Brittney Cooper’s very personal “political” problems

“The personal is political.”
-Carol Hanisch

You know, I’m often asked: why do I bang on so much about Black women in general (NOT all), and Black feminists in particular? After all, don’t Black men have their stuff with them too – and why am I not addressing that?

Well, these are all highly legitimate questions. As to the latter though, my readers and interlocutors will have to wait for a future column to know my answer; as for the former, however, I’m all too happy to sate your curiousity right now:

Because Black feminists in particular, are the gift that just keeps on giving.

So it is the case with Brittney “Prof. Crunk” Cooper, part of the Black feminist corps of social justice warriors, whose blatherings have made it onto my very own watch list. Every so often I check in with the blog collective she co-founded the Crunk Feminist Collective, to see what inanity they’ve just freshly cooked up – and the good professor, once again, didn’t disappoint.

Writing last week about attending a Black Media Matters panel at Harvard U at the behest of the Black Law Students Association, Cooper notes:

“So sitting in that room full of mega-intelligent, accomplished young Black folks, inevitably our panel turned to the question of “positive media representations.” When I indicated that I wasn’t particularly invested in seeing positive black folks on screen, so much as complex and interesting Black folk, one young sister asked me all exasperated, “why can’t we just have Black women in normal relationships on tv?!”

It made me think back to that moment, as a 20-something, in grad school, whole world right out ahead. I wanted those same things, too. A banging career, a good dude, a couple of kids.

And before I knew it, I found myself being far more transparent than I had intended on being with her. Because I know how much (cisgender, straight) professional Black women’s deep longings for certain kinds of partnership and female friendships drives our engagement with visual representation, I asked her, “what happens if you do everything quote unquote ‘right’ and it still doesn’t work out for you that way?”

These are the kinds of questions that being single in one’s 30s and spending too many long, cold winter nights alone will have you asking.”

Thus begins what would amount to a nearly 1,300 word, poignant accounting of where Prof. Cooper is in her life; a grand display of the Rationalization Hamster in action if there ever was one. She starts off by crediting (Black) Feminism itself for assuaging her failures as a woman:

“Feminism will help you get free. Without feminism and the frameworks it has provided me, I don’t know that I would have had the good sense to see all the things I see now in the way that I do. I think I would have thought my perpetually single self a failure at life and the things that matter, if feminism hadn’t taught me to see all the awesome things I do have. I couldn’t have embraced my rage, or made it productively political. I wouldn’t believe we could change the world. I wouldn’t have known I could simply throw off all the old ways of thinking that were holding me back.”

And it all goes downhill from there.

Why am I bringing all this up?

Well, because in my past two columns on Cooper, I made the case that what ails Black women in our time isn’t “racism” or “white supremacy” or “Kyriarchy” or whatever flavor of the month made up word they choose to use at the moment, but rather decisions and choices they have made themselves – and as such, can be remediated by themselves.

For example, I’ve made the case that Black women, as a group and in aggregate, have a serious weight problem. But, they CAN address that – achieving the dual goals of improving their health, and, improving their mating prospects. This is something that most directly addresses Cooper herself, as she is most assuredly obese – and as such, the Brothas in her social world will not want to mate with her, because of her being so obese makes her very unattractive. There, I’ve said it.

And I will keep saying it, until it sinks in.

Because, it is the truth. The truth that Black women like Cooper need to hear, from Black men themselves.

Now, don’t get me wrong – it’s not like Cooper and other seriously weight-scale challenged Sistas, don’t know this – they do. Cooper talked about it at length herself, almost exactly three years ago, in fact.

But, you see, women can and will follow the lead of men, no matter – especially – when women shriek to the contrary. And, you see, the Brothas of Cooper’s milieu – you know, college educated, white-collar professional – well, they’re not particularly known for being all that outspoken. Most will toe the party line, even if they don’t adhere to the same in their own personal lives – while others will simply vote with their feet (and other body parts) when push comes to shove as to which honeys really turn their crank. Simply put, if you’re a chick like Cooper, and you want “in” on one of the more conventionally desirable Brothas of Black American life, trying to holla when your dress size is a high double-digit figure just ain’t gonna get it.

And that’s just for starters.

So, to recap before moving on to my next point: (Black) Feminism cannot, and will not, address the biggest (pardon the pun) problem besetting (Black) women in our time, though they will try, bless their heart. But, as men who study human mating know well, attraction cannot be negotiated – or legislated – into being.

Nor can it be shamed into existence, either – and here we turn to Federalist columnist Ms. Amy Otto, whose article “The Envy Gap” really drives home what truly holds (Black) women like Cooper back:


Ms. Otto:

“Recently, an unflattering photo of Cindy Crawford from a Marie Claire photo shoot came to light. Despite the evident poor lighting, heavy filter usage, and now alleged photoshopping that contributed directly to a likely inaccurate and certainly unflattering photo for Crawford, the overwhelming cheers at this “revelation” were revealing. The barely concealed joy from many women seizing an opportunity to tear Crawford down was palatable.

The worst part is that these same women framed it as supportive of Crawford. Heralding this photo as “truth” says more about what drives some women than whether Crawford is still a stunner. Spoiler, she is. This reaction is a fundamental reason why more legislation won’t bring equity to western women. The real gap between men and women is the one not often discussed. It’s the envy gap.

“No matter where the photo came from, it’s an enlightenment – we’ve always known Crawford was beautiful, but seeing her like this only makes us love her more,” Marie Claire posted on its website. Women tripping over themselves to “congratulate” Crawford for a solitary unflattering photo aren’t supporting her. If love is only doled out to other women from women when they are at their worst, one might worry at incentive system they’re creating. Cindy Crawford is quite aware of the dynamic and does the mandatory self-denigration ritual to remain acceptable to other women.”

Then, Ms. Otto really goes in:

“Women engaged in this stampede of weaponized envy are at the root of why women shy away from achievement. The enforced norm in female culture of managing expectations down to the lowest common denominator needs to stop. The fact is, Crawford per this recent photo is still spectacular-looking.

Some women simply cannot stand that she is stunning despite that having no bearing on who they are. Instead, many women leap with a barely concealed glee when there might be an opportunity to redistribute what they do not possess. Within the same week, women were foaming at the mouth over this woman’s post-pregnancy body as if she was violently attacking them with her well-recovered abs. She did not get the memo about keeping her expectations in line with the lowest common denominator and instead took her passion for fitness and demonstrated how it can help your body during and after pregnancy.”

Boom! Prof. Cooper, are you taking notes?

For the obtuse among us, let me tie all of the strands in this article into a tidy little bow:

1. Brittney Cooper is obese in a very noticeable way. She knows this. She has written, at length, about how it has negatively affected her chances toward mating. Yet, she chooses to do nothing about it.

2. She turns to Feminism, particularly its Black variant, as a salve toward rationalizing why she’s a failure in this area of her life. By somehow “changing the culture,” she will be able to bring the idea of female attractiveness, and by extension (Black) mens’ expectations of same, down to the lowest common denominator, as Ms. Otto observes above.

3. But, IT HAS NOT WORKED. She has not succeeded in attracting suitors who are able to appreciate the “real her,” nor has she attained any real sense of happiness with her supposed “freedom” from being partnered; indeed, it seems that every time she takes to her keyboard it’s in Id-Monster fueled rage at conventionally attractive (white) women, like Patricia Arquette and Iggy Azalea.

And this is what is really important about today’s column: what has actually worked. Black folk like Cooper tend to remain yoked to the university ghetto, because there they don’t have to actually DO anything, PRODUCE anything; they don’t have to actually GET RESULTS for those they claim to care about and represent. All they have to do is talk a lot of silly talk, sound pithy and get daps from their fellow flatterers, unquestioned. Nor is this in any way anything new; as Thomas Sowell notes in his excellent work, “Intellectuals & Society“, that this is precisely how the academy in our time operates; not with the constrained acknowledgement of the possible, but with a grossly out of step with reality view of humanity. Simply put, there is NOTHING that will change the minds of the most eligible of Black men in American life to partner up with a grossly obese, think she knows it all but in reality knows nothing Sista like Cooper. That should have been made brutally obvious and painfully clear by now at her age; but, you see, the power of the Female Herd Mentality is such that she can allow herself to be deluded into believing the exact opposite of what reality actually holds.

Black feminists, who really take their marching orders from their White counterparts, want to “dumb down” the attractiveness standards of Black women to their lowest point so that Black women who don’t make the cut, regardless as to how many mediocre achievements they have (after all, how hard is it to be in the African-American studies department at university, hmm?), and worse, refuse to do anything about the state of affairs they put themselves in in the first place. Even many Black women themselves know this, but they won’t openly discuss it, for fear of the Black Borg Hivemind, this time in the form of Black feminists, coming after them for it.

Again, as Sowell points out above, ideas advocated by our putative best and brightest can and should be measured and assessed for their effectiveness. Based on the writings by her own hand, Black feminism has not helped Prof. Cooper find happiness – only one data point among many in a long and documented track record of failures for Black feminism to deliver on the promises of a better life for Black women en masse. If its own proponents cannot achieve what they advocate, it can and should give Black women in aggregate serious pause.

So, I propose a much simpler, easier to achieve program to assist Black women like Prof. Cooper:

1. Lose the weight. Doesn’t have to be a ton (pardon the pun), but it does have to be noticeable. Focus especially on the waistline – if your gut exceeds your bustline in profile, it’s not a good look. Fix it. By any means necessary (working out, changing diet, Spanx, going under the knife, etc., et al).

2. Fix the attitude. Contrary to what Good Black Men(TM) will say, they really aren’t interested, or impressed, by your “achievements.” Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with you doing you, but that’s really not the reason how or why a man is interested in you. Beyond the sex, he’s interested in your softness, your femininity, and what you can bring to the table that supports him along these lines. Doesn’t mean you have to be a Stepford Wife, but being a “sassy” ball-busting harpie that’s out to seize the patriarchal parapet is a bona fide bonerkiller. Believe it.

3. Sephora. If you got the extra shekels to spend – and Sistas like Cooper most certainly do – you need to definitely hit them up. Early and often.

4. And for God’s sake, get a hairstyle that actually works with you, not against you. Contrary to actual belief, Black men really don’t like Black women who try to look like non-Black women – nor do they roll with Sistas who haven’t found the right au natural hairstyle to rock either. Fortunately, there are many places in the country where a Black woman can go to get real assistance in these matters. They should avail themselves of these.

And perhaps most importantly:

5. Understand that the most desirable of Brothas, can and will play this fact of their existence to the hilt, and all that comes with it. Chances will be very high that you won’t be the only gal in his rotation, and if you’re OK with that, then by all means go for it; but by all accounts, this isn’t the case for the vast majority of Sistas out there. You WILL have to adjust your desire parameters accordingly; the hotter he is, the more accomplished, the more high-visibility he is, the more likely he is to defect. Choose what you will and will not go for in a man accordingly.

Doing just these five things, alone, can and will vastly improve the lives of Black women. Nor does it require congressional mandates or bills signed into law by President Obama; it doesn’t require changing the hearts and minds of White folks, or Black men for that matter; and it won’t require confabs at tony university settings that ain’t really talking about nothin’ anyway. All of what I have mentioned above can be done by Black women themselves, often individually, without the permission or even foreknowledge of Whites, Black men or anyone else.

And they’ve proven to work.

But that brings us to another question:

Do Black women really want solutions to their problems?

That, will be the topic of a future column. Stay tuned…

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