Why Black Women Struggle With Vulnerability

Black women are never happy. Black women never cry. Black women never show their weaknesses.

We work tirelessly to provide for not only ourselves, but also others. We are the epitome of strength, and the backbone of our communities. Still, we are underestimated and oftentimes, ridiculed.

There is an unspoken belief that if we as black women show our true emotions, we are somehow weak and damaged for doing so.

After spending a week in a psychiatric hospital and partaking in months of therapy, I learned that all of these outdated assumptions were completely untrue.

Growing up in an extremely religious household, my mother always instructed me to be seen and not heard. I was an inquisitive child, who had somewhat of a “smart mouth.” If ever I struggled with anything, my mother told me to pray on it and ask God for help. I could never understand why my prayers were not answered, and why I still felt alone and empty inside. As one of the only African Americans in a predominately white elementary, middle, and high school, I felt like an outcast. Everyone around me had large, loving, and supportive families, with seemingly everything in the world. My friends lived in two-parent households, and knew exactly in which direction their lives were going. I, on the other hand, was remarkably shy. I was afraid to speak up for myself out of fear of being judged or shamed by those around me. When trying to explain how I felt to others, I received the same response. Pray on it. Talk to God. But nobody spoke with me. Nobody listened to me. Nobody listened to what I had to say. I thought that maybe I was a bad Christian, and that was why God did not hear me. My parents told me time and time again that I was a smart girl, and that I would figure it all out. I was taught that I am a strong black woman, and that I need to be strong for others. In the long run, however, this advice proved to be more detrimental to my mental health than anything else.

I was always the determined, resilient one. I was the friend that everybody turned to when they needed help. I actively listened to others, gave the best advice, and quite literally handed out tissues and hugs when those around me were struggling. In my time of need, however, the same was never done for me.

I acted as a chameleon, altering my personality in order to fit in. I silenced my quirks and hid my true likes and dislikes because I did not want to be labeled as “too white,” ” too black,” or “too ghetto.” While I was always able to maintain a sense of happiness, I still felt like I was at an arm’s distance from everyone around me.

It was not until years later that I learned to communicate more effectively with others, and live my truth. I was giving too much of myself, and wondering why nobody gave back to me. Time and time again, I was told that everyone does not have the same heart as me. I grew up with no wants or needs. I did whatever I was told, in spite of my own needs. I put others before me, and molded myself into what I thought others wanted because I was afraid to be my full self. What I learned is that there is a tremendous sense of vulnerability that comes with being one’s full self and living one’s full truth.

Society makes us as black women feel that we must wear our hair a certain way, dress a certain a way, and speak a certain way in order to fit in. The moment we use a swear word, wear our hair in a natural style, or show a bit of skin, we are automatically seen as ghetto, and unworthy of the professional world, and all that it has to offer. Society wants us to fit in and assimilate, instead of standing out.

Being vulnerable has saved my life. The moment I began to open up to those around me, I found people who listened. I learned things about myself that I never knew. I discovered my likes and dislikes. I found individuals who went through the same struggles that I went through. I learned that it was okay to cry in front of others. I found that I do not always have to be the strong one. Real strength comes from the ability to let your guard down and invite others into your personal space. It is not selfish to put yourself first and do positive things for you. You will find that the internal beauty you have been hiding will immediately shine. I never knew that this beauty was inside of me, but I want to share this beauty with others.

21st Century Brothel

 

This is Life with Lisa Ling delves deep into the world of prostitution, as it takes a behind the scenes look at one particular ranch on the West Coast. The Moonlite BunnyRanch is a legal brothel located in Mound House, Nevada. Nevada is currently the only state in the U.S. where prostitution is legal. In 2009, State Senator Bob Coffin legalized prostitution in eight counties in Nevada for statewide tax purposes. Through This is Life, Lisa Ling attempts to break the stereotypes surrounding escorts, as she follows a few of the women through their journeys to the ranch. Although controversial, The Moonlite BunnyRanch is seen as a safe, legal place for women who are in dire need of money. It keeps these women off of the streets, and away from the underground prostitution world, while also providing them with an avenue to support themselves. Many of the women stated that they are struggling mothers looking to make ends meet, while others sited that they have college degrees and are choosing to live this lifestyle.

While many of the women were extremely successful in their pursuits at the Moonlite BunnyRanch, a few were not. A 20-year-old girl named Catherine came to the ranch after her house burned down, and her family was unable to pay for the damages. The BunnyRanch allowed her to host small parties at the ranch, while also selling her virginity to the highest bidder. Although many view Catherine’s choice as completely absurd, Catherine feels that she is simply finding a way to rescue her family from their drastic misfortunes. This seemed to be a common trend amongst several of the women living in the ranch. Many have traveled hours to the BunnyRanch in hopes of gathering extra money to survive. Zoey, for example, came to the ranch so that she could afford to buy Christmas presents. However, her trip to the ranch did not financially bode as well as she had hoped. London, on the other hand, came to the ranch so that she could make enough money to catch up on her back child support. Unfortunately, the state of Nevada would not grant her a prostitution license because of this back child support. Therefore, London’s trip to the ranch was also unsuccessful.

Throughout the piece, companionship, friend, comfort, and company were the most commonly used words when these women described their work. Many of them feel that they are saving lives and helping the lonely. Despite the stigma that goes along with being a “prostitute,” the majority of these women have fallen on hard times and turned to prostitution for quick, easy money. They have come to the ranch hoping to quickly better their lives, after exhausting all other options. Women like London who are unable to support themselves, have back child support, as well as other debts, turn to prostitution for help. In London’s case, prostitution didn’t even have the ability to save her. This causes concern about the system that is currently in place in the United States. What are women supposed to do to make ends meet when they are denied all other alternatives? Prostitution is one of the only professions where women are guaranteed to make more money than men. Lisa Ling brings attention to the fact that it is extremely disheartening that women must sell their bodies in order to insure that they will earn more money than men in the workplace. Still, these women are constantly judged for their choice to enter into prostitution, but to them, they are simply doing what every other person in the working world is doing: they are working to make ends meet.

http://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2016/10/14/lisa-ling-21st-century-brothels-orig.cnn