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Monday, April 16, 2007
Big Mama Where Art Thou...
Pardon if all of this sounds a bit convoluted, but I'm still trying to form concrete words for my fluid thoughts.

In the wake of all the Imus brouhaha, I'm left wondering about dem hoes. I don't mean the gifted athletes that idiot was referring to, but the ones we see in videos and at the club and in line at the check cashing spot and on TV pretending to be in "Charm School". I've already made clear that I'm disgusted by how women are denigrated in videos and in rap-type (I say rap-type, cuz that shit is NOT rap. Rap is what came out of the Bronx around '79, but I digress) lyrics. It's absolutely disgusting, but I have to take a few steps back and think about the fact that they are singing about real women. And some of those real women actually appreciate, and resemble those lyrics. There are women who find that stuff appealing, who actually sign up to shake their asses in videos, who want to be tied to Snoop's leash, who enjoy being featured in Nelly's "Tip Drill" video.

We try to put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the men who spew this misogynistic trash for turning some women into gold-diggin' hoes and for creating legions of teen and 'tween wanna be skanks. But some of the blame has to lie with those women for making these lyrics acceptable.

Where the hell is Big Mama, Madea and 'nem? The current generation of video hoes have mothers, and I'm sure their mothers had Big Mamas, like many of our mothers had. Big Mama stood as the centerpiece of womanhood in our homes for generations, and her values were passed down to her daughters, and to her daughter's daughters. So what happened? We can say that a lot of the problem lies in women having babies too soon so some generational education gets lost. But there was a first group of babies having babies. Where were their mothers and grandmothers showing them their worth?

How did so many women take so many steps backward in such a short period of time? Thirty years ago, Pam Grier, Jayne Kennedy, Tamara Dobson, and Freda Payne stood as the benchmarks of sex appeal while maintaining high levels of personal respectability. Now, sexiness for many black women equates to some quarter-dressed eighteen year old shaking her over-developed ass in front of a camera. Why?? I don't know if money is a legitimate answer--money existed then, and chicks weren't rushing to show their physical delicacies for the sake of an all mighty greenback. They were rushing to get their dance on in a Soul Train line with their bodies tastefully covered up.

Why the seismic shift in values? Why does there exist such a ridiculous chasm in female priorities today? It seems like women, black women especially, have some seriously divergent ideas on what it means to succeed in a man's world. Some of us (include me in this bunch) believe we can succeed with our education, work ethic, and with our clothes on. Others seem to believe that you have to suck to succeed. We came from the same hoods, with the same music, same educational opportunities. How did so many go so wrong? How did those women make it acceptable to call me a bitch, a hoe in my music?

I struggle many days with my place as a *black* woman in this world, and it's not fair that a misguided subset of women have made it that much harder. I shouldn't have to watch young girls grapple with decisions about whether or not to expose her body for some shred of approval. I shouldn't have to watch some woman caled New York willingly promote hoe-values to attract a man while she's teaching our little girls that acting in such a manner is the definition of womanhood. There is no reason for a 13-year old to strive to be a "high-class hoe".

Big Mama, I wish you could come back and show them the error of their ways...


Blogger jromer said...

very well written. thank you for writing it. i can't even watch those videos. they upset me far too much to see women offer themselves up like that. i have been saying for quite some time that if aliens landed on this planet and used televsion to gauge where our society stood, they would think that women everywhere simply existed to offer themselves up to men, and not just one woman...groups of them all up for one man. it's rather sad. i hope we take our power back. again, thanks for writing this.

Blogger Golden Silence said...

It's up to us to educate these young women and show the proper example. Or else society will be going to hell in a handbasket.

I don't know how the image of a black woman has shifted to worse throughout these years, but I do know that we can change it.

Anonymous Safa said...

This post is right on. It's sad indeed. There is a major break-down somewhere along the family tree of respectibility and self-worth. It's sad b/c these women see themselves as liberated and free...whateva! They believe they are expressing themselves and are in control in terms of bringing these men to their knees and idolizing them and such. To me they are in the worse kind of slavery because they don't even realize it.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always said all the blame shouldn't be put on the rappers who make these videos. The women should hold most of the blame. As long as their are women who are willing to be in these videos, there will never be a solution. These women have a right to say "no I want do that".

Blogger Bklyn Diva said...

*high five* very well written.. :)

Well rest assured.. Big Mama is still in my home.. My mother's mother instilled values in me.. which my mother continued to reinforce.. which I instill in my daughter and she reinforces as well..

Big Mama's still exist but as my mother once said to me.. *she might call the cops on me (talking bout my daughter).. and I said to her.. and you should be beating her ass till the cops come*!!!!

I think a lot of the "mothers" now a days don't want to be around... long gone are the days of a village raising a child.. they rather fight you over what their child did wrong and you reprimanding them.. than them reprimanding their kids..

More women like us need to step up and be role models for these girls.. I do that with my daughter, her friends and the kids I teach Jr. Jazzercise too but we need more of us who care about ourselves.. to show them they can care about themselves, be happy and successful too

Blogger Gunfighter said...

The thing to remember is that none of this has to do with empowering men over women.






(and WHO is making the real money from all of this garbage?)

Blogger DiamondsR4eva said...

I agree with your views about the state of black women in music and mainstream media today but I think that in all this people aren't even looking at the bigger picture, women PERIOD not just black women are treated with much less respect and importance in society than men. Statistics show that women make less money are more encouraged to go into nonmasculine fields of education & work force and are actually just altogether treated like second class citizens in their own country.

Blogger Miz JJ said...

I think part if it can be attributed to a breakdown in family structure on many levels. Black people are the least likely to get married and to provide that stable family structure for their children. Big mama is so very important, but so are fathers. My father showed me love and respect. From that I learned to expect and demand respect from the other men in my life. My mother showed me that black women are lovable and valuable because she was loved by two black men. I think that those things are also important. People need to stop playing around. Our community is suffering because our children are not growing up in stable family structures. I was raised in my adolescence by a single mother, but I knew my father and he was active in my life as was my stepfather. I think the lessons they taught me were invaluable. Great post.

Anonymous Sugar said...

Very good post girl! And, I'm going to tell you what happened....CRACK!!! Think about it! I won't even go into some long explanation. You seem like a really bright girl....CRACK is what happened....

Blogger J said...

I totally agree with what u saying. I applaud you for saying it and i wish we could print it on a billboard in every hood.

Blogger jameil1922 said...

black women do not corner the market on disrespecting themselves. many black people our parents' age and grandparents' age believe we have desegregation to thank for the seemingly monumental shift in the behavior of black children. "our children did not act like that when they had to behave properly to get respect." values became a little more relaxed when we saw how everyone else lived. i read something very interesting about the use of the word nigga(er) in black culture. some of this crap should have been shut down before it ever reached our ears. that does not absolve the rappers and producers and record companies of their responsibility. i think there is enough to go around.

Blogger Leoninatl said...

I agree with your comments wholeheartedly too. Most "Big Mama's" are dead, or live too far away in order to instill their values. And we have grandmothers in their 30s and 40s, and don't forget that crack babies are coming of age and having children of their own too. I'm not the most conservative person in the world, but I do believe that having a stable family structure and instilling morals into our children is essential to our survival as a people.

Well written post, couldn't have said it better myself.

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