Kim Kardashian and the way men think
ON FATHER’S DAY, I was walking along South Street in Philadelphia with my 9-year-old son, Solomon, and my 12-year-old daughter, Eve.
A woman passed by in shorts that were so small they showed much of her buttocks.
“Eeeeww,” Eve said.
I was glad my daughter responded that way, because it means she has internalized the values my wife and I have worked so hard to instill.
We believe people should present themselves in a way that commands respect. That means one’s private parts should remain just that—private. Moreover, your self-respect should radiate from every fiber of your being, because you are responsible for the way you present yourself to the world.
[blocktext align=”right”]“That woman was sending a message,” I told my daughter. “She was saying, ‘This is what I have to offer.’ When you walk around with your butt hanging out men are going to respond to that, and you might not like the way they respond, because you are telling them that you want them to see that. You’re saying you want them to pay attention to that.”[/blocktext]
I was happy to know my daughter has at least been listening. But as a father, I owe my daughter even more than that. I need her to know the very real consequences of ignoring the values we’ve taught her. I need her to understand what men will see, think, and feel, if she chooses to walk around with her extremities exposed to the world.
“That woman was sending a message,” I told my daughter. “She was saying, ‘This is what I have to offer.’ When you walk around with your butt hanging out men are going to respond to that, and you might not like the way they respond, because you are telling them that you want them to see that. You’re saying you want them to pay attention to that.”
There are those who will tell me that’s a sexist statement. I respectfully disagree.
The truth is not sexist
I don’t need to give my children a politically correct, sanitized version of reality. I need them to know the unvarnished truth. That’s why I tell my daughter, from my own mouth, how men think. I don’t want her trying to decipher male behavior with the help of some book, or some TV show, or God forbid, with the help of other 12-year-olds. I want her to hear the truth from me.
Therefore, I will say it again. When you present yourself in a way that does not demand respect—whether it’s because of your attire, or your mannerisms, or your speech—people are going to respond negatively. That’s not sexist. That’s the truth.
That truth doesn’t just apply to women. It applies to everyone. I see it all the time as a 40-something man. When I wear jeans and a Polo shirt, people respond differently than they do when I wear a suit. If I were to choose to walk around with my pants hanging below my underwear, people would respond differently than they do when I wear Dockers and an open collar. That’s not sexist. It’s not offensive. It’s just the truth.
Here is another truth: Men like women. We like their beauty, we like their softness, and we like the fact that they’re different from us. You know what? That’s all right. Our differences are what allow us to balance each other, to build families, and to survive. I worry about our future, though, because I think we’ve gotten to the point where men and women can’t communicate honestly with each other for fear of being called sexist.
The truth ain’t always pretty
I know there are women out there who are hurting because of the things men have done to them. I learned that lesson firsthand when I visited a juvenile prison for girls and saw a Tshirt display in which many of the girls shared how they felt about being sexually violated by the very men who were supposed to protect them.
[blocktext align=”left”]I would lovingly suggest to any woman who keeps running into guys who feel they’re entitled, perhaps it’s time to start dealing with a different type of guy. Better yet, maybe it’s time to present a different type of you.[/blocktext]
But just because one person acted horribly doesn’t mean the next one will do the same. Just because one person hurt you doesn’t mean the next person has evil intentions, or feels entitled to anything from you.
I think most well-adjusted men believe they must earn whatever they get from women. Most of the women I know carry themselves in a way that conveys that message.
I love women, and I think they should decide how they want to present themselves. But I would lovingly suggest to any woman who keeps running into guys who feel they’re entitled, perhaps it’s time to start dealing with a different type of guy. Better yet, maybe it’s time to present a different type of you.
The truth about Kim Kardashian
That brings me to the Kim Kardashian question. My friend and colleague Denise Clay wrote and impassioned column that said, in part, that Kim Kardashian’s problems are due to male entitlement. I respect Denise’s opinion, but I see things differently.
Men are a lot of things, but we are not the cause of Kim Kardashian’s problems. Kim Kardashian is the cause of her own problems, whatever those problems might be.
Kardashian came into the public consciousness because she had sex on camera and leaked that tape to the public. Kardashian’s mother, a master marketer, was savvy enough, and shameless enough, to use her daughter’s sex tape to propel the entire family to fame and greater fortune. For those who don’t believe this was a planned strategy, please note that Kardashian had a blueprint for her actions, since she had watched her friend Paris Hilton do much the same thing years earlier.
That is the unvarnished truth. If anyone is to be blamed for the way both men and women respond to Kim Kardashian, it is Kim Kardashian, and to a lesser extent, Kris Jenner, the woman who saw the opportunity to pimp her own daughter, and did so without hesitation.
But this is not about the Kardashian clan. This is about the rest of us. It’s about the fact that men and women need each other in order to move forward. It’s about the fact that our relationships are the foundations upon which we build families. It’s about the fact that we can no longer afford to blame each other for our problems.
We are all responsible for the way we present ourselves to the world, and in my view, the only thing we are remotely entitled to in our relationships is the truth.
Click here to read Denise Clay’s column, “Kardashian, Mayweather, and male entitlement”
Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Solomonjones.com. Click here to learn more about Solomon