The Bullshit of Being the “Good” Black Woman

So Ayesha Curry may get her own cooking show.

This doesn’t surprise me at all.

She’s such an idealized image of black womanhood.

She’s married, a mother. She’s educated and affluent. She’s a former model and actress, light-skinned with straight hair.

And she espouses the sort of puritanical “modesty” that men love to hear from beautiful women whose desirability might intimidate them if it weren’t hidden beneath high necklines, long sleeves, and midi hemlines.

In other words, Ayesha Curry is a “good” woman. She’s what most black men would deem a wifey.

She stays at home with her kids; she cooks and very probably cleans; she speaks about herself almost exclusively in terms of her roles as wife and mother; she only emphasizes those roles whenever she’s in the spotlight; and she seemingly loves everything about the life that Stephen has given her, so much so that she regularly takes to social media to talk about how she relishes acting in a certain, circumscribed way just for him.

Big-time advertisers and TV programmers–mostly male, mostly white–love her for obvious reasons. She allows them to reach a black audience without associating themselves with someone with a “ratchet” image.

Black men love her, too. She epitomizes what so many of them claim to want. She is pretty, smart, maternal, domestic, devoted, and “modest.”

Yup. That word again.

Fuck that word.

So many black men claim to want a woman that’s “refined.” But there are two definitions of that word that we need to examine–women–before we strive to be refined for these men.

Yes–“refined” means “elegant and cultured in appearance, manner, or taste.”

But it also means “with impurities and unwanted elements having been removed by processing.”

I really do think that most men–when they say they want a “refined” woman–are saying they want a woman that has stripped herself of certain qualities that they–these men–find intimidating.

The main one of these qualities, if the popularity of Ayesha Curry’s statement about covering up in her clothes is any indication, is open and autonomous sexuality.

But that’s the bullshit of being a “good” black woman, if you ask me.

Who are men to think they can dictate women’s behavior like they’re ordering from a menu?

Why should we hide or kill off vital aspects of ourselves to placate them when they’re being disingenuous, to a certain extent, about what they want?

Men say they want a “good” girl–someone modest. Someone “moral.”

But if you balk at having premarital sex, if you balk at having kinky sex, if you balk at satisfying any sexual desire or fetish they can cook up, a lot of men will stop dealing with you.

Or they’ll start cheating on you in order to get their appetite met.

They’ll shame you for being what they call “prudish” or even “childish.”

They play the same game with money, too: They shame “independent” women, but they shame so-called “gold-diggers,” too.

The truth seems to be that men want women to be circus performers–tightrope walkers–when it comes to our personae.

They want women to have a healthy sense of themselves as sexual beings, but they also want control over a woman’s sexuality, so they don’t have to be afraid of it.

Because a woman that knows what she wants sexually, and is willing to pursue it, if she isn’t satisfied with you, and she isn’t scared to go after sex, might leave you. She might pass you up for someone that satisfies her more.

But a woman that has attached her sense of moral decency to her sense of sexuality is a lot easier to manipulate. You can make her so afraid to be perceived as a slut that she doesn’t pursue sexual satisfaction through the normal means, which is–whether men want to hear it or not–sleeping with multiple (I said “multiple” not a “multitude” because, you know, diseases and dissociation) partners until you find someone that “does it” for you–pun intended.

You can make her so afraid of behavior that will bar her from finding a “good” man that she dresses like a church mother when she actually feels like a hot mama.

And any “good” black woman will tell you (my hand is up right now because I am a serial monogamist in a 15-year relationship with the father of my daughter) that we often get treated just as badly as the so-called sluts when we’re dealing with men.

I did a lot of trying on sexual attitudes in my teens and twenties, and I got cheated on and left when I was a “good” girl, and I got cheated on and left when I was a “bad” girl.

When I broke “The Rules” and slept with guys early in the relationship, or when they weren’t my “man,” I got shitted on, and I got shitted on by guys that I slept with exclusively for years and loved with as much of my heart as they would take.

I have never been the “sex bomb,” showing skin or whatever, but I can talk shit with the best of them. I have talked my shit, and I have bitten my tongue. I have tried to be everything I thought a man wanted, and, with my boyfriend now, I actually tried to act as wild as I could in the beginning to “test” him–to see if he would run away from a rawer, realer version of me than I usually presented to men that I wanted to date.

The irony is that after all of that he has proven to be my most genuine, committed, and appreciative partner. I thought I would chase him away by being forward, but I actually drew him to me.

I asked him once, after we’d gotten together, why he didn’t think I was “wild,” and he told me: He did think I was wild, but I wasn’t just wild. I was smart. I was sweet. I was funny. I was talented. I was devoted to my family and friends. I might’ve had a dirty mind and mouth, but I also had a good heart and open mind.

The bullshit of being a “good” black woman–then–is that it allows men to be more comfortable with you, but it can rob you of the ability to be comfortable.

It allows men to be lazy–governing themselves from an insecure or unevolved place rather than having to deal with a lot of the complications of love and attachment that we women have to deal with–trying to partner with people that have an immense amount of sexual freedom to move around in.

A lot of you “good” girls are playing a role that isn’t a true reflection of how you feel about sex or your sexual self in order to make a man feel “safe” with you.

You’re dimming your confidence and/or desirability because he can’t handle it, as if that’s your problem and not his.

You must know, though, that you’re not necessarily decreasing the chances of having your heart broken or being abandoned by doing that–or increasing your chances of getting or keeping a man.

You’re not guaranteeing that a man will choose you over the rest of the “hoes.” That he will “wife” you like Stephen did Ayesha.

Because a man that needs a woman with her sexuality on a leash is scared, and scared people often do heedless things in the pursuit of protecting themselves.

Like running from intimacy.

Like fronting on love.

Like mistaking a “bad” girl for a bad person.

I have all sorts of muses–women whose femininity and/or womanhood I admire.

Yes–Michelle Obama is one of them, but so is Amber Rose.

And I say fuck so-called respectability politics.

I think women should decide for themselves what “sexy” means, and they should be mindful that their definition comes from their own preferences and propensities.

You can be a “good” black woman if you want. But remember–it’s not an insurance policy. It’s a scratch-off lottery ticket, just like any other romantic ploy.

Statistically, black men marry later and at a lesser rate than any other group of (cis hetero) men in America.

They are more likely to marry outside of the race than black women.

And black divorce rates are unfortunately through the roof.

So be “good” by your own definition and for your own reasons.

Or be “bad.”

Be true to yourself.

Because any love worth having will be an embrace of who you really are.

And the other type of love isn’t worth the effort–the inconvenience–the deprivation or disenchantment–of pretending.


4 thoughts on “The Bullshit of Being the “Good” Black Woman

  1. Woman are forced into so many binary oppositions it’s sickening: “Don’t be a prude but don’t be a hoe. You better breastfeed, but my God, how long are you going to breastfeed?!”
    As always, very insightful post, and so thought-provoking.


    1. Me too. I had to puzzle it out on my own. And I still get stuck in that trap of wanting to be “good.” But I work through it. I’d rather be authentic. True to myself. Thanks for reading. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.


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