Friday, July 28, 2023

Who's Grooming Who?

I started this piece the weekend the documentary premiered on Amazon Prime, but got distracted by a variety of things, including the rather traumatic collapse of my bedroom ceiling...which is now the story of how I spent my summer in case you were wondering 😩

Since y'all have been saying it LOUD and PROUD (how much you hate the rainbow people) and June is almost done, tell me why you haven't descended on the Duggar Family compound and burned it down to ashes? Because after the documentary I watched earlier this month...

A few weeks ago in a rare instance of me sitting down to watch whatever happened to be trending in real time, I saw #ShinyHappyPeople trending on Twitter, and I thought, oh really so now y'all hate R.E.M. and the B-52s??? Or just the Sesame Street parody (since it took about 6 hours for the backlash to this post to get underway). Then I clicked, and oh my, where to begin?

Let's start with the fact that I was skeptical about the Duggars from the very beginning. Call it my spidey senses for whenever certain shows on cable tend to glorify a particular kind of family structure that reinforces "values" that would have been labeled as dysfunctional or pathological had those families come from my hood. In other words, of course a suburban white family from Arkansas with 19 children (and counting) would star in a hit reality show whereas a Black or Latinx family would have been derided as irresponsible drains on societal resources. (I can only imagine if the Duggars weren't white, y'all would have been complaining about your tax dollars going to support all of those children, regardless of their economic situation. Furthermore, someone would have either called Child Protective Services or found some way to launch a criminal investigation to catch the family engaged in welfare or immigration fraud.)

So no, I was never interested in anything about them. I knew what I knew about the way that certain themes could be sold as wholesome depending on how blonde and blue-eyed and All-American it was packaged to appeal to certain demographics. In that same vein, a show like Teen Mom (originally called 16 and Pregnant) could become a hit on MTV, but if it had aired a single promo on BET, Black Church Mothers United™ would have demanded Bob Johnson's head on a platter.

The Duggars offered a twist on Eight is Enough with the prairie ethos of Little House on the Prairie. I imagine it was the kind of stuff that folks who reminisce about the good old days eat up like a dessert with whipped cream and a cherry on top. We heard a lot about family values in the early aughts, perhaps as a response to the social changes brought by the 90s (racial and ethnic diversity, women changing the modern workplace, expansion of LGBT rights before more letters were added to the acronym). For my part, I had declared my refusal to watch any reality TV programs that gave off even the slightest stench of resembling a circus act, so I had no interest in watching these modern-day Waltons

Instead of focusing on them (right now), I want to talk a bit about their subliminal proselytizing for the Institute for Basic Life Principles (IBLP), the religious organization that was referenced throughout the docuseries. Because whew, I had more than a few flashbacks to some of the stuff I was exposed to while growing up. Now, before anyone gets upset and suggests that I am mis-remembering or mischaracterizing things, I want to issue this important disclaimer: I was NEVER sexually abused, nor am I accusing anyone of doing that to me or anyone I knew. What I will address is how the ideology I encountered parallels some of the teachings that the Duggars followed and as was represented in the documentary. Thus, the second part of my disclaimer: I was NOT raised in a cult.

I was raised in the Baptist church in the 1980s and many of those churches, particularly in the South, tended to be evangelical. Although that was not our official affiliation due to the historical racism of the Southern Baptist Convention, I would characterize the theological leanings of my church as influenced by many of the same traditional fundamentalist teachings. While I don't believe that any of the material developed by the IBLP was formally incorporated into what was offered to us in our youth-centered fellowship, it is accurate to suggest that we were exposed to teachings that were consistent with its more conservative leanings with respect to the role of women and girls.

For example, as teenagers we spent our Friday nights in fellowship with like-minded church kids in chaperoned activities. We were encouraged to date the young men in our peer group (and in hindsight it is ironic to recall that not a one of those church-arranged couples ever married each other). Young women from our church who did get married were expected to include the word obey in their wedding vows. Those who got pregnant out-of-wedlock were brought in front of the congregation to apologize for their promiscuity and fornication (never saw where any young men were similarly punished). It was expected that the girls would serve as ushers, in the choir, and as the youth clerk (which I did), but never as the worship leader. 

Women served under similar restrictions as most churches did not ordain women or allow them to preach. My pastor did not allow women in the pulpit except on Women's Day, and those speakers were never licensed ministers. Women who felt they were called for more than teaching Sunday School typically left for progressive congregations. Or they stifled their ambitions, accepted honorary titles, and channeled their spiritual gifts to other forms of service to the Lord as assigned.

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are older than I am, but we grew up in the same era. Obviously, their upbringing in small town Arkansas differed from mine, but I'm assuming that they had access to the same pop culture that I did in the 70s and 80s. In church we were constantly told that what we enjoyed as entertainment contained demonic messages and inappropriate themes; therefore, they would show these Christian movies at our youth retreats and gatherings. They were terrible, more akin to Christian horror even though they were packaged like Afterschool Specials. Imagine being eight years old and watching a film that claimed barcodes were the mark of the beast (Satan) and that half the people you knew were going to Hell

Even worse, I had relatives who held the same strong opinions against pop culture, so if I was allowed to watch television at their homes, it was only Praise The Lord (PTL) or some other televangelist (ditto for listening to the radio--only Christian radio programs). You want to know what was more traumatic than missing The Superfriends or Looney Tunes on a Saturday morning? Having to sit through hours of Tammy Faye Bakker's singing, Jimmy Swaggert's histrionics, or watching some preacher speak in tongues (because that was supposed to make more sense than talking cartoon rabbits and ducks). 

Thankfully, my parents didn't impose restrictions on our entertainment options based on religious beliefs. In fact, I don't believe they even knew some of the extremes of what we were being exposed to, and I certainly don't plan to tell them now! In particular, my Dad would have objected to any whiff of fundamentalism even as a previously lapsed Catholic, now ordained Deacon. Any objections he had to aspects of popular culture were always political or ideological (because he's been woke since the 60s). As for my Mom, I think she conveniently ignored certain things in order to keep the peace since the fundamentalists were her kin and she was a Preacher's Kid. Perhaps she figured that a little fire and brimstone would keep us appreciative and humble, a clever manipulation tactic in case we thought the grass was greener elsewhere.

The key word here is exposure, as opposed to indoctrination. No one ever said, this is how you must live, and these are the rules that you must follow in order to make it into Heaven. Instead, these were general ideas and concepts that even the most holy and supposedly sanctified folks were willing to ignore if they were impractical. Most of the women worked outside of the home. There were only a handful of families where there were more than four children. Rarely did anyone come to church dressed like Laura Ingalls and no one was sent home for wearing a short skirt (ask me how I know). For all of the talk about demonic influences in the secular world, no one was home-schooled. In fact, at least half of us attended Catholic school, but that is a rabbit hole for another time.

My point is, for people who were raised in a biome of wholesomeness as opposed to those of us who were living in the city, there were always people who had similar concerns about our mortal souls. The divergence in our paths came down to the choices that we were allowed to make for ourselves. No one expressed any qualms about me choosing college instead of marriage after high school, nor did anyone object to my choice to pursue a profession in a male-dominated field. The social changes that came as the decades progressed were disruptive for some of the people in my orbit, but most of them adjusted. I can only surmise that for those who reluctantly had to accept the reality of women having the agency of choice (and not just with respect to having children), the Duggars were the embodiment of their nostalgia for simpler times. 

From my perspective, however, the Duggars are no more authentic than the characters on most TV sitcoms. Even a classic show like The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet was scripted--it starred the Nelson family of actors in various fictional situations. We all know that reality television is staged to maximize interest, so even if the Duggars were this wholesome ideal family on camera, the truth behind the scenes is far from what they portrayed. Half of their children were raising each other while the others were shooting footage for the show for little or no pay. It is rather convenient that the network "found" them right after Jim Bob's political ambitions had been derailed; lucky for him to have had an heir-apparent in eldest son Josh.

It was also lucky that Josh's sexual assault victims, his SISTERS, weren't in a position to demand that he be prosecuted. Instead, they smiled for the cameras and helped him plan his wedding, with the promise that they would soon be of age to be courted and married off* to the delight of millions. By the time the full story of his transgressions against them would be brought to light, the statute of limitations had run. The very idea that a subsequent derivation of the show kept going as if writing Josh off in lieu of getting him therapy or until he finally got convicted for much worse, is...

Exactly the kind of "family values" we ought to exemplify??? Forgive me for regarding Michelle Duggar as the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe instead of some kind of paragon of ideal motherhood. In fact, judge me for wrinkling up my nose and changing the channel when she announced baby #20 on the TODAY Show. And remind me why these people deserve anything other than scorn for the way they trapped Anna Duggar, their own daughters, and are trying to ensnare other young women in their Cult of True Womanhood!

Since you're not reading this in June at the height of the hysteria against the celebration of PRIDE, you've had more than enough time to consider an honest answer to the question posed by my title. Who is being 'groomed' if the worst thing that happens after a drag story hour is your child having questions about makeup? How does being exposed to someone different translate into vandalizing clothing displays at Target? Meanwhile, after watching the Duggars scam that poor girl into marrying their child molester son who also happened to be a used car salesman...

* For research purposes, I went searching for footage of Josh Duggar's wedding to Anna Keller and came across this first video linked above of their wedding planning. I didn't notice the name of the account until after I had watched about 10 minutes, and then noted that there was a second part of the wedding planning and a betrothal video. I am posting those here without comment. Until I sat down to watch the documentary, I had no idea that the Duggars popular enough to fuel an entire cottage industry of tabloid media interest, much like Hollywood celebrities and the British Royals. But also so that everyone is clear, I am not judging their beliefs since I recognize that how God speaks to each of us is personal. The fact that the Duggars and I are on opposite ideological ends of the political spectrum and hold different views on the function of our faith isn't surprising. What did surprise me is what prompted this piece--how exposure and choice impact our outcomes in this life. Regardless of what I was exposed to as a child, I was ultimately free to choose my path in life, and that would be true for most people.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

When Our Children Cry Wolf

All of us are familiar with the story of the boy who cried wolf. For those who aren't, it was about a boy who was tending sheep in the pasture, got bored, so he cried "wolf" to see what would happen. The villagers came running to save him but found him doubled over in laughter at his prank. He did this a second time, so later, when a wolf did appear and the boy called out a third time, the villagers did not come to his rescue and his flock was eaten. In some versions of the tale, the boy was also eaten by the wolf.

Therefore, I understand the various reactions to the story of what might have happened to Carlethia "Carlee" Russell--was she abducted as she claimed, or was this some elaborate cry for attention? Are we entitled to demand an explanation from her, or should we just move on with our lives like those villagers and not come running when the next woman of color goes missing?

I have a lot of conflicting thoughts, some that I shared on social media in response to a post by a classmate that this had been a hoax from the outset. I saw his posts and initially ignored them (because he tends to be provocative), but I also did wonder if there was more to this story than was being reported. What about the wandering toddler on the side of the highway, did no one else who was driving along at that same time see him? Was there any video surveillance that could assist? And once it was reported that she had returned home, when could we expect a statement issued or an interview with Gayle King to warn other young women who might similarly be vulnerable?

Because I was attending a conference, I could not follow the chatter, but I happened to be scrolling my Twitter feed when the news of her return was released. At the time, I just sent up a prayer of thanksgiving that she was found, but I must admit that the details provided regarding her return were suspicious. So I waited patiently for some kind of update that would quiet my skepticism. That didn't happen, because as I watched the briefing offered by the Hoover Police in real time, my heart sank without hearing much of what they had to say. The presser wasn't even finished when I saw the first wave of "I told you so" vindication posts and the inappropriate memes. 

Since quite a few comments referenced him, I thought back to a few years ago when the Jussie Smollett saga generated a lot of righteous outrage due to its perfectly scripted homophobia and violence fueled by Trumpism. While everyone was offering messages of support, I recall sitting on my Twitter fingers waiting for a new twist. As his story unraveled, I was actually relieved (not because of the resulting fallout that destroyed his acting career and threatened the career of Cook County State's Attorney), but because such a brazen attack in Chicago at 2AM that no one heard or saw was too ridiculous to be true.

Thus, as Russell's disappearance was initially shared on social media and calls were made to amplify details to ensure that her case would be treated with urgency, I will simply say that I was praying for her safe return. And I still am praying for her, even if she was not the victim of some predatory crime as we were led to believe. 

This story hit a lot of my buttons, especially as I prepared to take another solo road trip down South this past week (more details to share soon). It was upsetting to think that she could have been possibly lured into a trap that involved using a small child as bait. I fretted that I would have to add this to my ever-growing list of concerns about raising girl-children without the wisdom of my own village mothers. I mourned the potential devastation that would have overwhelmed this young woman's family and community if there had been an alternative unhappy ending. And I was frustrated that just weeks ago we sent the Coast Guard to search for five people on a private joy ride to see an underwater graveyard, whereas a minimal dispatch of resources deployed to find an adult runaway would most assuredly be deemed a waste.

While there has been no definitive pronouncement, public sympathy has decidedly shifted. The villagers have extinguished their torches, put away their weapons, called off the hounds, and are grumbling on social media. It upsets me that the loudest voices of condemnation are coming from within the Black community. And not just from men, so what should we call it when we are determined to disbelieve one of our children unless the outcome of her peril had turned tragic? Why are we so quick to dismiss this as merely the actions of an attention-seeking narcissist instead of as a very public plea for help?

Do we really need her to explain herself, or do we need to give Russell the space to heal herself? I'm not convinced that we need to know everything if the point of inquiry is to subject her to more ridicule. That doesn't mean I am against her facing consequences, but I believe that once it crosses the line to irredeemable public shame, no lessons will be taught or learned. A lot of people act out for attention, and we don't respond with this level of indignation, not even when their antics are fueled by mental illness, substance abuse, a toxic -ism or phobia, or just immaturity. In most cases, we accept that the matter will be addressed privately and move on.

For example, in my area Amber Alerts go out whenever a young person goes missing (Silver Alerts for senior citizens with dementia). In three cases where I have personal knowledge of the outcome of a local Amber Alert, there were no demands for public accountability because we were just relieved that each child was returned home. In one case, the girl who was a classmate of my Niece, was transferred to a new school. In another instance, the mother, whom I knew online through a FB group, updated us and then deactivated her social media account. And in the case where I actively took part in a search, the girl's family expressed their gratitude for our community efforts, but I haven't seen them since. 

Someone reading this might assume that by referring to Russell as an adult runaway and inferring from the title that she is a child, I am infantilizing her to absolve or excuse her behavior. I assure you that I am well aware that she is a grown ass woman who had a job, a car, a concerned boyfriend (ex?), and two loving parents who went on national television to elicit sympathy for what now appears to be a tall tale. Unlike the three young girls I described, Russell is not some impulsive child who ran away to escape some parental restriction or punishment. 

So what.

People from her community and across the nation were invested in finding her, including Angela Harris, who mobilized volunteers and dedicated resources from her nonprofit to search for Russell because she lost her own daughter under tragic circumstances. Instead of responding in anger, Ms. Harris modeled the kind of community response that we ought to emulate in this instance--determination and resolve. We ought to be ready to search under every rock and comb through every field for our missing loved ones, not just because they are well-connected or because their stories get media attention, but because it is the right thing to do. The wrong thing to do is to adopt the attitude of the villagers in the fable and let the wolves have their fill.

My fellow Gen Xers remember when almost every TV sitcom aired a runaway episode. The plot centered on the main character and/or a best friend who made a pact to do something crazy that a parent explicitly forbade, like Vanessa Huxtable (part one and two) sneaking off to have BIG Fun with the Wretched. Of course, the outcome of that episode was unforgettable hilarity, as were other light-hearted runaway storylines such as twins Tia and Tamera plotting to run away in order to stay together (Sister Sister); or baby sister Jennifer Keaton slipping away while big brother Alex isn't paying attention to her (Family Ties). 

There were also the kind of very special episodes that were intended to caution/scare us such as the runaway episode from The Facts of Life that seems most analogous to this situation. Tootie disobeys her parents and Mrs. Garrett by running away to visit New York City on her own. She gets robbed and retreats to a coffee shop where she meets a friendly girl named Kristi who chats her up and buys her lunch. Tootie doesn't realize that this is all part of a set up to recruit her into prostitution. Right before she gets duped into joining Kristi and her pimp, a waitress tips her off to the scam. Mrs. Garrett arrives just in time to whisk her home to safety.

That episode aired 40 years ago, and the message is as poignant today as it was when I was in the fourth grade. There are wolves in these woods, and we need to be vigilant and wary. It isn't a waste of effort or resources to protect our sheep. Furthermore, to mix in another metaphor from Peter and the Wolf (a different fable), we can't barricade our children in the house and expect that simply warning them against venturing out into the world will be sufficient. Due to their natural curiosity and inquisitiveness, some of them will stray, so they need to be equipped with the right tools to defend themselves when we aren't there to prevent disaster. And a good arsenal of tools should include discernment and common sense. Shame and ridicule are useless as they are intended to humiliate and break people, not correct and build them up.

Carlee is home. She has a family who can address her needs in private. There are others who have gone missing who still haven't been found. Still others languishing in foster care or who have just aged out of the system are vulnerable to being exploited in the very manner we feared Russell would be; hence, there are gaping holes in the safety net that don't catch everyone. Several nonprofits such as Angela Harris' nonprofit Aniah's Heart, the Black and Missing Foundation, and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women could use more support and visibility. If it takes crying wolf to get us to come running, then we should ask ourselves why these children have everything else but our attention...

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Submission is for Job Applications and Poetry Contests

Literally, I have several unfinished drafts and too many open tabs and a gaping hole in my bedroom ceiling where the fan used to the last topic I need to worry about is submissiveness in other people's relationships.

Yet here I am opining on some nonsense, instead of trying to micro-blog it on the Book of Faces or writing a thread about it on the Dodo Bird App that no one will see because I refuse to pay the $8 monthly ransom for visibility. Therefore, here is your annual reminder from me that these man-baby tantrums y'all are having on social media about grown women's choices are why half of you are still living with your single Mamas.

Before we get too far into this, allow me to say that I am not commenting on any specific celebrity couple, but you can select the duo that resonates with you and feel free to agree or disagree as necessary. As an opening statement, I believe that we are all entitled to dance to the beat of our own drummer in relationships, including the celebrities who put their business out in the world for all to see. Everything ain't for everybody, as the old folks say, so it's okay if you aren't down with whatever the kids are doing these days.

Having said that, of course, the entire point of social media is to share, and as significant aspects of celebrity livelihood depends on what we know about their lives, once they post in on da' Gram, then they expect you to have an opinion. In the past few years, Auntie has opined on a variety of issues: driveway therapists, hair bonnets in public, Lizzo, and the "requirements" that some men have for dating, and I welcome you to peruse my archives to get my take on those topics. My issue isn't about your inalienable right to an opinion, but with how you say what you feel compelled and/or obligated to say. Just recently, I issued a preliminary warning about how some of y'all think being racist, sexist, homophobic, etc., is merely an exercise of your free speech until those consequences come back to bite you.

For the most part, I don't believe too many of my readers are rolling with the Polo Tiki Torch Club racists, so let's address the sexism and misogynoir disguised as tradition and respectability. Because some of you really need to be called out for the way you talk about and expect to be treated by grown women in relationships.

A few months ago, this picture of Rihanna and A$AP Rocky with their son had Blue Ivy's internet in a tizzy. Some of y'all were hot that this young father was demonstrating affection while standing in the background behind his partner. I read a number of complaints of how emasculating this image was, when to me, it was a beautiful family photo, especially after we all learned that there was another baby on the way. If anything, the only controversial thing is the child's name (because RZA ain't even his government name)...but again, if that's what the kids are doing these days Imma scroll on and mind my business.

VOGUE is the fashion Bible, and RiRi, one of its Apostles has graced their cover countless times (this was the British edition). She has a fashion line, a cosmetics company, and as an It-girl of this decade, rightfully is in the forefront of this picture as the article that was written is about HER. The fact that her Bajan boys were even included in the photo, when most women featured in the magazine are highlighted for their solo accomplishments, should have shut down all of the ashy attempts at deconstructing the dynamics of their relationship.

Of course, it should be assumed that if one is unashamed to go forth amongst the people unlotioned, then that same level of audacity fuels most of their questionable opinions and decisions. A bunch of these same dudes idolized that brother from Jos A. Bank who moonlighted as a relationship expert until he died under the most ironic circumstances. They still quote his relationship advice while complaining about splitting checks on a first date at the Olive Garden, and we're supposed to take their opinions on Rihanna and how she minds her business seriously?

I get a lot of laughs while reading the polarized takes on how real men ought to assert themselves in relationships. It tracks that many of these are the musings of dudes who spent too much time with their uncles in the barber shop, but failed to notice the frequent address changes and the ever-changing number of cousins from various situationships. Uncle Eddie's definition of submission is to brag about how his woman fixes his plate because he's the king of his household; in reality, she does that to keep an eye on his diet, lest he ends up in another diabetic coma.

(I need to point out that I while my examples come from a specific cultural vantage point, there are parallels. I see those burly mid-westerners carrying their wives' purses at various tourist attractions and I chuckle to think what manner of lies they tell about being in charge.)

Listen to those Alpha male traditionalists on social media if you want, but behind the closed blinds, most of them don't run shit but errands. That's not intended as an insult lest you think being a reliable, stable, and dependable presence in one's family isn't the point of being "the man" in the household. The way I see it, you're still a man regardless of how the labor and expenses are divided, unless you're hung up on semantics and outward appearances. Nobody has to know anything as long as you keep your business out of the tweets. 

If you're more engaged in showcasing relationship "goals" instead of being in the relationship, for better or worse, then you'll never understand how your parents and grandparents stayed together for 50+ years. For starters, they weren't starring in a never-ending reality show with cameras documenting every aspect of their lives. And trust me, it wasn't because those were so-called traditional relationships with a dominant male figurehead and a submissive female servant. What you saw was a private partnership, not a public power struggle. You saw two people who had enough respect for each other to disagree and still put forth a united front to the world as necessary. You saw two people who celebrated each other, made mistakes and took accountability, and who worked hard to stay together in spite of everything.

Everything. Double shifts. Flirty co-workers. Unpaid bills. Children. In-laws. Somebody finding Jesus. Someone losing their religion. Chronic illness. Stagnation. Midlife crises. Menopause. Grief. Success. I could keep going, but you get the point. And in the event that your grandparents or parents didn't arrive at that golden milestone, it makes a lot more sense to learn from their mistakes than to follow the advice from a bunch of online hecklers and haters who revel in other people's misery.

Which brings us to the point where I admit that I lied..

Of course, I saw the video of Keke Palmer dancing with Usher in a bathing suit and cover-up. And I saw the tweet her man should NOT have sent while he was home alone, horny and drunk with a restless baby. And I saw where sides were chosen, and hard lines were drawn before she even got home. AND THEN I saw where the entire incident became a CNN news-worthy headline instead of staying on the gossip blogs like the rumors about Tyler Perry buying BET.

And, well since it is already out there in the Twitterverse, left on Blue Ivy's internet for us to express our opinions (because all he had to do was send her a text message), now Auntie feels compelled to offer some advice from her Busy Black Book of Wisdom:

    Dear Keke,

        Can I start off by saying that I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that you are grown-grown, as in little Akeelah is almost 30 (and my old azz just wasn't ready to accept that yet)? So after I got over that shock to my system, I just feel the need to restate that fact for the people in the cheap seats, including that man you have (had?) living in your house--you a grown ass woman!

        Thus, there really isn't much more that I should have to say, unless I am expressing my opinion on your outfit, which I am not. Because you already know that you are a mother, having carried and birthed that baby with your own body, so that ain't no newsflash. However, since the talk in these tweets has been over the audacity of that man who lives (lived?) in your house to make public a disagreement that has obviously been a bone of contention between you, let Auntie offer a little advice: Move on.

        Move on and try to figure out how you plan to co-parent your son with an insecure man-baby who thought he was making some giant leap for manhood in trying to have the last word in an argument by telling a grown ass woman how she ought to conduct herself in public. Then, instead of realizing the folly in airing his private relationship business in the tweets, he doubled down and then made matters worse with this very mature response (after aligning himself with two poster boys of male fragility Con Baybay and the Muskrat). Allegedly, he's deleted pictures of YOU from his IG page, so even if that original post was not typical behavior, he has now shown you who he really is 🚩 

        Now, I happen to enjoy petty, and if you had waited a week or so to get with Beyonce on a remake of Irreplaceable before releasing your new line of merch, then I might have been inclined to buy a tee shirt. Because she's a Mom too, and you don't see Jay Z issuing public rebukes of her attire or behavior (nor will he ever after Lemonade). I'm not comparing your situation to theirs, but I am pointing out that however Jay might feel about what his wife wears on stage or for promotional photos is irrelevant because no one bothers to ask him. Even if some ashy dude pumped full of audacity thought to inquire how Jay feels about his half-naked wife straddling a glass horse, I'm pretty sure Jay wouldn't take the bait.

        Because not only is Beyonce a mother and a grown ass woman with that body after three children, she is also an entertainer. It is her J-O-B. It is Usher's JOB to give a show during his Las Vegas residency that includes serenading women in the audience. And I'm clear that it is also your JOB as a celebrity attendee at the Usher show to give a performance that entices other women to want a chance at the same experience. With everyone else being clear about their roles and responsibilities, why come your man (ex?) had to throw his ego in the mix as if any of this was about him?

        I mean, what's up with the insecurity when just hours before all of this went down, you and dude had been rolling in the deep (because you posted this), so what happened? As if he hadn't posted pictures of you wearing something equally risqué in the past? If you were at the beach or the hotel pool bar, instead of front row at the Usher show...

And now it all makes sense. This was never about what Keke was wearing, but the fact that she was seen enjoying herself with another man in public. Old boy was upset that image was going to make him look some kind of way, so he lashed out. And then suggested that he was only doing what any self-respecting man in his position would do to protect his ego. As I've said many times, when someone cannot control you, they will attempt to control how others see you.

You a Mom. Those three words might as well have parted the Red Sea. Because for every person who saw and understood Keke's joie de vivre at getting out for a few hours of much needed girl fun in Vegas (where what happens there is supposed to stay there), there were the furious slings and arrows of judgment coming from every angle. Deeper than trying to shame her was the implication that motherhood had stripped her of any agency, any power, any freedom she previously enjoyed. 

You a Mom, living with a man who exerted his prerogative to decide when to flaunt her assets on these same social media platforms. It was all good when he was posting the pics, but problematic when someone else did? You a Mom, because her body was for him to expose and exploit, not for her to be wiggling and giggling in a club with Usher. Three loaded words that revealed so much.

Such is the subtlety of misogyny, communicating several diminishing messages, delivered in a seemingly innocuous manner. We joke that this should have been kept private in a text, but the result would have been the same (just ask Sarah Brady about Jonah Hill). Offline, who knows what else he's said about her body, her clothes, or how she conducts herself in public? If you've read some of the responses posted in support of him, you would think she was lucky that he had attached himself to her. That as long as he was in her life, at least she could dream of a happily ever after (because the only thing worse than being a spinster is being a single mother). Now look at her, branded with a scarlet letter...You a Mombut not a wife.

I'm not reaching because I've read the first chapter in the Gospel of Submissiveness. Some of y'all resurrected Kevin Samuels; some of y'all are finishing up dissertations and Sunday sermons; and this dude gave a 30-minute TED Talk (of which I only got through a little over 5 minutes because I don't have that kind of time). So let me save you from learning this lesson the hard way--submission is another way of allowing someone to control you. You have a choice if that's the kind of relationship you want; it is not a requirement. Anyone who expects submissiveness and regards it as a prerequisite to commitment or building a life with you doesn't regard you as an equal but as a subordinate. As my Mom made it clear to me and anyone else who had issues with her outspoken independence, she was nobody's doormat. And just so you know, my parents have been married for 50 years.

PS: I'm not buying a tee shirt because I'm waiting to see what happens next. One of the other truisms about these social media relationships is how a lot of stuff is staged, so Imma wait to see that duet with Beyonce.