Before dream hampton left Twitter, she dropped a couple of gems that stayed with me. The first was, and I’m paraphrasing, but it was the equivalent of: Men on Twitter need to stop acting like we’re auditioning to be somebody’s girl.
Yes, I thought. And this is true in online spaces, generally. There is a line between appreciating a woman in cyberspace, just like in real life, and offering up what hampton brilliantly calls “intimate kites” on a regular basis.
When you are uncoupled and you write candidly about your experience, it opens you up to a lot of wonderful and a lot of weird.
Wonderful, because it is possible to have extensive, consistent and creative community with a larger number of people, not just the person you’re in a couple with. Weird because the Internet is as vast as the globe, and there are a lot of lonely people in it, seeking some kind of connection, wondering if your vulnerability and openness can help them fill a space that nothing else will (or has).
This idea that women in general, black women especially or even people in general who aren’t in relationships are essentially waiting to be chosen is infuriating. It presumes that the main value of your singledom is that it serves as a kind of purgatory between when you were born and when you’ll be in the safe container of a relationship. Gone are any real, thoughtful reflections of the fact that many of the mystics, prophets and great spiritual leaders of our time have not been in couples. Biblically, we can start with Jesus and add Paul. Beyond them, we can talk about Buddha and even the singular avatars of Hindu, Yoruban and other gods and goddesses.
But whatever single women do in real life or online is often viewed as performance. Because of the real and problematic history of black women in America, this is especially true for black women. Add to that the problematic side effect of reality television and media oversaturation and you have a recipe for people taking for granted the presence of women in their real or virtual space. They also take for granted that black women exist as avatars of entertainment, whether they are referring to black women who are real black women or representations of black women as characters (say, when someone like Tyler Perry acts as Madea).
Men make gestures. They are or are not prince charmings. End of line.
Women, though, audition. They are fighting over men that they’ve longed divorced, or they are fighting over men that they intend to marry, or they are fighting over men because it is considered hot to be attractive and well-dressed and fight over a man, whether they want him or not.
It is a way of transposing passion for chaos, the most awkward way for us to ask another to love us. “Look at how much I love you! I was willing to pull that girl’s weave out. On TV.”
Anyway, I was reminded of this dynamic while I was thinking about Samhita Mukhopadhyay’s great book, Outdated: Why Dating is Ruining Your Love Life, which I highly recommended. She wrote a fantastic piece, by the way, posted on Jezebel today: Ten Very Good Reasons You’re Not Married Yet. I bet this part will resonate for those of us who are not auditioning for marriage:
6. You’ve got a life and friends that you are happy with.
If a dude shows up that’s cool, but you are not sweating it because every day is an awesome new adventure full of phone calls from loved ones, cupcakes, yoga classes and dance parties. You enjoy each minute, focus on the positive and when you are down (a symptom of life, not just single life) you have 500 friends to call, because you have spent time on all types of relationships, not just the kind that will lead to marriage. Friendship-the realest investment a lady can make.