Thursday, August 04, 2005

Invasion of the Gender Crashers

Debra Dickerson had the same observation I had about the film "Wedding Crashers" -- although she went far deeper than I did the night I saw it.

Of course “Wedding Crashers” was just a movie (and a hilarious one at that). So was Hitch (ahem.... love ya Will! I will pay to see your next movie -- seriously! I've got your back!)

Unlike Dickerson, I pitied the girls in the “Shout” montage, but I identified with much of her article, and not because I want white men to want me.

I think Dickerson touched on what is often left unsaid, unless you are in a room full of black women. It's not that men of any color don't hit on us (there is never any shortage of those who only want to "hit it and quit it.") I just think black women are approached more when they are closer to the Black Feminine Ideal.

Quiet as it's kept, there is a difference. Like many women, I have noticed the difference in the number and type of men who approach me according to my hairstyle and dress size. I have found that more men approached me when I wore my hair long. Although it was a weave, (and lots of men, especially black men complain about weaves) that didn't stop them from going out of their way to talk to me. When I wore my hair short, it slowed down considerably. When I wore braids (and geez, eyeglasses instead of contacts?) It was like being the invisible woman. I mean, is it an accident that many black women who wear natural hair are hit on (and often married to) white men? I don't think so. Go figure. It's an unpopular topic to bring it up because then you are instantly slammed with labels ("Hater!") or worse, dismissed as making the whole dang thing up.

The letters Salon received were very interesting. The attractive black women the white readers held up as examples to refute Dickerson all fit the Black Feminine Ideal that most black women, well, don't fit into -- even to other black people. We love these women, and of course they are black (let's not even go there), but the average black woman buying movie tickets and CDs looks nothing like any of them. The "regular-looking" black woman tends to be cast (in film and in life) as the loud, bitter, neck-swiveling, bitch-ho-stripper. Or the sexless shrew type -- the "gender crasher" Dickerson refers to in the article.

It was also interesting to note that one of the readers who took Dickerson to task pointed out that the woman "who gave Alfie humanity was black." Yes, she was played by Nia Long, an actress who has been quite vocal about the issues black women face in Hollywood.

There is no question that a black woman can play a "video ho", a prostitute, a gold-digger, or a baby mama (with drama!) But can she be a wife (for more than five seconds in an Eddie or Denzel flick?) A mother (that isn't screaming and terrorizing her children)? A business woman or professional (that isn't a "ball-buster" or an "I-am-totally-self-sufficient-and-don't-need-a-man" type?)

It remains to be seen. Let's hope we don't have to wait too long.



Blogger Nichelle said...

I found your blog after reading Debra Dickerson's article. Good stuff!
I have several blogs, but you can check out my personal one on typepad.

August 16, 2005 at 3:43 PM  

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