Touch my magazine collection and you’re likely to lose a limb. I’ve hoarded my glossies across three states—Tennessee, Indiana, New York—to the dissatisfaction of every person whose ever helped me move. They’re all like, “Girl, you need to let some of these 1994 VIBE’s go. They take up too much space.” And I’m all like, “Trick, you done lost your mind!” Then packing all my mags neatly in the moving tubs commences.
Women’s mags are my favorite, with all its criticisms that I promise aren’t new. I love being a woman, I love womanhood, I love when women share our stories. It’s why I’d pick up [insert name of your favorite woman’s mag here] on the newsstand over Esquire knowing Esquire is going to have the superior writing. What’s hard as a magazine junkie and journalist is overlooking the way many women mags talk to women as if they’re clueless pre-teens who need their hand held through life. I grow frustrated with the “Change this about your body, buy this product, do this amazing move in the bed to please your man” articles that show up every month in our favorite chick glossies.
I’m into non-sexist advice on love from both men and women in the same way I dig women’s mags. I recognize its flaws but revel in the beauty of what’s presented when done right. When the love advice takes an ugly dip from ‘this is what worked for me’ to ‘you can’t turn a ho into a housewife’ is when I bow out gracefully.
One half of my favorite child star twins, Tamera Mowry-Housely (Sister Sister), sat down with Angela Burt Murray’s (former EIC of ESSENCE) new site CocoaFab.com to talk marriage and mommyhood. Tamera’s a gorgeous positive image on cable television amiss the drink throwing that dominates reality TV. She and her sister Tia snagged seemingly loving husbands in an industry that relies on superficiality all while maintaining careers. Everything about the girls who used to yell “ROGERRRRR!” reeks Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious happy all the time. So her roadmap for women who eventually want to be wives and moms had to be harmless, right? Oh so wrong. Tamera prefaced her advice with a Nicotine like warning for what was to follow.
“I’m very traditional. I’m old school and that’s just how I am. It’s in my DNA. I had to get to the point where I just had to embrace carrying the torch for the traditional girls out there. I love representing the traditional black woman.”
Traditional? Cool. My awesomely feminist ass is traditional in the sense I enjoy chivalry, I want to feel protected (yes, my man walks on the side of the sidewalk closest to the street) and I’d like to be married before popping out any beautiful brown babies. Traditional! Tamera’s brand of traditional, however, is not something that I’d willingly get down with; and it has nothing to do with the virginity she lost at the age of 29. Bravo for her. Obviously the nuggets of
miseducation wisdom she imparted upon all of the Internet worked in her favor, but the first two pieces of advice left me wanting to throw something at my perfectly functioning MacBook Pro.
“Be refined. Like my grandmother always said, ‘dare to be different.’ While it’s popular these days to be the Rihanna to his Chris (okay, sans the abuse fiasco), consider being different from all of the overly sexy, turnt up girls. Guys want someone who stands out from the crowd. Remember, there’s a HUGE difference between wifey and wife! Don’t get it twisted.”
Girl. GIRL! Tamera can have all the pew seats in the back of her grandmama’s church with her respectability politics bullshit. (Note: Tamera jumped on Twitter to go on record that she never mentioned Rihanna or Chris in the interview, so I won’t even address how problematic that was). You have to wonder if Tamera was giving a similar interview to ELLE.com would anything about being “turnt up” have been mentioned. Me thinks not. But because it’s a site tailored to the black female demographic she felt she had to put on for her audience. Whatever works for you, boo boo.
What is wrong with a woman being “overly sexy?” Everything women do is not for the attention of the male gaze. It is her body to adorn the way she sees fit. If dressing sexy is what keeps women from eventually checking the married box on tax forms those marriage stats should be declining any day now. And if a woman does care about meeting men, what does Tamera think gets the guy at the bar to approach a woman he finds attractive? It usually isn’t her bare faced, sweaty pits from a fresh work out at Crunch. Men don’t tend to approach women based on how many books she looks like she’s devoured in her lifetime.
My problem with the whole act refined so a man will wife you argument—beside it being utterly ridiculous—it’s rooted in this fallacy that all men like the same kind of women. Khloe Kardashian, Jada Pinkett-Smith and P!nk are all very different women who’ve never seemed too concerned with refinery. They’ve all managed to walk into wife territory. It’s dangerous to sell the idea to women, especially black women whose image has been pathologized and scrutinized since forever, that only a certain type of woman gets to have the long wedding gown, three tier cake dream.
It gets worse.
“If you start having sex at such a young age, by the time you’re in your 30s and 40s, it’s old. And you’re trying many different ways to keep it new. I wanted to experience all of that once I got married and living with my husband. Perhaps trying all of the kama sutra positions with your jumpoffs and boyfriends isn’t the best thing. After all, that will leave nothing new to explore for your husband.”
Mrs. ‘I held on to my V card until I was 29 so I’m special’ really tried it. Everyone ain’t you. This is slut-shaming in its most boring form. As someone who didn’t take the plunge into headboard knocking until a few years ago, I’m not sure how she’d know how, when, or if sex ever gets old. While I understand the idea of wanting to leave some sexual exposés for your husband only, that’s a personal choice between a woman and her vagina. Women who’ve been having sex for over a decade by the time they’re 30, or women who’ve done everything sexual with anyone they damn well choose shouldn’t feel shamed for it, or made to feel marriage may skip them because they did one too many doggy styles with men who weren’t their husbands.
Legions of women are interested in what folks (although I wish more of us would be more discerning with which folks) have to say about how to find a man then get him to say, “I do, I do, I do,” (Jeezy voice). It’s exhausting that all the advice is focused so much on how women have to be able to always stay classy in the streets but p-pop on a handstand in the bedroom, cook five days a week, don’t give up the proverbial cookies too soon, don’t be a pushover but not too mouthy, be nurturing but not too needy and make sure you look like a superstar at all times. Thank you, patriarchy. Actually patriarchy, go ride one.
It bothers my soul when women buy into patriarchal attitudes of what makes a woman ‘good’ or wife material. The Madonna-whore dichotomy is soooooo played out. Sort of like the phrase played out. Women are human beings who have the brains to make their own choices for whatever is right for their lives. Do you. A man can get in line with the you that you love or he can ride off in the sunset with the Natashas* of the world.
And let’s just keep it all the way real, sister to sister. Tamera is giving all kinds of snooze. I think I’d rather take advice from Amber Rose. She’s married too.
* Natasha was the 20something Big went off to marry after his breakup with Carrie. Carrie thought Natasha was so perfect in comparison to her. We all know how that ended.