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Ciara: Level Up…To What?

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Earlier today Ciara posted a short video on her Twitter page. Unfortunately, it was not a video of her singing or performing (Does she still do that?). Anyway, shortly after she posted the video with the hashtag #LevelUp, the Twitterverse lit up and her name has been trending practically all day. Some people agree with the video while others are offended by it. The short clip was just shy of a minute long but in a nutshell, it was a pastor’s advice to single women on how to get a husband. See the clip Ciara posted below and a longer clip here. The pastor said that the scriptures say,”He who finds a wife finds a good thing”. Single women should elevate themselves to be a wife. “You’re not a wife when I marry you, you’re a wife when I find you”, says the pastor. From my interpretation this means that women should not be works in progress, they should be pretty much perfect before marriage. While I think the video is meant to be encouraging, it’s a double-edged sword.

One of the main facets of feminism is autonomy. Women should be free to do whatever they want to do. Women should be free to develop their own thoughts, ideas, and morals without question. In this piece, I am not trying to take away any woman’s autonomy. If you believe in the message spoken by the pastor, by all means, proceed to “elevate to a wife”. I am here to offer an alternative thought, nothing more or less.

I remember being around 5 and one of my female cousins asking, “You have a boyfriend yet?”. She said it with a smile and at that age, I didn’t see the joke in it. I started blushing and shook my head, shyly replying, “No.” My cousins lived a few hours away so I didn’t see them often. After that visit, every visit (for years) would come with the question, “You have a boyfriend?” and I remember hating that question. As a young child, I wanted a boyfriend just so I could finally tell my cousin that I had one and maybe she’d leave me alone. I felt like I needed one, I needed a boy to complete me. She didn’t care about the fact that I was an honor roll student, that I loved Destiny’s Child, or that I was a book nerd.

I don’t think there's a magic trick to finding a partner when it’s your time, it’s your time. Click To Tweet

My experience is definitely not uncommon, even as an adult. From an early age, women are taught either directly or indirectly that having a man is the ultimate goal. If you do want to have a husband and that is your lifelong goal, that’s fine and it’s your prerogative. I support you, sis! Many argue that no one wants to be alone but why does singleness automatically equal loneliness? I think the alternative to elevate to a wife is to elevate to your own level of happiness. I personally don’t think the key to a successful marriage is to strive to be wifely before marriage. I know of several women who fit the stereotypical June Cleaver idea of a wife and are either divorced/divorcing or still single. I don’t think there’s a magic trick to finding a partner when it’s your time, it’s your time.

Sometimes as single women we tend to think, “Well what’s wrong with me?”. Even on Twitter, you see women comparing themselves to other women with tweets like “She has a man and I’m still single?” which implies that this woman is better than me because she is in a relationship. I don’t think it should be that way. In the age of “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man”, it is easy to feel like we are the problem and that it is better to be a married/taken woman rather than a single woman. Improve for yourself and not in the context of “What skills would a man want me to have?”.

In the longer video of the sermon, the pastor talks about how women are made to multiply and personally it’s something I dislike. Not all women are able to take a seed and make a life. It is painful for those women to hear that their main purpose is to conceive when they know they cannot. Just something to consider.

Take care of your mental health, build healthy friendships, drink water, appreciate your body. #LevelUp to your own version of happiness. Click To Tweet

All in all, I think it’s important that women don’t feel pressured and stressed about finding a partner. Fill your time of singleness with personal growth and self-affirmations. If you are religious/spiritual, pray for a better understanding of yourself. Be thankful for your blessings. Volunteer and contribute positive things to your world. Be your own kind of beautiful and embrace your talents. Do ratchet things with your friends. Take care of your mental health, build healthy friendships, drink water, appreciate your body. Level up to your own version of happiness. Do you!

 

UPDATE: Ciara has now offered a response

 

 

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Advice

John Gray, We Are not Raising Men

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While looking through Twitter today, I came across an excerpt of Pastor John Gray on Sister Circle. What I saw disappointed me. A choir of sisters sat beside him advocating for women sidelining themselves to raise adult males. I was tight. Speaking about his wife, Aventer, Pastor John Gray said:

She’s a covering not a lid because if a man marries a lid she’ll stop your dream. But if you marry a covering, she’ll push you to your destiny.

To that, I say men who believe this are lids.

Not Your Mama, #NotYourMule

Women are burdened with confining gender roles that minimize the freedom women have in an oppressive patriarchal world. We are seen as lovers, maidens, mothers, queens, huntresses, sages, and mystics. Women are expected to be therapists, expert chefs, maids, and submissive to their significant others, at least in heteronormative relationships. We are expected to stay youthful, speak little, spend nothing, and be grateful for the opportunity. Not only are women subjugated to lives of servitude at their own expense, its due to the emotional immaturity of their spouses.

Men are particularly guilty of exploiting the maternal strengths many women possess. This notion that “a woman will inspire me to be my best self” is pure narcissism. Stringing women along with “I know I’m not perfect” or “I’ll make it one day” is manipulation. Judith Orloff, author of ‘The Empath’s Survival Guide’, says:

What narcissists see in empaths is a giving, loving person who is going to try and be devoted to you and love you and listen to you. But unfortunately empaths are attracted to narcissists, because at first this is about a false self. Narcissists present a false self, where they can seem charming and intelligent, and even giving, until you don’t do things their way, and then they get cold, withholding, and punishing.”

“I had to grow into her”

Empathetic people are patient to a fault and believe they can fix people with compassion. As John continued, he mentioned the pain he caused his wife because of his failure to heal himself.

My wife has endured more pain birthing me than both of our children. She has sacrificed these past 8 years, uncovering the painful areas of my manhood and covering the areas that could have exposed me.

That’s not her job! Toxic masculinity and the rejection of feminine energy has convinced men that they can wait until they’re in a relationship to deal with their baggage. While we frequently refer to this as a woman raising a man, its actually trauma bonding. Trauma bonding is when a victim and an abuser form a connection that makes it impossible to leave the relationship, no matter how much damage it’s doing. Much like the relationship between Michelle and Chad, these bonds are formed by the tactics narcissists use.

In situations like these, you just have to be prepared to say those people aren’t healthy for you. Let them go.

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Y’all Weren’t Going to Tell Me My Baby Was Ugly?

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After 28 hours of labor and an extra week of pregnancy, I was exhausted. That extra week messed up all of my plans! Having a natural birth didn’t happen. My husband had to leave in less than 24 hours after I gave birth for work. My sisters that came to help, had to go home. Not to mention the lack of breastmilk for the first 48 hours. The only help I had was from my 60-year-old father-in-law who hasn’t dealt with babies in over 25 years. Moments like this made me wish my mother was still alive. The stress of the situation didn’t really give me a chance to embrace my baby and motherhood. I looked at my son, but I didn’t really look at my son.

When I finally got a moment to soak in motherhood and embrace my baby, I thought something was wrong. Why does he look so old? I read overdue babies sometimes look a little wrinkly, but this was looking a little extreme. I could have sworn I saw a 5 o’clock shadow. I started to wonder if the Curious Case of Benjamin Button was happening to my child… Read the full blog at SimplyLizLove.com

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Yes, Check On Your “Strong Friend,” But First, Have You Checked In With Yourself?

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With the passing of celebrity fashion designer, Kate Spade, the dialogue around mental health and suicide prevention has re-surfaced. Also, it’s been a popular posting among social media groups and an overall cultural push in asking, “Have you checked on your strong friend? “I too believe it is important to reach out to those who would not traditionally appear to have struggled with mental health; Yet, I have a more pressing question to ask, have you checked on yourself? Too often, we become busy and caught up in everything around us and forget to take care of our own needs until we feel stressed and overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the world we live in.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2010), suicide was the 16th leading cause of death for blacks of all ages and the third leading cause of death for black males ages 15–24. Additionally, although research indicates that suicidal behaviors occur at a lower rate than their high school counterparts, attempts at suicide among black high school students is increasing at an alarming rate.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2010), suicide was the 16th leading cause of death for blacks of all ages and the third leading cause of death for black males ages 15–24. Click To Tweet

For many, especially within the black community, misunderstand the importance of mental health. Thus, many members of the black community are reluctant to discuss mental health out of cultural conditioning, shame, and stigma regarding the signs and symptoms as less critical than they really are.

Checking on friends and on those who are close to us is all fine and dandy, however, before you can be there for someone else you need to take care of yourself. And remember, it’s not selfish or crime to ask what you need, you just have to be aware of what your own needs are.

Now, don’t get me wrong, as humans we long for the connection and empathy from others, but before we can make sure we truly support others with their struggles, we need to make sure we are there for ourselves. So, I ask you, when is the last time you took time out for yourself? When was the last time that you honestly took care of your needs, not just physical, but emotional as well? When was the last time you intentionally engaged in self-care?

              

 

Let’s end the stigma and continue to have these courageous conversations. No one is exempt, anyone could struggle with mental health.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, there are options available to help you cope 1-800-273-8255. You can call the Lifeline at any time to speak to someone and get support. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.

As always, bring your ideas and thoughts, let’s have a civil conversation. I would love to hear your thoughts. Emphasis on “civil,” because the block game is S T R O N G. Find me Instagram and Twitter @TheCarterReport, as well as [email protected] I am always interested in hearing about what you all what to hear about.

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