Why Cassandra Joi Doesn’t See It For Mary Jane

I’ll speak my truth.  When I first saw the promotional advertisements for a new show called Being Mary Jane, I was excited.  My soul rejoiced like the ratchets when Booise came home with a “Yaaaaassssss, here is a show where a Black woman has a career AND a nice house.  She a bad broad.”  *insert a twerk to I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T*

I counted down the days when the show that I knew I was going to LOVE was going to appear.  While I didn’t catch the premiere, I still caught the show through the blessings of DVR.  The first few minutes of the show were pretty good.  I appreciated the disclaimer in the beginning stating that this was only one story of one Black woman; not the entire story of all black women.  When we got to the big reveal of the main chick being the side chick, that’s kind of when I emotionally and mentally checked out of the story.  By the time we got to the end with her plan of creating a child with freezer burned sperm, I was pretty much done.  I didn’t give up too much on hope, though.  I rationalized with fanciful fallacies that maybe the first showing had to be intense.  The series would be better, I explained to myself.  So there I was, watching the second, third, and fourth shows.  What I learned from the experience, lying is wrong.  Lying to yourself is wronger (yes, well aware that’s not a word but I’m telling the story here).  What bothered me the most was the constant storyline of dick chasing Mary Jane was doing.  Your know how they say first impressions are lasting impressions?  That quote can apply to television as well.  When we first met Mary Jane, in the very first scene we saw her in, there was dick involved.  We didn’t know she was a successful television journalist.  We didn’t know she was the glue trying to hold her trifling family together.  But we knew she had an affinity for fuckboys.  One being married and the other into the committed non-commitment relationship.  Two of the worst kind.  So with that being my first impression, it’s no wonder why my hope for Mary Jane wasn’t lasting.

I know that those who know me (be it on social media or in actual living and breathing life), may be thinking, “But, you love Scandal, though.  It has the same premise.  What’s the difference?”  I get it, there is a similar mistress storyline for both shows that I love to loathe.  But there is a fundamental difference in the sidechick sagas between Mary Jane and Olivia.

We didn’t know about Olivia’s dick chasing until towards the end of the premiere episode.  When we first met Liv, we knew she was a fixer.  It was her job to make the imperfect appear as perfect.  But in order to keep Olivia palatable to audiences, I guess, there had to be a downside to her.  In literature, it’s called a heroic flaw. But again, not being introduced to that off the break makes all the difference in how you receive and perceive her character.  Furthermore, in Olivia’s case, she knows she’s wrong for doing what she’s doing with Fitz.  She’s tried to make it right, she’s tried to make him right.  Not saying that what she’s doing is excusable.  I just have a thing for people who can admit that they’re wrong, stand in their wrongness, and will at least try to attempt to make it right.  I appreciate that so I thusly appreciate Olivia.  Additionally, Olivia does what few mistresses (real or fiction) do when it comes to recognizing who shares in their trash: She puts the blame on the mister.  She’s not offering up any Clean-Up Woman clichés of “Well if you was doing what you were supposed to I wouldn’t be doing your man” or any of that shit.  She doesn’t justify her wrongness.  She’s trash and she owns her trashiness.

And now, for Mary Jane.

In fairness of this critique, I will make these points early.  Yes, Olivia did knowingly getting with a married man as opposed to Mary Jane unknowingly getting with a married man.  Yes, Mary Jane did have a hint of remorse in the beginning as seen in her first encounter with Avery.  But that’s where it stops for me.  The grill upon which I lay my beef with MJ is in Episode 4 titled Mixed Messages was her speech about being “No. 2.”  If you haven’t seen it, check it out here.  *DEEEEEPPPP EFFFINNGGGG SIIIIIGHHHHH*  What gets my soul sizzling about this mess is that she’s giving this fluke ass number 2 speech in front of a bunch of impressionable little girls.  We already have a huge issue with girls struggling to reach their full potential, battling the red tape of sexism (throw in racism, too, if you’re Black) on a daily basis.  Don’t justify your skanky shenanigans in a disguise of motivational speaking.  Don’t make that okay for them with that Mokenstef Mentality.

I guess what pisses me off the most about Mary Jane more than Olivia is that her story is sooooo close to sooooo many other stories I’ve heard/seen before.  Want to know why?  Because this is nothing but art imitating life.  And in said life, shit like this keeps happening because nobody ever places the blame where it really needs to be: WITH THE DUDE.  We’ve been through this wayyyyyy too long, ladies.  There is no sense in getting mad at the other woman (depending on your situation, but even then).  She didn’t choose to cheat on you.  That fuckboy of husband/fiance/boyfriend did.  But I guess until we as women get that clear, we’re just going to keep giving these writers more materials for these shows to give me more reasons to be pissed.

 

And that is why I don’t see it for Mary Jane.

How American Feminism Begat Fuckboyism

I know this post may draw some hell with most feminists.  In fact, I know a lot of my posts are going to draw hell from a lot of people.   But to be quite honest and serious, I really could not care less.  This post and this blog is not about how others see things.  It is a commentary about how I see things as a young, Black, twenty-something woman scholar from Baltimore from my vantage point.  With that, I will say if anyone has a problem with anything I say at anytime, kindly feel free to line up behind me, kneel down, and kiss my ass.  And please use Chapstick or Vaseline before doing so; I’d rather not cut myself with your chapped lips.

With all that out the way, let’s start from the beginning on where the title came from, shall we?  Earlier this morning when buried under the covers contemplating the meaning of life, I recalled a life lesson from one of my graduate professors.  We were having a random debate about gender equality in policy when he said, “Feminism was probably the worst thing that has happened to women ever.”  Lord, the uproar from the other women in my class.  You would have thought the man said that maxi pads and chocolate were going out of business for good.  When challenged to give more details about making such an “absurd” statement, my professor simply took a sip of his Starbucks and replied, “You’ll understand it later.”  I was about 23 at the time.  At 28, it took me five years and a lot of life lessons later to realize as macho and chauvinistic as such a statement sounded, the man was possibly on to something.  As a natural observer and a trained social scientist, I see the world through trends and stems when it comes to addressing a social issue or behavior.  Considering my past relationships, situationships, sharing plenty of “Waiting to Exhale” moments with family and friends, reading blogs and Facebook statuses, and watching television I noticed a trend (as in one factor, not the whole thing) in otherwise seemingly intelligent women dealing hard and heavy with fuckboys.  What exactly is a fuckboy, some may ask.  To answer, I yield to the reference for everything ratchet: Urban Dictionary.  While the first definition identifies a fuckboy as “a person who is a weak ass pussy that ain’t about shit,” I think part of the sixth definition is a bit more fitting for this discussion.  As it states, a fuckboy is “a word commonly used to describe a male who’s levels of bitchassness are astronomical.  Fuckboys have a way of fucking things up for the worse.  They have an inability to get their shit done and when given a responsibility they pussy out and usually leave it for someone else to take care of…”  Earlier terms used to describe fuckboys include scrubs, bums, losers, and jerks.  It must also be clarified while such a term may have stemmed from the Black community, fuckboys can come in all races.  I offer the examples of Adam from Girls, about 85% of the dads on Teen Mom, and Scott Dissick to name a few.  Now that we’ve identified the trend, what is the stem?  While there could be a plethora of contributing factors as to why good girls fall for fuckboys, I want to examine the concept based on my professor’s statement.  Is there a connection between feminism and fuckboyism (the practice or philosophy of being a fuckboy)?

Let’s skim through the history of American Feminism a little.  For those that know (and those that don’t), the American feminist movement started way before women were sitting on top of hills with a picket sign in one hand and a burned bra in the other shouting “I am woman, hear me roar.”  That was around the 1960s when most of the social movements we know today (Civil Rights, Environmental, Anti-War, etc) were kicking off.  The origins of American Feminism actually begin with the Women’s Suffrage Movement between the late 19th century and the early 20th century.  Much of what you hear about the suffrage movement was that it was about equal voting rights, which is true to an extent.  What you don’t hear is that the suffrage movement was really about women (specifically White aristocratic women) gaining equal (or greater) power.  To vote in this country meant that you had power.  The only people who had such power were White aristocratic men.  So in an nutshell, the foundations of this Suffrage movement which would later become the American Feminist movement were so that White aristocratic women could be equally as powerful (or greater than) White aristocratic men.  As time progressed and women were allowed to vote, the suffragists (who would be later known as feminists) began to take on more causes centered around women gaining power.  With that, I’ll break like this.  I don’t believe that feminism in and of itself is a bad idea.  I give credit where credit is due for the political changes as seen in laws such as the Violence Against Women Act, Lily Ledbetter Act, Roe vs. Wade, and others that help me go on about my business as a woman in this country.  What I’m questioning is some of the social behaviors, norms, and mores that also came with feminism and whether or not they were more harmful or helpful to women.  And it’s right there where I think feminism and fuckboyism meet.

The social demands of American Feminism often translated to most as women wanting to be treated the same as (not equal to, there is a difference) men.  Being treated as a lady was a form of oppression.  To be a stay-at-home wife and mother was a not seen as progressive.  Being chivalrous was patronizing.  It was an expectation that women can and should do everything by themselves.  While certainly it was understandable that women wanted to overcome some the  condescending and tyrannizing behaviors of men, it does bring to question if all social graces should be overhauled as well?  Let’s look at dating.  Prior to the pick-up of the American Feminist movement, men were expected to court women.  Before asking to even speak with a lady, a man had to ask permission from her parents.  That was the original fuckboy barrier, if you will.  Although I hated to admit it as a kid, your family is normally perceptive when it comes to picking out raggedy folks in your life.  But with all this women’s liberation through feminism talk, the fuckboy barrier goes bye bye.   And that opens the door for other fuckboyish behaviors.  Like situationships instead of relationships.  With the feminist idea of women “not wanting to be tied down” that leaves plenty of room for fuckboys to carry on situationships (that gray area of “kinda sorta”  and “not really” a couple-couple) instead of moving on to relationships.  Then you have the suga momma syndrome.  No, I’m not saying that a relationship should be built totally on money.  However, you cannot TELL me it would not irritate the depths of our soul to come home on a Friday after working a whole week of working forty hours with a nigga on your couch sitting in the same spot you left him since Monday, Cheetos on his chest, controller on his belly, dirty sock with a hole in it, and half cans of beer all around him.  And it has been like this for YEARS.  But this case of fuckboy behavior is brought on with the idea of working women being the sole “breadwinners” if you will.  And how about single motherhood?  Yes, that too can be considered a bi-product of feminism begetting fuckboyism.  Shouting to the mountaintops how we can do bad all by ourselves will leave us doing just that.

So there is my theory, how feminism begets fuckboyism.  Is there a way to change it?  Probably not across the board, but personally is a start.  For me it’s realizing the balance of being both a lady and a woman and owning it.  According to Theophile Obenga, the Ancient Egyptians were able to understand this masterfully when it came to male and female relationships.  Men and women were treated as equals, still respecting the fact that men were men and women were women.  The good ol’ days.