By Morgan Jerkins
For those of you who are not math or science-inclined—myself included—let me start by telling you how robots are made. An engineer brainstorms the robot’s purpose and what it should do. After that, the engineer designs the robot down to the last bolts and wires. With all the planning, designing, and reconfigurations, one thing must be kept in mind at all times: the robot is to serve the engineer and that person’s needs. Replace the word “robot” with “woman”. Sounds bizarre, right? Because it is. In light of the Ray Rice controversy, many men, such as Dr. Boyce Watkins, Floyd Mayweather, and a string of others have come out in support of the renowned football player and now his battered wife, Janay. All of these criticisms push the stereotype of the “inimitable, strong, Black, woman”.
The strong Black woman is one who endures all wrongdoings against herself for the sake of others, such as her husband and children. She does not show vulnerability and God forbid if she exhibits any sort of flaw. Her way of life exudes selflessness, humility, modesty, grace, and all that times. This type of woman is not real. Yet for hundreds of years, we have fooled ourselves into this ideal for our young Black women to withstand any and everything for the preservation of the family.
The Black family is always under pressure. We are constantly reminded that the majority of Black children are born out of wedlock. Women from religious families are told not to shack up with their significant others, fearing that they’ll never get married. And reality television shows feature long-suffering women who’ll put up with their men cheating just to say that they have someone. We’ve seen it all before. Irrespective of your views on the nuclear family, there is a question that needs to be asked: What is lost in the midst of it all? In other words, does something need to be lost in order to be gained? Sometimes this deficit falls on the woman’s shoulders. There is a dangerous narrative that women should discard self-preservation even if their lives are at risk and that needs to end because the message states that women are of no value unless they are within a familial unit.
Even aside from abuse, think about how many articles, books, and television segments are centered on the women having to reconfigure themselves in order to attract life partners? We’re too slutty, too forceful, too intelligent, too ambitious, or talkative. We have to be perfect selves, not people with flaws who someone else will ideally love and tolerate while helping us become our best selves. Name one piece that tells men to fix their behavior to catch worthy women without the using the Google search engine. That’s not to say that these discussions do not exist, but they are not nearly on the same scale. Men are allowed to be accepted for their potential while women have to already be “ready”, whatever that means.
This is the culture that we’re in, folks. This culture also keeps rape culture afloat; it is the idea that men are entitled to do whatever they want to women, and we have to deal with the harsh end of the consequences. We’re taught to protect ourselves at all costs. If something happens, we should have done something to prevent the situation. Frankly, women are in somewhat of a paradoxical situation: we’re susceptible to harsh criticism that is based on us being the weaker sex yet expected to miraculously rise above it.
When our culture creates these impossible paradigms for women, the impression one gets is that maybe women aren’t desired at all, but robots or balls of clay to mold into whatever shape someone wants. If our intricacies are that dangerous to acknowledge then the problem is not us at all. It’s the fact that day-to-day, women around the world are tearing down these “normalcies” and restructuring the narrative that is dangerous. And in that case, I say, let have.