This Cleveland bus incident, where the bus driver uppercuts a woman has been played and replayed in all of it’s entertainment value glory. What has been lost in all of this is the discussion. I have been hit while driving. I mean slapped, punched, steering wheel grabbed and I felt that she was really trying to kill me…us. So I know how Chris Brown felt and how this bus driver may have felt. Without passing judgement on the bus rider for spitting and hitting or on the bus driver for his rising dragon punch, what is the real issue…

Why did it take getting hit for this woman to realize that she can’t hit?

Why after 22 years of taking similar punishment from passengers did the bus driver react in this manner?

The Full Story

This is not uncommon nor an isolated incident, why? Because our society allows women to get away with hitting. Women carry the banner of “the weaker sex”, when nothing could be further from the truth. We already know who hits more…women, yet every woman is sugar, spice and everything nice and every man is a potential villain. What that approach has done is cultivate a culture of violence and victimization. Now all of a sudden he’s head butting her, choking her, hitting her…all of a sudden and she hasn’t done anything, she isn’t violent at all and she isn’t teaching these very same methods to the children, no not at all. We have become a society inequity, a society of  one law and two different rules, two different standards, which is probably why our foreign policy is one of a bully who speaks of victimization.

When the authorities respond to a domestic violence dispute and, in general, do nothing to the hitter, but remove the hitee what does that do to a child seeing it? How does that ultimately shape their view of society, their view of relationships?

You look at this cartoon and think he had it coming?
He must have said something.
That isn’t you, but deep now you know it is.
You have a problem and so does America.

What has this dual standard done to children, who have internalized these types of behaviors? It has made them adults who are violent, made them adults who hit, Adults who fear no repercussions. It has made the ledger unbalanced and therefore unequal. It has made males feel at times caged and constantly under pressure from society and in their relationship. It has breed a culture for men, that says being hit is normal. A culture that says if you are a male you should expect to get hit.

Are men violent? Men are not violent, which is contrary to what those with an agenda, and many a female blogger might say. However, males can be made to be violent. Here is an all too common example: A young man beats his girl for slapping him and we all get down on him trash him and cuddle her and everybody else that he’s ever been with. Now,here is the what you didn’t see. That young man grew up with a mother that hit. She hit his father and she all the other dudes after the father left. She hit his brother. She hit him. She allowed female cousins to hit him. As he got older he was a relationships where he was hit. The authorities who grabbed him hit him. For his part, this young adolescent, he has to take the hits because she is the weaker sex and speaking out makes him weak, speaking out makes him a punk. Expressing his emotions is something that just isn’t done, because it scares people, which is why the authorities were called in the first place, so he learned that lesson.

One day this young man’s woman decides that he didn’t answer a question correctly, or she isn’t getting enough attention, or whatever the case may be and she decides to test him by hitting him and he goes off on her. We all know the story “I just touched him and he went off.” Guess what your ‘touch’ was hit number 3,476 and that was the one that set him off. That was the one that he could take. That was his societal rebel yell. What society sees is the what came after. We see the elephant rampage. We witness the killer whale attack. We don’t see the role we played in the action. What would have happened if didn’t condone hitting in our society?  You can not give one group carte blanche to assault and hit with virtual impunity, while the companion group has to absorb all of it.

Why has society allowed women to be violent? Perhaps it has to do with men not wanting to look at our mothers as being anything but nurturers or since women represent the best of us, men don’t want to show the rest of the world that the word best’ may have been misused.  Most women who hit, do so because they can.

It’s not okay, it’s not. I tell my daughters just like I tell my son, “no one should hit”, but more importantly than telling them…I show them.

Mothers stop hitting.

Girlfriends stop hitting.

Everyone stop hitting… Hugs go a lot further.

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I can’t even explain it, women make fun of other women all the time. They nit-pick, tear down and

just search for something not to like. Some of them are down right messy sometimes. We are

supposed to work together , not nurturing hate. That’s why I feel more comfortable around men. I

had enough of people  distorting my relationships.

I remember being chased home from school being made fun of because of my clothes or my hair.

So you turn to the church, but they preach that you aren’t worthy.

Your friends tell you that you aren’t worthy.

At home you hear that you’re not worth.

The television shows you as not worthy.

The man you picked says that you’re not worthy.

Celebrate yourself, love yourself, own your worth.

You hate on others when you see them changing their world

and you can’t change yours…

and that’s the bottom line.

 

Read more inside It Ain’t Just the Size, on Kindle for .99!

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When I was a younger I Believed in Fairy-Tales instead of making it happen for myself. I was spoiled. A college grad into my hair, my nails, my car, my man, but I wasn’t into myself. I was going through so many things I couldn’t even figure out who Princess really was. I started gaining weight. I was living and being, but that’s all. When I had to use my cleavage to get by I did. I had a man who spent and bought, but treated me like shit and I even allowed him to put his hands on me. Lance, that day you can to see me in the hospital; we had a real knock down drag out. I mean both of us were going at it and over some real stupid shit. What’s worse is that I was a few months pregnant…

I lost the baby.

I lost the man.

I lost myself.

MG Hardie

Find more hidden poetry inside It Ain’t Just the Size

I know this is not how I usually start off your day. I know you were expecting me to hit you with a provocative question, a poem , philosophy or book updates, but for the last few days something has been eating at me, and I just feel that I have to share this story with you, so please read on.

On Sunday me and the fellas played basketball, after the game one of my homeboys said that he would come by my house later that night. I said “No Problem.” So later on he calls me and says ‘We are on our way’, apparently he is bringing someone with him. He arrives at my house with two ladies and I was like “okkaaay.” I went into the kitchen to finish washing dishes, all of a sudden I heard screams coming from my living room. I run into the living room and my couch is just screaming “GET UP, GET UP!”  All I could think was ‘aawww damn, my couch!’ I asked the young lady if she would rather sit on my other couch, thinking that I might be able to save my couch, or perhaps the wood plank was only fractured and not broken. She declined to relocate. In hindsight I am sort of glad that she didn’t move Lord knows what else she could have broken.

My tone and facial reaction to the occurrence prompted everyone to laugh, so I played it off like everything was cool, but my night was ruined. The Grammys happened to be on and I couldn’t even enjoy the Michael Jackson tribute, needless to say I was glad when they left. In the light of day I could see that my five month old couch was at the very least dented, but upon further examination the wood plank had been broken.

Explicative!

Explicative! She must have flopped her largeness on my couch and that is what had killed it. I won’t go into detail, but I’ve done all kinds of things on that couch and it had never made a peep. Generally when there is too much mass accumulated in one human, that human is called fat. Ladies lets be clear I’m not calling her fat, my couch is calling her fat. Basically she is a trashcan. That sound we all heard when she sat down told her ‘Don’t sit here. Please move’, I mean really if that isn’t a hint and a half for you. Needless to say I will be rearranging furniture this weekend.

Think Like a Man would appear to be a movie for women, but it’s for men. It is not one of those movies made for women and if the men come alone that’s fine. This movie is about different stages in relationships and gender development, how we look at each other and ourselves. Directed by Tim Story and narrated by Kevin Hart. The movie gives ample screen time to the cast of Jerry Ferrara, Megan Good, Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, Kevin Hart, Taraji P Henson, Gabrielle Union, Romany Malco, and intermixes commentary from Steve Harvey.

Trailers for movies often say that they have something in them for everybody; this is the one movie that actually delivers. This movie is about dating and relationships, pure and simple, the audience is treated or not to varied archetypes the Player, The Mamma Boy, The Girl Who Wants the Ring,  The Woman Who Is Her Own Man, etc. Apart from some familiar scenarios (to many men), the movie manages to not only peg the psyche of men, but women as well. Yet somehow in between the gags, comedy, double narration, product placement and drama you manage to see bits and pieces of yourself, your partner or a friend that you can laugh at from a safe distance, that’s when the movie has you invested.

Steve Harvey’s book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, provides the ladies with a rule book of how men think and the game is afoot, once the men find out that their relationships are now being driven by Steve’s book, they plan to turn the tables on the women…basically they plan to pretend to be what the women want only to get what they want. There are plenty of lines for women to be upset about, and a lot of dumb situations men won’t appreciate and some of the premises are manipulative, insincere, in fact they are all pretty shallow, the problem– this is how people really behave and think.

Director Tim Story is to be commended for managing multiple the story-lines and showing each African-American characters as desirable. Not only are the actresses beautiful, sexy and amazingly bright, watching the film you can tell they actually like their roles and that translates on screen. The characters engage us with their hopes, dreams, failing and triumphs, in parts the film is almost magical as the characters often light up the screen. Kevin Hart’s comedic genius is on full display, but so is the subtle humor of Bennett “The Happily Married Man”, I have no idea why commercials for this movie didn’t really plug the substantial presence of the white characters. The film is a tad long, over-narrated and the mamma’s boy story gets drawn out, yet it is arguably the best romantic comedies ever made. The way the male characters played off of one another, how they played basketball (one horribly), how they hilariously talked about their problems, the way they bonded over their women troubles even the various male archetypes reminded me of another book “It Ain’t Just the Size”, but let’s not go there.

The soundtrack is excellent. The casting choices are perfect, except LaLa Vasquez. Each of these four relationship is uniquely different, well because people are, I just don’t understand how Kristen could have gotten rid of Jeremy’s Voltron Lion figure masterpiece… but I digress. The movie is not about how to find true love or even being in a healthy relationship; ultimately, Think Like a Man is about being real, not just with your partner, but more importantly with yourself. Think Like a Man manages to accomplish what Tyler Perry’s movies have never been able to …bring men and women together.

8.5/10

Part 1

Far to often we have waited until it was too late to give thanks to the people who moved and inspired us. We give awards and accolades long after they were deserved. Some of these artist made us feel, think and others showed us that it is okay to human and that we are not alone. If nothing else perhaps some of these artist will be rediscover by some and seen in a new way by others. We grew up watching R & B borrow from soul and jazz elements, to co-opting hip hop grooves, to mixtures of pop and now even techno musings. I have created this list not based solely on sales, or emotions, what this means is that having a hit or two wont get you on this list, while dropping a classic album might. These artist had guts, creativity, range and most importantly impact and without them R & B would not be the same. A lot of women have contributed to R & B, but here are my top 15.

1. Aretha Franklin (Queen of Soul)

She epitomized gospel-charged soul and has 18 Grammys,  20 No. 1 singles, 45 “Top 40” hits, to back that up. She also has the most million-selling singles of any female artist with 14. Between 1967 and 1982 she had 10 #1 R&B albums – more than any other female artist. The term “Diva” was coined just to describe her talents. Ms. Franklin is the epitome of a trailblazer with her vocal style and ability and is one of the few living legends who can still perform at a high level to this day. Franklin was the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “Respect”,”Never Loved A Man the Way I Love You”,  “Think”, “Chain of Fools”, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “Giving Him Something He Can Feel”

2. Whitney Houston (Whitney)

at 170 Million albums sold Whitney is the most awarded female singer ever. She has number 1 albums and soundtracks that have powered her film roles. Whitney is one od the few singers who could sing anything and it would be a hit. Case in point the “Star Spangled Banner” , which she performed at Superbowl XXV , was released as a single and was in the top 20. In the early 90’s Whitney skillfully rode Michael Jackson’s wake and knocked the doors opened for other female artist such as Janet Jackson and Anita Baker “Because of what Whitney did, there was an opening for me… For radio stations, black women singers aren’t taboo anymore.’ says Baker. Whitney tackled big adult contemporary ballads, effervescent, stylish dance-pop, and slick urban contemporary soul with with dexterity and grace.  She was commondly referred to as a phenomon because when she sang a song…it was sung and no one could do it better. “Greatest Love of All”,  “I’m Every Woman”, “Greatest Love of All”, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, “I Will Always Love You” and “I’m Your Baby Tonight”


3. Etta James

James has four Grammys and seventeen Blues Music Awards. She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Grammy Hall of Fame in both 1999 and 2008. In the 1950s and 1960s, she had her biggest success as a blues and R&B singer. She is best known for her son “At last”.  In modern times Ms. James is often overlooked, but she can flat out sang and her music has lived on for decades. “Something’s Got a Hold on Me,” “Stop the Wedding,” and “Would It Make Any Difference to You”

4. Patti Labelle

A one woman powerhouse of vocal & musical ability, Ms. Labelle is one of a kind. Blessed with power, range and passion her voice is as powerful as it is graceful.  Her unwavering appeal has spanned more than five decades. She has hits such as “On My Own,” “Somebody Loves You Baby” and “New Attitude.” There is no one quite like entertainment legend Patti LaBelle. “On My Own“, “If Only You Knew“, “Have a Little Faith in Me”, “If You Asked Me To“, “Stir It Up” and “New Attitude“.

5. Chaka Khan

in the 1970s she was the frontwoman of the band Rufus, however, her solo body of work stands on its own. As a singer she is the most diverse with her range and vocal skill. When it wasn’t fashionable for singers to record their own background vocals, Khan made her own fashion statement and arranged her own. Chaka Khan is clearly in a class by herself. Her vocal style, identifiable in a flash, is a major force of nature in music, a sound like no other.  “I’m Every Woman”, “This Is My Night”, “Got To Be There”, “What Cha’ Gonna Do For Me”, and “I Feel For You”

Billie Holiday, Dionne Warwick, Minne Ripperton, Gladys Knight, Natalie Cole and many others.

Part 2 

M

Dear Nicki Minaj:

I’m supposed to be mad at you.  Because of the whole Barbie thing.  I don’t know if you know this, but Ruth Handler created Barbie for Mattel about 50 years ago. She was based on Lily, a blond European comic strip character with, shall we say, loose morals.  As a doll, Barbie prostituted herself for the multiple outfits, shoes, cars, houses and other accessories that parents would buy for their daughters.

A woman who compares herself to Barbie is a woman who desires to be purchased.  A black woman who compares herself to Barbie is celebrating white standards of beauty in order to be bought.  It’s objectifying, it supports patriarchy, it’s reminiscent of slavery, it’s problematic, and it’s working for you, ma.

Maybe it’s because no one can make the rumors about you hooking up with Weezy and Drake to get signed actually stick.  Maybe it’s because your glam is hotter than anything designed for Barbie. Maybe it’s because even in your blond wigs, you look black unlike Barbie’s first black friend, Christie. Maybe it’s because you got ass Barbie can only dream of.  Maybe it’s because this Barbie business is your business.

Times are hard. The black unemployment rate is 16%. One in seven Americans live in poverty. Gainful employment that pays a living wage is hard to find. You found it by being a Barbie. Congratulations.  The more complex the package, the more there is to talk about, and people are talking about you, Nicki.  We’ve been checking for your album over a year before it dropped.

Today, November 22, 2010, is your holiday.  You’ve got a lipstick collabo with MAC, a partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s largest breast cancer .organization, a MTV documentary titled My Time Now, the Pink Friday album, and a pending tour.  You are packaging yourself to be sold because that’s how the game is played.  Men sell themselves all the time. When they’re successful we call them Donald Trump. When women do it, we call them dolls, puppets, pawns.  You’re doing it right, but you’re wrong about one thing. Your time isn’t now.  Your time is in the future. This is the beginning.

Turn hip pop on it’s head. Teach black girls how to be entrepreneurs—how to self promote guerilla style. Share as much as you feel comfortable about your childhood, your immigration, the domestic violence between your parents, your sexuality, your life in the industry with all those boys, and your round-the-way-girl attempts to figure these men out.  How do they do that shit?

Barbie is your business. I understand that. Lil Kim understands that too, and that’s why she’s challenging you. I know you didn’t name any names in “Roman’s Revenge.”  It has some clever lines, but Roman and Shady both hate women so I can’t give you any props on that.  Just don’t go starting any mess. Your Sucka Free cover is Kim. She’s your godmother in the game even if she’s not acting like it. Think of giving everyone who comes at you, an opportunity to eat too. Savvy women parlay hateration into product that profits the major player and all the people on her team.

I listened to your interviews, I heard you rhyme, I read about that 360 deal. I know that your time is coming. What’s next? Your own label, your own school for girls, your own non-profit? I know you can do it, Nicki. The question is will you? I’ll only be mad if you stay a Barbie.

P.S.

By the way Lil Kim’s Pink Friday Mixtape is something you don’t want to mess with, really.

Just don’t pose in any more plastic boxes, okay?

http://twitter.com/#!/mghasspoken

Dr. Ebony Utley

The Woman with Ideas

theutleyexperience.com

Ebony A. Utley, Ph.D. is an expert in hip hop, race, and love relationships. Her forthcoming book, The Gangsta’s God: The Quest for Respectability in Hip Hop (Praeger, forthcoming), blends rap, religion, and urban African American history to reveal how a God-sanctioned gangsta identity empowers young black people facing declining economic opportunities.