Updated: Sep 10, 2021
Do you remember that Jeannie Mae clip [from The Real] that went viral back in 2020? No, I’m not talking about her comments on Black men… I’m talking about the video clip from the Tamron Hall Show where she opens up about why she said, “I want to submit to my man.”
She shared her original opinion on The Real and received a ton of backlash for it. Even though it’s old, I found an article mentioning it the other day. It made me think about how we view femininity vs. masculinity.
A couple of years ago, Jeannie went viral because of a video clip where she makes comments about dark meat vs. light meat. As you might've guessed, it was in reference to Black and White men. Which, honestly, I believe was misconstrued and blown out of proportion by several media outlets. Yes, it’s true that Black men are fetishized as having big d*cks and small brains. But I don’t believe she was trying to objectify them. At the time, she was still married to her ex-husband, who was/is White.
It seemed like an innocent joke about how a lot of the men she dated before her now-ex were Black. But she didn’t want to be disrespectful toward him, and called him the “main” because that’s who he was in her life. I don’t think she was literally hinting at whether or not she had a couple of Black side pieces for whenever she became bored of him. Or trying to say that Black men are great in bed but not for a relationship. Basically, it was a pun that probably sounded funnier in her head, but not as much out loud. It happens to all of us. I also don’t know if another high-profile Black man like Jeezy would’ve married her, if that were the case.
BUT BACK TO MY BUSINESS…
…Or, well, more of hers since I’m talking about another clip that features her.
In the interview, Jeannie says,
“For me, submit does not mean that you are lower than or less important to your man. What I mean is that in my work life, I own my businesses, run my team, I make all the decisions, and I lead entirely in the outside of my life. So, in my home, I want my man to lead. I want him to take in what I would like, what my wishes are, what my dreams are, and then incorporate it into making the best overall decision that’s best for our vision together.”
So, according to this definition, do I think it makes sense to submit to your man? I mean, yeah, why wouldn’t it? Like she also explains, she willingly submits to her partner. Not because she felt forced and/or coerced into doing so. Even though it’s not popular opinion, there’s power in giving up control and surrendering. As she described further in a past Instagram post, that power is given after it's earned. It’s not like he was granted that power simply because he's a man. It’s power that she willingly gave him and can take back at any time.
Plus, if we’re engaged, that means I confide in you. We’ve gotten this far because I’ll also feel confident in allowing you to lead me. It doesn’t mean I lose my identity and turn into your “little wife” or “little girlfriend.” It also doesn’t mean that I won’t speak up if something is bothering me. Or that I change my attitude from fair to docile and nod my head "yes" at everything you say. It means that I let you, well, feel manly and won’t act like I'm competing with you. In my head, this is how I'd imagine a relationship going. It's not for everyone - but hey, I don't judge other women for not wanting this, either.
I’m also not saying every person deserves your compliance. If you’re dating a crusty, then don’t sit there and act civil for someone that isn’t worth it. That's an indicator of how you're not loving yourself enough. Having standards doesn’t mean that you’re acting “bougie,” “pretentious,” or “impossible.” It means that you value yourself enough not to be with someone who doesn’t align with your vision of a great relationship. I try my best to have these types of conversations with myself... whenever I feel like I'm drifting off course.
So, why am I writing about this? “Submitting” is usually described as a feminine quality. But it also has a negative connotation. That's why it’s safe to assume that acting feminine today can also sound bad. Even if we don’t think this way explicitly, it doesn’t mean a few of us don't have some deep-rooted fears toward acting feminine. Maybe you saw a lot of "submitting" from your mom, grandma, auntie/titi, and/or any other female figures that helped raise you. Back in the day, submitting as a woman wasn't an option. It was seen as a social norm and women who acted outside of this framework were viewed as out-of-place. In outdated scenarios, submitting probably led and even enabled a lot of disrespectful behavior that we (rightfully) don't believe in tolerating anymore.
Personally, I saw a lot of questionable relationship dynamics between several people as a child. But acting aggressively and/or trying to prove a point with people who genuinely care isn't the solution to our fears of being with the wrong person. Acting defensively also isn't the answer. Of course, I'm nowhere near perfect. At 22, I'm very far from it. I make new relationship mistakes every other week, like sabotaging several dating experiences because of my pride.
But I try to remind myself, that contrary to today's popular belief, acting feminine is not a sign of weakness.
Femininity was rejected by men with low confidence and weak self-esteem. That's called projection. It doesn't mean that women, or men, who display feminine qualities are weak. To a certain extent, I agree with feminism. Let me explain: I believe that we deserve equal pay. (Seriously, cut me and her our checks!). I believe that we deserve an equal level of respect in any professional setting. I believe that allegations of sexual harassment and assault need to be acknowledged. I believe that all people deserve an equal amount of opportunities. However, agree or disagree, people with more radical views of feminism ultimately preach that it's better to act like a man than as a woman. It sends the message that finding love and respect through femininity isn't possible. As a certified member of DIA (Daddy Issues Anonymous), I'll say that not every man is the devil. Some of them aren't sh*t, and you probably have to search a lot harder to find the "good ones." But I like to believe they exist, and want more than sex in exchange for the bare minimum.
On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with being a woman who has a substantial amount of masculine energy. People shun women who act assertively and don't easily back-down. But if that's who she is, then that's who she is. I don't believe femininity is exclusive only to women. But from what I've begun to understand, it's difficult to have a happy relationship with a masculine man if you're a masculine woman. Gender norms also makes us think that a masculine woman and a feminine man is bizarre. All because masculine energy wants to protect and provide, while feminine energy wants to nurture. I'll sound like a real GenZer and say it's not right to put men and women up to standards they're not capable of fitting into.
In reality, we need feminine and masculine energy. Telling a cisgender girl she’s wrong for being feminine is like telling a cisgender man he’s wrong for being masculine. How many people are going to question a boy for liking wrestling, video games, sports, and the color blue? But it's becoming normal to tell a girl that it’s wrong to like princess movies, playing dress-up, and the color pink? Don’t get me wrong - if there’s a boy who wants to play dress up and wear pink, then let him! If there’s a girl who wants to play football and play Grand Theft Auto until 2 a.m., then there also isn’t an issue. Embracing femininity isn’t about enforcing more rigidity with gender roles - even if someone’s family members or loved ones made it seem that way.
Disregarding femininity means viewing WOMEN and MEN who possess traits resembling it as having a lower status. It’s not about a “man’s role” or a “woman’s role,” it’s about matching energy.
There's a great energy flow between an individual who naturally embodies masculine energy and another who emits feminine energy. It might sound corny to some but we can even think of “Yin and Yang.” It shows how life needs balance. If Jeannie is fine basking in her femininity, and allowing her man to own his masculinity, then they’re both comfortable matching each other’s energies. Again, not their gender roles. That’s who she is and she’s a successful businesswoman who has to lead every single aspect of her life outside of her home. Not only is it her business, but it's also a good message for today, honestly.. If we embraced femininity, the same way we place masculinity on a pedestal, it seems like there'd be a lot more balance in the world and a lot less trash relationships.
All in all, be you sis! Don’t let someone tell you it’s not okay to wear heels and a dress. Or that vulnerability and empathy are signs of fragility. If you're naturally more feminine, then own it. Someone’s going to match your energy and not feel the need to disregard it. Respect is what most of us are asking for, anyways.