I met a man the other day. Engaged in conversation over drinks and dinner, he explained to me that he was having a difficult time dating black women. I asked him why. His response was, “they’re so abused.” Wow. I was not expecting that response. He went on to share some of his dating experiences with me to confirm this opinion. Even though many of his stories warranted a less than desired dating experience, I sat and wondered how I felt about him calling black women “abused”.
I can’t remember a time when I have heard that generalization used to describe an entire group of people. And as I drove home that night, I thought of a million responses I should have given him. Was I wrong for not defending us? Although too late, the thought that keep popping into my head was, “You say we are abused, but how do you think we got this way?” Not that I completely agree, but if we must use this as an accurate generalization, I want to know how we got to this point?
Let me take a step back and clarify “abused.” Emotionally tired. Angry. Hurt. Insecure. Anxious. Hurt. Suspicious. Non-trusting. Superficial, even? These are words that come to my mind when I try to define “abused.” Again, I raise the question of “How did we get this way?” I’m not one for making excuses for myself, or others, however all these issues that we as black women seem to have couldn’t possibly have been developed without the help of someone right? Let’s look at this from the standpoint of emotional abuse. People often joke about ‘daddy’ issues, but that is a very real root cause of a handful of the emotional problems that women have today.
Men don’t necessarily contribute to 100% of the problems that women have, but when you look at the issues we have in relationships with men, a bulk of the problems are due to past experiences with men. This isn’t to point the finger or place blame, rather offer the idea that accountability is necessary before women can be labeled as ‘abused’ all on their own.
Men say that women have so much baggage that they bring with them into relationships. They have trust issues, self-esteem issues, and insecurities to name a few. Is this what allows them to be labeled as abused? When women are lied to and cheated on by their men, belittled and told to lose weight, when they are constantly compared to “video girls” and butt injected models on television, where else would these ill feelings come from? All the experiences that we go through as people help to shape us as people everyday. Accepting our faults and acknowledging that we are responsible for how we treat each other as well as the effect that it has on someone too.
Sure, it may be a challenge to deal with someone romantically who has been hurt time and time again. It may be a struggle to help rebuild trust that was lost because of someone else’s actions. To label black women “abused” without at all considering the symptoms of this abuse is beyond me. Not taking any responsibility for a role that you may have played in making loving a bit more of challenge is selfish. The goal of this is not to bash men or to make women feel broken. The point was to acknowledge that a particular group of women is presumably “abused” and raise the question of how they got that way.
Keita Wheats is a frequent contributor to From Ashy to Classy and she can be found on twitter @keitathejedi and her Tumblr Page Keita Wheats.
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