10 Ridiculous Rules for Black Women

by Amber Dorsey

Last weekend, BuzzFeed published one of their more poignant lists: The Ultimate Guide to Being a Woman. Instead of their usual entertainment fodder, the list was a sharp, tongue-in-cheek cultural critique on the way women's magazines, websites, and society at large places often places very restricting, contradictory boundaries on what it means to be a woman.

While being a woman in America (and the world in general) is hard, we know that being a black woman in a world that caters to white women is akin to navigating a live mine field. You must know where to step, what to say and how to react at all times.

Everything from how we wear our hair, to what we eat, to what we do behind closed doors seems to be up for discussion these days. At a time when our nation seems to be having a bit of a cultural identity crisis, we thought it was worth it to take a minute and outline a few of the ways Black women are expected to exist and behave in this new ‘post racial’ society.

  1. Own your sexuality but don’t be too sexy. Especially not in public or if you’re a mother. And don’t be upset if men notice and catcall or harass you on the street. Be grateful they paid attention to you.
  2. Be successful on your own but not more than a man. And don’t brag about it. Men don’t want a woman who’s too successful or career driven. 
  3. Always be nurturing and sweet. Our men have it so much to deal with already. Avoid provoking them at all costs. And if he reacts aggressively to your provocation understand that it’s because he has the world on his shoulders.
  4. Work twice as hard as everyone else. In everything. But don’t expect to be paid or recognized for any of it accordingly. We know that we must prove our virtue and worth as humans first as women, then second as black women in the world. We should simply be grateful for any opportunity to prove ourselves.
  5. Do whatever it takes to have your hair conform to society’s standards of beauty. But be sure to let it be known you embrace your natural hair and beauty.You must walk the fine line of appealing to the masses and following your own mind.
  6. Be happy every time women of color are represented in the media, or the government actually decides to take your personhood into account. Even when this means consuming negative media portrayals of women, no matter how stereotypical or offensive that representation may be.
  7. Don’t perpetuate any stereotypes. Don’t be mad when you have to explain what they are and why they’re offensive when/if you don’t fit them.
  8. Train your sons to be better men than the generation before them. But not too uppity or too relaxed. They should know their place. Also, understand you may lose them someday  to violence or other perils and no one will stand up/ fight for your loss. 
  9. Be assertive, but not aggressive. Don’t be the “black bitch”. No one wants to be with a bossy woman.
  10. Strive to be a good wife and mother. It’s up to us to singlehandedly reshape society. 

What conflicting messages do you think society gives Black women on how to be and live in the world?

Amber Dorsey is a writer, stylist and makeup artist living in Southern California with her husband and two crazy kids. When she’s not tapping away at the computer she can be found scouring the aisles of Michael’s plotting her next Pinspired project or in the kitchen perfecting her margarita making techniques. She also writes at From Carpools to Cocktails

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