bell hooks and Loving a Feminist

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.

Do Black Guys Have Bigger Dicks?

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.