As usual, Tyrese Gibson has popped up on the scene to inundate women with advice they definitely didn’t ask him for. In a BET Live segment, he decided to “bless his online congregation” with a sermon of respectability politics.
LOL: Tyrese said some things here and now people are mad pic.twitter.com/a7SYTb4hU6
— ♌️ 🖕 (@The_Menace__) April 10, 2017
To the simple minded and those who are familiar with the oppressive patriarchy that has now become an accepted way of life, what he spit was straight facts. But his “brutal honesty” wasn’t meant to improve the love lives of Black women everywhere; it was meant to continue the notion that women shouldn’t exist on this planet for their own enjoyment, but rather to be the best possible form of enjoyment for a man.
In our society, one of the first stages of learned hypermasculinity is the propagation of women as objects—things that exist to please a man’s gaze, ego and his penis. From boys to young men, we’re taught and soon adopt the notion that women must live to please us visually, physically and morally. Not only are they supposed to be sexy enough for us to want them and adept at mastering our most obscene sexual fantasies, but they also must be conscientiously pristine so we can actually respect them.
See, we could engage in freaky sex acts with women and think no less of them, IF we viewed women as equals. But since we don’t, instead of treating women as equals, we treat them as possessions.
A possession, like a pet, isn’t on equal footing with you even though you can shower it with gifts and genuine affection. Like a pet owner, a man imbued with hypermasculinity feels entitled to tell women how to behave, how to dress, how to act sexually and how to exist around men as a whole. And it’s this entrenched sense of entitlement over a woman’s autonomy that can result in scary and troubling interactions, including verbal and physical abuse.
It may start with a man harassing a woman on the street, telling her to smile and then thoroughly cussing her out when she chooses not to acquiesce to his demand. Or it may start with a boy tearing into his girlfriend about how ugly, or stupid, or worthless she is when she tries to leave him. But regardless of how that hypermasculine control is asserted, the truth is that it has the ability to spiral out of control, especially when the woman asserts her base humanity. Possessions aren’t supposed to have their own voice, their own rights or their own choices, so the hypermasculine man doesn’t know how to respond and as a result, it can end tragically.
On Monday, Karen Smith, a newlywed 53-year-old San Bernardino elementary school teacher, was murdered in her classroom by her husband, Cedric Anderson. Apparently something occurred that drove Smith to leave Anderson just a month and a half into their marriage, and Anderson, who had a history of domestic abuse, confronted her in her classroom as she taught a group of special needs students. He killed her and an 8-year-old student, before taking his own life.
And the saddest part is, as Britni Danielle points out in this solemn yet informative thread, this is not just one isolated incident that transpired in a singular relationship; it’s a chillingly commonplace occurrence.
So, when are we going to talk about all of the Black women who are killed by their partners?
— britni danielle (@BritniDWrites) April 11, 2017
Once upon a time, I was a young man who parroted Tyrese’s ideology almost word for word. I believed women should keep their legs shut, stop wearing weave, stop getting plastic surgery and even limit the amount of times they go out every week. Somewhere in my mind, I really believed I had women’s best interests at heart.
It wasn’t until I had a particularly contentious debate with my homegirl that the truth came out. I remember espousing my viewpoints to her in the middle of our tense conversation and her firing one question back at me that turned me into a stuttering mess:
“To what end?”
“To what end do women need to keep their legs shut, especially when y’all don’t? To what end do women need to stop wearing weave? To what end do women need to jump through these hoops y’all men created?” she asked.
I began stuttering, not because I didn’t know what to say, but rather because every answer I had at that moment embarrassed me. Every answer I attempted to formulate boiled down to some pathetic version of “…because that’s what we demand y’all to do.”
I’m not telling Tyrese to shut up because I disagree with him. I’m telling him to shut the hell up because we truly do not need pseudo-relationship experts running their untrained, anti-intellectual mouths propagating the dangerous dogma of intrinsic inequality. Girls weren’t made for boys, as women don’t exist for men. We are equals and if we don’t begin to push that narrative, we will continue to see many more instances of abject violence by men who feel compelled to dominate women’s sovereignty.
Lincoln Anthony Blades blogs daily on his site, ThisIsYourConscious.com. He’s author of the book, “You’re Not A Victim, You’re A Volunteer.” He can be reached on Twitter @lincolnablades and on Facebook at Lincoln Anthony Blades.