This is a guest post by Diane Lucas. Diane is an attorney in New York.
The ‘Why are Black Women So Difficult’ debate heated up again when a 3-minute-plus You Tube video animation done by a website called PhilosoG’s, where a professional black woman dictates what she requires in a mate to a professional black man, went viral. Not surprisingly, the video depicts black women as abrasive, overly demanding, and hyper-aggressive. In the last two weeks, this video has been widely circulated by email, with posts on Facebook, on the Grio, MSNBC.com, Essence.com, and many other sites.
The Grio summarized the video, as follows:
“I can’t find any good black man,” the highly educated black female says to a potential mate in the video, who asks “what are you looking for?” As she rattles off a checklist that includes a six-figure income, integrity, good character, good credit and loves his mom, requirements he actually meets, she later details many restrictions including little to no sex.
As she reiterates her demands, he notes the irony of it all: “wow that’s confusing: career-minded, strong, independent woman who doesn’t need a man but you expect to have your way through life paid for by your man.” Yet, when he finally submits to her unrealistic wish list, she tells him “you’re too weak. I need a man with a backbone who won’t let me run all over him. Besides you’re not 6’5 and that’s a deal breaker.”
There are also two ‘comeback’ videos, “Black Marriage Negotiations (Woman’s Perspective)” (depicting a black man who wants a black woman who works, while not making more than him, is independent, cooks everyday, and raises their flock of children, all while maintaining a flat stomach) and Black Marriage Negotiations II (detailing a conversation between a professional black man and a professional white woman who is pursuing him romantically, in which the man rejects her for a black woman), but these were not nearly as popular as the one attacking black women.
The You Tube Black Marriage Negotiation animation was obviously intended to be offensive; it is a caricature of black intra-racial relationships at the expense of black women. The PhilosoG’s video portrayed stereotypes of black women as superficial, unreasonable, overly demanding gold diggers. I previously wrote a post about how damaging, frustrating, and insulting the media’s incessant inquiry of ‘why black women can’t find a good black man?’ is; it’s no surprise that I found this video offensive. But I initially dismissed it as cheap stunt for publicity from a start-up website.
Then it went viral. More frustrating than the video itself were the reactions to it. It was taken by many as social commentary that, although comedic in nature, revealed the truth about black women in relationships. It was widely circulated among young black professionals. I received emails containing the video about a dozen times, even from contacts abroad. Many people found the video to be outlandish, but still, “so true.” There were polarized reactions to the video on Facebook and twitter postings, but the majority of people characterized the video as being true, at least to a certain extent. The Grio and Essence.com featured the video, and highlighted the dramatic reactions. Last week MSNBC discussed it and conducted a poll on whether it was funny or insulting. The results were 81.7% of the respondents thought it was funny and 18.4% thought it was insulting. Many of the commentators on the site thought the video was based in truth. Comments like, “Most black women have fanaticized unrealistic expectations of a black male relationship. The animation is a very close depiction” were a common sentiment.
This video going viral, and the general consensus that its caricature of black women as too difficult to find a man is true, is a painful reminder of how we, as black women, are perceived and characterized by the media, by black men, and by in society in general. We are constantly ridiculed for how we date, and blamed for being unmarryable. This video isn’t new; it’s relying on some pretty tired stereotypes. But it is inaccurate, it isn’t funny and it only serves to perpetuate the all too pervasive image of the unlovable, undateable black woman.