Karrine and Lil Wayne

Dear Karrine Steffans,

I ride for you. I really do. Most people have no idea why. Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Dr. Ebony Utley, a writer and an associate professor of communication at California State University Long Beach. I write and teach about popular culture and relationships. When Confessions of a Video Vixen dropped, I assigned it to my hip hop class and made all my students purchase it.

Confessions was important because it forced readers to contextualize a vixen’s life. After my students exhausted all the different ways they could call you a ho, I pushed them to move past their judgments and critique gendered double standards about sexuality. I demanded that they imagine how it would change them if they were sexually assaulted, abused, and abandoned as a young girl. I encouraged them to consider the conditions that lead to escapism through sex, drugs, alcohol, and hip hop fantasies. Your book was a perfect opportunity to discuss how and why women make choices in a man’s world. I asked them to respect the chutzpah of a woman not that much older than they were who put it all out there—haters be damned.

When it came time to build my brand, I modeled it after yours. Your early websites were my favorites. I learned form you that pink is a power color. You taught me how to be sexy and smart. I subscribe to the newsletter, buy the books, read the damn blog. In fact, The Vixen Manual is kinda like an Our Bodies, Ourselves for the hip hop generation. Okay, that’s an overstatement, but the pictures were a nice touch.

Your newest book How to Make Love to A Martian was a birthday gift to myself and it continues your prosex, prochoice advocacy. It was a brave decision to share your abortion story. It was also an important decision in a world where women’s rights to choose are being systematically stripped away.

Baby News: Fuck!

Four Weeks

And while Martian is a page-tuner, I’ve got to draw a line. The “love” that you and Lil Wayne have is dangerous. I know you have a niche. I know you have a core audience with expectations. I know you need to make that money, but I can’t ride for you and let other people think that your depiction of love is okay with me. Now, I generally don’t make a habit of telling people they love wrong. I’ve been flying around the country collecting definitions of love from women and children for my research, and I know there are as many definitions as there are people.

For my current project Shades of Infidelity, I’m interviewing women about their experiences with infidelity, and I’ve asked all of them to define love. I’ve learned so much about life and love that this isn’t me passing judgment on your open relationship with Lil Wayne. This is me telling you that a relationship that lacks mutual trust, respect, and honest communication isn’t a healthy love. Here come the spoilers. You define love as “the spirit of caring to the maximum level of shared connection.” Fine. Then you describe love with Wayne:

“Wayne didn’t want to know everything or anything at all, except that I loved him.”

“Wayne was loving me the way he wanted to love me, but I was loving him the way he needed to be loved.”

“He was a jealous and possessive man when it came to the women he loved. He never wanted to hear about other men. Ever. Even though all this women had no choice but to hear about all his other women and accept it.”

All bad, Karrine. Per your own definition, you’re coming up short. Is this what the maximum level of connection looks like? More importantly is this what the maximum level of connection looks like?

I know you’re both working and these representations are part of your jobs. I’m certain they fail to accurately reflect the extent of your relationship, but for all the babygirls that are fans of yours, I need them to know that:

  • When you can’t talk to your partner about that time he hurt your feelings when he flew you across the country, holed you up in a hotel, and never showed up to meet you, it’s not okay
  • Sleeping with his friend just to make him jealous instead of telling him that his getting everybody pregnant and you hearing about it on the street was hurtful, is not ideal.
  • Being in a relationship where there is no reciprocity is not a healthy relationship.

If you were just sexing Wayne for pleasure, that would be fine (although I’m not entirely sure what you see in him), but to call what you describe in Martian as love is not fine. Not. At. All.

Raw

I agree. Sometimes a man and a woman have an understanding that even they don’t understand. I have been there. But this is not that. There’s no understanding. He hurts your feelings. You swallow them. You try to move on. Love relationships require communication to achieve that understanding and that maximum level of connection. I need to communicate to you that you deserve better. You’ve been hurt. A lot. But don’t give up on yourself. Learn from your mistakes. Olivia Pope is wrong (but that’s another post). Love is not supposed to hurt more than it heals you. Love yourself first. Tell yourself the truth about this unhealthy relationship. If you can agree not to glamorize the pain anymore, I’ll agree to keep riding for you. Can you and I share that understanding?

Dr. Ebony Utley
The Woman with Ideas
theutleyexperience.com

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.

Join MG Hardie’s fan page