Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bitch Is The New Black?
No. Subliminal Sexism & Racism
Is The Same Old New Black

Maybe Helena Andrews came up with the catchy title of her unpublished book, Bitch Is The New Black, which is about chronic loneliness in the college educated African American woman, but as I see it, the imprint on the American conscience will be Black Is The New Bitch.

Yep, once again black women are the recipients of another lie that makes us one dimensional stereotypes. Jezebel, "strong", mammy, magical Negress, and now "lonely black bitch", only this time, bitch is being paraded via the title as some sort of fashion statement.

Hell, no wonder the publisher jumped on Andrews' manuscript and fronted her the money before it's complete: it feeds into their white racism and the "mystery" of black people. See everyone! Even when they're doing good, they're doing bad!

I don't review books or movies unless I have actually read them. This book might be quite good, or it could suck. I dig the theme of loneliness in black women, which isn't new and has been around at least since the 1980s when Audrey Chapman, a professor and radio show host pitched the idea of man-sharing, since there were so few eligible men to go around for the sistahs.

I read the Bitch Is The New Black review in the Washington Post and the opinions of several bloggers and a bunch of their readers. The author's take on the disproportionate loneliness among unmarried, educated black women is on target. Where she messed up in her interview is the frivolous nonsense about needing a "winter boo". Look, either you want a boo or you don't, and if one is seen as a seasonal accessory then you deserve to be lonesome. Hope that part hits the cutting room edit for the book and movie.

What I take issue with is the title. It plants yet another seed in the minds of black people that we just can't get our lives together, and worse, that black women are bitches.

This falsely validates the sexism among some brothas, and I have already seen a bunch of anti-education-in-women comments on several blogs. (Kudos to VSB, who handled the topic with sensitivity and good suggestions.)

Yep, the bitch azz, Peter Pan niggas are coming out of the closet, admitting that they find grown azz women unapproachable and undateable, yet still won't man up to finding a woman smarter or more successful than them intimidating.

Peter Pan, if you recall, never grew past adolescence. The educated black woman, on the other hand, is generally someone who took responsibility for learning how to be a self-sufficient adult.

The educated or uneducated black man who is emotionally arrested in their teen fantasies of what a woman should be like resents the truly adult woman. She thinks he's grown because he has the body and birthday of an adult, and maybe even his own college degree, but she's been fooled.

These two mix like oil and water, with him acting like a sour, pouty middle school kid who views her like a teacher instead of an equal. He's a hypocrite, too. He sees equality as something he wants for his sons and daughters, but not in his woman.

You see it too often: the educated professional man who marries the clerk with a high school diploma, then snickers on those rare occasions when he meets a woman professional who married the guy in the mail room. These are the same men who would have a stroke if their own daughter did the same thing.

So now Hollywood will be bankrolling a film with this outrageous title to further divide the sexes in the black community. I can't help but wonder if they'd have paid a lick of attention to this book idea if it had been titled,

The Loneliness of The Educated Black American Woman

with a long subtitle of:
How Generations of Racism, Crappy Schools, Job Discrimination, Liquor Stores & Drugs On Every Corner, And Injustice & Mass Male Incarceration Screwed Up Black Relationships

Despite the title, I wish Helena Andrews well, because she does have experiences and a message that will resonate with many black women. Unfortunately, the Peter Pans won't hear it, and the unintended consequences may be further spreading the propaganda message that black women are indeed, bitches.

Given all this, I'd love to see a book on the back story of the publishers who were so eager to to promote it. Surely they must see successful black women as bitches, too, or they wouldn't have so readily embraced it. That's the book I want to read or the movie I want to see, with them toasting their glasses to yet another profitable black exploitation media venture.

I'd title that hidden story within the story:
Subliminal Sexism & Racism Is The Same Old New Black.


  1. See, sometimes I feel like I'm going way too far with my uber conspiracy theories, but this right here is realer than real. I'm so done with that chick! And I'm not mad at her being a business woman, I'm mad at her being serious. How is she so bewildered about her status quo? And then on the larger scale, I take issue with folks' refusal to acknowledge when we misappropriate words, phrases or ideologies and try to hoist them as something other than what they are. See: B!tch in Helena's sense. A dead giveaway is when you try to explain it away. It is not an empowerment thang, it's an excuse to treat men like peons who should vie for your attention and if they're in season, they're in luck...

    Woosah...I really could go in on her and her ilk but you've already done enough for me.

  2. Thanks, Bittersweet.
    BTW, I just fine-tuned the title to it's the Same Old New Black, 'cause ain't nothing new about it.

  3. Even though I've written a post with the same title "Bitch Is The New Black" (which discussed a totally different topic) I take issue with her title as well. How does one label themselves a "bitch" and yet be appalled because they're lonely or single? It's beyond me.

    One may be a bitch in corporate America if she feels the need, but check that shyt at the door when pursuing a romantic relationship. Bitchiness and Romance don't mix no matter how you try to equate it.

    And don't worry, I don't think Hollywood is going to greenlight the movie with that title. They will change that at least.

  4. I read about the upcoming book on WaPo as well after somebody pointed me in that direction. The concept of it being the black version of Sex in the City is cool, and is a necessary narrative to be told.

    But like you, I'm afraid that it will do nothing but further polarize the sexes - which is what the publishers are banking on as you suggested. Yep, nothing like having niggas fight among each other.

    My other concern is that it may be chock full of the same tired excuses used by both black men and women. It should make for a good movie especially with that title. As a hook the title is great. But it is yet to be seen whether it in itself is a setup. I wish it would be because it does reinforce various stereotypes.

    Peter Pan Niggas?

    Yeah Kit, I'm stealing that one...

    it made me laugh.

  5. Thank you for giving voice to my misgivings about the title, the possible publishing backstory, and the mainstream read of this book. I do also wish her the best, but so much about this just BUGS!

  6. Hmmm. Seeing as my boyfriend I just announced to our families that we will be getting engaged next year, I wonder if I should write a book about relationship success stories. But would anyone want to read it? It seems that the woeful narrative is so much more popular.

    I will say that my problem with Ms. Andrews stems from her seeming lack of self-awareness. You can't date men you aren't attracted to, proceed to act condescending towards them, and then whine about being single. Neither of those behaviors is conducive to finding a mate.

    To get back on track though, you bring up some valid points. The framing of her book and the article are extremely unsympathetic and give more ammunition to black men who think that having more than one degree makes a woman too uppity.

  7. You kept it trill on this one.

    Tell me where you got your new comments set up from. I've been wanting to change mine.

  8. I first read about this on VSB's blog, and yes i agree they handled the subject matter quite well. We all know that these women exist...hell i'm one of them, but i am for dayum sure no BITCH! How do you equate being professional black woman to being the new BITCH of society? This is not meant to be a compliment because if it was, she wouldn't be talking about how although we are highly successful not even our own men want us. I would like to think that this wasn't this sisters title, but one formed by the publisher and editing staff. A title with shock value to increase sales, to gain more interviews,etc...I disagree that this will increase polarization between black men and black women...that is already at an all time high...i would like to think like the brothers of VSB have suggessted that both of us, men and women need to step up to the plate, pride aside and find an understanding, rebuild our relationships and tell the rest to go eff themselves.

  9. oh please Kit,
    How could she not write the book and how could she not feel that way?

    Take a look around you, even around the blogosphere...
    You can barely have a disagreement with any one on a topic without being called.. 'erm.

    Take a look around, you will find just like in real life, there are many places where black women will shut up for fear of their personality being crucified as opposed to their point of view.

    We keep being told, we are too loud, too much, too strong, aggressive, bitchy, unable to comprehend, angry, bitter based on...erm.. I dunno.

    Why does this woman possibly believe her experience is the sum total of the black woman experience, because that is what the black community spits at most of us day in, day out to silence us.

    Someone somewhere is going to come out and say, oh! I bet she was looking in high fallutin' places, if only black women will just lower their standards, she'd never look at the mail room clerk...

    There's bound to be some other fool talking bout 'oh black women got a degree think they are all that, they aim to high'.

    you ever heard anything as ridiculous as that?. I mean Kit, really you ever heard of anyone complaining that you aim 'to high'. Damn.

    And in the very next breath, there's bound to be some other person talking out the side of their neck about... ohhh I bet she wants a thug, if only she looked at the decent brothers, you know the ones who might not earn a lot, the ones who are a little overweight, the ones not pulling in more than 50K a year, the ones who blah blah blah..

    It's always the same story, I swear to God its beyond hilarious. lol.
    Anyway, that's my take.

    This woman needs to stop believing the bullshit, always aim fucking high. ALWAYS. If you get there.. great. And if you don't at least you tried.

    I know plenty of dudes who are married and lonely as hell. They whine about it, complain about it, bitch about it.

    Damn, I swear only the black community can make what is and should be a hot commodity (an educated, upwardly mobile attribute) into a major flaw, yet people have the audacity to say our kids are doomed cos they think being smart is uncool.

    Well look here people, they learnt it from us grown ups. Cos apparently, smart women, intelligent upwardly mobile, successful women are just not cool.

    Anyway, what do I care? (shrugs) I'm not even American. where I'm from
    a woman without a masters degree is beyond ordinary. hmmph.

  10. Fist bump on this, Kit.

    I agree with many of the comments already left, so I won't rehash, but I also wonder if anyone really cares about the back story. I seriously doubt it because that involves placing to onus on others who don't give a damn anyway. I would love to see more serious dialogue around these issues. In my world, single, college educated and black doesn't equate to being a bitch, if it does than I'm a successful one...lol.

  11. Curvy Girl, Fist bump back to ya, and no doubt this will generation a lot of discussion among black men and women. Despite the label, in the long term, I hope it's a catalyst for positive changes.

    Soul, "Damn, I swear only the black community can make what is and should be a hot commodity (an educated, upwardly mobile attribute) into a major flaw, yet people have the audacity to say our kids are doomed cos they think being smart is uncool. Well look here people, they learnt it from us grown ups." Preach it!

    MizRepresent, This generation sure seems to be at an all time high; but we somehow keep training the up and coming one of teens how to be screwed up too. One can only wonder if they'll embrace the identity of Black Is The New Bitch, and turn it into something cool, or will it be another brick in the baggage to drag through life.

    Big Man, Thanks. I'll emailed you w/ that info.

    Brownbelle, "The framing of her book and the article are extremely unsympathetic and give more ammunition to black men who think that having more than one degree makes a woman too uppity."

    Bingo! This label will probably add fuel to many non-black people's perception of the black woman.

    It's like the shit never ends and even when you try, you're assumed guilty, and have to work twice as hard to prove otherwise. Heck, I want to be able to have a bad day occasionally without some jerk at work nodding their head muttering how smart-azz black women really are bitches.

    BTW, congrats on the engagement.

    Miss Kate, You're welcome.

    Rippa, Re: my Peter Pan niggas... lol, ya liked that, eh?

    Monk, "One may be a bitch in corporate America if she feels the need, but check that shyt at the door when pursuing a romantic relationship."


    Bittersweet's Baby, "It is not an empowerment thang, it's an excuse to treat men like peons who should vie for your attention, and if they're in season, they're in luck..."

    *chuckling* Yeah, her 'winter boo' remark in the interview might be one of those off the cuff things that she later regrets. Well, hey, I've stuck my foot in my mouth more than once so I'll just be shaking my head in sympathy if an army of sexists use it as ammo to lynch her.

    I think it will be ammo for idiots to accuse her of being a gold digger, but that's not accurate. She just wants to find at least an equal, and until then, needs some kind of social and sex life.

    The problem is the shock value of the statement. She's already shocked us - and to some degree, put off or offended some folks - with the book title.

    I think it could hurt her image, but worse, that of other single educated black women who may be neither, lonely, bitchy, or given to using an ineligible boo to keep them warm in the winter.

    Maybe I'm a tad old-fashioned in some areas, but I think some things are better left unsaid. I honestly feel bad for her that she blurted that out, because hey, men use the hell out of women too for a myriad of reasons but don't get half the social stigma for their behavior.

    Except for Tiger, but he's got sponsors. :)

  12. All of this seems kind of one sided to me.
    What about all of the "Educated" women (some married) who chase after brotha's like their tnussy was on fire and only his semen could put it out?
    What about all of the "Educated" women (some married) who chase after a brotha' because he seems to own all of the required material goods?
    What about all of the "Educated" women (some married) who still have the emotional and social skills of a high school kid?
    Believe me, some women (even married ones) are just as immature as are some men.

    IMOHO - This is more of a societal issue than a gender issue.

  13. While I'm not Black, nor American, all this still seems strangely familiar to me. If they can't keep women (or a certain group of women) down anymore through laws, they attack the one spot that is universally sensitive, the need to be loved and to find a mate. I've seen many intelligent, cultured women in my country, refraining from expressing an opinion and from discussing serious matters, for fear of seeming masculine and intimidating. If you were too smart to be patronized, you became either one of the guys, or a "bitch".
    It's a very simple way of robbing women of their femininity, and it has nothing to do with the classic meaning of "bitch" (mean, inconsiderate, aggressive); it just means "shut up and look pretty, or you'll die alone".
    For the women of financial means and education, I don't think that caving to these pressures is worth it, just to get a mate. It's not like uneducated, poor women don't get dumped, abused, manipulated, or cheated on, all the time. The difference is that they may be forced to stay in those relationships, because they have no means to break free. If nothing can guarantee your ticket into a good relationship, at least you should secure your ticket out of a potential bad relationship, and that ticket is financial independence.

  14. Marianne, I am really glad you joined this discussion, thank you. You said it so well, and I'm old enough to remember when the idea of feminism - as the cure to sexist discrimination - swept across the country.

    The very same media types twisted it to be something only hairy, loud-mouthed, bitchy lesbians embraced. The propaganda was so effective that by the time the 70s were dead, so was any desire for most women to identify themselves as one. The cost was just too damn high in personal relationships.

    My concern now is that young up and coming black teen girls will be misled to think that getting a college or grad degree won't be worth it. A good education is still the best ticket out of Low Wage Land for black folks in particular, so we are doubly screwed if this happens.

    Ugly Black John, The first two of your three what abouts could be infatuation or love; the last one, well, a degree doesn't guarantee emotional maturity.

    And I don't know why you added in married women so much, since they aren't relevant to the book, it's title, or this post, but me thinks you've had some very unpleasant experiences with them.

    And what's with repeatedly putting the word "EDUCATED" in caps and quotes? I have a feeling you have a lot to say about all this, and if you write a post on it, let us know here. I wanna read this.

  15. I'm depressed about publishing. That's why I delayed posting on this topic.

    This is exactly the sort of book publishing would love.

    They segregate blacks and treat us as if we are somehow wildly different. Check out the latest cover of PW if you don't believe me. A black woman with a head full of afro pics--touting books by black Americans, AA lit, since it's SO different from anything whites or others write and our books can't be mentioned in the same breath (or genre) with theirs.

    Don't get me started.

  16. Mmkay so I originally came across this topic on VSB and saw your post and decided to check out your blog (which seems pretty cool btw).

    SO here's my take on the subject as a young SBW. Before reading this post I was avoiding reading the actual review on the Washington Post site and I just browsed through it and I think people are being a bit hard on Ms. Andrews. From what I read it doesn't seem like she's encouraging BW to be "bitches" or w/e... it seems like she's just trying to reveal how difficult it is for a young educated BW to find a suitable partner and I don't see anything wrong with that. I do hate how black women are being portrayed as bitches and I know people will read the title and get the wrong idea BUT hopefully more people will look past that and actually uncover the real message behind this whole thing. I plan to read the book and I'd definitely go watch the movie if it went through. && the whole winter boo thing clearly wasn't serious. I'm sure if she were to find a guy she really liked she wouldnt dump him in the summer just so she could be "free". People need to stop being so uptight.

  17. I don't know what to think about this book or the woman that wrote it. I have never heard of either her or her book until this post. But I do have an opinion about this topic. I do not think that a woman is a bitch just because she might have a little bit of an edumacation. I don't think that a woman is a bitch because she demands the respect that all women deserve. I think that every woman is capable of being a bitch, educated or not. What I don't like is women that claim that "independent" I don't need a man shit, and then get pregnant or turned out by the biggest piece of shit little boy they can find and then complain about their baby daddy. Then they have the nerve to come back and give the famous line "ain't no good men". There are plenty of good men out here, it is just your "independent" choices that are fucked up.So if this is what she is talking about when she says "bitch is the new black", then I agree with her.

  18. This article annoyed me. Andrews (and whoever else was involved) comes off as bourgeoisie and elitist - things that mix with me like oil and water. The self-righteous attitude is disgusting. She also seems very shallow and superficial, 2 OTHER things that mix with me like oil and water.

    I'm sick of articles and books and films always talking about how lonely Black women are. That shit is tired, in my opinion. If women like Andrews didn't have such an elitist attitude, maybe it'd be easier to find someone. She acts as if her shit doesn't stink.

    And just to qualify what I said (whether anyone is curious), I share (one of) the same alma mater(s) as our dear commander-in-chief. I would NEVER have such a ridiculous attitude.

  19. Anonymous-Asada

    humm...I saw the video.
    She is not a social scientist ( so alot of what she writes is based on personal experience and research- not anylysis on social issues).

    Plus, she's a writer, so you know she's trying to make a name and get a meal. It's competitive out there!

    I get the " young, with everything to prove" vibe from her. I can't blame her for doing this, Anya kamenetz got a name for herself essentially complainig about issues taht faced her age group (Generation Debt-an excellent read by the way).

    It was a long complaint ( with good analysis) about being college educated, without a fulltime job, working more with fewer benefits and young. Which is a trend these days.

  20. Real Hustla, Thanks.

    Wildflower, Yep, they love promoting us as caricatures, and that's what the title does.

    Anonymiss, The video was interesting. She is a spunky black woman, I'll give her that. I hope the book is good and the movie better. If they paint black woman as chronic die-hard bitches though, well, that would suck.

    Dirty Red, I'll reiterate: this post wasn't a book review, it was a protest of the title. Now, the theme of the book hits a chord with many black women, and not just the type you spoke of. I hope you keep an open mind about this subject, because this might be case of you can't judge a book by it's cover. If this is true, there's much to learn. If not, a lot of black women are going to be pissed.

    Spinster, Yeah, she did have that bourgy-elitist flavor in the style she dismissed the ordinary guy. It's one thing to want your educational equal - there might be more to talk about and have in common, and it's also cool to prefer your economic equal, but it's a whole different ball game when you look down on those with less. She might be a PR person's nightmare.

    Asada, Thanks. I'll check out the book you mentioned, Generation Debt.

  21. One last thing:

    Black women aren't the only women who have man problems like this. This cuts across all races/ethnicities and all socioeconomic statuses. So the focus on us Black women annoys me too.

    Epic fail. :-/

  22. Standing Ovation. Wow. So on point in a slightly different way than I blogged about. Loves it!

    I too love the wit of the PPN (Peter Pan...)

  23. "Educated" should be read as "successful".

    Successful women have had to be the boss, take the lead and make the tough choices.
    Successful men have done the same.

    The problem isn't that Black women or Black men are bad.
    The problem is that we skipped a couple of generations who understood how to share power in a household or relationship.

    It's really just a clash between two people who aren't used to making compromises.

    On the other hand;
    When people settle for someone not of their status - problems arise when the lust fades.

  24. Just discovered this blog. Great post.


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