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Will I Ever Be A Southern Belle?

Posted by JD on Thursday, June 3, 2010 , under | comments (5)

If only they had a black doll :(
Oh to wear something like this everyday! 
Both Dixie Carter and Rue McClanahan passed away this year. I was a fan of both ladies and I felt a sense of sadness at the passing of two southern belles I looked up to growing up--well, as much as you can look up to TV characters.

I always wanted to be a southern belle: sophisticated, refined, well-dressed, and welcoming. I've mastered the last two, still working on the first two.

I first learned what it meant for a woman to have class and taste at church. Every Sunday my paternal grandmother, who was quite the belle herself (but not as conscious of it as some of her friends), would pick me up and cart me to the Baptist church not 3 miles from our house. I would sit beside her in the pew watching all the women and their fancy hats and well-made suits.

Although the black church gets a lot of attention for being flashy, the women who attended my church were elegant and gracious. I remember thinking even as a little girl that some day I would grow up to be one of those women. A woman who tended to her husband and children, baked pies for the church and neighbors, and was an example of how to be a lady at all times.

Back then I played a belle on Sundays. I was tomboy Monday-Saturday, but on Sundays I put on my slip, dress suits (that my momma would make from JC Penny patterns), mary janes, and purple velvet and wool church coat (or rabbit fur jacket and muffs depending on my mood).

Eventually, I grew up to be a slightly-less-edgy slightly-more-bellelish version of my mother. My mom is the sweetest person you'll ever meet, but not one to go out of her way to know everyone, and certainly not someone concerned with "behaving appropriately." My mom, who sold her motorcycle to her brother after she got married, loves to recount the story of the time she was a teenager riding in the car with her Aunt True.
Photo courtesey of
This woman reminds me of the many women
who attended my church growing up. 

My memories of True were mostly of her being critical and mean to my mother. She could be cold, but loved to play the injured belle when convenient. She was rarely disrespected by anyone close to her. That day, my mother uttered one of her famous curse words in Aunt True's presence. Aunt True said: "That is NOT ladylike!" To which my mother responded, "Who said I was a fucking lady?"

Both of my grandmothers passed away before I entered high school. I remember looking through my maternal grandmother's suit closet in awe. I claimed all the ones that would fit as my own. I even took her size 7.5 heels, and thus begin my shoe addiction. I still have some of them. A classy woman's wardrobe never really goes out of style.

Despite all that, still I faltered. I can't help but think that somewhere between absorbing my mom's subconscious rebellion against meekness and finding not a lot of use for femininity around my hometown neighborhood, I lost my belle in the wind of Virginia's sweaty summers. Somehow I became less Julia Sugarbaker and more Mary Jo Shiveley.

I never got my belle back. But I never stopped looking up to those types of women.

My favorite Television southern belle.
Classy, elegant, gracious and sharp as a tack. 
Dixie Carter. who played Julia Sugarbaker on Designing Women was my favorite southern belle. I remember watching DW and attempting to memorize every detail of Julie's suits and mannerisms. I remember thinking THAT'S what a woman should be like.

McClanahan,  most well-known for playing Blanche Devereaux on Golden Girls (which aired about the same years as Designing Women), the hot and bothered proud southern woman, was a transformative figure as it pertains southern belle tv portrayals. This wasn't a southern damsel in distress (see: Delta Burke as Suzanne Sugarbaker) or the woman who was southern as an after-thought (see: Annie Potts as Mary Jo Shively).

A southern belle should be welcoming and full of life.
Southern women on television were typically in films about slavery or shown infrequently as dainty and conniving post-slavery white women [good luck finding many black southern belles in entertainment]. Devereaux's character, however, combined the southern belle's dignity with the modern girls' pursuit of sexual freedom. Somehow McClanahan's character achieved balance without contradiction.

I should be so lucky. I suppose it's not too late to hitch my horse back up to my southern belle dreams. Over the years, I've learned to be proud of my accent and give in to my sensitivity when necessary. I've cleaned up my wardrobe tremendously and I am quite the gracious host(ess).

I guess all hope isn't lost. Otherwise I'll have to stop aspiring to be a southern belle and settle for just being a southern girl. Still something to be proud of.


File this under Satire: 5 Ways Smart Women Can Avoid Being Dumped

Posted by JD on Tuesday, June 1, 2010 , under , | comments (14)

As you all know, HaT is a respectable blog...but every now and then I cave into the demands of the masses. I mean who wants to read about Populism and Practical Limits of Outrage. People want the ratchet. And today, I plan to deliver. Today's guest post taps into the ratchetness...err...I mean usefulness that is the relationship blog written by black men. Cause who better to school black women on everything they're doing wrong then bitter $10 adsense check negroes with mild senses of humor. Check it out!

Every now and then we at RatchetMaleOpinions get a letter from one of our female readers seeking our sage advice. Or sometimes we don't get a letter from a female reader, we make one up when we feel like addressing a topic that might come off as sexist if we don't pretend like a woman wrote in to ask us question the answer to which is obvious to everyone except her. But anyway, that's notimportant. Here's the note we received *wink*:

Dear RatchetMaleOpinions,

I don't know what's wrong with me. I'm smart, funny, I work out, and dress well. I'm basically the kind of girl guys "say" they want. I watch sports and I fix my man's plate at the cookout. Despite all this, I have been dumped in every relationship I've ever been in. In all three relationships the men seemed intimidated by my Ivy League education and the fact that I've been published in numerous journals. I've been told that I'm "too smart." I don't understand why my brilliance would be scaring men off. I don't want to end up alone with only a prestigious job, books, and numerous professional accolades to hold. HELP ME?!?!!


Educated and Lonely (and Stupid as Hell)

Well, baby doll, all your boy can say is WOW! Listen, we men are really simple. All we want is a woman who will do everything for us the way our momma did and give good head while doing it. I'm not sure what that has to do with your question, but I'm generally an ignorant person and I felt like throwing that in there.

But I digress.

Sure men like smart women but like the guys said, we don't want a woman who's too smart.  Remember, we men have egos. Yeah yeah yeah we should work to overcome our insecurities but the reality is there's 10 women to every 1.5 man (one man, one midget), so we don't have to. Since we won't change any time soon, I have  5 tips to help prevent you from scaring off the next good man you date.

1. Be smart but not too smart.  A man wants a woman that can keep up with him in a debate, not a woman who leaves him in a dust. Be intelligent but don't show off. For example, if you and your man are discussing the oil spill in the gulf, it's fine to point out the need for additional regulations...but unless your man is a geophysicist, there's really no need to fill him on why the top kill method was ineffective from the beginning.

2. Speak softly. It's one thing to enjoy witty repartee with a woman it's another thing to be loud-talked. And even if you're not loud-taking, talking loud simply isn't ladylike. It also makes us question whether we can bring you around mamma'nem. And who cares how smart you are if mamma'nem get to neck rolling and teeth sucking when you come around. No bueno. Next time you and your man get into any type of heated debate, the best thing to do is take the bass down a notch.

3. Show a lot of Cleavage. That way when you start talking all "global warming is affecting our planet in ways we'll only know hundreds of years from now and what about our grandchildren," it will be easier to digest. Everything sounds better coming from a woman with a gianormous...

4.  Rack up less stuff. Sometimes it's not about the education as much as it is about what the education has allowed you to afford. Once again, I know this wreaks of insecurity but damn, what's a man supposed to do when he drives a Corolla and you pull up in a brand new Volvo.  Sometimes toning it down is best. The first thing a man wonders when he sees you is "can I afford this woman." And when the answer is no, things can only go downhill from there.

5. Save the heavy discussion for your girlfriends. Need I say more?

So yeah ladies, these are just a few things you can do to keep the 1 good black man left on earth from running away from your turn as Gabrielle Union in Daddy's Girls...and Deliver us From Eva....and pretty much every other movie she's played in.

Okay fellas, do you have others?? Help the ladies out!!! ***

***I vomited immediately after writing this.

The GOP and the Problem with Populism

Posted by JD on Monday, May 31, 2010 , under | comments (3)

 Over the past 8 years the GOP has come undone. There's barely a trace of the conservatism of old...the type of conservatism that yielded some of the most productive think tanks in the history of this country and used the information gleaned to build consistent policies--whether you agreed with them or not. But now, GOP policies are all over the map. At this point, the biggest indicator of conservatism is being anti: anti-intellectuals (not intellectualism), anti-government, anti-regulation, anti-anything remotely progressive.

Some would say that the reason for the GOP's lack of a cohesive philosophy or strategy in modern times is due to a general deterioration in political relationships on both sides of the aisle combined with the emergence of neo-conservatism which is not really conservatism at all. Additionally, many blame the GOP's direction (or lack thereof) on its decision to empower its religious base, a group that has showed an appalling lack of care or sensitivity for matters ranging from race to fiscal policy.

All of those factors play a role; however, I would argue that the biggest contributor to the GOP's lack of rationality is its increasingly populist approach to governing. Many of the GOP's positions on issues bare a strong resemblance to the polling results in red states and the ideals of the loudest pundits on the right. Clearly, both the GOP and the Democratic party are beholden to a certain extent to polls which, by the way, have become even more useless even as they've become more scientific and accurate in terms of the samples they represent [I may blog about the reasons for this at a later date.] However, the GOP has become particularly vulnerable and affected.

Recently, the GOP launched a new web site whereby it urged the public to speak out and help them shape their policy agenda. The Post ran a story on the site and pointed out that much of the commentary was at its best nonsensical and comical and at its worst inflammatory and incendiary.

The GOP's web site is concerning for many reasons but two main ones:

1. We have a representative form of government for a reason. The public elects people to Congress to represent them based on the assumption that the person has a set of principles that will guide their legislation. And, that they can, for the most part, independently apply those principles with intelligence and thoughtfulness in order to legislate. 

2. In the GOP, we have a MAJOR political party that lacks a platform. Due to this fact, it has to turn to the public for answers. That, my friends, isn't leadership--it's "rule by committee," and that approach doesn't work on group projects in college and it most certainly won't work in our esteemed legislature. We pay tax dollars so that representatives can do the job of remaining more informed on more issues than  the general public. Putting the general public in charge of legislative matters indicates a fundamental breakdown in the system. 

Despite these pitfalls, populism in the GOP is gaining popularity. All one has to do is take a look at the success of Rand Paul to see the evidence.  Rand Paul is very clearly a populist and the biggest evidence of it is his inconsistent application of States rights and blurry view of the role and purpose of legal decisions and legislation in shaping America's political landscape. 

In other words, Paul seems to support a state's right to decide on issues that are popular among conservatives (and often not popular among all Americas) but believes legislation or legal action is necessary to halt implementation of policies conservatives don't like. Of course, he doesn't say this outright but a quick scan of his positions reveals a pattern. 

Conservatives rushed to embrace Rand Paul. Fox News has gone out of its way to compare Paul to Sarah Palin accusing the media of attempting a take-down of both of them even though its clear both Paul and Palin's problems were caused by their own inability to speak intelligently on their own positions. Palin is another very good example of how populism can promote very undeserving and possibly dangerous figures to power.  

Ta-Nehisi Coates pointed out on his blog for "The Atlantic," Populism "quickly indulges the prejudices of the mob." I must agree with that statement. A great example of this sort of populist-inspired mob-rule is the Tea Party.  With its narrow set of beliefs and concerns, the Tea Party has taken advantage of the GOP's lack of direction and the media's desperate search for a story. Now, the tea party is viewed by many as the GOP and not merely as one of its factions. If the GOP continues its populist surge supported by a media that continues to legitimize the tea party, within the next two years it is entirely plausible that conservatism will be totally co-opted. In fact, it might be necessary just to win elections.

And therein lies the trap of populism...when people are given a party platform and a set of philosophies to support they can then adapt their ideologies (most), drop out of the party altogether (small minority), or perhaps learn something new (minority). But when there is no direction, the people expect to drive the policy--no matter how uninformed they and it may be.