Affirmative Action & "The Independent Woman" Phenomenon

Affirmative Action & “The Independent Woman” Phenomenon
M.D. Wright

As most of us know, Affirmative Action is 30 (actually 31) years old now. Many barked and griped about it during its inception (which is always the case when change occurs). Over time, those who did the barking and griping shifted as respective quotas were fulfilled and special interest groups’ concerns were assuaged. One undeniable fact about Affirmative Action is who it has benefitted MOST in these thirty-odd years. Women.


In the past decade or so, there has been a surge in the use of the term “Independent Woman” — particularly amongst Black women, and to a lesser degree lower/working class White women and a few Latinas. It is an interesting phenomenon, given the fact that the social landscape and the corporate dynamic has shifted greatly since 1990. There has been a palpable paradigm shift within the United States, within each respective “race” (I hate the term, as you all know), nationality/ethnicity and even subgroups within each ethnicity.

Now, what I must point out for those who don’t know me personally — I’m as progressive socially as they come. I’m no wayward liberal by any stretch, but I am ALL for equal rights, treatment and opportunities for men and women. Indeed, the Capitalist regime, which does not even count women unless they are actually working in some capacity within any of the social institutions is SLANTED AGAINST the “traditional” woman. In this regard, more women are needed within the corporate hierarchy; even if economists would argue that there is not enough “capital” to salary all the new workers.

But I digress.

The effect Affirmative Action has had is not the issue. These are statistics that cannot be argued by anyone: chauvinist pigs, radical feminists, etc. The INDEPENDENT WOMAN movement, however — is a different story.

Nowadays, you hear this term bandied about as much as “Hi, how are you doing?” in casual greetings dear God. And while I personally don’t have a problem with it (it’s often laughable to hear some women use the term given that they are living on government assistance and treat every man that comes near them like last week’s refuse), it has become highly annoying to hear it when anything resembling the “oppressive” nature of previous social institutions such as “traditional” marriage is broached in conversation. The notion that a woman “needs” a man anymore is out. Self is in. God put marriage in place with the hierarchy for a reason. For Christian women to go about tossing this phrase freely is what disturbs me more than those who are not Christian and therefore not beholden to fulfill what it is God’s Word explicitly states.

Again, I digress. This is one of my favourite topics of late.

With so many songs like “She’s Got Her Own/Independent Woman”, “Irreplaceable”, “Diva”, and what have you… where does it end?

The ONLY problem I really have with this new wave of social movement is the fact that one MAJOR fact seems to get lost in all of this:

Women have benefited most from Affirmative Action; particularly upwardly mobile Middle Class/Educated Black and White women. On the flipside of that coin, men of all ethnicities are not getting jobs that they normally got. That is fine. If the women filling the roles are qualified, I have zero problem with this. I’ve said this before. However, if, on one hand, a man is expected to fulfill “traditional” roles, while a woman is trying everything she can to break from that traditional mold, there is going to be a great schism. A dichotomy forms. Men and women are forced to take divergent paths, instead of similar paths (another in the long list of reasons why you have so many disgruntled single women who have everything materially, but lack a man — of which she only views as an accessory instead of the critical cornerstone in her life [and vice-versa she for him] that God designed).

Now, more than ever, men aren’t even given the opportunity to BE men anymore. There are so many sociological reasons for this. I don’t have the time to go into them in this post. But when you can’t earn a decent wage, or even get a job (in 2009’s economy), what is a man supposed to do? Educated or not? Especially Black men, when they aren’t locked up, dead or on the corner? I almost pity Black women in that (for those who want to marry a Black man) WHO do they have to choose from? Dear God.

Nonetheless, I hear a lot of women saying “no bitchassness in 2009” and other phrases to that effect, saying that men should step it up and do better. For those who aren’t statistics, but are busting their tails and aren’t able to realize their dreams, such utterances are misguided. In addition to that, aren’t women supposed to support and uplift men as brothers, even if they’re not romantically involved or married? What happened there? Especially within the Black community, where this is amplified? It is just interesting to hear those who scream this phrase the loudest and the most often are failing to realize what success they’ve achieved (for the most part, not ALL — as I NEVER use the term “all” and make broad, sweeping generalizations) whether it be college education, career, business, even positions in church came as a result of Affirmative Action. It appears those in this current generation; especially those born SINCE 1978 have forgotten what their mothers and grandmothers, aunts and older cousins had to go through just to get their feet in the door; whereas women outnumber men in college nationwide, and therefore, along with the successful pressuring from special interest groups, have better opportunities to get jobs, start businesses, become heads of organizations and realize unprecedented success. I will never make an excuse for a man who resorts to hustling and risking getting a criminal record “just to survive” — it is still a CHOICE, and in this information age, there are many legitimate means to earn a living; so it is not an excuse anymore. However, given that men, especially Black men, are getting passed over for jobs now more than ever in favor of the very women who are mockingly telling them to “step it up” and “no bitchassness in 2009” or “stop complaining about what you can’t do/what job you can’t get” — it is very curious that this fact is being ignored.

We will see how 2009 changes this.


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