What We Can Learn From Love & Hip Hop Atlanta

I don’t believe in guilty pleasures--If you enjoy something, there’s no reason to hide it from people who are surely concealing their own vices-- thus I’m unafraid to defend my fondness for VH1’s top-rated series Love & Hip Hop Atlanta from the faux Negro Intelligentsia. As a critical consumer of media, I never just let the images I see wash over me. I analyze and dissect them until there’s nothing left to reflect upon.

As the show becomes fodder for hushed workplace conversations and impassioned text and email exchanges, scores of Black women are similarly dissecting and discussing the show. LHHA illuminates destructive trends that occur in Black communities, and now is an unmissable opportunity to discuss them openly.

This Is What Emotional Abuse Looks Like 

In the Stevie, Mimi, Joseline love triangle, subvert the urge to ridicule the women for their gullibility. Though it is tempting to ridicule the women for their poor romantic decisions, Stevie deserves majority of our ire. Songwriter/Producer Stevie J moves with a slickness that might have any woman momentarily fooled, but it’s no wonder that his deception is particularly powerful on women who have endured severe emotional trauma like Joseline and MiMi.

Watch the way he lies to Mimi with a smirk, or the way he threatens Joseline without remorse. The man is, in my estimation, a sociopath. I’m a fan of a smooth-talker myself, and the cured me of that fascination. The behaviors we so often ascribe to “charm” are actually tactics of emotional manipulation. When you see a Stevie J wannabe coming (and you know they’re out there), cross the street.

A Classic Case of Mama-Boyfriend Syndrome

You know the adage: “black women raise their daughters and mother their sons.” Momma Dee, the woman who birthed rapper Lil Scrappy, is a classic example of a woman too invested in her son’s affairs. She has no life of her own, so Scrappy takes the place of her man. It’s creepy. She crosses every imaginable boundary to the point where seeing the two onscreen together will cause extreme discomfort.

Look for the signs of Mama-Boyfriend Syndrome. Does his mother request meetings with you to discuss the state of your relationship? Does she enter and exit his residence freely?  Must he consult her before choosing his underwear for the day?

Entering into a relationship with an adult man who still suckles from his mom’s teet is one of my biggest fears. Mama will always win. Lesson learned thanks to LHHA.

Mothering His Child Doesn’t Make Him Yours

MiMi and Ericka mistakenly believed that because they have children with the men of the cast, they have an edge in relationship matters. Frankly these men could care less. They made no effort to conceal their side relationships (or relations) while telling the mother’s of their children they wanted a commitment. The lesson: Don’t listen to what a man says. Watch what he does.

The “Fast” Girls Turned Out That Way For A Reason

From the moment Joseline Hernandez walked into that Atlanta studio in her denim coochie cutters, I couldn’t stand her fast tail. My disdain for her grew in episode one when she, the side chick, got unremorsefully buck with Stevie’s alleged girlfriend MiMi. As the show progressed, however, and Joseline revealed her story of abandonment and survival, she became a sympathetic character. Like so many other black and brown girls we’ve written off as “hos,” she discovered that her body was her meal ticket, and just like those girls, she’s found men more than willing to exploit her for their own gain. Joseline is fragile with an undeniable hustle. Her perseverance will pay off, and, quite frankly, she’s the only one I expect to make anything out of this show.

Condoms Are Not An Option

Man-sharing is at an all-time high in these streets. Most alarming is the dishonesty with which the men of LHHA approach their sexual relationships.Four women are unwittingly sleeping with the same two men. Let this be a cautionary tale. Protect yourself. Condoms aren't an option.

What have you learned from the Love & Hip Hop Atlanta?

Kimberly Foster is the Founder and Editor of For Harriet. Email or Tweet her.

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