By Sowhatiff Jenkins
We all know at least one. She comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes, she’s well educated and dons a bunch of expensive letters behind her name. If she’s not formally educated, she can still school you on a bunch of things. She comes in the form of your mother, auntie, sister, or play cousin. She works out at your gym, and sits across from you on the train. Yep. She’s everywhere and to some, she’s intimidating.
There is always talk about how hard it is out here for a pimp for the black man, and I would never deny that. While I too get crooked looks from certain people when I enter certain places, I don’t evoke the same “fear” that a black man does, so I get this struggle.
But for many black women (and I’m sure women in general), particularly those with a sense of confidence and an aura of strength about her, we too evoke fear in the hearts of, dare I say it…men (and each other, but that’s for another entry), and thus we face a different struggle. In order to get to a place of stability and success, we have to develop certain characteristics about us to aid in the journey. As I’ve noted in a previous entry, our success doesn’t (always) equal less of a desire to feel like a woman, or to be taken care of, and walk beside a strong man.
If this is so, why is it that so many women find themselves being “saved” by the men they deal with or even are in love with? Maybe its never happened to you, but I have heard of so many dudes playing the superhero role by telling a woman what she “needs” by saying that she doesn’t need, or shouldn’t want to be with him. His justification is often riddled in a list of things that she “should” be concerned about relating to his potential as compared to hers. “What will your friends think?” “You need to be with someone more like you.” “I won’t be able to give you what you need.”
Reactions to these types of sentiments should be taken in the context in which they were expressed. For example, if a woman is in a relationship with a man and has expressed things to him that she wishes were different, be it his job, benefits package (no pun), choice of residence, etc., and he brings up this “let me save you” bit, then okay, maybe he is doing what she should do on her own. (Its probably best that she let him go because its may not to work out anyway.) Sidenote: Remember ladies, do not try to change a man, or mold him into what you want him to be…it’s not going to happen.
However, if a woman has not expressed such sentiments, and a man takes on this role on his own, it leaves one to wonder about the source of this new found altruism. Is the man doing so because he thinks he is doing what his woman wants him to do? Is he really saving her, or is he saving himself? Is he “protecting” her because he fears (men have those, right?) that, even though she loves him for “what and who he is” now, that she will one day feel differently? Is he trying to push her away because he feels that he isn’t good enough for her i.e. he feels less than super confident in his potential and/or progress as compared to hers? Or does he need something more from his love interest to make him feel more like a manly man?
I don’t know the answer to these questions, and I would love the male perspective on some of the possible answers.
And for you ladies; What is a woman to do when she is confronted with this age old, “it’s not you, it’s me,” dilemma? Does she heed his warnings? Or should she ignore them at the risk of losing him anyway? Should she just bounce to look for something “better” and find lameness instead (or worse, that there are no real alternatives)? What about changing her standards?
Let the games begin…