Monday, November 2, 2009

Age Ain't Nothing but A Number???

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The other day, as I was on my way home, I was on the bus sitting across from a couple of urban youths. They seemed to really be into each other and for a moment the thug in me died as I remembered my days of puppy love and being boo'd up. You know, before I became a cynic, everything became so complicated. As the ride continued, the couple got into a conversation in regards to a friend of the young lady. From what I heard, the friend was eighteen and her boyfriend was twenty eight. Of the young couple, the girl expressed strong dislike for the relationship stating "the man was too old," and "ten years was too big of a gap." To this the boyfriend responded "yea, but she's legal she can do what she wants. If you don't think that what she's doing is right, what does that mean for us?"

*leans in*

"How come she can't date an older man, but you can?"

Defensively the girl responded "that's different, we're only five years apart."

"Yea, but I'm twenty-one." STOP!

That would make her sixteen. STOP!

What the hayle is a sixteen year old girl, doing with a twenty-one year old man? Nevermind the fact that as a twenty three year old woman, who was once twenty-one and thus dated twenty-one year old men, I found them to be nothing more than fifteen year old boys on steroids. However, the law says otherwise. I sat in my seat giving ALL kinds of mental side-eyes o__O ... O__O ... O__o Just judgmental! Until I remembered, I was once a seventeen, sixteen, fifteen...(o__O, yeah you get my point) year old girl who thought I was super grown. I was the girl who thought I was mature enough to talk to a man that was five years my senior, just like the girl across the aisle from me.

Too often we focus on the role of the predators males in these situations, and not enough on the young girl who has a skewed view of beauty, love, and womanhood. Or when we do focus on the role of the female, it is not one of compassion, but one of criticism. "She's fast," "she's a ho," or "she wanted him to pee on her." o__O (Please don't get me started on the Robert "Define Teenaged" Kelly situation). Yet, to fully grasp the issue of loss innocence we must understand that not every sixteen year old dating a twenty-one year old is a victim, but not every one is a vixen either. Nevertheless, it's easy to place blame upon the young black girl, and not on the society that rears her.

At sixteen years old, I'm sure she can recite every lyric from Lil Wayne's "Every Girl." I'm sure she's sat hours in front a mirror perfecting that hypnotizing hip roll done in Beyonce's "Single Ladies" video. At sixteen years old, I'm sure she's leaned on her girls for support, while she grinded her ass into the pelvis of a sixteen year old boy, at her high school dance. More importantly, I'm sure this didn't start when she turned sixteen. See, from an early age, particularly in the music we listen to, black girls are cultured by an image that paints them as deviant and oversexualized.

Yet, the focus of this media that has been debated by black political scholars, music artists and even congressional panels, often leaves out the effect that this music has on young black girls. The conversations often dwell on how this music perpetuates misogyny, thus its affect on males. Ironically, like the music and the media in general, these conversations rely upon the existence of black girls while rendering them to the position of spectator.

As an adult I can sing every lyric to Lil Kim's Hardcore LP. Ask me how many of those lyrics I learned AFTER I was an adult and the answer is... not one. I learned them, in 1996, when the album first came out. I was ten years old singing "Big Momma Thang." o__O

"I used to be scared of the d***, now I throw lips to tha sh**, handle it like a real b****."

What did I know about that!?! NOTHING. Yet I thought it was appropriate to sit in my room with my headphones on and listen to it. Nevertheless, these lyrics in all their vulgar glory, speak to the interaction of black girls with society. These lyrics speak to the right of passage for black girls that comes at the expense of being recognized and accepted by our male counterparts.

A sixteen year old, dating a twenty-one year old, has undeniably traded her innocence for acceptance.
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