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ready-made man

ready-made man

There is no such thing.

From time to time I become incredibly irritated by the sanitizing of so-called conventional wisdom. It doesn’t matter to me if the sanitization is of romance or religion – in any context it doesn’t do anyone any good at all.

Too many women live in constant desire of a mate while also living in burdensome fear of the ones that cross their paths regularly. Of course, I am not advocating that we throw all caution to the wind and entertain the affections of any prospective lover. No. As always, however, there is plenty of good middle ground between the extremes.

Too many women, especially women of faith, ascribe to best practices that dictate a man be in a certain place in life before he becomes worthy of her affections. In essence, we are told to prepare ourselves and wait for the ready-made man. Just open the box, add water, and stir.

There is no such thing.

I have learned that life and being human is messy and that we cannot avoid the messiness, no matter how meticulously we try. On our best days, with our best efforts, we cannot sidestep or circumvent the natural flow of things. One certain aspect of life’s process is that there is a kind of assignment that romantic love must carry out. Romantic love has a particularly unique way of getting to the heart of matters to which we must tend in order to grow and heal. That is why when we end relationships before love has completed its work, we continue to meet the same lover over and over again, just in a different body.

May we move into 2017 without the rose-colored glasses? May we approach romantic love as women, pulling up our big-girl panties? May we be/become so secure in ourselves that we can handle the man’s growing edges because we know that together we can simultaneously support and challenge each other, going forward together to unknown adventures. May we stop looking for the ready-made man?

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

As you reflect and prepare for a new year, check out our 2016 posts:

image: pinterest

(c) 2016 candi dugas, llc

the ankles and the pussy

the ankles and the pussy

I LOVE it when a production delivers way more than I expected!

Last week, I attended Synchronicity Theatre’s production of Anne Boleyn, a revisionist take on Queen Anne’s romance and marriage to King Henry VIII. As the story is also a part of Christian church history, I expected to experience it through a theological, Protestant reformation lens. However, I was not prepared for the extent to which Howard Brenton’s (playwright) approach would affect me.

I was struck by our historically persistent narrative of the perceived threat of woman to power. We sisters today call it our Black Girl Magic. Every subset of woman has it, though, a way about her, a mystique that changes, transforms, influences, causes things to happen … and threatens. Instead of celebrating this phenomenon, the world tends to criticize and condemn it – I suppose because it cannot control it.

Henry’s (played by Brian Hatch) attraction to (fueled by his weakness for her ankles!) and I assume, love for, Anne (played by Brooke Owens) changed the world as they knew it. As Cardinal Wolsey (played by Kerwin Thompson) faced off with Anne – and lost, in her I saw all the women charged with threats to/falls of/losses of power (read the downfall of a man that wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for the woman – and/or the loss of a way of life as the people knew it, because of the woman), including: Eve, Delilah, Jezebel, Helen of Troy, Hester Prynne, Joan of Arc, Wallis Simpson, Princess Diana, Duchess Camilla, Olivia Pope … (What are the names you would add to this list?) We can actually list other women whom we know personally, in our communities, who are just a little too sexy, a little too influential, a little too helpful … for their own good.

Beautiful women's legs

And then I think about our current US presidential election and the threat that Hillary Clinton has always posed. She’s simply too smart and capable, regardless of people’s determinations about her trustworthiness. Still today, too many men seem incapable of dealing with smart, capable women – much less, able to do so well. They seem not to be able to separate us from our pussies – a term I use, in this context, to represent this magic that is always desired, yet must always be guarded against (despite Donald Trump’s and others’ misogynistic use of the word) – must always be controlled. Maya Angelou called it the diamonds at the meeting of our thighs. The thing is, though, you cannot control magic. I even wonder if the attempt to do so contributes to the conflicts and the downfalls that are blamed on woman.

This “magic” does not have to be overwhelming. I refuse to accept that men are not capable of being more holistic, well-rounded and not beholden to the ankles or to the pussy – scapegoats for a man’s inability (or lack of choice, courage) to make mature, wise decisions. Where is your magic, brother? Are you selling yourself short? Could it be that if you live fully into your magic, you might be able to meet mine somewhere in the heavens and really transform the world?

Perhaps it is male privilege that keeps men settled in being and doing just enough, that prevents them from doing the inner work that results in healthier and more balanced approaches to women. Humanity can be lazy; we don’t do anything remotely hard unless we have to do so. Unpacking misogyny, privilege, oppression, etc. is difficult and taxing, especially for people conditioned to be out of touch and uncomfortable with their own emotions and the plights of non-privileged persons.

Towards the end of Anne’s story, the overall narrative continues as Henry discards this amazing love of his life in favor of another woman for pleasure and purpose of offspring. The less-thans continue to be commodities and pawns in the hands of those who have and wield power – political, economic, personal, sexual, etc. Is this the fate of humanity? A persistent game of chance and chess, where our most intimate and compelling desires are subject to the callous and calculated choices of life that seek to maintain power and privilege?

I am not a rose-colored glasses type of gal, but I surely hope that we can more than create spaces in our lives free of calculation, that there are sacred spaces protected from such manipulation. I hope that our loves and passions can be enjoyed and even consumed without threats and jockeying for position and power. Let not the beauty of our vulnerabilities be so stained. Rather let it bloom and produce more beauty, appreciated for the wonder – and even the loss of control it can cause in our souls.

(c) 2016 candi dugas, llc

permission

permission

Mother, may I? Do our young people even still play this childhood game today? Does anyone remember with me, the tensely focused anticipation of making it to the leader first so we could have our turn at possessing the power – the power to command the progress of the masses to the “front of the line?” (Read more here if you’ve never heard of “Mother, May I?”)

Permission.

I’ve been a bit preoccupied this spring with rape. Yes, I’ve been thinking about this post for two full months. My preoccupation began when I watched Zerlina Maxwell’s appearance on the Melissa Harris Perry Show. I was horrified and astonished that Ms. Maxwell received death and rape threats because she stated on FOX News that we have to teach men how not to rape in order to prevent such assaults on women in the future. And for this very simple and rational solution she is so violently threatened? Really? I don’t understand how we get from A to B on this one. (See Ms. Maxwell on MHP here.)

Then Olivia Pope and President Grant shared a passionate, quite aggressive sex scene in a White House IT closet which triggered very visceral responses from black women on social media. Their responses to this scene essentially equated it with rape.

Finally black women were up in arms again after seeing Tyler Perry’s Temptation. Several sistahs cried, “Rape!” upon seeing Harley persist in his desire beyond Judith’s expressions of “no.” (None of the online clips of this scene on Harley’s private jet include the critical moments of her persistent resistance.) I heard their voices articulating what they experienced as a viewer; however, after I saw the film, I resisted characterizing it as rape.

And I struggled with my resistance. To me, “no” has always meant “no” – unequivocally – even, as a friend of mine put it, if “no” means “not yet.” To me, rape has always meant a conclusive violation of any form or stage of “no.” After several conversations with friend-colleagues, I determined that in the moment of watching the scene on the plane we audience members don’t have enough information to decide whether it’s rape or not. Mr. Perry fails to do what Shonda Rhimes has done twice now in “Scandal,” with meticulous intentionality I presume. Each time Fitz (President Grant) asserts his desire for Olivia and she pushes him away, he retreats. Pause. Then it’s quite clear that Olivia resumes the encounter by going to him.

Permission.

So, now I’m left with more questions. What is the genesis of our gendered hierarchal culture that persists across our world in most nations? When did men’s power over women start and how has it remained intact decades after efforts like the United States’ Suffrage and Equality Movements? How is it that in 2013 we continue to tolerate a rape culture while misconstruing a woman’s agency to engage in whatever kind of sexual encounter she chooses?

In westernized Christianity, certainly, we can point to traditional interpretations of one of the creation narratives to determine that women are ordained to be ruled over by men because G~d created the first woman from the side of the first man. However, there are other cultures to consider in answering my globally posed questions. Perhaps it is simply about power and control . . . and the fear of losing it.

Over Mother’s Day weekend, I had a few more conversations with family and friends. Young adult family members studying philosophy and other such subjects in college challenged their elders to our thoughts on racism, sincerely asking if we’re not perpetuating the problem as black people by persistently pointing it out all the time. “Everything is not about race,” they insisted. At the end of the day, we found common ground around the notion that it’s all fundamentally about power. I can say that I left the conversation agreeing with the young scholars that, indeed, we are distracted by race when we ought to work on resolving humanity’s power issues.

Then I spoke with a friend about how it is that certain groups are more successful than others in assuming (via conquest) power and keeping it. Essentially he suggested that it’s a confluence of circumstances. The group in power simply had some kind of advantage – physical strength, more formidable weapons, etc. – and then, over time, their experience in power becomes an advantage as well. Prolonged power becomes privilege and an ingrained sense of entitlement. That’s how men rape, how they assert themselves with women without the slightest notion that they require . . .

Permission.

SIDEBAR: I have to say a word about how I sense that women with conservative, traditional religious values contribute to our gendered hierarchal (rape) culture. While I agree with Ms. Maxwell that it is absolutely not my responsibility to carry a gun on my dates in case I’m sexually assaulted – I assert that it is my responsibility to create a rational, balanced approach to heterosexual gender relations. I cannot claim the man is the head of my house and my equal at the same time. I cannot be the damsel in distress waiting for his salvation and his equal at the same time. I contribute to an anti-rape culture when, within my own sphere of influence, I create a person within my femaleness who is a self-actualized human being in which {healthy} men recognize agency, autonomy, authority, compatibility and the necessity of permission rather than the urge to overpower and control.

We’ve forgotten the lessons of simple childhood games, I suppose, lessons which teach that power and control are meant to be shared in community. The ones aspiring to leadership must actually reach the places of power one day

and, in turn, guide others to take the reins from them while caring well for the ones who made their leadership possible as they retreat and allow themselves to be guided once again.

Mother, may I?

the cdllc calendar

Current Events

Who Told You That You Were Naked? on Respect My Hustle Radio – TOMORROW, 1p EDT – candi sits down with -72- to discuss her book and how the Black church’s tradition of virtual silence regarding sexuality adversely affects the Black woman’s self-understanding as a sexual being. Catch us on 1100 AM Radio (Atlanta, GA). (Click here for live streaming.) Call in to the show at 404.603.8770.

Upcoming Events

“Urban Grind Book Club & Signing” – June 9th, 5p (every 2nd Sunday), Urban Grind Coffeehouse, Atlanta, GA  – Featuring books (fiction & non-fiction) and their authors, as a community that loves to read, write, and discuss interesting literary work. Look for more information soon on June’s authors. Interested authors should email me (facilitator) at cdugas@candidugas.com to register for future dates.

Recent Events

“Single, Saved & Sexin’: The Redux” – In March, I revisited the renowned Crunk Feminist Collective (CFC) post, “Single, Saved & Sexin’” with Dr. Brittney Cooper (Crunktastic), Rev. Arabella Littlepage and Rev. Theresa Thames. What an affirming evening! “Awesome! So many points and so well connected to self-care, self awareness and the black woman’s body. Our female spiritual leaders can help guide us in a direction that creates healthy relationships.” ~Anacostia Yogi If you missed it, check us out here.

Annnd . . . More Thoughts for Our (re)Consideration

© 2013 candi dugas, llc

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