Gender roles in popular culture are very restrictive for women, especially Black women. As a Black woman, growing up, I always felt like there was something I was missing, something that I wasn’t doing right. Watching tv there were only maybe two types of Black women being portrayed: either she was the loud, sassy best friend that was always ready to fight for her, usually White, main character friend, or she was the mean girl that no one liked, but everyone adored because she was really hot. Seeing them on tv and then living my actual life, it was easy for me to think that maybe I was too quiet, too little of this, not enough of that, I was just kind of blah, whatever.
Watching Beyoncé’s music video for “If I Were a Boy,” you really see the difference in how society treats women versus men. As men, they are allowed to act just any ol’ way and face little to no repercussions for their actions. They don’t recognize that their actions have consequences until much later when those consequences come knocking on their door. Cheating emotionally is something that Beyoncé showcases in her music video for “If I Were a Boy” and it really shows how different the standards we hold men and women to. In the beginning of the video we see Beyoncé as the cop who is taking her boyfriend for granted, the boyfriend that clearly loves Beyoncé and wanted to marry her. Not to mention that her boyfriend had moments where he could have cheated but chose not to. Don’t get me wrong, no one gets applauded for not cheating, just like no one gets complimented for not stealing. So while the music video continues and the boyfriend catches Beyoncé cheating, they have a confrontation moment where the roles reverse and suddenly it’s the boyfriend that has been cheating and Beyoncé that has been the faithful one the whole time.
The lesson that should be taken away from “If I Were a Boy” is to know your worth. If someone is treating you wrong, do what you need to do and leave if the behavior doesn’t change. The idea that it’s okay for boys to treat women like objects while girls are supposed to quietly support them is ridiculous. “Behind every man is a good woman.” I hate that phrase because it is complete shit. In a relationship, in a partner ship, in what ever you find yourself in, you both should be equals. The only people that are supposed to support you from the background are you parents, and even then you at least help them out, too. Everyone always babies men and hold women to this certain degree of accountability, and I will admit I fall into this category sometimes.
My parents are divorced and I lived with my mom for a long time until I went to college and I remember feeling bad and being overly nice to my dad to compensate. It got to the point that when ever I went to my dad’s house, I used to go there every weekend before college, he would expect me to sweep and dust the house since those were my chores when we all lived their as a family. On top of that, he also would let his friends sleep in my room in my bed at his house when I wasn’t there during the week. Eventually I got really mad at this and told my mom about it. However, if the tables were turned and it was my mom doing that to me instead of my dad, even though she would never, I 100% know that I would have confronted her myself about it instead of telling my dad. Maybe that’s because I’m more comfortable with her as a parent, I’m not sure, but it doesn’t change the fact that I let my dad disrespect me like that when I wouldn’t have let that fly with my mom.
That old saying “boys will be boys” comes to mind, actually. I guess I always thought that boys will act the way they are allowed to act until the behavior is corrected. My dad is by no means a bad guy, he’s just been babied more or less his whole life by the women in his life. His mother, my mother, my sister, and I have all fed into this and, honestly, while I don’t remember why they got divorced, I think, in the long run, it was good for him. Men act the way society says they should, they act in a way that the women in their life let them, and I think the best way for men like the one in Beyoncé’s music video, and my dad in a lesser sense, is to lose the thing they took for granted.
I’m all over the place this blog entry, I’m sorry, but I just have so many thoughts to sort through and I don’t want to get too wordy, but I am anyway. Just, I think that, as a Black woman, or as a women in general, you should know your worth. Whether it is in the work force or at home, if someone tries to undermine you for something they just finished praising a man for, call them on it. Speak up, let yourself be heard. There’s no shame in speaking up for yourself or being who you are. As the quiet black girl who enjoyed being alone and could only handle two to three friends max when all of her peers told her she was weird for not acting like the Stereotypical Black Girl™ on tv, you are alright. You are good enough. You are just enough.