I wasn't going to comment (outside of Twitter that is) about the whole new crop of reality shows popping up and their disastrous depiction of black women. (Really? Basketball "Wives", where "wife is apparently very optional? Kill yourself, VH1) Because it isn't new or different, no matter how many new and different shows get released on TV. The actual reality is that I know PLENTY of women (of every color) who confuse “had random jump off sex with“and “wife. Just like I know tons of women who actually ARE hyper-aggressive, mean, neck rolling, bitter bitches who are the source of their own defeat. But I know just as many women, of every color, who are NOT.
And therein lies the problem, as always.
Not the depictions, but rather, the balance.
But this is not that. Because that is not new. This is a particular stereotype about women (black women in particular) that might even be true, but certainly not for the reasons you think.
Haven't you already heard about how picky and impossible we are?
Oh Chilli. Chilli, Chilli, Chilli. For me, watching this show is like watching children play with firecrackers. You want to make them stop, but you told them motherfuckers once to stop doing that shit so you hope they don't get 3rd degree burns while you watch them learn this lesson the hard way.
(Are you shocked that I am childless? lol)
Jokes aside, I do not describe to the common held theory that there must be something "wrong" with her because she is 40 and unmarried. Just like I don't believe there is anything "wrong" with Halle Berry (outside of, maybe, questionable taste in partners) because she has been unlucky in love. If nothing else, the lesson that should be gleaned from their very public love trials is that beauty does not guarantee you companionship.
So you can stop leaning on that bullet point, all the single ladies.
I don't think there is anything wrong with Chilli. I don't even think, despite the legions of brothers using this show to further prove their theory that women are insanely picky and therefore, dating issues MUST not lie in them or their behavior (*eye roll*), that Chilli is too impossible to find a mate that is not Jesus.
I think at its root, Chilli's issue is a very HUMAN issue, not one specific to women, or even black women;
She has confused her wants with her needs.
Or, for the purposes of this debate, her desires with her deal breakers.
Remember when you were a kid and your mom tried to teach you the difference between wants and needs? And she told you to really THINK about whether or not you really NEED that piece of candy you are begging for or if you just WANT it. Convos concerning this life lesson with my mama went something like this:
"La, you do not NEED that candy."
"But moooooom, yes I doooooooooooooooo."
"If you don't get that candy will you die?"
"Will you die?"
"Will it hurt you? Cause you pain or bruising or bleeding?"
"Will you be full?"
"Will you never get another chance to have candy?"
"So, do you really NEED that piece of candy?"
Ok that's a lie. I ALWAYS answered yes, even if I knew better. A nigga likes candy. *Kanye shrug*
But the fact of the matter is that it's a lesson we all had to learn as a kid that, as we aged and gained the power to respond to more of our wants, got a little blurry on this side of the candy near the cash register. If we are honest, we can say that it is evident everywhere in our culture and in our lives; it's an intrinsic part of our consumption, both literally and figuratively. We don't NEED a 5 bedroom house, but dammit if it don't got a shiny pool. (And y'all know I love the shiny.)
Chilli is no different. I touched on this briefly in the comments over at Independent Sistah’s spot, which made me want to expound more on it. Chilli is not absurdly picky, nor is there something "wrong" with her. She has simply, as many of us have come to do (I do it with shoes all the time. However, truthfully, I NEED these to live another day), confused her desires with her dealbreakers.
It's a human flaw. She DESIRES to have a man who doesn't drink. But should it be a deal breaker? Does his drinking somehow speak to his character? She DESIRES a man who doesn't eat pork. But if he is perfectly compatible for her in every fundamental, essential way, is it a DEALBREAKER worth dismissing him for?
I won't pretend that there are NO women in the world who aren't insanely picky and ridiculous and therefore perpetually single because, last I checked, Jesus didn't have an opening for a girlfriend. But many of the women who get lumped into this stereotype are simply guilty of a little confusion as to what should be a personal deal breaker. And it varied per person. They don't deserve to be painted with the same banana crème pie brush as some others.
Figuring out what should and shouldn't be a deal breaker can take some practice, but it's fairly simple. I will even use myself as an example.
I DESIRE a man who is kind, not just when it is to his advantage. Could I maybe work with him on being kinder, if he is perfect for me in every other way?
Absolutely not. For me, it is a non-negotiable.
I DESIRE a man who is super tall with a perfect smile and bald head, who has a body that looks like it was carved from the rocks of the Grand Canyon. If he is kind, and smart, and funny, and ambitious, and open-minded and tolerant, but short with a Cesar, could I live with this person maybe not looking the way I pictured, but being exactly what I need?
I'll take it even one, unpopular step further...
If I were to ever marry, would cheating be an automatic deal breaker for me?
However, Chilli, like many women, simply hasn't learned or doesn't care to differentiate between desires and deal breakers. And because of it what you get is a list that reads like a middle schooler wrote it, not a grown woman who should, by all accounts, know better.
But I bet, if all of us, men and women of ALL colors, really took the time to think about the difference, many of the people we dismiss for desires, could keep us from those walking embodiment of our deal breakers for the rest of our lives.
Think about it.