I’m a white person in America. When a white person tries to explain racism, it unfortunately trends to explaining something in such a way that makes that thing seem derived from rational misunderstandings, with the calmness and rationality of the tone implying that such a thing merely exists but is inevitable. That is why the conversation is best to be heard from a black perspective, wherein the explanations can be couched in the hurt, grief, and real stakes that do not allow organic history to look like a justifiable reason for racism.
So in this post, I am not going to explain racism. Rather instead I want to process the word “racist” as an adjective, not a noun, that applies to me.
“What I looked for in a wife,” as told by a grown man to a group of young teenage girls. There is something rather wince worthy about having older men tell young girls what qualities they should adopt to be attractive in his eyes, but I’m afraid as a young Christian teenage girl, one is rather inundated with such speeches. And while some points about maintaining one’s female attractiveness are rather self-serving for men to preach, I will defend that four out of every five points are usually universal human values. Good work ethic, a habit of self-care, cleanliness, empathy for other people –qualities that are universally good whether applied to a man or woman. And in some sense it’s a practical strategy to try and harness a teenage girl’s excitement for romance to motivate them towards thoughtful self-improvement. Surely there are better ways of doing that than having a grown man teach it to them, but it’s what happens.
There was one man whose version of this lecture I heard many times. I didn’t mind it so much from him, because of his list of ten things, nine were of that general good character type. But then, at the very end, was his last point: that she must be mysterious.
When I first entered college in 2008, I came fresh-faced from the world of homeschooling. I had no experience with the high school dramatics, the dating scene, or cultural fads. The world that I found was suffering a new trend, one that shook all those things. It seemed that the female population had withdrawn their affections. The men could be seen despondently wandering the halls, playing games without joy, and eating food that did not fill their appetites. They’d murmur their complaints to each other in low voices, until the gathering would dissolve with the disaffected shrug, “Who is Edward Cullen?”