I love a lot of things about my man. He’s funny, he’s honest, he works hard, he reads. His intellect and his artist’s eye will blow you out of the water. He’s well-traveled. You get the idea—I think my boyfriend’s amazing. I’m sure a million other girls would say the same about their significant others.
One of the things about this man that I will always remember is his reaction to this conversation between Melissa Harris-Perry and bell hooks (who I was delighted to see address the fact that the lowercasing of her name backfired). I live on the internet and am constantly reading articles all over the place, seeing funny images and comics, commenting on statuses and blogposts…and so I’m constantly sending my boyfriend links. Anything that makes me think of him, that I think he’d laugh at or otherwise appreciate, that I need him to share in my rage about, I send it to him. My guess is that he only sees about 20% of what I send because he does not live on the internet— but what he does see, we usually talk about. I’ll never forget the morning I woke up, looked at my phone, and saw a text from my man— who, six months before, had no familiarity whatsoever with feminism— that said:
“I love bell hooks.”
Could there be anything more beautiful?
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like we (or anyone) have been able to completely escape the patriarchy. We had a lengthy argument one very early morning about the state of my armpit hair. We debated once, for days, women changing or not changing their names after marriage (and we come back to the topic often). Just recently, he told me that sometimes you have to let a man be a man and a woman be a woman. Outraged, I asked what on earth he meant by that, especially when he already knows darn well what kind of woman I am.
“I think,” he said, “my manliness would be when I say I’m done talking about something. And your womanliness would be when you just keep right on talking about it anyway.”
Which of course, I did.
There have also been times when racism goes completely over my head because I’ve never had to deal with it. We’ve both said, wittingly and unwittingly, sexist and racist things. The difference, I think, between now and before we were together is that we address those things, acknowledge them and learn from them, which sometimes is all you can really do.
By human standards, I’m a little new to the relationship game. I’ve been with my boyfriend about a year, and before that I’d been pretty darn single for almost four years. So I’m maybe not the MOST experienced or seasoned person to give romantic advice. I imagine, however, that when you’re with somebody and plan to do it for a long time, you find a lot of good in everything they are in do. Even in their annoying habits, even when they say the complete WRONG thing or don’t shut up when they need to, hopefully you even find a little good there (or at the very least, some amusement). I’m coming to appreciate most aspects of who my man is, and I hope that feeling is mutual.
It’s not hard to appreciate that he loves bell hooks, though, and there’s a Beyoncé/bell hooks post forthcoming.
So here’s the first of several posts I want to make to address some of the feedback I’ve been getting. The first is from my amazing friend whose name I won’t be posting until I have permission. She is a badass budding anthropologist and woman of color. Here’s what she said…
“I do know from experience that white guys worry more than anyone else about this topic and it always confused me.”
Why DO a lot of white guys worry so much about how big their dicks are? Can any white males address this? Are you just worried you’re small, or is it about besting another person or worse, besting another race? (Let me just give you a memo: The more YOU worry about it in front of the person you’re sleeping with, the more THEY will also think about your potential smallness.)
“I’ve noticed that men tend to not like black people more. Almost every single white friend I have. Father or grandfather are racist. Like they can work with poc, talk to them but dear god none in their house. It’s like the movie Save the Last Dance. ‘Oil and Milk don’t mix.’ …your post about your grandfather reminds me of all those cases because it’s not that they KKK hate black people, but they Jesus had to be white hate black people”
Two things: 1. I, personally, don’t have any concrete religious beliefs. 2. I’m not sure how any ultra-religious bigots would even FIND this blog. So for the time being I’m not going to address the “Jesus had to be white” stuff other than to say gee, it sure is a convenient belief in countries that were established (or colonized) by white people.
One thing I have noticed (and that is pointed out all over the internet, all over social justice literature, all over anything related to intersectionality) is that sexism and racism are inextricably, almost endlessly linked. My grandfather, for instance, once told me that women have to keep men in line because otherwise, men will act like animals.
“But isn’t that insulting to men?!” I asked, incredulous. I’d never seen my grandfather act like an animal in his life.
“No,” he said. For him, it was just the truth.
My grandfather was also perfectly content to work alongside black people (aka, he didn’t KKK hate them), but not so content when I fell in love with a black man (he thought our relationship was morally wrong, which brings us to his morals, which brings us to White Jesus).
About my blogpost:
“I feel like you’re always trying to over explain. It comes off like I’m not racist and here’s my proof.”
It’s true. I do it for a few reasons, among those are respect, insecurity, and the fact that in this world, hatred runs rampant in all directions and I want to cut it off at every possible path. There’s also the matter of internalized prejudice, which I’ll get to in a minute.
Additionally, whenever I talk about feminism or racism, I feel a little like I’m taking lessons and retorts from every other time I’ve ever talked about feminism or racism. Which means I’m taking cues from activists/writers/bloggers/people whose points I’ve respected and agreed with, from people who’ve shared their own experiences with prejudice, and of course, from the people I’m closest to.
This also means that I’m remembering the reactions of those who have disagreed. Which means every time I talk about any sort of prejudice, I’m anticipating “Not all men are like that” and “Not all white people are like that.” And that really pisses me off.
First of all, I know “not all men are like that.” For goodness sakes. In fact, a lot of the feminists I’m friends with as well as many of the feminists I follow on tumblr are in serious, longterm relationships with men. As am I. When I bitch about patriarchy, I’m pointing out a system that provides certain advantages to straight, white, cismen. That doesn’t mean that every straight white cisman’s life is a picnic, and it doesn’t mean they’re all douchebags. What it does mean, though, is that a WHOLE HELL OF A LOT OF THEM ARE. You can see it in the news, in crime, in politics. You can see it in the halls of high schools. You can see it every time anybody who ISN’T a straight white cis man tries to have a conversation about privilege or oppression, and a white dude responds with, “Let me just play devil’s advocate.”
Similar feelings on the statement “Not all white people are like that,” plus one more: why would you tell ME what all white people are like? I’m a white person. I’m addressing racism. Dear god. I know not all white people are “like that.”
On the other hand…in some ways, we are.
We all internalize sexism and racism. Both men and women do, both black and white people do, and so does everybody else in between and all around. Black people can be racist against their own people. Women can be sexist against other women. And there is no reverse-racism or reverse-sexism, because both terms imply an institutional power behind the prejudice. If you need a better explanation, here’s a link.
There’s also Google.
If someone calls you out on racism or sexism, do us all a favor and just pause. Pause, try not to immediately get angry, and listen. Do not respond with “People are oversensitive” or “My best friend is another race.” Because we all internalize prejudices in some way or another. It happens, and your non-white, non-male, non-straight, non-cis, or even all-of-the-above friend can’t save you from that.
You don’t need to apologize for being white. But you can and should acknowledge your privilege and, if applicable, your prejudice, and listen to the points of view of other people
Pause, listen, and actively educate yourself.
Feel free to message me and I will happily over-explain the answers to any questions you have, or point you in the direction of someone who can.
So primarily thanks to tumblr (dear god I love that place), particularly this awesome blog and also this awesome blog and many others, I’ve gotten some views and some feedback on that post about, well, dicks.
With time, more writing, more shares, etc, my hope is that eventually this blog will include more perspectives on interracial couples/racism than my own and my man’s, and I wanted to make sure I shared some of that feedback.
One of the things I saw repeatedly was that a lot of black women in particular have been asked by white dudes how they compare to black dudes. -_- So much intimidation and insecurity.
Another thing was that the discussion should be opened up to include ALL racist body stereotypes (e.g. black women all have big butts), how they’re perpetuated, and ESPECIALLY how they’re fetishized by white people.*
Last but not least, someone on tumblr remarked, “This is the type of thing that white people need to tell other white people…”
Yeah, we really do. What white people (I need to think of tags that will bring in more white people) really need to get past is that idea that racism isn’t our problem…because basically, when it comes to racism, we ARE the problem. Our obliviousness IS the problem.
So in my next post, which will hopefully come tomorrow, I’m going to try and address the feedback I got and go into a little more detail.
And thank you so, so much to those who posted the link to my blog. It is deeply appreciated (and so is your feedback, your suggestions, your criticism, etc).
*Yes, I KNOW white people aren’t the only people who fetishize other races. That doesn’t excuse the problem.
If the title isn’t clear enough, I should go ahead right now and let everyone know- there will be “bad words” on this blog.
As a white woman dating a black man, I’ve gotten this question several times. For a long time, I would answer. At first it was, “I think so,” and then, “I can’t speak for all black men, but my guess based on experience is yes.” It was as though because I’ve slept with someone of a different race, I’m now some sort of black dude expert, some sort of “once you go black you can’t go back” scientist.
In case this is really necessary, I’m going to tell you why that’s incredibly ignorant and just a tad racist.
Don’t get me wrong, here. I understand that the human mind tends toward categorization. I also understand that sex is not only one of the funnest (is that a word?) activities out there, but also one of the most entertaining conversation topics there is. And let me be quite clear when I say that, in every person I have loved and in every person I have slept with, I have found things to be proud of in both their spiritual being and their physical body.
In other words, I think it should go without saying that I’m damn proud to be with my man and I’m enamored of his strong, well-endowed body. I hold those people I commit to in high esteem, and one of a thousand reasons I’m with him is because sometimes when I look at him and talk to him, I still can’t believe he’s with me.
But there will be time for amorous ravings later. Let’s get back to the dick question.
Have you seen that Meet Your First Black Girlfriend video? How about this Morning After video featuring Sasheer Zamata? Great, funny videos featuring talented black women…and, true to life, awkward white men. One of the themes that shows up in both of these videos is the white dude [awkwardly] uncomfortably trying to ask the black woman how he compares with black men. In these videos, it’s presented as funny, but also not quite right. And honestly, that’s a little bit how it is in real life.
Given the opportunity, plenty of women will rave about their man’s bedroom skills. They might even rave about his size. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. And let’s be fair, I never had a problem giggling about (not in front of him) it if a white guy I slept with was small…but I never said, “Oh, he’s small because he’s white.”
If you happened to see and watch the video posted previously to this, a conversation between Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Zadie Smith (both of whom are absolutely brilliant writers, by the way), it is said in that video that “race” really only matters because of racism. I think this is absolutely true.
I hope I don’t need to point this out, but race as humans know it isn’t a biological thing. Things like skin color, eye shape, etc etc, these don’t make other people a slightly different species. Ancestry and regional differences might mean genetic differences/advantages, such as being more susceptible to certain diseases that weren’t common to the region one’s ancestors grew up in. These differences DO NOT make any ancestral population less human than another.
But [white] people didn’t always know this, or care to know it for that matter. Throughout history (especially the times of slavery in America), we see white Americans and Europeans using black bodies as though they were another, lesser species. In racists today, we see a similar attitude. Just look at that idiotically antiquated Bundy guy referring to “the Negro” as though he were talking about his cattle. White people in history were constantly trying to prove that those of African descent were somehow different, somehow closer to animals than to human beings. The biggest reason they did this was in order to justify things like racism and slavery. There’s an especially terrible history of white men using the bodies of black women not only for scientific experimentation, but for profit. Look at the story of the Hottentot Venus: Saartjie Sarah Baartman was made into a caricature of the African woman and used as a lucrative carnival sideshow attraction. Even after death, her body was kept and casted for further scientific research because her genitalia and buttocks were shaped differently than those of European white women. Look at the history of gynecological research (will post a link as soon as I find the one I have in mind, but you can always google it). Look at phrenology, the false notion that varying measurements of the skull indicated a lesser species that for a long time, was taken as a valid science.
And this is still going on. Look at this racist piece of shit published by someone who was supposedly well-versed in evolution (I don’t fucking think so). Look at Eve Ensler, who’s supposed to be an intersectional feminist icon, obsessing over African women’s bodies to the point of likening herself to Jesus taking on their “Congo Stigmata.”
Black bodies aren’t here for the entertainment of white people. They aren’t here for our study. They aren’t here for us to try and create scientific theories about. And they aren’t here to prompt naughty giggle-fests among white women. And sorry ladies, but it’s just like with any man- you don’t REALLY get to know how big his dick is until you reach down and grab it. (Also, if you’re only having sex with a guy to see how big he is or to have a specific “racial” or “cultural” experience, you might have some other issues to deal with.)
From here on out, if my boyfriend isn’t uncomfortable with it, I’ll have no problem answering the question of whether HE, HIMSELF is a well-endowed man. But being asked the question of whether black guys have bigger dicks in general isn’t something I can address. Black men aren’t another species. Black people aren’t here for our study and our speculation.
**If any people of color would like to weigh in on this or have any corrections/suggestions, please always ALWAYS feel free to offer them.