The pedantics rantings, musings, observations and straight up judgments of a socially retarded girl in a mentally retarded world.

 

Pigeon-Hole Her? I Barely Marginalized Her! - My Open Letter To Facebook

Dear Facebook,


Today was just like any other work day. I came in relatively on time; logged on to my computer; and began to respond to the assigned tasks that were sent to me by my employers. During the course of the day, like the millions of white-collared 9 to 5ers do, I logged onto Facebook to check on statuses, updates, and the like floating around in my lovely nerd miasma. While scrolling through the proclamations of love for all things scienc-y, geeky and socially progressive, I stumbled upon a personal ad that you placed in my newsfeed which very clearly stated that the social network which prides itself as being an intermediary for individual expression has no idea who the fuck I am. The personal ad in question had the following tag line:

AFRICAN AMERICAN MEN LOOKING FOR FAITHFUL BLACK WOMEN!!!

Look, I understand how target marketing works. I understand why target marketing works. I understand why there are more Foot Lockers in Rogers Park than Wrigleyville; and why there are more bike shops in Lakeview than Lawndale. The sad fact of the matter is that American society has, overall, become prone to marginalization, and American companies are thereby capitalizing on this marginalization. That being said, what I don’t understand, is how you let an ad reeking of racist, sexist, and homophobic implications appear on my newsfeed when you only had the following facts to work with:

  • I’m black;

  • I’m a woman;

  • My relationship status is unlisted

Now, I’m going to take time out of my already busy schedule to educate you on all of the wrongs that you committed by posting this ad on my feed, because you clearly listened to Tyler Perry and decided on what I wanted for me instead of taking the time to scroll through my personal information and figuring it out for yourself.

Why It’s Racist

When you “assume”, you make an “ass” out of “u” and “me”. By posting this ad on my feed, you assumed that I would only be looking for black men; that I would NEVER, EVER entertain the radical idea of *GASP* dating outside of my ethnicity! OH NO, BRER BEAR! NOT INTERRACIAL DATING! What would the Founding Fathers think?!! Oh wait…

One of the drawbacks that heterosexual African American (cis)women face in the dating world is that many of them still think that it’s taboo to date “outside their race”. Karyn Langhorne Folan wrote an amazing and insightful book on the trials and tribulations that heterosexual African American (cis)women face in finding love because old racial wives’ tales perpetuate this stigma of looking for love outside of “our own”.  While she can only speak for herself, and her account is biased in many aspects, Ms. Folan does bring to light a serious socio-romantic problem that many heterosexual African American (cis)women face due to the macrocosmic inability to understand this simple concept: the color of your skin does not dictate the content of your character or your capability as a romantic partner. By placing that ad on my newsfeed, you are perpetuating years of social and racial stigma, and are thus limiting my options in looking for the one thing for which all humans undoubtedly search: love.

(And although it’s none of your business, no, I am not single; no, he is not black; and, yes, I will give you a couple of seconds to recoup from your fainting spell at that radical revelation).

Why It’s Sexist

If any of the negative implications screamed the loudest, it was this one. How DARE you imply that black women are generally unfaithful?! How DARE you imply that black women are generally licentious, manipulative and/or back-biting?! How DARE you imply that black women are generally not worthy of a good person’s time and affection?! How DARE you imply that black women are a commodity to be bartered for to other black men?! Are you taking dating ad tips from old 18th century southern plantation journals?! I’m being serious here. I want to know if you got a piece of romantic advice from Jefferson Davis because that is the ONLY thing that could possibly make sense.

Do I even want to touch on the fantastical ideals of what men and women should be that were lambasted all through that ad? You know what? I do. Do you know what the biggest detriment to any relationship is? It’s getting mad at your partner because he/she/zucchini is not who you envisioned him/her/zucchini to be. We have a massive problem in our society wherein we try to squeeze ourselves and others into this Patriarchal ideal of how men and women should be instead of being who we are and seeing our partners how they actually are. (If you’re wondering why I left the genderqueer population out of that statement, it’s because the Patriarchy doesn’t recognize the genderqueer demographic as an actual and growing percentage of the population. To the Patriarchy, the genderqueer population is full of boys and girls who haven’t grown out of the “playing dress up” stage). By sticking to this horribly restrictive fantasy, we are cheating ourselves out of being able to see our partners, and thus being able to truly love them.

By posting that ad on my newsfeed, you basically told me that I need to forget everything that makes me the (cis)woman that I am today, so I can reshape, reconfigure, redesign myself into some sort of Beyonce Knowles Carter knock-off in order to get that better-than-perfect black man to love me because who could possibly love me as I am at this minute?

I mean, that’s my ultimate goal as an African American woman, right? Because you’re Facebook, and you know everything about all of your members, so you would clearly have a better idea of who I am and what I want than I do.

Why It’s Homophobic

Where the hell do you get off assuming that I’m even straight?? Where in ANYTHING that I have posted since joining your establishment in 2005 has told you, “This woman likes dick! She won’t consider anything else! It’s all dick-all day for this lovely lady!”

Look, the population of African American women who are gay/bi/a/pan/omnisexual may not be increasing at the same rates as Caucasian men or women, but it is not a population to be discounted, ignored, or mistreated. I stumbled across this shout out to African American women of various sexual orientations, and I was reminded that a small group of people fighting for a better tomorrow are indeed the ones with the most profound voices.

So, where does all of this leave you and I, Facebook? Perhaps this rant was all for naught; perhaps you’ll block me from access to my page; perhaps I’ll transfer my wares to another social medium. Or, perhaps, you’ll learn the importance of reading all of the information that you strip from our pages on the day-to-day and finally understand that we users are not here to appease your prejudicial ad targeting.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Cross

aka Not Your Expectation

 

Listening: the ability to discern the difference between what YOUR PARTNER wants and what you THINK your partner wants.

Me

Release

There is something to be said about a touch, a touch that makes you skin stand up at attention to welcome the contact with increasing heat and decreasing tension.

A hand smooths itsself across your body, a breath hits the back of your neck. Your eyes close. Your chest expands and contracts. Your skin warms with every stroke. Your muscles relax with every caress. Your senses ignite with every brush.

You can’t help but exhale with the release of excitement. The heat begins to settle. The muscles begin to calm. The body absorbs the hand running over it. You experience peace unlike you’ve known before.

You become intimate with intimacy. You become OK with vulnerability.

Hindsight

When I was not even 20 years old, I met a boy who told me that I had beautiful eyes. I remember reading this in our AIM chat window while I was preparing for my afternoon lecture. I had been completely taken aback by the compliment, pretending to not understand what it meant because I had the propensity to jump to conclusions and I did not, could not, believe that such a compliment could be meant for me. I could not believe that I could be seen as beautiful to anyone, let alone this boy. I began to feel vulnerable, confused, ensnared, exposed and unsure, feelings of which I could not abide nor afford at the time. I do not remember how I responded; I would like to think that I thanked him for the compliment and gave him one of his own, but I know that my life would have turned out differently had it played out this way in my hindsight’s eye. More likely than not, the sniveling, confused emotional infant of 20 years of age made an egotistical joke in response in order to shake off the vulnerability and immediately signed off.

I did this. I did this to the boy who told me that I had beautiful eyes. I did this to the boy whom I had met the last night of the previous semester with my friend who had become enamored of him. I had spoken a maximum of six sentences to this boy on that night; my friend put forth her effort in dominating his attention. My friend had become enamored with the boy and communicated with him throughout the entire summer…and when we returned to school for the fall, I was the one who he had approached. The boy to whom I had spoken six sentences the night before I had left for Chicago four months prior called out my name while I was leaving the Student Union during peer advising training. I had known him for roughly three hours. I had difficulty remembering his name that day. I threw his compliment back in his face. This is how I treated the boy who told me that I had beautiful eyes.

I do not know where this boy, who would now be a man, is presently. He disappeared from my life after one last defensive slight from my tongue. I cannot tell him that I am sorry for what I have done, because I spared him from at least one trauma out of the hundreds that life generally visits upon us. When looking at this logically, I suppose that I cannot tell him anything right now. I can only hope that he is happy, that he has found the love that I could not [or would not] give him. I can only hope that he has forgotten me: the girl with beautiful eyes.

I say this because he was the first, but certainly not the last. I say this because this story and its antecedents concluded in this manner due to one rudimentary thought bathed in fear and fear alone: what he wants does not matter.

I will make no proclamations that my two sizes too small heart has seen the error of its ways.  However, I will not be so cynical to proclaim that I will remain bathed in fear for the remainder of my days. Well then, where does that leave the girl with beautiful eyes? With any luck, I’m left at the crossroads where I’ll be able to send the compliment back without worrying about confusion, ensnarement, exposure and uncertainty…and without thinking whether I can abide or afford the feelings at the time.

Fumbling Through Quarter Life Confusion, Pt 1

What’s the worst thing that could happen to a girl who spent the pivotal years of her life as an ugly, outcasted, regimented, nerd-tastic loner?

(1)  She gets pretty. REALLY pretty…and people start to notice. My Tumblr profile picture was taken when I was 27 years old. Three years prior to the taking of that photograph, very few people could see my eyes very clearly due to the copious amounts of baby fat that rested in my cheeks…even with spending 3-4 nights a week at my do-jang.

(2)  She no longer has an institutionalized religio-demic bubble to keep her goal path in check. I had never been exposed to the real world until I landed in downtown Chicago in June 2002.  I had been the product of private schools and Pentacostal environments from birth through university and never tasted the pungent realism of the masses.

Due to a lack of emotional maturity on my part, I left college without a solid plan of how or when I was going to attend, let alone apply for, law school. Many of my university friends had spent their senior year farming themselves out to internships, MCAT/LSAT prep sessions and graduate school interviews. I spent my senior year taking advantage of happy hours-student discounts at every other bar in Paris and London. I found this behavior to be much to my detriment, not because I was floating in professional limbo, but because I had developed a higher tolerance (and lighter wallet) for those lovely liquid fermented complex carbohydrates.

So here I was in my hometown: broke, unskilled, uncouth, unflattering, uncompromising, and unprofessional. The perfect hire, if I do say so myself.

Despite having so many and much, much more of the “admirable” qualities listed above, I managed to snag a job as a paralegal at a small consumer protection rights law firm within a month of graduation. I patted myself on the back for finding employment so quickly, once again reaffirming my need to believe that I was better than everyone else because I could not accept how far behind I had fallen. I hadn’t even bothered to establish a base in Chicago because I had myself convinced that this situation was “only temporary”. I would be back to the east coast enrolled in law school with my real friends within the next year! I knew it to be the truth because anything else was unimaginable.

Fast forward to 2005: still in Chicago, still not back to school, still thinking that my place at home was “only temporary”. On a unspecific night in April on the north side of the city, I had once again suited up for my perpetual role as the “fat, clunky, ugly, loyal and sarcastic” handmaid/sidekick to my [current] roommate’s “delicate, blond, demure and coy” princess/protagonist. I had grown accustomed to this role; I had even grown fond of it. Being ignored gave me the opportunity to develop keen objective insight of my surroundings and the people who populated them, and I had been privileged to have all of high school, all of college and three years into adulthood to develop this insight.

And on this specific night, it was all ruined by a man who simply said “Hi”.

What followed after that unspecific night were 15 months of lying, cheating, emotional complexity, loss of boundaries and lots of drug use; this particular era deserves, and will at some point receive, its own blog, or possibly a book…but first things first, I must talk about the transformation.

I had never seen myself as a woman to be desired, let alone seen myself as a woman. It has been over 7 years since that unspecific night in April, and I still have difficulty thinking about myself as a woman. Society has a knack for pushing its definitions of “what is” into every subset of culture, instead of encouraging one to discover his or her own ways. I had my ways; society had her ways. We met on the battlefield; we sparred; we bled; society was triumphant. My ways were not the ways of a woman, so I never referred to myself as one. Yet here was this man who saw a woman and said “Hi”. This man burst my religio-demic bubble, and I lost approximately 25 lbs of uncertainty, androgyny and anonimity…

Since I’ve been relegated to taking pictures with my phone, I decided to screw with the features to see what I came up with. It still amazes me what you can produce when you decide to spend an evening on a boat screwing with the white balance.

Not Your Garden Variety Nonbeliever…

I came home to a bowl of radioactive chili to discover that HBO was showing The Prince of Egypt. I immediately scoffed the movie as complete and total bunk, adapted from an intangible, over-edited 5,000 year old story which relies on no credible, physical evidence in order to support it. Then, something happened that almost always happens but not in its typical fashion: I became sad. I do often become sad after scoffing, but it is usually due to the fact that there are so many people who buy into ideals that are childlike at their core. This time, I scoffed because I remembered that I once loved this movie and found it inspirational.

I hardly talk about being an atheist. I don’t belong to any nationally recognized or official atheist organizations. I don’t politically lobby for the separation of church and state. I don’t even get miffed when the clerks at Walgreen’s conclude our transactions with the meme “Have A Blessed Day”. I suppose one could say that I am a “bad” atheist. Then this past Saturday came…

I was sitting in Café Iberico with other members of the {Group Name Withdrawn} after the Bughouse Square debates sharing pithy comments about the various soap boxes speakers and their intangible diatribes when a gentleman reeking of that ominous dark blue Astro Van Owners’ Club vibe approached a table and gruffly said, “Let me ask you all a question! Who’s the youngest disbeliever here?!”

Putting aside his complete lack of social graces, my comrades and I looked at each other and tried to deduce the meaning behind his vague and belittling inquiry while maintaining a sense of decorum that our adequately developed right brains had been fortunate enough to grant us.

The Serial Killer Stereotype asked his question again; this time, he started pointing at each of us: “You! When did you stop believing?!”

Each person at my table took his or her turn, giving a succinct response in the hopes that he would return to the other table from which he had probably been banned. When we had successfully responded to Mr. Serial, he pointed at a friend of mine and said, “You! I have something for you! You’re the youngest nonbeliever here so I’m bequeathing you with this ‘ex-baptism’ soap. You still reek of theism and you need to scrub the rest of it off!”

Um…EXCUSE-A-FUCKING ME???!!!!!

I was not born into atheism. Quite the opposite, I was born to a uber-religious mother who spent/spends most of her free time in or around church and thus, my brother and I spent most of our free time in or around the church. When I had made it quite plain to my mother that I was not enjoying the time I spent “basking in the Holy Spirit” (mostly on account of being the Oreo oddball out and never feeling the presence of Jesus), she had me spend most of the time with the adults instead of the teenagers because I was “too advanced” to be stuck learning about god at a level that was “beneath me.”

I grew up religious, but I was never spiritual. Jesus dictated a good portion of my life, though I never felt him near. When I broke with my faith, I felt a type of catharsis to which sexual orgasms cannot even compare. That being said, when you break with something that has defined who you are, what you are, what you think, feel, hear, interpret everything for 18 years, a part of you becomes broken with it. Your identity suddenly comes into question and you find yourself lost, confused, angry, and hurt. You feel betrayed by those who are closest to you, especially by your parents whom you can never forgive or understand why they spent so many years filling your head with lies only to put you out there in the real world where the evidence crushes those lies like Gojira crushes Tokyo.

What is my point with this diatribe? My point is that walking away from your faith is an arduous task, and no one, absolutely NO ONE, has the right to make gaffes about it. That man who poked fun at my friend for being the “youngest disbeliever” was no better than Ted Haggart, Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed, Fred Phelps, Grand Ayatollah Khameni, Osama bin Laden, Ultra Orthodox Rabbis, and the list can go on and on and on. When you walk away from your faith, you put yourself at risk for ridicule and isolation, and that is if you are lucky. To joke about it in anyway makes you no better than those with whom we attempt to rationally debate.

My friends, this man who taunted my friend is a bad atheist. I’m just a woman trying to live her life in the manner that I intended: honest, exciting and rarely sober. ;-)

One Small Step for Equality...

As ridiculous as I find it that WHAT a person is determines any aspect of WHO that person is, I’m in yet another minority in terms of my belief structure. However, it is a good sign to see that the majority is finally accepting the fact that this is the 21st century.

There is no need to walk away from what you love in order to secure what you need. I just wish someone would have told me this sooner…