Every so often, I’ll receive interesting queries on the leagues of social media pages I operate (up to 82 Likes on Facebook! WHO’S THE MOST POPULAR?!) that are as thought-provoking as they are typed into a user interface. They’re more deserving of 1-2 paragraph answers afforded through Facebook and Twitter.
That’s why I’ve devoted this post to debut my advice/opinion column (not to be confused with my op-ed column, EAT POOP!), “Ask a Genial Black Man!” !!! The inaugural installment has three questions; two of them have been expanded upon from the original Facebook responses. Delight in the quips!
This first one is from Facebook:
Q: Why do you think Chris Brown is so hated for his domestic abuse, yet Terrence Howard [is] hardly mentioned? [Actor Terrence Howard, a serial domestic abuser, recently had a second restraining order filed against him by his ex-wife.]
A: Good question. Howard isn’t as public or as well-known as Brown is. Brown is always in the public eye and on social media, and he regularly engages in dickish behavior. Howard seems to have slightly better publicists and lawyers to reduce attention for this stuff.
A lot of actors have had domestic violence in their past–including Josh Brolin, Michael Fassbender and Wesley Snipes. (Snipes is rumored to have beat Halle Berry to the point of her having hearing loss.) Unlike Chris Brown, the majority of them seem to not act out in public.
Even celebrated, notorious, and abusive “bad boys” like Sean Penn, with a history of rude behavior (passed down to his son) and being a buzzkill, seem to skate away with nary a blemish to their reputation. Though his most famous acts of awfulness, during the time of his marriage to Madonna between 1985-1989, probably would have 5 percent of the press if it happened now compared to every Chris Brown dick move. And that may be to due to a combination of good publicists, lawyers, staying out of sight when necessary, and just not being black.
Don’t get me wrong: race is definitely a factor in domestic violence coverage because it perpetuates the stereotype of the angry black man. But many of the famous abusers have the sense and maturity not to court controversy.
This next one is a time-tested question:
Q: WHY CAN’T I SAY THE N-WORD?!?!?
A: Every race other than African Americans want–CRAVE–the permission to say this word with bated breath. And I see no reason why they should.
I honestly don’t think they plan to use it for a sensible purpose; 99.5 percent of those complaining about their N-Word privileges are as enlightened as, well, Chris Brown. And the reasons are usually to rap along to a hip-hop song or imitate what they hear or see from black folks, And more forward racists don’t even bother to ask permission before going on ignorant tirades. (Though a genteel racist that asks consent before spewing bile would be a funny image.)
Those wanting to use the N-Word are ignoring the charged history the word contains, partially due to the fact that they didn’t pay attention to that subject in school. So I’ve devised analogy to explain my reasons.
Let’s say that there’s a school bully, and this bully has been picking on the nerdy kid throughout their time in school–somewhere between 4 months and 400 years. The principal lets it go for awhile but starts punishing the bully the longer the behavior goes on–with more dire repercussions.
The bully gets the general hint and acts good around the nerd; meanwhile, the nerd is able to cultivate a peer group where they can bully each other in a playful way. This teasing comes across as old-fashioned bullying to the bully, and the bully wants to join in. But the nerds know that the bully will be violent whereas they were trying to be left alone.
The “bullying” is the use of the N-Word. THAT’S WHY YOU CAN’T USE THE N-WORD, ASSHOLES.
And one more from Facebook:
Q: As a Socratic question, should we be redefining masculinity or celebrating it? Somewhere along the line, most of us wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for an aggressive male.
A: I think you can be masculine without reacting regularly in violent outbursts. There are shades of grey.
While masculinity pertains to virtues commonly ascribed to men, such as loyalty and physical strength, those hard lines are blurring due to changing gender roles. Qualities that are synonymous with masculinity (boldness, hard work, being the breadwinner, control, being able to fix things, challenging authority) are increasingly possessed–and usually looked down upon–in women.
Another wrinkle in the changing face of masculinity is the family unit. The so-called traditional family unit is no more, and single parents and same-sex couples are raising children that embody the values of their caregivers.
I’m not the most masculine person in the old-school, man’s man sense. I’m introverted, I can barely fix anything that requires more than a screwdriver, I love cooking and baking, and I find most things associated with babies to be adorable. And yet I take great pride in being loyal to my family and friends, putting in hard work wherever and whenever I take on a task, and I carry a strong-but-silent nature that would make Clint Eastwood look like a chatterbox.
Masculinity shouldn’t be coupled solely with aggressive behavior because there is much more to it. Violence and aggression are two different things, the former being a negative escalation of the latter. You can be a bold go-getter without resorting to sociopath or rage-induced acts.
There are great traits consistent with masculinity (like hard work and loyalty), and it is time for them to be recognized as gender-neutral. Those qualities can be sexy in a man and a woman. (I know that I get turned on by a lady that can work a 40-hour-a-week job and not cheat on me.) It’s 2013, dammit. We’ll continue to be here because of aggressive men and men–and better people if those predecessors aren’t boiling dickbags.