Seeing it From the Other Side

I’ve hit the wall with The Denzel Principle. It’s not because of the content of the book, it’s because I’ll read a bit, then get lost in my own digressions and thoughts/feelings about what has been said. What comes to mind the most while reading this book is how different things look depending on which side of the gender line you stand within the Black community.

One of my blog followers, a real life friend, frequently expresses her annoyance with the plethora of books and TV shows on the market to address the Black woman’s plight and help her get a man. This is true for other nationalities as well. All the literature seems geared towards teaching women how to get or keep a man. Why aren’t there any books, TV shows, etc. geared towards the men? Why don’t they have to jump through all of these hoops to attract a mate? Why aren’t they being schooled on what women want and expect? Of course, my thoughts on that are simple: it’s a supply and demand ratio, and we women are available any and everywhere, more than one for each man, whereas there simply aren’t enough men to go around. Men feel they don’t have to do or be anything special because the numbers are on their side. Besides, men don’t seek and get advice the way women do. They’d just ask a knowledgeable friend or older male, whereas we will ask friends, family, consult the research, conduct research, and do interviews with every male we know, just to cover all the contigencies. Now, there are many books aimed at helping men in relationships once they get married, which could be because that’s when men actually commit to the relationship and admit they are in it for the long haul, but we’ll get back to that later.

On the other side of the divide, you have The Denzel Principle. In this book, this man is stating that there are all of these books out there, not to help women find and keep good men, but to teach women how to change men into a hodge podge between a lap dog and a best friend. He contends there are many books out there, some by Black men, asserting to Black women that they are all queens and black men are all dogs and you have to train and groom them into the man you want. If that doesn’t work, it’s time to upgrade to a new one. He asserts women are being taught that accepting a good man is settling, that they should hold out for this mythical perfect man. Why are sisters so hard to please? Why won’t women accept a good man anymore? Why are women always trying to change men? Why are men always the bad guys?

It’s interesting to me that these two dynamics can coexist alongside each other. On the one hand, women are annoyed, irritated, and angry that they are constantly being told they are the ones who need to change to catch and keep a man, that their single state is being bemoaned and investigated by everyone from CNN to the person doing her pedicure (true story).  They are tired of being told to change their dress, their speech, and their personality to get a man. They have had enough of being told to Act Like a Lady and Think Like a Man. Men don’t have to do all of this. On the other hand, you have men who are angry and confused by the messages of women in society. Women say they want a good man, but that doesn’t seem good enough. Everywhere they look, they are being told that Black men are liars, cheaters, and dogs, undeserving of the queens that Black women are. Women are out to train and change men, to make men conform to what they want. Both seem to be screaming, “why can’t I be accepted for who I am?”

It seems everyone feels as if they are being forced to pretend to be something that they aren’t to get a mate, and then watch the relationship disintegrate when reality begins to shine through. People feel duped and mislead. Everyone is asserting “this isn’t who I married/began dating/fell in love with.” Everyone is placing blame on someone else’s doorstep.

Why don’t we reclaim truth? Why don’t we put honesty back on the top of our requirements? Why don’t we start by being truthful with ourselves about who we are and what we want? I personally don’t have the time or energy to pretend to be something I’m not, nor to accept a man I don’t want in the hopes of molding him into what I want. Maybe it’s a by- product of the fleeting years and march of time, but I have no room in my vocabulary for phrases like “I can change him” or “with a little work, he’ll be perfect for me.” I can meet you where you are and accept it or not. Potential is just an acknowledgement of what a person could do and has nothing to do with whether or not they actually follow through and accomplish what they can. I can “work with a brotha,” in that if I like him and see him striving to do better for himself , I can see where the relationship leads, but I can’t work with anyone I have to cajole, sweet talk, and/or threaten to make the most of himself like a testy car that starts and stops when it wants to.

This quote from my 7 Habits of Highly Effective People calendar says it best:

No one can persuade another to change. Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside. We cannot open the gate of another, either by argument or by emotional appeal. -Marilyn Ferguson

I think there’s a grain of truth on both sides of the divide, and the only way to address the complaints is honest (and maybe to ignore society). That’s my two cents, anyway. Leave yours in the comments section.

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