During my latest passionate debate with my guy, we kept butting heads about things labeled sexist and racist. Really we kept clashing when I would describe the "typical man" and the "typical woman," or when I mentioned a "regular" occurrence he felt was not so regular.

For example, I tried to make him see that while it is quite an insult to call a man a boy, it is not quite the same as calling him a woman, girl, or anything in any other way "feminine" (this includes derogatory terms against homosexuals). I also kept talking about the expectations society has of men and women. For example, it is perfectly ok for a woman to give up the things in her life to be with a man, but the second a man does it, he is "whipped."

We kept going around in circles because he simply wasn't getting it. Then I said "think of all the women you know and tell me if you would describe them as whipped." He thought for a bit and then said "well, the women I know are all black and they are taught to be stronger anyway."

DUH! At that moment we realized the reason it wasn't clicking was because when I spoke about women I knew, I was thinking mainly about white women and Latinas. When he was picturing women he knew, he was thinking only about black women. Of course we weren't understanding each other! Black women have a very different upbringing stemming from a very different history. While it's perfectly normal for Latina mothers of a particular generation to never have had a job, I don't know very many black family women who can claim the same thing.

It struck me because it was probably the first time we had a discussion like that when we realized that our different ethnic background was the cause for our not being able to see eye to eye. Once we put all of the situations I had been posing in the frame of mind the other person was thinking about it, our disagreement made perfect sense.

Amazing how such a seemingly small detail we take for granted in any given conversation can make such a world of difference.


At Tue Jun 24, 03:29:00 PM Allison @ Entry Level Living said...

That difference actually extends to black women's view of feminism/second wave feminist movement. Whereas white women were using work (or the ability to work) as a source of liberation, black women who had been working since savery never saw their freedom advance. Indeed, the ability to stay home and tend to your family was seen as a privilege since poverty and stigma made keeping the black family together difficult. Mainstream definitions of womanhood were not accessible to black women thus approaches to family tend to be different.

At the same time, I cant tell you how many black women I have seen get abused by their men or place their men above their children in hopes of getting married and being able to attain that definition of womanhood. So over time our relationship with womanhood continues to change.


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