I look forward to finding the time or getting the chance to see how a self-described “Black” female “cultural critic” responds to the comedienne Ms. Pat, what she brings to the table. I’m willing to do the respectful research—just not right now… In particular, on episode 540 of the WTF podcast with Mark Maron, Ms. Pat reveals what her mother said to her as a child (no joke). She said two of many things:
White people are better than you so don’t look them in the eyes.
When your man don’t beat you that mean he don’t love you.
What is important here is that this is information transferred from mother to child. My assertion—not backed with respectable statistics—screams out with pessimism about my idea of a “Black feminist” paying full respect of the power a mother has over her children. Even a “ghetto” mother—regarded as “powerless” by patriarchal, nuclear-weapon-possessing standards—wields awesome power over the world view of her children. Being a Black parent three times over my respect for her (poor—or poor with some money) is deep and unwavering.
So, based on my Black experience, I assume that contemporary culture critics would make efforts to ignore or marginalize the significance of what Ms. Pat is saying here. My concern is one who considers themselves “Black” and “educated” would do a very ‘white’ thing and marginalize Ms. Pat—confine her to a small, extreme edge case that we must feel sympathy for but never think about…
So let’s think: In my efforts to prevent my very intelligent male children from becoming post-hip-hop-era misogynists, I attempt to define and frame womanhood as relativistic. This is based on my non-doctorate-level assertion that there are at least two kinds of womanhood: imperial womanhood and indigenous womanhood (and—blah, blah—the same framing applies for so-called manhood). I tell my very intellectual twenty-something year-old son that by default (unless the woman becomes an activist of counter culture) a woman born in American urban culture as we know it will be a patriarchal fascist secular humanist. To be a patriarchal fascist secular humanist is to be by definition confused.
What is also difficult is to explain to my eldest son (who has never been married) is, how can a woman be patriarchal and fascist? This is where Ms. Pat comes in: the second message from her real-world mother explains it all. To consider beating as primary form of passionate communication can only be socialized and commemorated under the context of fascism.
Now, the ladies who think of themselves as “better than” Pat—and her mother—may actually accept this world view passed from mother to child as a fascist one. But these ladies are likely to still marginalize Ms. Pat under the phrase, “What does this have to do with me—or my mother?” What would be seriously unimaginative is to dismiss this entirely by stating, ‘These exact words were never used in my family so what does this have to do with me?’
Let’s move away from the exact words and look at general principles: a beating is a high-energy act of dominance and control upon a passive subject. So another thing Ms. Pat was likely taught as a corollary is something I find from my personal Black experience:
To too many Black women, you do not exist as a man unless you can provide high-energy acts of dominance and control upon one or more passive adult female subjects.
Emphasis must be placed on, you do not exist as a man. When I wrote the poem “void this misogyny” over a decade ago, I repeated the phrase, I am not enough of a man for this same emphasis.
I have learned the motherfucking hard way that it is not my place to get an adult North American woman to understand anything abstract and metaphysical. So what I try to get my sons to understand is this possibility of imposed non-existence in places they may yearn to exist. I define “manliness” as the ability to accept such invisibility within a systemic context. (My father used to tell me, “A man can stand alone.”) What is the system in play here that’s making you invisible, son? Are you trying to get Nazis to love and accept your Jewishness in 1930s Berlin? What party are you not being invited to? Is it an Earth day celebration? …or is it a tea dance on top of a toxic waste dump?
Being a fascist provider…
I have nothing against the phrase, “I want a man to provide for me—and our children.” But this must be distinguished from being a provider of high-energy acts of dominance and control upon one or more passive adult female subjects. You see kids, there are actually a beneficial side to fascism—especially charismatic fascism. Under fascism (when your leaders are winning the wars) there is little expected of you. You really don’t have to do shit but be held captive and you will be taken care of. When your fascist leader does something for you, all you have to do is stand back and watch him do for you. In many brief moments you can feel like you are actually exploiting the fascist as this superman leaps around doing shit for you. From an economic point of view this can be awesome (and too often mistaken for some form of “gold digging” or “whoring”). But then this male bitch starts losing the war, the life as a passive recipient will start to change for the worse…
Ms. Pat is part of the suite of solutions needed for the actual return of Love in the Black world… When she turns all of what I’ve written here into a humorous sound bite (to me she has), she helps to remind the Black world of their actual fucked up Atlanta Housewives situation.
Another part of the solution is our return to communalism—which makes community possible. The traditional African village is based on communalism—so to ignore this is to be hopelessly urban, capitalist and individuated. The fascist world view will always confuse communalism with communism and reduce collective efforts to mob rule—even the tech hipster phrase “crowd sourcing” has a brutish, crude regard for the collective.
The smallest unit of self-sustaining communalism is the collaborative, non-hierarchical-but-role-based relationship between a man and a woman. I have never, ever heard of or read about any couple—especially a self-described “Black couple”—frame their intimate relationships in these terms. In terms of Black history, I can see glimmers of such intimate relations between, say, Ida B. Wells and her husband (who sold his newspaper business to her while they were married—instead of “giving” it to her).
Ms. Pat reminds me that nothing substantial will change in the “at risk” Black “community” as long as these issues of non-hierarchical intimacy (without regard for sexual orientation—because “gay” relations can be very fascistic also) remain unresolved, with most of us actually proudly swaggering around that we are rid of each other—or we have power over others—or Afro-masochistically: another has power over that smirking pretty one.
Everyone in what bell hooks calls a “dominator culture” suffers from the anti-depressant-prescribed sickness of the intimacy of fascism. It’s just that Black version of this—the Black woman version of this—kicks my ass the most. Yet again: it’s the Blues, baby.
Fade out to Depeche Mode’s “Master and Servant”…