8 Reasons Why Formenism Can Ruin Your Love Life

17 Jun

Despite the fact that “How Feminism is Ruining Your Love Life” traffics in the worst kind of stereotypes around black feminism, we want to respond in the spirit that we’d like to think the original piece was intended. The stated goal of the article is to help sisters, albeit those who have “misguidedly” used “radical black feminism” and, as a result, are single, or rather, man-less. Unfortunately, in the guise of helping folks who have been led astray, this piece will undoubtedly lead some sisters down a road to perdition and to a world of hurt.  When it comes to sisters’ lives, we don’t play. And for that reason, we are also gonna keep it CRUNK. 

  1. Not all women want a man. Some of us want women. Some of us want (multiple) men. Some of want to be, and are, gloriously single. We can experience intimacy in multiple ways. Black women are complicated. And, lowkey, calling single sisters “mules” because they are holding it down by choice or circumstance—well, that ain’t what Mother Zora had in mind.
  2. Femininity? How about femininities (and masculinities)? There are multiple ways to be a black woman. See #1.  (Also, 1892 called. They want their old-ass notions of Black womanhood back.)
  3. It takes a village, not only to raise a child, but also to be(come) a fully actualized human being. Perhaps sisters wouldn’t have to work so hard if we got rid of this patriarchal hierarchy in which female friendships come last. Sister-friends and other forms of family need not necessarily compete in one’s life. (Relationships should not in fact be user-friendly. Beware of any sister that puts her girls on a DVR plan—i.e., pauses them at will, fast-forwards through the inconvenient parts, listens to and makes time for them only when she has nothing better to do on a Saturday night, etc.)
  4. The “How To Get A Man Checklist Meme”= #Fail. Like majorly –and if a list about finding a partner doesn’t include attention to things like shared interests, politics, goals, etc., but is (yet another) checklist on what sisters don’t (read: never) get right and what we need to fix about ourselves then, frankly, it’s the last things sisters need. Can a day go by when there is not a pejorative list of do’s and don’ts for black women? (Seriously, this author sounds like the love child of Scheherezade Ali and Steve Harvey; T.D. Jakes is the Godfather, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan officiated at the shotgun wedding, where Tyler Perry was the videographer.)
  5. Formenism =#setup; Feminism=#comeup: Formenism[1] is the misguided belief (read:  sexist man’s wet dream) that giving in to every traditional and stereotypical gender role for women will guarantee that you get a man and live happily ever after.  That is, you will happily submit while T.I.’s “You Can Have Whatever You Like” plays in the background.  There is however a catch…
  6. It’s hard to yell when the bedrail’s in your mouth! (We told y’all it was a setup!) So, um yeah, giving women contradictory messages (“a ho is a ho is a ho” but don’t be a prude) about sex is unhelpful. No one is saying go fuck with reckless abandon. But don’t abandon your desires when you fuck.  We advocate responsible, fulfilling sexual activity. Why?: cuz we grown. And cuz sex is not just for men. Women want it too. And they should be able to get it on their own terms. No apologies. Wonder how that, “hey you should just conform to the sexist sexual double-standard cuz that’s how it is” would’ve worked on the whole slavery and racism thing?  And in case you hadn’t heard, Black feminist sex is the best sex ever. Even scientists agree.
  7. For the record: there are plenty of sisters out here looking for a dude to be the head of her family, while she serves as his willing “helpmeet” and she isn’t having any more luck than the rest of us.  Can’t blame that on feminism. Try again.
  8. Madame Noire might as well be called “Misogynoir”[2] if it’s gonna publish this kind of ish, which promotes dangerous messages about black women in the name of our welfare. We deserve better. #shutitdown

Real talk: we acknowledge that the original piece speaks to a sort of disgruntled feminism, the kind that might occur among sisters who played all their feminist cards right and still don’t have the (progressive) man to show for it.  We feel your pain, truly. But asking us to turn a caustic, critical gaze back on black women, rather than to take a good hard look at the systems that perpetuate patriarchy, sexism, and the like is unfair and damaging. As CF Eesha put it, “Feminism is not about ‘living your best life.’ It’s about de-centering yourself so that we can all live our best lives.” And, as CF ReninaJ broke it down, “Feminism is not about being equal to men… We need to be clear about who we want to be equal to. In fact, we need to ask do we want to be equal or do we want to be free?”  At the end of the day, advocating that sisters seek out traditional marriage roles denies the fact that Black women and their partners, be they men and/or women, have been creating multiple models of partnership, family, and love for a very long time. Going backward to a way we never were is not an option; as our sisters at QBG say, black girls are from the future.

 Crunkadelic & Crunktastic 

[1] Sarojini Nadar and Cheryl Potgieter 2010

[2] Term coined by CF Moyazb to describe the particular brand of hatred directed at black women in American visual & popular culture.


20 Responses to “8 Reasons Why Formenism Can Ruin Your Love Life”

  1. SoulfulComings June 17, 2011 at 9:49 AM #


  2. Sweetilocks June 17, 2011 at 11:30 AM #

    True indeed! It’s good to know I’m not alone in my quest for a womanistic romance. Keep spreading the gospel y’all, the rest of the world will catch-up. Or we will just reach those progressive men with open hearts and minds who can appreciate the truth without getting defensive!

  3. dustdaughter June 17, 2011 at 12:17 PM #

    Great post. Love point #3. Boo to the fair weather friends.

  4. E in CT June 17, 2011 at 12:35 PM #

    Yes! Besides that fact that some of those articles are written at a fifth grade level (sorry fifth graders), these articles are so male-identified and lacking in any historical context at all. Is this Madame Noir lady really implying that… if black women would just pretend it was 1950 we’d all have a man. Eyeroll. No mention of the millions of ‘church lady’ types who would give her left arm to submit to a man and is still single. What a crock. I am so glad I held out for a progressive life partner who is as proud to carry my name as I am to carry his.

  5. Tracey Coretta June 17, 2011 at 12:40 PM #

    “Asking us to turn a caustic, critical gaze back on black women, rather than to take a good hard look at the systems that perpetuate patriarchy, sexism, and the like is unfair and damaging.” This gets me every time. Why is the system (the root of many issues) ignored while black women’s actions and attitudes scrutinized and critiqued? I’m not against constructive criticism but when it’s one sided/limited it’s dangerous and unproductive.

  6. Qalil Little June 17, 2011 at 1:00 PM #

    Thank you for a well thought out blog.

    It is strange that everything is blamed on feminism. Rape, abortion, child soldiers, environmental hazards and plagues. I think even the “spiritual rapture” was blamed on feminism!



  7. Lynwellyn Gudger June 17, 2011 at 6:52 PM #

    I think that Feminism at times engages in an intellectualism that alienates certain social thinkers. (I have borrowed this sentiment from my understanding of Audrey Lord.) With that said, you are spot on.

    Furthermore, I would like to comment on the individualism run rampant in Madame Noire’s blog post. The point of Feminism, especially Black Feminism, never (yes, never say never, but I’m saying never.) was to create individual progress, but to develop and build communities recognizing the diverse nature of these communities. That is to say, Black Feminism is about structural and institutional barriers that perpetuated sexism, racism and homophobia in the African American community and mainstream society. Yes, Black Feminism is about strengthening self; but, the idea that Black Feminism failed because an individual “woman” does not have a man is insulting. It is reductionist; it engages in the type of sexism “we” -Black Feminist – are working to discredit. In addition, Madame Noire’s discourse “white washes” Black women: we are only women; we are only middle-class with corporate jobs or aspiring to be president; we are only complain about not having a man.

    So lays the problem. Some social thinkers may not have the intellectual capacity to understand that movements are greater than the sum of their parts.

    …And on a personal note, I do not have a damn perm or relaxer.

    • crunktastic June 17, 2011 at 7:25 PM #

      I concur on all counts Lynwellyn. And I, too, gave a serious side eye to that assumption that all Black women still rock perms. This is not 1990!

      Yes, the conundrum about Black feminism being too academic is one Crunkadelic and I discuss frequently and we discusssed it when writing this piece. So we tried not to be overly academic, and to acknowledge in this piece that Black women have real concerns regarding finding partners.

      What irritated me about this piece was that the author wanted to claim all the political and social gains of feminism without any of the responsibility for it. And it is only around feminism that I see sisters make this move. When it comes to civil rights issues and issues related to economics, we feel some stake in holding our communities and our workplaces, etc, accountable. We seem to get that individual acts of racism are no more permissible than structural ones. We seem to understand that combatting poverty’s effects through mentoring, community work, etc is an important part of the overall structural picture (even when we can’t articulate it in those terms). But for many women, when it comes to feminism, they only want it to matter in terms of what they experience after they leave the house (or so they think), but they want the structures of patriarchy to stay in tact inside (not recognizing that if this happens or had happened, they’d have absolutely no protection against domestic violence or marital rape, and few economic options in divorce).

      Anyway, you added another layer to what we’ve said here.

      Thanks for reading.

      • Lynwellyn Gudger June 17, 2011 at 8:41 PM #

        I am not arguing that your critique is too academic. I was attempting to say (and apparently failing to say) that Madame Noire’s critique is lacking an intellectual quality. I love intellectualism. Your critique is masterful. No disrespect.

      • crunktastic June 17, 2011 at 8:47 PM #

        I didn’t take that as your sentiment at all. I was really just agreeing with you that we thought about the same things. Thanks again for reading, :).

  8. Tracy June 18, 2011 at 3:45 PM #

    Thank you for this.

    Why is it that articles like the one mentioned are supposed to be empowering to black women yet I always feel a bit brutalized after reading them?

  9. dominant intelligence June 21, 2011 at 8:37 AM #

    “Black feminist sex is the best sex ever. Even scientists agree” <— Where can I find that?

    • crunktastic June 21, 2011 at 8:46 AM #

      Click the link to the scientists article. It says that relationships in which one partner identifies as feminist are usually very strong relationships. No, it’s not about Black feminism in particular, but a more general affirmation of feminism in relationships.

  10. Medusa June 21, 2011 at 10:57 AM #

    “Seriously, this author sounds like the love child of Scheherezade Ali and Steve Harvey; T.D. Jakes is the Godfather, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan officiated at the shotgun wedding, where Tyler Perry was the videographer.”

    Please stop. I’m at work.

    Seriously, that Madame Noire article made me want to vom. The sad part is that I live somewhere where the overwhelming majority of people will agree with that article.

  11. Rocky June 21, 2011 at 1:36 PM #

    Said everything that ran through my head as I read that article.
    What really made me chuckle was the fact that, realistically, how many black women do I even know that identify as feminists?? Who is he/she (?) talking to? Where dey do all a dis at?
    Where are all these sexually liberated, not taking shit hussies living at? Because I’d like to not be tardy to the party. Please and thanks.

  12. Short Sale June 22, 2011 at 9:39 AM #

    Why is it that articles like the one mentioned are supposed to be empowering to black women yet I always feel a bit brutalized after reading them?

    • Trudy June 23, 2011 at 8:42 AM #

      Good question. I never end reading them with a smile at all. :-/ Glad blogs like this exist to balance that.

  13. Anthony Ware June 22, 2011 at 10:48 AM #


    Black women are not returning to 1950. Black people either. The Madame Noir article urging Black women (grossly anti-intellectual) to return to an ideal that never was is ridicolous. It ignores white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

    Catch a fire Ward Clever!

    • Layla June 22, 2011 at 11:02 PM #

      It ignores social conditioning to argue an unfounded, historically unproven modern “social disposition” — championing a largely Caucasian middle class notion of femininity as our new cultural ideal. Bullshit.

  14. Trudy June 23, 2011 at 8:41 AM #

    Brilliant. Wow. Just when I thought feminism took a turn for racism, classism and “blame a Black woman each week-ism,” a post like this exists.

    First of all, I cried tears of joy and laughter at this: “Seriously, this author sounds like the love child of Scheherezade Ali and Steve Harvey; T.D. Jakes is the Godfather, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan officiated at the shotgun wedding, where Tyler Perry was the videographer.” I died. I seriously did. Now that I am resuscitated, I can continue my comment.

    #7 is brilliant. YES. I’ve made this point several times online. IF there are women who love patriarchy and men who love it as well, why are they not together? Why do those men seek women who will not “submit” to their every command and ignore those who will? I’ve yet to meet a woman dying to be submissive in an actual long term relationship. I find this almost comical (I know that is mean) because if there are two people with the exact same vision, even if a vision I am personally not interested in, why are they not together? Why is that type of guy endlessly chasing someone like me who is not interested in living this way? Well the answer is, for them, they receive a bigger pat on the back for “breaking” a woman than to have one already willing to live that way. And that has been the truth I’ve seen anecdotally and academically/research-wise. It’s very fascinating actually.

    I find it interesting that many (not all) men, especially minority men want racial progress but gender regression. They’ll never succeed with this thought pattern, unfortunately. And their failure won’t be only because of White capitalistic patriarchy, it will be because they fail to realize that half a race is the same person they want on their side for racial progress but beneath them in life. How sad really. They cannot want race to be 2050 but gender to be 1950s.

    Keep up the great work. Love this blog. 🙂

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