Why Men Need to Get Over Their Femiphobia -- Fear and Disdain of the Female
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Femiphobia — the fear and disdain of the female.
We’ve got to grapple with instances of internalized sexism in women where the ventriloquist magic of patriarchy is occurring — women’s lips are moving, but men’s voices and beliefs are speaking.
A great deal of the nation’s gender problem has to do with how men think about women. Such thinking is largely rooted in the belief that God has set up a hierarchy where women fall beneath men in the natural order of things. But I think it’s long past time that we re-examine our beliefs and come up with different ideas about how things work, and how we should behave in light of what we learn.
Black women have been a defining force in our liberation struggles, so we shouldn’t seek to oppress the very sisters who valiantly helped to win our freedom as a people, and as black men .
We must battle those who use the Bible to justify some terrible beliefs about black women. We get awfully upset — and rightfully so — with how hip hop culture demeans and degrades sisters. We are outraged when a rapper resorts to epithets to disrespect our women, and despite my great love for hip hop, I’m sympathetic to that critique. But at the same time, we permit some destructive ideas to flourish in the church. These ideas are harmful because they influence how we act, not only in church, but also in our homes and schools. We’ve got to find a new way to behave so that our children inherit a more positive future.
Black men can love black women by promoting the biblical principle of mutual submission contained in the fifth chapter of Ephesians. Mutual submission means that we act in a way to enhance the interests of each partner in the relationship. The text topples the notion that men should rule over a woman’s life in home or society. Our liberating black religion teaches us that nobody has ultimate authority over our lives but God.
When most of our white brothers and sisters hear the word “race,” they think “black” or “brown” or “yellow” or “Native American.” They don’t think “white,” as if white is not one among many other racial and ethnic identities. Men are the same way. When black men hear male supremacy, we often think, “white guys who control the world.” We don’t think, “black guys who control our part of the world.”
Black men have to surrender our patriarchal pose and our sexist strut. In our homes, that means that we’ve got to listen to and learn from our women as we strengthen our relationships. We must respect one another, encourage one another, sacrifice for one another, and stand up for one another, even against harmful gender ideas we’ve supported over the years.
A lot of black men are afraid to love black women with abandon because we fear they won’t recognize the hurts that black men face. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, black women have been among the most vocal and progressive advocates for black men. Who was way out front on the issue of the prison-industrial complex that affects the million black men locked away, many unfairly, and to warn us about the injustice of incarceration? Angela Davis. Who edited the book that rigorously explored the claim that black males are an endangered species? Jewelle Taylor Gibbs. And who sang a song about the destructive images of black men in the culture and praised us for our moral beauty and our strength? Angie Stone.