Possibly one of the greatest delusions of the 21st century is the myth that there is such thing as an “independent, strong black woman” (ISBW). If there is such a woman, my heart aches for her. Why? Because it seems she has the idea that a family structure is obsolete. She often unknowingly or deliberately orchestrates the “break up” of families. She believes her strengths lie in her mistakes. She believes her tragedy is a triumph over “weak black men.” She believes a lie. It is this lie that is holding us back as a people, that is causing black marriage statistics to crumble and the numbers of unwed mothers to increase. What’s worse is that these so-called ISBWs are perpetuating the idea that it’s okay and even preferable to be this type of woman. I don’t want to be her and in fact as long as we are going to keep her around as a staple in black womanhood, I feel the need to totally redefine her image. And in redefining her image I feel that I should first share this video by YouTube vlogger, StatuesqueOne.
In order to understand where were are going, we have to understand where we have been. ISBW were quite necessary during the era of the civil rights movement when there was poverty, job discrimination, etc… Our fathers and husbands were going off to war and leaving us to step up and play the role of both mother and father. I think the black community never quite recovered from this new found role that led us to believe that feminism, liberation and independence from our men and families was okay. Black women and lets face it, women in general have had to fight for equal rights, such as the right to vote and so on. We have to admit that the constraints that were once there to stop the progress of black people in the past has thankfully diminished in our modern times because of these ISBWs who fought for our equality. Many of us can’t even say we’ve ever experiences the hardships faced by ISBW of yesterday. Nowadays being an ISBW has nothing to do with being leaders in our community who are strong in our faith, beliefs and convictions. My annoyance come the single black mothers (baby mamas) who have adopted the term and used it to try to empower themselves. Basically these are women who have taken the necessary steps to put themselves on the same level playing field as every other woman by gaining employment, furthering their educations and sacrificing their lives to ensure that their children have a brighter future. My question to you ISBW is whether or not this is really an accomplishment or a misplaced sense of entitlement. It seems to me you have some sort of superiority complex when in fact you are no better than any other woman, black or otherwise, for taking full responsibility for the consequences of your actions. That’s what you’re supposed to do!!! Many ISBWs define themselves as financially independent or breadwinners. Essentially they are so independent and strong that they claim they don’t really “need” a man. As long as they have money, they can take care of themselves and raise their children. I implore you ISBW to consider the possibility that your money is not enough to raise your children. Now as Christian wife who chooses to place God first in her marriage, I don’t believe that you can be independent and submissive. Heck, I don’t even believe that there is a need for you to flaunt your strength. Now I already know that some of you will have a problem with my usage of the words submission or submissive and that is because you lack an understanding of how a marriage that seeks to glorify God is supposed to be conducted. You lack an understanding that what God desires from us in marriage is love and respect for our spouse.
I point you towards the Proverbs 31: 10-31. This is the story of a wife of noble character. When you read about her you will see that she is a lot of things. You will see that she is strong but she does not have the need nor the desire to flaunt her strength as a badge of honor. This woman is the type of wife we all should try to emulate in our marriages. The characteristics of this woman are so numerous but I’d like to point out that her husband has full confidence in her. He knows and so does everyone else who sees that she works hard, she has a career (in fact she is a businesswoman), she takes care of her family, she helps those in need, she makes good financial decisions, she is overall a wise woman. Even her children recognize that she is blessed and they benefit by the example she provides. Proverbs 10: 25 says “she is clothed in strength and dignity.” This means she’s not running around telling everyone how strong she is…but its apparent through her actions as a wife and mother. My favorite part about this woman is that the image that she projects causes those in the city and towns to respect her husband. It is naturally assumed that since it is obvious that his household is in order, he plays the major role as the leader and authority in his home. She makes him look good, by making herself look good and she doesn’t mind taking a back seat because her concern is serving God by serving her husband. She is not concerned with the gratification of others. She doesn’t perform her tasks with a sense of superiority, with sarcasm or annoyance. She seeks first the approval of God and therefore her husband delights in her obedience. Her husband understands her worth. He knows her value. He trusts her implicitly. Basically, he know that she has his back and he has hers. In addition to this why are ISBWs trying to prove that they are independent and strong? You will never be independent completely. You are always going to need someone at some point. And if not, you certainly can’t go with needing God. If we can’t even learn we can depend on someone even a little in society, how can we possibly learn to depend on God completely? The Word of God even says that women are “the weaker vessel.” Let me clarify. We all, men and women, need to think of ourselves as “a vessel for honour, santified, useful to the Lord, prepared for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:19-21). Although this does not define what Peter meant when he called woman weaker vessels, it does at least begin to define that we can all be vessels. Woman is not a lesser being than man, for she came out of man and like him was created in the image of God. Peter himself said that woman and man are “heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7). The word says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Women have no more propensity for sin than man, and has fallen no further from grace. Unfortunately, one of the greatest evils that has entered the world is the abuse of women by men. This evil has accumulated through history and has proven to be a tremendous disadvantage of women. This weaker vessel Peter is speaking of is a women hidden so deeply in Christ, that a man would have to seek Him first, in order to find her heart. Unfortunately, not many ISBWs are that hidden in Christ. Therefore, you are labeled angry and bitter because you’ve been hurt and are taking it out on man. You make yourself believe you don’t need a man as coping mechanism. You don’t understand the design that God intended for women. It comes naturally for us to be loving and open. If there is in fact any inequality amongst men and women it is that a woman is more open and tender-hearted than a man. Although we can view this as a great strength it also is paradoxically her great weakness. It is not her fault that her virtue leaves her vulnerable to abuse and therefore makes her a “weaker vessel”. This certainly in no way excuses the men who abuse women, but it should make the ISBW more aware of the type of men they should and should not deal with in life. No man, no decent, God fearing man, will exploit this vulnerability but “likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7). Did you catch the end their brothers…there is a consequence for your actions in taking advantage of a vulnerable woman. Imagine what it would be like to pray…and not even have your prayers heard by God because of the way you interact with your wife.
In redefining the ISBW, I think we need to think of her the way we think of the noble wife, but in preparation. We need to think of her as a woman who puts God first in everything she does. We need to know her actions and not her words establish her reputation as a woman. We need to view her as respectful of herself and others. We need to see her rise up out of her misplaced frustration and teach her children what it means to be the new ISBW. She needs to be viewed as a woman who is always praying, always looking for ways to serve God, always thinking of others. We need to view her as a woman who knows how to love but understands and respects what it means to submit. We need her. We need her to emerge as the new ISBW. I think we have a responsibility to take back what it means to be an ISBW. Lets redefined her. If you consider yourself an ISBW, please…let me know…how so? How would you define the new ISBW?