Are Black Women Held To A Higher Standard?
I debated with myself for a month about whether or not to write this post. But after witnessing full fledged arguments on social media platforms about Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s WAP I felt compelled to offer my opinion. Not that anyone cares what I think. But there’s so much controversy surrounding the song and visual that I had to ask myself a simple question. Are Black women held to a higher standard?
From what I’ve seen there are two answers to this question. As a Black woman I often feel as if society expects the worst from us. Even though we have the highest college graduation rate of any other demographic in the US, our intellects aren’t always nurtured in white institutions. Many times the assumption is we’re there not because we worked hard, but because of affirmative action. And we find ourselves looking outside of the white institutions we attend for support. This was the primary reason I chose to attend an HBCU. After high school I’d had enough.
I’ve seen the shock on the faces of my white counterparts when they realize I’m probably smarter than them. In academic and work settings I’ve had to repeatedly prove I belonged there. You get so used to doing it that it becomes second nature. We live by the “ you have to work twice as hard to get half the credit” motto. And for the most part Black women have crushed the challenge again and again.
So if I pose this question in reference to what White America feels about us the answer is a resounding no. Black Women aren’t even held to the same standards so the expectation is pretty low. But this is just MY opinion based on personal experience and observation.
The Black community is a different monster altogether. Somehow we’ve internalized the attitudes of a certain segment of the White population. And we judge our own brothers and sisters based on how we think they’re viewed by this population. Sadly the most pro-black people in our community still care too much about the opinions of certain white people and we project that garbage onto each other.
How many times have you heard a black person say something like “she’s just playing into the stereotype” or “ how can we expect them to respect us when we don’t respect ourselves?”. Too many times to count, right? Perhaps you’ve said it yourself.
Let me challenge you for a second. Think back to the 50’s and 60’s. There was a plethora of black female activists and entertainers who were “classy, elegant and respectable”. They kept their personal business personal and avoided scandal. Their public images were impeccable. Yet a certain segment of the White population still viewed them as less than. Perhaps they were suitable as concubines housekeepers, or nannies but never smart enough to work alongside them in the office. Unless of course they were secretaries. And even then if they didn’t have a certain look it was still a no go.
The point I’m making is even when most Black women maintained regal public images we were still undervalued by society as a whole. We’ve never been able to please everyone so why not just focus on pleasing ourselves? And herein lies the problem.
Black people. Yep I said it. Sometimes we can be the biggest haters. I’m still trying to figure out why we’re so judgmental toward each other. Why do black female entertainers who are overtly sexual get slut shamed while women from other races are celebrated for doing the same thing? Kim Kardashian launched her career and built an empire off of a sex tape. Mimi Faust did the same thing and her career was ended before it began.
Not only is it unfair, but it’s hypocritical when the slut shaming comes from Black men. There’s not a heterosexual Black man on this planet who doesn’t appreciate a WAP. And many male rappers speak freely about what they prefer in the bedroom in their music. But these same men will drag the shit out of Cardi and Megan for doing the same thing. I’ve heard Black men say they wouldn’t wife a woman like that.
Everyone has a right to their preference. But these same men lust after those type women. They’ll marry a woman with a more “wholesome” image and cheat on her with the Megans and Cardis. Either way Black women get the short end of the stick.
And how important is image in real life? I can use Lauryn Hill as an example. Everyone loves her. So do I actually. She was the epitome of a Black Queen in the 90’s and early 2000’s. But her public image is in direct conflict with how she lived her personal life. She knowingly had an affair with a married man and there was allegedly some doubt regarding the paternity of her first child. So while her music was positive, uplifting and dope she didn’t always practice what she preached. And that’s Ok. She’s human and she’s entitled to make mistakes.
The point I’m making is that people should understand that entertainers are just that. They are here to entertain first and foremost. If they can teach and inspire in the process that’s even better. But it shouldn’t be expected. Most of the popular female rappers today are barely in their 30’s. And if we’re talking about Cardi B she was a stripper before she started rapping. So why are we mad that she’s not a sage burning knowledge kicking emcee?
With that being said
I like the song and the video. I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with a woman owning her sexuality in public or private. Black women in particular have been objectified since the beginning of time. But does that mean we should all be meek and modest if that’s not who we really are?
Us owning our sexuality is just another form of cultural reappropriation in my opinion. Similar to how we took back the N word and made it our own, Black women should be allowed to take back their sexuality and their bodies. I find the song to be quite empowering. Would I buy it? Nope. But I’ll stream the fuck out of it. I can appreciate Megan and Cardi just like I appreciate Rapsody and Sa-Roc. It’s all about variety and I’m here for it.
Let’s not be all about the first amendment in regards to social justice issues then slam black women for speaking freely about their sexuality. That’s not cool at all.
So to answer the question are Black women held to a higher standard my answer is yes. But it’s not the White folks doing it. It’s us.
It be your own people.
We gotta do better y’all.