Gender in America

The concept of gender is a fascinating concept in American society and the reason it is fascinating is because it is so fluid.  Several years ago, a man who was thought of as one of the manliest men in sports came out as a woman. Bruce Jenner was an Olympic sports hero, father to several children and married many times but he is now known as Caitlyn. I’m not quite sure if he is telling the truth because I have my own personal thoughts about his transformation but it has been eye-opening. It shows that for some, womanhood is based on superficial qualities such as hair, makeup, and clothes and as a woman who has been a woman for 51 years, it is maddeningly insulting. This blog will discuss gender and how it has affected my life. It is a tale filled with mishaps, mistakes and many trials but it is also a story of perseverance.

Gender affected me from the moment I was born. I was the youngest of three children born to my mother and I was the longed for baby girl. I didn’t feel any pressure as a little girl but I was swamped with a bunch of dolls, doll houses, and other toys marketed towards little girls. And although I enjoyed and still to this day love dolls and all things considered girly, I wonder now as a woman did my mother do me a disservice by purchasing only toys for girls. It would have been nice to receive a train set or some Tonka trucks.

I was a questioning child, the type who asked a million and one questions that no one wanted to answer. I remember asking my mother why boys can do certain things like stay out later or have sex with a bunch of girls and no one will say anything but if a girl did those things; she would be labeled a slut. She told me that is how society is set up and I was around twelve at the time. I just looked at her because it didn’t make any sense to me then and it still don’t. The boys in my classroom were some smelly dumb creatures and I didn’t look at them as superior in any type of way. I decided right then and there I was going to live my own life and if anyone didn’t like it, I wouldn’t care.

Around this same time, I read a book that would change my life and shape my views on gender: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. It is the story of Scarlett O’Hara and it is set during the South at the beginning of the Civil War. I loved the character of Scarlett because she was the first female anti hero I had ever read about. She wasn’t a nice person. She didn’t have any close female friends because she looked at women as competition for men. She didn’t like her sisters and she would steal a beau from a girl in a minute. She was two faced but men loved her. What is funny is that she didn’t really like men too much either because she thought they were silly. Due to the social constraints of the era she was born in, she couldn’t show her true self so she learned to be the best Southern belle in Georgia.

I think I loved her character so much because she was everything I was taught not to be. Selfish, self centered, in every way a true bitch but she generally got everything she wanted while the nice girls got ignored. For a little black girl reading this book, it was eye opening because black women are taught to self sacrifice and put their needs on the back burner. In the black community, the thoughts of men come first and black women are not supposed to be heard.

Going into adolescence was hard for me because as a budding black feminist in a neighborhood seething with hyper black masculinity, I clashed with the young men constantly. I refused to stay in my place as a black girl and after I became a teenage mother, I still refused to hang my head in shame. Why should I be ashamed for being a young mother when the same boys talking crazy had children scattered all over the neighborhood and in several other zip codes?

But it wasn’t easy for me. Although I am a strong willed individual, those stereotypes got to me and I didn’t do anything with my life until I was twenty six years old when I got my GED. Eight years later, I walked across the stage as college graduate, receiving a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Sociology. Now when I look back, I feel so stupid for allowing others to get into my head and mess with my self-esteem. But it is not easy for most teens, especially a teen that had been sexually molested and thought her self-worth was her body.  I tried to fight against gender stereotypes as a teen and failed miserably, not understanding that it wasn’t my fault that people are judgmental fools.

Gender hasn’t really affected my life too much professionally because I have always worked in a field that is heavily female dominated, the clerical/administrative field.  However, the cattiness of women in this line of work is mind-boggling. I recently worked at a company in which women would e-mail the project manager to tattle on other women they think is dressed inappropriately. My goodness that is the pettiest stuff I have ever seen and I have worked in this field for almost 24 years. But since women are the gatekeepers of patriarchy, I should not be surprised.

Well that is my gender story. I am a mother of two daughters and a son. My daughters are just as strong willed as their mother and they shatter gender stereotypes daily and my son is an empathic soul when it comes to gender issues. So I guess I have done a good job as a mother although some would say not because I was a single mother who didn’t conform. But so what?

A Rough Season

This summer was supposed to have been a great one but unfortunately, I lost two childhood friends that I loved like sisters in two months. Most people lose contact with their childhood friends as they get older but I have been fortunate that I’m still in contact with the majority.

I spent my teens, 20s, 30s, and 40s with these ladies and was hoping that we would grow old together, sitting on the porch with our canes cussing folks out but it wasn’t meant to be. But as I write this, I’m sitting here smiling through my tears, grateful that I had the privilege of knowing them at all.

So many sisters complain about the lack of friendship amongst Black women but I was truly blessed to have known these ladies. I hope that the ancestors greeted Genial and Mikki with love and I promise to keep them alive with my memories. Because what memories they were❤️❤️❤️❤️

Sunday Musings from Chicago

So it’s 11:34am Chicago time and I am sitting here chilling, listening to the music of my youth with a pot of oxtails cooking and all is right in my universe for now. But I think too much as an ex told me so I am also sitting here thinking about the evolution of the Black social media and how it has not changed in the almost 13 years I have been on it.

I joined Facebook back in October of 2008 when my cousin Lisa sent me an invite. At first I didn’t do too much but talk about my children but I wrote a blog for my now defunct website, “The Black Feminista” that discussed getting sexually molested as a child and boy did it generate some views. I learned that so many Black women had experienced what I had gone through and it made me mad as hell. That it seem to be some type of rite of passage for young Black girls to be molested by the men of the community and how people really don’t give a damn.

So I decided to speak on the issues that affect the lives of Black women and girls and I found a bunch of ladies who agreed with me. From then on, it was on. We spent time dragging dusty ass dudes who could barely write a coherent sentence but believed that because they were born male, they were superior to women and had the right to tell us what to wear, how to think, how to live. Hell some of them thought and still think that they know more about womanhood than actual women who were born female in a patriarchal society. The unmitigated gall of these illiterate fuckers but having a cock gives men the most audacity in the universe.

But almost 13 years later, the Black social media has not evolved and it seems to be devolving if anything. Regardless of what social media platform they use from Facebook to Clubhouse, the only topics discussed by Black folks is relationships, celebrities, weave, sex, and the battle for dominance over women and children. Every couple of months, topics such as who gets fed first, the man or the children, did welfare destroy the Black community, should women go 50/50 on household expenses, and whether women should submit to men even if she works 80 hours per week while he sits on his ass arguing with strange women online are talked about ad nauseam and the shit is ridiculous.

Black women and children are being murdered daily across America, gang violence is out of control, the pandemic has taken a toll on the Black community collectively, and we have no money but the only things some Black folks want to talk about is getting fucked, telling women the best way to jump through hoops of fire to hold on to a man not worth two dead flies, weave, and fucking makeup. It makes me sad how little intellectual discourse is taking place online because the social media is one of the greatest inventions created and it could be of such good use to Black folks but instead of using it to uplift the community, many of us are consumed with satisfying our basic needs to the point that nothing else matters. Not even the children who are born unwanted and unloved and then grow up to be menaces terrorizing the community while these same adults bewailing and clutching their pearls about their behavior pretend like they don’t know what happened. With their trifling asses.

Honestly, what really irks me is that all these discussions revolve around men. How to keep a man, how Black men really feel about women. Everything is centered around them. Even those women who claim they are “divested” from Blackness spend their days whining about Black men and have transferred their worship of maleness from Black men to white men and will still be disappointed and looking stupid because they don’t love themselves. Women who truly love themselves don’t spend their days and nights worrying about how to appeal to men of any race. But I am digressing as usual and that is because I am frustrated.

I live in a city where more than 250 children have been shot and 32 killed this year, according to police data obtained by ABC station WLS. But grown ass people get their asses on the social media and discuss whether a more than likely shiftless man should be fed before the children. The same children who cannot defend themselves and are getting shot down like dogs. I wonder what I can do but I’m just a middle age fat chick.

Middle Age Angst of a Black Generation X Around the Way Girl

I’m currently watching BET Soul and they played Mary J. Blige’s video “Love No Limit” and lord it brought back memories of being young and carefree. Then it occurred to me that this album will be 30 years old next year. The same age as my son and now I feel old as mummy dirt. So I’m sitting here wondering where the time go.

So much have changed in my life since 1992. I’ve lost so many people that I loved with all my soul including my original birth family, aunts, cousins and friends.

When I look in the mirror, I see traces of the younger woman I used to be but I mostly see sadness. Sadness for my lost loved ones and the state of a culture that is selfish and trifling. I remember that idealistic girl I used to be and wonder where she went and what happened to her. Who is this cynical broad staring back at me in the mirror daily?

But I know who she is. It was easy for her to turn into a cynic considering what generation she’s from. Generation X, the forgotten generation stuck between the Boomers and Millennials who battle daily on the social media.

The original latchkey children who were left to their own devices and learned to be satisfied with eating ravioli straight out the can because their mothers refused to buy a microwave and threatened them with violence if they turned on the stove.

The generation who saw a spaceship blow up in the air back in 1986 and if they were Black, saw the destruction of their community when the crack era started. It’s no wonder why so many of us are drunks. We’ve seen it all and still somehow manage to get up in the morning with a semi straight face despite the pain of yesteryear.

But despite the pain, considering what I have been through during these last almost 30 years, I’m eternally grateful to be still alive and in one piece. Fatter with laugh lines but still here. So this little story is for my Generation X folks. My middle age Around the Way gals and homeboys. We go make it y’all. Yes we are.

The Art of Aging as a Woman

Being a woman ain’t no cakewalk at all, especially in a society that deems a woman old and washed up at the age of 30. But someway, somehow I have managed to survive turning 50 years old.

I was depressed in the months leading up to my birthday. I was grieving over the loss of my brother, coping with the pandemic, and getting diagnosed with epilepsy. I cried literally every day from February to December. But that isn’t healthy at all so I managed to find some ways to keep me calm.

I started watching the cartoons of my childhood. In January, Me TV started showing episodes of Popeye, Tom and Jerry, and Bugs Bunny and Friends every Saturday morning and I haven’t missed an episode. Watching those cartoons brings me so much joy because they bring back memories of the little girl whose biggest issue was whether she should eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast or nag her mother into making her some scrambled eggs.

I also started creating Tiktok videos featuring me singing (howling) along to some of my favorite music. Music that makes my soul sing and body move. I cackle madly when I watch the videos, knowing that singing is not a talent of mine at all but it’s good seeing the happiness in my eyes.

And most importantly, I decided to embrace my age. So many people I know and loved didn’t make it to age 50. So I will be strutting around like I’m the baddest bitch in America. Yes I’m fat, my hair is turning gray, and I have some funky ass dark circles under my eyes that won’t disappear but I’m still here. And proud as fuck about it. So ladies, embrace becoming a Crone and stop giving a fuck about the opinions of others, in particular, the opinions of men. It is in their best interests to keep women insecure and filled with self loathing, groveling for crumbs. Fuck that dumb shit girlies. Live your according to the standards that you have set up for yourself and keep rising to the top.

The Howler

The 50th Birthday Blog – Two Weeks Later

Two weeks ago, I turned 50 years old. A milestone birthday that unfortunately for me happened during a world pandemic so I didn’t do anything but think deeply. My children are finally adults and now after 33 years of motherhood, I have some time to myself. I am a worrier by nature so I will always be concerned with my children but now I can concentrate on me.

I am also a single woman and I am content with being single most of the time. But I can admit it would be nice to have a nice fella who really loves me and have my best interest at heart. This year has been filled with so much pain that it would have been wonderful to have a man in my life who would have enveloped in his arms and made me feel safe. But unfortunately, most of the men I run across have the emotional intelligence of a gnat. Not a smidgen of empathy, just soulless. So I will be rolling solo until I meet that dude who loves cartoons as much as I do.

My eldest brother died in February and with his death, my entire childhood family was gone. My closet blood relatives are now my children and that hurts. At times, I just want to break down and weep in a corner but I have to keep living. I don’t want to wallow in pain but I can’t help but have these morbid thoughts from time to time. I tried explaining my feelings to a male friend and he really didn’t get it. Got to talking about how his whole family was dead too (but all three of his siblings are still alive). Told me that I need to get over myself. That my family would want me to be happy. I wanted to bust his head for being so obtuse and clueless. So I rarely speak to him anymore.

And this pandemic. I am so tired of wearing a mask but these stupid people will not stay their silly asses in the house. Want to travel and party all while spreading germs everywhere. Goddamn ninnies. But this is the country I live in.

These are just some thoughts of mine on this Friday mid morning. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf – A Summary

In an excerpt from her extended essay, “A Room of One’s Own,” author Virginia Woolf examines the obstacles and prejudices that have hindered women writers before the 20th. She deploys a number of methodologies: historical and sociological analysis, fictional hypothesis, and philosophy, to answer her initial question of why there have been so few female writers. She ties their minority status largely to socioeconomic factors, specifically their poverty and lack of privacy. Her main theme throughout the essay is that a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write creatively.

            Woolf also exposes the gender consciousness that she believes cripples both male and female writers. Most men she maintains, derogate women to maintain their own superiority and most women are angry and insecure about their inferior status in society. Male writing, then, is too aggressive, whereas women’s writing is reactive. Both genders obscure their subjects and instead focus on themselves and their own personal grievances. The writer of incandescent genius, Woolf maintains, rises beyond his or her petty gripes and attains a heightened, objective relationship with reality; the subject is the world, not the writer’s self.            She argues that the reason there were so few prominent, highly respected women authors before the twentieth century is because most women had not led lives conducive to creating great art or literature. She maintains that there was no actual body of notable women’s literature because, in the past, women did not have the education, the income, the privacy, the experiences of travel to broaden their world, or the time to write. Dominated by men throughout history, females have been denied access to education, independent travel, and to publication. Without income, women are totally dependent upon men.

           Women are responsible for bearing children, and in almost all cases have the primary responsibility for bringing them up. Few have the luxury of hired help. Although rewarding in many ways, child rearing allows for little privacy, independence and solitude, prerequisite conditions for writing, painting or composing. If privacy is nonexistent, interruptions block creativity. In this essay, she clearly states that what a woman needs is a room of her own and a guaranteed fixed income in order to write noteworthy fiction. Here she challenges women to become economically self sufficient in order to acquire the necessary intellectual freedom to create outstanding literature. She believed that the remarkable, the momentous could be found amongst the mundane details and occurrences of everyday life. She encourages women to write about all of the “minutely obscure lives” which men have ignored, and about themselves, their feelings and their reactions to the world around them.