"I Bet You Intimidate Men"
“I bet you intimidate the hell out of men.” Sigh. There it is again. That one damn phrase. It’s like a cursed object from a horror movie; no matter how many times you throw it away, it always comes back. I don’t know why I was even shocked when it came out of his mouth. It’s not anything I haven’t heard before, but, God, I’m sick of hearing it. Every time someone says it to me, the wind is knocked out of my sails as the anger starts to simmer in my belly. I mean, what am I supposed to do about it?!
I have a reputation. A good one. If you ask any of my friends who the smartest person (read: book smarts) they know, they’ll probably say me. On paper, my resume is fairly extensive for someone of my age and station. In fact, if you compare my school transcripts to my birth certificate, you’ll probably do a double check to make sure that things add up correctly. I’ve accomplished more than most people my age, and my work ethic speaks for myself. I’m a bad motherfucka. This is not me bragging; it’s a matter of facts that’s taken me far longer to admit than it has taken my friends and family. In person, I will admit that I have a certain gravitas. My life’s goal is to apply pressure and never take my foot off these folks necks, and if you’ve ever interacted with me, then you would know it to be true. I always walk with a purpose with my head high in the sky. One of my friends constantly tells a story of me walking up to a podium during the middle of a ceremony to present an award like I was a model pounding down the runway. I was serving you TGIT Olivia Pope walks before Olivia was doing it her damn self. Once again, not bragging, just facts.
In the past, while others may have seen this as a walk of confidence, it was merely a camoflauge for the insecurity that I felt inside. Fake it, until you make it, right? Now, it’s just who I am, and and it’s become a natural armor that I take with me wherever I go. The classroom, the boardroom, the club, the grocery store, the doctor’s office, it doesn’t matter. When you see me, you will either 1) know who the fuck I am or 2) be curious about who the fuck I am. I’ve worn this armor for so long that it’s become an inherent part of me, and with the way black women are treated in today’s society, it’s a necessary shield that I must carry as I go throughout life. Why? Because as black women, we have to be “intimidating” to be heard over those who will constantly step over, ignore, or attempt to trample us.
Being “intimidating” can be good in the workplace, but how are we supposed to deal with it in relationships? Most people will tell us that we can’t be “hard” all the time, and we need to “soften” when it comes our partners. I don’t think they understand how difficult that really is. Black women, by our very existence, are intimidating to other human beings. I mean, where do we think the phrase “angry black woman” comes from in the first place? I can provide example after example of people, white men in particular, not being able to tolerate the very presence of a black woman because it heightens their own insecurities and fears.
Furthermore, the most common excuse that black men use when they want to date outside of their race is that “black women are just too difficult.” Didn’t you say that you wanted a “bad bitch?” Don’t you understand that a bad bitch is more than just looks? Keyshia Ka’oir is a gorgeous woman, but I know you didn’t think that her looks are the reason that she was able to take that $2 million that Gucci gave her and flipped it to $6 million? Beyonce hasn’t built an entire empire just by singing songs and looking pretty on stage. “Bad bitch” is a state of being, but men choose to only focus on the looks; thereby leaving the rest of us feeling like trash as we pay off our student loans, live in fancy apartments, eat Cava, and crawl into bed alone every night.
So, as “intimidating” black women, what are we supposed to do? Certainly not settle. And “softening our rough edges” doesn’t seem like the right answer either. It’s not as if I can physically shrink my intelligence and personality into a smaller package to make it more digestible to most men’s mundane palette. Furthermore, it’s not like I’m walking around here with the intentions of scaring people. While I can work on toning down my smart mouth, I can’t help the fact that you don’t understand me when I speak in monosyllabic words. Nor is it my fault that when you look at me, you question whether or not you would be the center of my entire universe in a relationship. Furthermore, I can’t help that I have more money and better career track than you. And it’s certainly not my fault that since college, I’ve been thinking about a financially secure future for myself that could just as easily include you as it could not. I’m sorry that I’m an independent woman with opinions rooted in facts.
My mother constantly reminds me that it’s going to take a big man with some big kahunas to date and/or marry me. Sigh. I want to be clear about something. I, as well as most black women, don’t need some dominant, macho man to come into our lives and attempt to tame us. It’s not going to work well for either one of us. What we really need is someone who is secure enough in himself, his sexuality, and his bank account to approach a woman like me. Ask any single black woman what they really want. We’re not asking for much, and we certainly don’t hold men to the same standards that men hold us. It shouldn’t be this damn difficult, but for some reason, it is.
I don’t know what I’m supposed to, and I’ve asked some of my friends, and they have the same response. Sometimes I feel as if we’ve done all that we can do, and we have to just keep our fingers crossed that someday the right person will cross our path. In the meantime, I’ve learned to stop calling myself intimidating, because I’m not. I’m secure in myself, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Furthermore, I’ve ceased all thoughts that I need to compromise who I am or “soften” my personality for someone who’s not even willing to put in the effort to ask me anything more than what my instagram account is. And yes, there’s things that I can do such as thinking before I speak and checking my harsh tone sometimes, but I’m not going to change my entire personality for someone else. In the words of Eartha Kitt, “Compromise? Compromise for what?”