Bill Cosby Doesn’t Deserve Your Help

“If you can fuck up in Heaven, you can fuck up in Harlem.” – D.L. Hughley

Years ago, I wrote a piece about how folks who have wonderful legacies in one arena do terrible things and if it’s possible to separate their actions. Getting older has opened my eyes to how easy it is to believe a particular narrative that generally benefits certain people, and that it’s horrifyingly common.

Also horrifyingly common? Everybody who thinks Bill Cosby got a raw deal because he has a very good lawyer and because he’s Bill Cosby. If you don’t like that a bunch of people can publicly accuse you of doing something wrong, then you don’t like the First Amendment to some degree – and this isn’t the same as yelling fire in a crowded theater. If you’re nervous that you could be Bill Cosby, then you might want to be nervous about what harms you’ve done to people that you thought you could get away with. If you don’t like that a bunch of people can publicly accuse you of doing something wrong and that you could be arrested for it, then either watch Making a Murderer and How to Get Away With Murder and do better about wiping your prints and keeping your trail clear or pray the statute of limitations runs out. If you think Bill is being extorted, you might be right – and he might deserve it if he’s been sexually assaulting women.

If you think Bill couldn’t have done it for no other reason than he has too much to lose, then ask Darryl Strawberry why he did crack while playing for the Yankees, why Tiger Woods kept sleeping with Denny’s waitresses, why Marion Berry did crack with a prostitute in a hotel room, why Bill Clinton messed around with Monica Lewinsky, why didn’t Charlie Sheen use protection, why Kobe ended up messing with that woman in Colorado, why didn’t YOU take a cab home instead of driving drunk, and all sorts of other obviously answerable questions about people having too much to lose and still making costly decisions. Just because you weren’t caught drunk driving doesn’t mean you did the right thing – it means you got away with it.

If you think Bill was going to buy NBC and turn it into Negro Broadcasting Channel, you don’t have the slightest idea how much it costs to buy NBC Universal and that Bill Cosby, unless he’s masquerading as Warren Buffett, doesn’t have the money to buy a channel. Case in point – Oprah launched her own channel, and Cosby doesn’t have Oprah money.

If you think these women made a mistake going to a married man’s room alone, you’d better be saying Bill made an even bigger mistake being alone with a single woman while he’s married, which does allow him the opportunity to do something he shouldn’t and get away with it. If you think “innocent until proven guilty,” you have your faith in a broken system – and you don’t reserve that God’s eyeview of justice for so many cases where people believe the victim’s story without video evidence like the guy who was arrested for bleeding on a cop’s shoes after reportedly being beaten by them, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Akai Gurley, Sandra Bland or some other miscarriage of justice where victims are often not believed and made out to be liars who earned what was coming, why does Bill get your benefit of the doubt? If you think it’s troubling to see “America’s Dad” get put through the ringer but have zero belief that he did it, I wonder what you would’ve said if Daniel Holtzclaw’s victims waited 10 years before saying something and how much you would’ve believed them. But this is the DNA era – people need indisputable video evidence, DNA, defensive marks, a rape kit, a hospital report, and an angelic victim before they’ll believe a powerful man played a power move in one of the worst ways possible. Even then, we’ll find a reason to doubt a complainant because women lie (2-8% is the common stat on false rape reporting), people get over on folks (so they say), and rape is a real gray area in the world because of intoxication and consent (so they say).

You should be nervous if you think a former date you got drunk with and slept with might come back and say you raped her, and it’s an IGNANT thing to do to claim someone has raped you when you genuinely know it was a consensual affair. It’s just as IGNANT to deny someone’s rape claim, however, just because time passed. If that’s the case, Blacks should shut the fuck up about anything that happened over 20 years ago because of a statute of limitations, and there is NO SUCH THING AS A MORAL STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS. Just because one woman was lying about Cosby being in LA when he was apparently in New York doesn’t mean ALL OF THEM are lying until it’s proven they are (and that the crime didn’t happen), which comes from investigating the crime. I had a former cop friend once tell me, “I worked rape cases for 13 years. You’d be surprised what some of these women think is rape.” To be fair, he also said he thought each claim should be checked out, which is doing the due diligence rather than treating victims like criminals. I ain’t worked a rape case, and I know there can be ample amounts of he said/she said and could possibly imagine a scenario when one might think the sex was consensual but it really wasn’t (and even then, it’s basically impossible to imagine a scenario where this has happened without him having some indication that something isn’t right here). But let me put this out there – every young man I know has grabbed a woman’s ass in a club and because she didn’t say something or fight back violently some thought that she was OK with it and that it’s alright to do as a general practice. Some of these women might be OK with it, but for many they make a business decision to avoid conflict because if she tells him “Take your hand off my ass!” he might bust her in the head with a damn beer bottle or otherwise physically harm or intimidate her there and/or later; he might call her all sorts of names and try to make her a social outcast; or he might stalk her trying to grab on her when she’s dancing with someone else or some other insane event that’s happened to women in social situations. Look at how they’re talked to on Tinder, in DMs, and all sorts of other social media and comment sections (oh, and in real life) – are you really shocked that someone might just do something they shouldn’t to a woman and think it’s OK? If so, color yourself IGNANT and do better.

Advertisements

Ask Mr. Philosopher – Dating in the Technological Era

Welcome to a new addition to the blog – “Ask Mr. Philosopher,” where your favorite philosopher answers your questions about ethical situations that we all find ourselves in.  I know, philosophers don’t actually have much use in this scientific and techie society, but science won’t inform you about what you ought to do.  Technology can help you find answers to questions but it won’t help you develop your moral values.  What technology can do is get you into trouble if your partner doesn’t share the same moral values, also known as “what’s right and wrong.”  So here’s a commonplace situation:

Your significant other left their phone on the bed and left the room.

How many of you would pick up that phone and start “playing” with it?  You know, looking around to make sure you have nothing to worry about?

The answer, I think, is a ton of people would do just that if presented with that situation.  They don’t find anything and they don’t get caught doing it, so the moment passes.  We all know, however, that if the same situation popped up and you DID find something, all hell would break loose and you’d feel justified in addressing your significant other about what could be foul play.

For many people, this is the reality of dating life in the technological era.  Privacy continues to be eschewed in favor of catching criminals in the act, prior to the act, or finally, after the act on the assumption something illegal MIGHT be happening.  In the tech age, everyone’s guilty of doing something they shouldn’t have been doing even before they do it.

With stuff like this, whoever is doing the searching really is acting like the police – looking for evidence to nail your ass to the wall with.  Unfortunately, everybody’s watched Law & Order so they think if I find evidence, then you’re guilty.  Even in the case of phone searches, there’s still a right to an illegal search because, and I quote, “It’s not your damn phone.”  Even if you do find something that may be wrong, the searcher is also in the wrong because you went snooping and invaded the searchee’s privacy.

So the question is: Are you ever justified in going through someone’s phone?  The answer is rarely, but we will find a way to justify any action so long as we stand to benefit from it.  The justification just won’t be strong, and here’s why:

The searcher’s argument looks something like this;

1) If my significant other is doing something s/he shouldn’t (according to me), I have a right to know,

2) My significant other is likely to do something s/he shouldn’t do (according to me),

3) My significant other is likely not to tell me if s/he did something s/he shouldn’t have done (according to me),

HENCE, I’m justified in looking through my significant other’s phone (on a regular basis).

This is the most basic argument for why it’s ok for me to look at the phone, through Premise 1 could have a 1a that explains why you have a right to know.  Even though it’s predicated on being in a healthy, successful relationship, that doesn’t necessitate that you have to know A) everything your partner is doing, or B) that something your partner shouldn’t do, according to you, is a wrong action.

In fact, I should say that I’m not sure you can make a good case of having a healthy, successful relationship if you make this argument because it’s clear that searching a phone displays a lack of trust.  That’s effectively what Premises 2 and 3 are for – my significant other is going to do something wrong and not tell me.  Granted, there may be a moment that could give one legitimate pause as to if foul play is occurring that could shake your trust in your partner.  A swaying branch in the wind is far different than a broken tree limb on the ground because the branch still has life.  The moment phone checking becomes a norm, without a shred of evidence of foul play, you’ve become like a wiretapper following the PATRIOT Act, invading privacy in service of your own greater interests, including correcting your partner’s behavior!  Incredibly, there are people out here treating their significant others like children, figuring that if my partner knows I go through their phone, my partner won’t do things I won’t like because my partner knows I’ll find out about it.  As though that model works wonders with adults, who are much more resourceful than children, on average, and give many fewer fucks than children, on average.

If the trust is so broken that you feel the need to search through someone’s phone, then the relationship wasn’t doing well to begin with.  There’s a paranoia that must set in when somebody goes past the point of no return with their phone search, because you don’t read a phone like you read the news – you’re looking for something.  Anything that will validate and justify what you’re doing because flat out, you wouldn’t want it done to you.  And that’s why the justification struggles; it’s looking for evidence to convict without evidence of a crime.

There are three main reasons, aside from the “it’s not your damn phone” argument, that phone searching should be considered tech taboo –

1) What’s next?  My email password, my Facebook password, my blog password to check my comments and make sure I’m not flirting there?  This is a slippery slope for the relationship – the searcher will always assert, “if you have nothing to hide, you should give me the password.”  Even if there’s nothing to hide, there’s still something to preserve – my privacy!  You don’t need to see the email my Dad sent me about his time at Freaknik, that’s not for your eyes!  He sent it to me, not you!  Similarly, any text messages, Facebook messages, Twitter DMs, and emails were all sent to me, not you, so why are you trying to see what is literally not meant for your eyes?  Privacy means trust, and generally trust implies both giving it and receiving it – this is not a one way street.

2) You wouldn’t want it done to you because of the slippery slope from #1 and the invasion of privacy.  We all have things we don’t want our partners to see, with good reason (at times).  You go into my email, I don’t want you to see that my boss kicked my ass on a project I didn’t do well on!  That’s not a conversation I want to have with you, otherwise I’d have it with you.  You, the person searching, have those same emails and texts that you would rather your partner didn’t see, even if they present no threat to the relationship.  You can say, “I don’t have anything to hide” but it’s bullshit and we both know it.  It might not be an affair, but we all have things we’d like to keep to ourselves and you would feel just as violated as your partner does, checking your phone on a regular basis.  And quite frankly, it’s disrespectful and can feel like a slap in the face.

3) Even if you find something that’s potentially problematic, how you found it won’t help matters – your “rightness,” because you found the evidence of wrongdoing was done via a wrong act yourself, invading your partner’s privacy (whether or not it’s done regularly doesn’t diminish that it shouldn’t be done).  As #1 and #2 explain, by revealing that you found the forbidden fruit, you also reveal that you went through the phone.  Even if you find potential evidence of an affair, your partner will have a claim that what you found doesn’t matter, it’s how you found it.  You hurt your partner before you found out your partner might have hurt you…and thanks to misunderstandings (see below), potential problems get blown out of proportion as false evidence of wrongdoing.  Ultimately, the chances of productive conversations for your relationship arising out of you searching your partner’s phone are slim to none.

———————–

SIDEBAR: All of this is so far based on a committed relationship between two people.  If no exclusivity commitment has been made, all of this is moot.  There isn’t any justification other than “he told me he was making death threats” or something like public or personal safety.  Trust is still being built at that stage – if you’re concerned that the person you’re dating has somebody else, think about making the commitment rather than going on a witch hunt.  Witch hunters don’t yield good partners; they’re always looking for another witch to burn.

———————–

The greatest fear I have is that these events are predicated on people assuming their partner is keeping something from me, as though it’s a bad thing.  Right to privacy is important for a reason politically as well as romantically.  This is part of the problem of dating in the technological era, which is that boundaries are being disintegrated.  Thanks in part to the boundless (literally and figuratively) Internet, privacy is not what it was just 15 years ago.  The concept of privacy was rocked when Facebook became the go-to social networking site and we collectively placed our lives on the boundless Internet for everybody to view, comment, and poke.  Not to say that these technological advances were bad – rather, they’ve been incredibly useful (especially for people who like to snoop around without being caught).  People feel less restricted in invading your privacy – “you put your business out there,” they’ll say.  “Facebook stalking” exists as a term for a reason; it’s an accepted behavior that we chalk up to the amount of content you put out there.  Still, with the amount of misunderstandings (“She’s not your friend, don’t lie to me!”  “He’s not your coworker, don’t give me that!”) that are easily possible by reading conversations that don’t pertain to you, and with such a huge downside of getting caught in the act, this particular action just doesn’t seem to be the best way to alleviate your concerns about foul play.

I get it though, you don’t want to be played like a fool in case your partner is doing something wrong.  Trust need not be blind, you say.  That’s true, but it also doesn’t need to have one eye open.  While unfortunate, there are people out here who will abuse your trust and it behooves all of us to be on the lookout for those people.  If something does indeed seem out of place, ask about it.  But know this – whether you follow your partner to make sure s/he is where s/he said s/he would be, go through their Facebook posts, look at their Twitter mentions or go through their phone, you have opened up a can of worms of distrust on your end that can’t be easily closed.  Distrust in a relationship leads to poor decision making and regrettable events daily.  Snooping starts you down a path that doesn’t end well.  I’m not saying be naive about your partner, but I am saying that snooping should be considered an equivalent of arming a nuclear weapon in your relationship.  It’s not a button I would push unless the circumstances are dire, and even then nobody enjoys the nuclear fallout.

If Money, Then Power, Therefore Women – Scarface Revisited

He wants the money, cars, clothes...but will that get him "the hoes?"

Right now, BET is playing one of my favorite movies, Scarface.  I am kind of obliged to watch Scarface whenever it’s shown on TV, (even though you lose so much of the colorful language and visceral cinematography) but a certain line brought me to thinking a little bit.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the tale of Tony Montana’s rise to the American Dream and his fall from grace…well, I’m not going to ruin it for you.  But if you enjoy any type of gangster movie, Scarface is quite frankly, the shit.

But enough of me singing this movie’s praises – that’s not what this is about.  Probably a third of the way into the movie, Tony and his pal/business partner Manny are strolling around Miami Beach.  They’ve done pretty well for themselves in the drug game, and Manny tells Tony that the women love it when you (and this is how I’ve always heard it) “flop the pussy,” which means give some head.  Manny, the consummate ladies’ man, walks up to a bikini-clad woman and begins conversing with her.  She seems into him, until he sticks his tongue out at her, mimicking eating a bit of vagina.  The woman slaps him, which makes Manny mad and Tony goes and retrieves his out-of-luck friend.  He says to him an iconic line, which is what got me writing tonight.

“You gotta get the money first.  Then when you get the money, you get the power.  Then when you get the power, then you get the woman.” – Tony Montana

Sidenote: Watching this on BET sucks – scenes being cut/edited, no cocaine use showed, but at least some of the dubbing over the profanity is still within context as opposed to this hilarious monstrosity:

Back to the matter at hand – Tony has given us an argument to evaluate (though we might have to stretch to make the conclusion)!  We’ll call this argument Montana, because I feel like it and for no other reason.

Montana:

A) If one receives money, then one receives power.

B) If one receives power, then one receives women.

Before I give the conclusion (which, by now, is obvious to those who read arguments), I should make clear that Tony himself never asserted this conclusion – but it logically follows from the given premises.

Conclusion) If one receives money, then one receives women.

As I thought about this argument, I thought about the time this movie was made – 1983.  4 years later, Eddie Murphy did his classic standup comedy film, RAW.  During RAW, Eddie mentions that women are different in the 80’s and that “You’ve gotta have some money to get some pussy in the 80’s.”  Putting Montana next to Eddie’s statement and well, they might have been on the cusp of some sort of social examination – do you need some money to get a lady friend?

I’ve already covered some ground on needing money to gain a partner (I argued that you don’t), but Eddie’s assertion skips an all-important middle step that Tony highlighted – money brings power.  I’m going to concede that there’s a good level of truth to that statement.  Tony doesn’t infer that there are other ways to acquire power, only that money is the prime (and probably most effective) means of gaining power.  So (according to Tony) money is extremely important.  Power is also important.  But my initial phrasing may have misconstrued Tony’s position.  Let’s try Montana 2:

1) If one gains power, then one gains women.

So power yields women.  But money yields power.  So what does Tony believe attracts the women – the money or the power?  My “reading” is that it is a combination of the two, but ultimately it’s the second step – the power – that seals the deal.  So, according to Tony Montana, the money puts you in a position to gain women but it’s the power that gets accrued with the money that delivers the women.  It has been said that there is something sexy about a man with power, and power can be gained from multiple direct means, not just money.

What can we make of all of this?  Besides the obvious fact that Scarface is a great movie to watch (even on BET), we can also glean that power makes a much bigger deal in this than just money.  We also are facing a question of importance between power and money in relationship dealings, and I’m not sure I’ve got the answer to that.  I think we all knew that money currently plays a pivotal role in many relationships, but I hadn’t acknowledged the effect of power (or the appearance of power) in relationships.

I can say this, though: when I was a sophomore in college, I told a friend-girl (woman who is just a friend) that I had a theory – if a man looks like he has money (whether or not he has it isn’t as crucial), smells good, and doesn’t say anything stupid then he’s got a tremendous shot at success with a potential mate.  While I didn’t enjoy that I’d formulated the theory because it makes everybody look bad, I thought I’d put it out there for feedback.  My friend said that she didn’t want to agree…but reluctantly opted to (with no coercion from yours truly).  I made specific mention of money, but perhaps this appearance comes off as powerful?  The most important thing I’ve pulled out of this is that power adds another dimension to relationships and has a very unique relationship with money.

But ladies, you might want to run away if a man says…

(I watched and wrote on Scarface – this line was going to be put in there!)

Men: Women’s Projects?! Part 1

Is the house they're building the project or are these two men the projects?

Recently, there have been two separate but equal (HA!) instances where I’ve been confronted with the idea that men in general are to be considered “projects” by their lady counterparts.  Seeing as I’m a man, it follows that if men are projects, then I’m a project.  For the purposes of this post, I’m going to keep things in a heteronormative environment – I’m dealing with women who are interested in men and consider men to be projects as mates.  I figured I’ll give the background story for one and the practical problem I have with being considered a “project,” (this will be Part 1) and then I’ll give a full blown argument I had with a young woman over men being “projects” and I’ll give a philosophical objection to the idea of being a “project” (this will be Part 2, be on the lookout!).

So I was conversing with a young woman and she remarked that she thinks I’m wound more tightly than it would appear.  I said that I guess I’m more than meets the eye.  She responded that it means I’m a project.  Simple backstory, no?  But being considered a project is troublesome to me.  I know she (and I imagine most women) doesn’t actually mean I’m (or men in general, I hope) a thing that needs some sort of overhaul by the hand of the Other, but this concept exists – that women must mold and shape men into what the woman is looking for.  And now, a brief aside…

I had a similar conversation my freshman year with a friend of mine.  He said that he wants a woman to tell him how to be a man; he wants to be what women want, since he wants women.  Fair enough, but I didn’t agree.  Not that a woman can’t tell a man how to be a man, but that if the reason you’re learning how to be a man is so that you can become the object of affection for women, then there’s a bias in the teachings you’ll receive.  You’ll learn how to be a man as designed by women.  Much in the way that there’s been a woman historically designed by men in order to make “womanness” the things desired by men, it seems peculiar to endeavor to do the same thing by women to men.  Not that turnabout isn’t fair play, but it gets the process nowhere.  Now back to the main story…

I didn’t like being called a project, not because it implies that I’m incomplete, but because it implies that she who will “complete me” is actually complete, herself, and that she’s become the creator and I’m the created.  I mean look, I’m clearly an incomplete (or better worded, not fully formed) person.  There’s still much life to live, many experiences and emotions and events to go through.  So no, I’m not complete.  But it’s very presumptuous to think that “being with you” will create a more fully formed me.  I was skeptical of her “golden touch,” so to speak.  And for the record, her touch was not golden.  It wasn’t any precious metal, in fact.  Nevertheless, in her dealings with me it became plainly obvious that, while I didn’t wish to be called a project, it is, in fact, what she considered me to be.  A piece of clay for her to mold to her whim.  To go along with the first problem (the creator/created issue), here’s a second problem with being a piece of clay to somebody – if a relationship is supposed to be based on both partners being equal, why is it that I’m to be the only one molded?  It’s not that BOTH of us are projects – I’m the project and she needed no change.  This is problematic to me, if only because the implication here is an air of inequality (be forewarned, I think this is the moment where I slip into the more philosophical).

I say inequality due to the fact that projects are inanimate objects.  They are things, not persons.  They aren’t independent – they need assistance to be fully manifested.  On the power scale, persons rank higher than things.  When a person is able to convey herself as complete inside of a juxtaposition with her “incomplete” partner, she has (purposefully or inadvertently) taken power in the relationship.  Some might argue that all relationships are power struggles to begin with, but I don’t believe that interpersonal relations are fundamentally dialectical.  Power struggles will happen, certainly, but I don’t think it’s something that we need to base interpersonal relations off of (for the record, I vote for basing them off of an assumed equality between partners – why be with someone you have to fight with for power all the time?)

Wanting to change someone is a good intention but...

So my initial problem appears to be that if I’m a project that she’s working on, what does this make her?  One way to solve this problem is to assume that both partners are projects – works in progress.  This levels the playing field again and prevents unnecessary power moves.  As I wrote that sentence, I remember tweeting the question a few days ago: “Why do I know a lot of women who want to change their man/view him as a project?”  Few people responded, but those that did seemed to wonder why this is a prevalent phenomenon.  Wanting to change someone for the better means that you know what’s better/best for that person.  But, and I’m being very honest here, knowing what you think is best and what may actually be best are generally two different things.  I say this for two reasons: 1) We tend to side with our own opinions on things – what we think is best is best, to us.  2) What may actually be best might yield a tougher decision that we want to avoid (due to its toughness).  So while the effort to change a person might come from good intentions, the road to Hell is paved with them.

I think this is where I’ll shut it down on this topic for the moment.  In Part 2, I’ll explore why trying to change people period is a problem (we’re not prisoners needing rehabilitation by the State), a conversation I had with a friend of mine about why she views her boyfriend as a project (which led to some…exciting exchanges between the two of us), and finally my philosophical objection to being a project – subject (person working on project)/object (the project person) duality and that if I’m a project, I’m an object and…I’d like to avoid being objectified.

The Chronicles of The Black Pack – Pt. 6

A couple of things – this was written when I wrote the Chronicles last year, but for some reason I never posted the finish.  Also, this story should be nominated for the 2010 Black Weblog Awards for Best Blog Post Series.  Send them this particular post because I’m linking the other 5 parts right here.  Enjoy the finish (and what hopefully will be turned into a novel for the future!) of the Chronicles of The Black Pack.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

——————————–

When you deal with the fellas, there are plenty of events that can happen, which includes having sex with someone’s unknown girlfriend.  You could get piss drunk and puke all over someone’s house.  You could even ruin someone’s wedding by being the biggest asshole on the planet because you don’t like who they’re marrying.  But for every one of those types of events, you get the events where you get in a fight and you have backup.  When you can borrow 15 bucks because you don’t get paid for 3 weeks and need gas money.  When two guys pay for a broken coffee table because they fought over the biggest chance happening since when my cousin won the lotto, all this and more can and probably does happen.  The fact is, we all have each other’s backs, like an extra part to our spinal cords.  I didn’t have to worry about James and Andre getting cool again – James got over it because they weren’t exclusive at that point and knew Andre didn’t mean it, and Andre understood how James felt and admitted he probably would’ve taken a swing if he’d been in the same position.  Petty squabbles happen – they happen to any group of people if you stick them around long enough.  My kids at school fight over who should be using the glue, for God’s sake.  I’ve heard of people in jail fighting over the titty magazines.  Conflict happens.

Rob loves to tell the story of how he and I got into it back in college because I took his girl.  It was an accident, but it turned out to make us better friends because he came after me, not unlike how James did Andre, and we fought until we both were just too tired.  He looked over at me, panting, and said, “This is exactly how you look 10 minutes into fuckin’ with Nadia, isn’t it?”  And all I could do was laugh.  There was nothing else left to do but laugh, because we just kicked each other’s ass for no good reason.

A lot of stuff happens for no good reason.  But meeting the fellas, nah that happened for a good reason.  But before Rob starts yelling about me needing to turn on Waiting to Exhale and get a good cry while eating some chocolate, I’ll say this: Every single time I’ve needed to talk some shit, get something off of my chest, or just relax and shoot the breeze about anything – I’ve known exactly where I could go.

“Man, you went berserk when you hit me.  I thought you’d gone alien or somethin’, like Lilo and Stitch.”  Andre leaned back in the chair, laughing about what’d recently happened.  “You’re lucky I didn’t Barry Bonds you and break your legs with a baseball bat, ha!”  James got a good laugh in about it too, and Rob and I chuckled about it all.  We were in Andre’s place (I told them they can’t come over to my place if they’re drinking; my furniture is worth too much to me), and Rob said, “Ok, I should tell y’all something.  I’ve been talking to this girl for a few weeks, and – oh, her name is Brittany and she works for a PR firm and doesn’t hit the gym, just so we’re all clear – and…damn I can’t believe this, but…”  James finally had his chance to beat Rob to the punch.  “Go on and grab Gone With The Wind and pop some popcorn and cry your eyes out because I know what you’re about to say – you can’t find a damn thing wrong with her, can you?”  All four of us started laughing our asses off.  Rob, still laughing, exclaimed, “I hate when you’re right, James.  There’s nothing wrong with her at all.  This is brand new territory for yours truly, and I’m ready to see what’s on the landscape, you know?”  I put my beer up in the air and sighed.  “Well, another one bites the dust.  Welcome to the club.”  As we toasted, Rob’s phone buzzed and he looked down puzzled.  “Brittany just texted me, ‘we need to talk.  R u busy?’  Damn, already?  It better not be no sneak attack, ‘it’s yours’ type of shit.”  We all tried to give him a little bit of advice, but hey – if things turned sour we’d be getting the call tonight.

It turned out she wanted help getting her mom a birthday present.  Rob almost messed it up, being defensive and aggressive with her when they met up.  But that’s another story, I’d rather let Rob tell it…

End of The Chronicles of the Black Pack

My First Feminist Theory Class

While this may be a bit more of a personal piece, I think it’s got a few things to think about in it.  This semester I TA for the Feminist Theory course offered at U of Memphis in the philosophy department.  I specifically requested TAing for either this course or the African-American philosophy course offered.  Since I have interests in African-American philosophy, it’d make sense to continue boning up on it as I progressed, but for many people they might ask, “Why feminist theory?”  There are a few reasons for this.  First, one of the big draws for Memphis was that I could learn about feminism.  Not really 3rd wave, but definitely 1st and 2nd wave feminism.  In my undergrad career, I never formally learned about feminism, but was slightly intrigued, especially after the first formal introduction I had to a group of feminists was the impromptu rape rally held by Spelman College’s FMLA that took them around the AUC and finished in the middle of Morehouse’s campus due to the allegations that a Spelmanite got raped by a Morehouse student.  That particular issue aside, I’d wondered what it meant to be a feminist, or more accurately, what feminism is.

I asked this to a (then) friend of mine, and she replied, “Why don’t you tell me what you think it is?”  I genuinely had no overarching idea, (not to mention, I think she just wanted to feel like she knew more than me about something) so I said something along the line of “a movement trying to create an egalitarian society rather than male-dominated.”  She promptly gave me a, “No, that’s not it.”  So I asked her, “Well, what is it?  Enlighten me, please.”  She offered a simple and very telling response – “No, you go research it.”  That conversation let me know a few things – A) She didn’t really know what feminism is.  B) Nailing down a single definition for it is very difficult if not impossible.  C) I don’t need to ask this person any more questions.

Having had the two above experiences, I set out using trusty Wikipedia to at least get an idea as to what this feminism monster is.  Wikipedia, like with any major topic, is exhaustive in the history of feminism and in its feminism portal, to its credit.  But it exhausted me reading.  So I set out, when choosing graduate school, to find a place where I could at least learn something about feminism.  Particularly, of course, feminist philosophy and what these women (and as I’d find out, men) felt being a feminist means.

A quick preface – I’m an egalitarian.  Feminism is not egalitarianism, as there are pitfalls in egalitarianism.  But the ideals of all being equal is what I’m for (hence why I’m also a Marxist, but that’s for another time – down with classes!  Down with the bourgeoisie!  Everybody equal across the board!)

So with that as a quick background, I figured what the hell – let’s learn us some feminist theory.  But the classroom experience alone is very, VERY different from what I’d been dealing with for the past few years.  Morehouse is an all male college.  And that’s where I took the bulk of my classes.  In fact, except for 3 classes, I think, I took them all at Morehouse.  Of those 3 classes, only the one I took at Spelman had more women than men – but only by a couple (5 to 3 I think).  So when I stepped into this class, one that’s very emotional in many respects, I had no expectations for how the class would be – I figured we’d have just 20-30 people in the room.  But for the first time since my senior year of high school, there were a bunch of women in the classroom.  And for the first time in my academic experience that I can remember, the number of women dwarfed the numbed of men in the room.  I’m not intimidated by it; it’s rather interesting as an experience for anybody to be the minority in number in the room.  But for a feminist theory course, it’s evident that between the 6 guys in the class (not including myself), there’s a lot of silence because of the combustibility of the course material.  Women are reading historical accounts of what a woman is and getting upset.  Men wrote these accounts and made these theories.  You’re a man – the face of the oppression.  You’re now the enemy.  It happens in race theory classes also, the white person in the room is the face of the racism – the white person in the room is the enemy.

So I’m sitting in here, the black male TA, with 20 young women of various ages and various levels of excitement regarding the material, but each appears to have an emotional investment in the subject (gee, wonder why).  It’s just a very peculiar environment to see a whole lot of women dealing with the historical creation of a woman, and how some of them cannot get past the “clearly it’s wrong” stage with a guy like Aristotle and how some have breezed into the bigger issue of “how has this stuff gone on for so long?”  And it’s even more interesting to see how some male students react.  The first day, for example, a young man came up to the professor and said that he didn’t understand Simone de Beauvoir’s stuff at all and that she was very incomprehensible.  The professor calmed all that racket down, and after class she told me, “He’s the type of guy who takes this class just to piss the women off.”  And last Thursday, after class, the guy came up to the professor again and tried to reason that Aristotle’s conception of the woman leaves women as soulless (not true, women have the form of human and anything with a form has a soul – but that might be wrong, either way…) the student was wrong about that and this time I had to step in and explain that women have souls for Aristotle.  Today after class, the same guy walks up to the professor and says that he didn’t think these older philosophers were putting in a lot of effort in their gender theories and that they didn’t believe them and had societal pressures to make these theories (also far from the truth, Aristotle believed every single thing he wrote – the only societal pressures might’ve been don’t be blasphemous towards the gods).  But during class, he won’t say a word.

He feels the pressure in the room – that if you say the wrong thing, all of these women might jump clean down your throat for real.  But, he probably would say that wrong thing, so he keeps quiet.  Me?  I’m sitting back, observing and taking stock of this experience.  There’s definitely a different classroom vibe with so many women in the room, and it’s palpable.  There’s definitely a different classroom vibe with so many women in the room and knowing the reason all the women are in the room is due to the subject matter of the course.  And it’s a very interesting vibe to be in for the first time.  When I told my professor that this is the easily the largest number of women I’ve ever had a class with in my life and the first time I had more than like 6 in a class since high school, she was kind of shocked but recognized just how unique an experience this is for me.  We haven’t even gotten into the more recent stuff yet, too.  Here’s hoping none of the guys set off any of the women in the room – there’s just enough intense people in the class that there’s a possibility of a bigtime intellectual brawl spilling out.

For The Love of Money Pt. 2

“A 700 credit score is sexy!  Let me say that again, a SEVEN HUNDRED credit score is SEX-EE!”  The woman was excited, and her audience cheered.  Hearing that bold announcement by a 30-40 year old black woman during Freshman Orientation back in 2005 was alarming and an opening taste of reality for me.  5 years later, I still struggle to deal with how love and money play out.  Back in For the Love of Money Part 1, myself and a few other people dug into the issues surrounding socio-economic status and potential relationships that can be negated due to those material relations (one key line my opponent said was, “Nobody on Wall Street marries the fry girl.”).  In the few months since then, I still struggle with the supposed fine line created through the constructs of socio-economic status.  In particular, how important money has become for relationships and how it can make you a potential partner.  As a friend and I collaborated to conclude, and this may well be a sad shame, but for a woman to be a potential partner “she needs a mouth and a vagina.”  For a man to be a potential partner “he needs some money.”  Though it reduces women to mere sexual or physical beings and it reduces men to nothing more than ATMs, it might be that this crude thesis holds some merit, or is at least worth digging into.

Both partners having been reduced to their most basic parts, let’s try to look at why this may be the case.  Men have been sexually aggressive beings for as long as male and female has existed (supposedly.  This very well could be a case of me playing into the stereotypes, but either way the stereotypes have, in some way or another, driven how the current social landscape is setup), so what do men look for?  Point blank, someone to poke.  This reduction of male desire isn’t safe, but is out there and so for right now, we’ll just leave it at that – men are looking for someone to have sex with.

Women have been after security as one of the top priorities in a partner.  Originally, I imagine the cavewoman was referring to security from the sabretooth tigers and ridiculous other natural aspects.  Currently, protection and security extends out to the financial realm.  As Eddie Murphy put it, “You gotta have some money to get some pussy in the 80’s.”  Nearly 30 years later, his point still stands.  Financial security in a man has become a principal trait for many women, as it represents plenty of things about the man, potentially (he’s hard working, toils endlessly at what he believes in, or the most obvious – he’s got money he can spend on the woman).  Either way, the financial security is something that women are vocal in their desires – they don’t want to pay a man’s rent or his bills, he needs to be able to do those things.  He needs to have some money.

While I can appreciate that there are many people out there who don’t have money as a principal issue for them or sex as a principal issue, this is being done for a larger point – the de-evolution of the relationship due to the importance of money.

So men want sex and women want someone to have some money.  The extreme interpretation of this is that men are going to use their asset (money) to get what they want (sex) and women will use their asset (sex) to get what they want (money), which could be called prostitution.  For the record, if Andrea Dworkin’s work can be (though potentially misinterpreted) considered calling all heterosexual sex rape, then I feel comfortable saying that the current dating structure is very close to prostitution.

The interpretation of my comments can be many in number and angry, but hear me out.  Women, when you go on a date, is it considered bad form if the man doesn’t pay?  Men, have we not been taught that the bill is on us?  Granted, in a longterm or serious relationship, the basic dating payments tend to be swept away, but in order to impress, the men opt to pay.  If he can pay the bill, it’s an example of him doing decent enough (and being “chivalrous” enough to pay) that he gets a notch up.  Granted, he needs to not be an idiot or some rude fellow on the date, but just off of the top the dating concept is, for better or worse, “he pays, she lays.”

A new thing I’ve run across is, “Whoever asks pays,” thereby (supposedly) leveling the playing field.  But when you ask people who should ask, the man will say it’s his responsibility and the woman will put the onus on the man due to a bunch of different reasons.  All in all, “whoever asks pays” alleviates some of the problem but it doesn’t get at the root – the maleffect of money on the current dating age.

I don’t have a solution to the problem I’ve posed here.  Frankly, due to the link attaching money to relationships and the narrowing down of both sexes to simply “sex” and “money,” this problem has no end in sight.  But I can say there are a few things in the world that get a bit of an explanation through this theory.

– Men persistently try to “buy” women with gaudy gifts, expensive jewelry, even drinks at the bar.  Everybody knows if he buys you a drink at the bar, she owes him….(a conversation?)

– Women might really think the best way to say “I’m sorry” to a man is by having sex with him, which effectively reduces the male’s emotions to purely sexual.  On the flipside, men might really think the best way to say “I’m sorry” is through the acquisition and presentation of something expensive, reducing the female’s emotions to purely material.

This love and money issue is beginning to trouble me, as if the only shot I apparently have is to get my credit score up, (and one of my cousins told me that a good credit score is a must have for a husband) then I’ll have to give up this philosopher’s life, go find some corporation that needs a professional writer and tap dance to get my money up.  Next up, Black people and For The Love of Money – if the problems I’ve presented here are real, how are they (if at all) exacerbated by the current state (or even recent state) of Black people?