June 2012 is Guest Blogger Month here at FeministaJones.Com . I solicited a few bloggers, writers, poets, etc to contribute posts lending their perspectives and experiences on feminism, sexuality, relationships, liberation, sex, and everything this blog is about. I hope you enjoy their contributions as much as I have.
Ooooh, maybe she’ll give me some breakfast.
- Andre 3000
Girls Raised In The South. When the topic of southern women arises, opinions run the gamut. We’re classified as everything from dim and uneducated to shrewd and calculating. Most people will agree with one simple fact, though: There’s no love out there like the love of a southern woman. And as stereotypical as that may sound, it’s mostly accurate.
I grew up amongst quintessential southern belles. They were resplendent in lace and hats with their legs perfectly crossed at the ankle. My mother, my aunts and even my younger sister were always visions of southern gentility. They did their best to crush my Maverick nature and put me in the daintiest (and most despised) get ups. My aunt’s voice still rings in my head, “Melanie, look at Shaun. Monkeys scratch. Ladies endure.” This philosophy extended to sexuality. The message was simple: Don’t.
Of course, southern women were having sex. Your mother always had the bawdy friend with the extra bit of “something” that all of the men liked, but she was the exception. Sex was not only something that God wanted you to save for your husband (if you’re Southern, of course you’re in somebody’s church), but it was your marital duty. If you were lucky, you liked it, but even if you didn’t, your body was something that you owed, not what you owned.
Of course this mentality feeds over to southern sons, who if unchecked, come to us as bottomless pits of need. When you’ve been instructed that it is your duty to cater, it takes a degree of life experience to learn that not everyone is worth of such catering. The very charming, very spoiled southern fellas enjoyed the status quo, and as such more than a few women were left wanting, believing that it was as good as it gets.
This was the part that never quite sat well with me, especially as I began to explore my own sexuality. I remember being fifteen and told by a dear friend, “Don’t be in a rush to have sex anyway. It’s alright, but…eh.” Eh? What the hell am I saving this for? When was my good time supposed to start? Under no circumstances was I going to sit on my honey hole, to save it for someone who might know what to do with it. No ma’am. I simply wanted “my portion of cornbread.”
As I came to owning my happiness, there came bumps in the road. How do you approach being involved with more than one man in an open and honest way? Of course lots of women do it, but it’s typically not frank and open due to ego stroking. How do you tell a guy that you don’t want to link up because the sex is wack? (Answer: It takes at least three emails, a rude phone call and abruptly changing one’s number.) This ownership was odd in part because by nature, I have always had submissive qualities when it comes to relationships. It was very tricky to balance my innate self with my need for self-preservation.
It’s a balancing act that has taking years, and though I don’t know that I’ve mastered it, I’ve had very happy, loving relationships, whether they are exclusive or not.[i] As time has progressed, though Southern women are more often seen as educated, fiery and capable, the myth of submissive, doting femininity with lips dripping of “honey babies” and kitchens smelling of home cooking, lives on, with an added air of sensuality to boot. I embrace my southern belle qualities. I’m fluent in terms of endearment, I definitely have a slow and easy way about myself, and it takes about two good meetings before I’m attempting to feed you incessantly. It’s part of who I am, because the women who shaped me instilled that in me.
That being said, being a southern woman does not mean being a wellspring of giving. Respect and affection needs to be earned and reciprocated. You want a southern woman because she’s kind, giving and will wash your boxers? Fine. What do you plan to do to deserve that? What will you do to sustain that?
To be clear, I’m neither offended by certain assumptions that people make of me as a southern woman, nor do I feel fetishized. I’ve been called worse things than kind and loving. But understand that it comes from a lifetime of receiving kindness and being loved. My request is so small: act right. Act right, and you just might be able to get some breakfast…and I might lay there and let you touch my booty.
[i] It is not my personal philosophy that a failed relationship automatically equates an unhealthy one. It simply means that somewhere along the line, the relationship became unhealthy.
Melanie Dione was born and raised in New Orleans, LA and currently resides in the DMV area. She is a writer and blogger (http://www.thebeautyjackson.com/), and her writing has appeared in Sister 2 Sister magazine online and Urlyfe.com/NewOrleans. You can follow her on Twitter at @beauty_jackson.