Last night, Phaedra of Real Housewives of Atlanta, slaughtered whatever life Kenya had left. On the final segment of the three part reunion, Phaedra viciously attacked Kenya by accusing her of accepting sperm bank donations from homeless men who need 10$ for pizza. The brutal soliloquy left Kenya speechless, but had Black Twitter going nuts.
I don’t follow RHOA, but even I couldn’t resist the cringe-worthy firestorm that soon followed. In a matter of seconds, Phaedra revealed the deep-seated insight of the Black Woman. Here’s how.
The background:Throughout the show, Kenya, the only single cast member, sent flirtatious text messages to Phaedra’s husband, Apollo. Throughout the show, Kenya became more bold in her approach, which resulted in the ire of Phaedra. Although Apollo is far from innocent, Phaedra defended her husband, and directed her frustration onto Kenya, who, simultaneously, became isolated from the rest of the cast given her other inappropriate antics. Altogether, Phaedra was considered the loyal wife, while Kenya was marketed as the trifling slightly-psychotic desperate home wrecker.
The jilted lover who stands by her man, the man who’s below ethical caliber, and the golddigging slut are all caricatures within the stereotypical Black experience. The storyline isn’t new, and has fueled an urban media industry that reality TV encapsulates.
The analysis: Phaedra exposes the ideology of the Black female. Her eloquent attack undermined the essence and ultimate shame that Black women vigorously try to avoid. Being single with no children. Black women value the family; we are trained and nurtured to be loyal caregivers of both our men and our children. And we must protect the familial unit, not just for the wellbeing of our husbands and children, but for ourselves. The successful Black female is one who keeps her family together, despite the socioeconomic hardships and political obstacles that try to blight our existence.
And that’s why (stereotypically) Black women fight for their men. That’s why we’ll stay beside our men; because the “other women” can’t win.
In Phaedra’s cruel monologue, she attacked Kenya’s method of conception. Sperm banking is a no-no in the historical Black female experience. Black women (and Black people, in general) are socially traditional. Given our ardent history of Christian fervor, social dynamics are rigid. Progressive alternative lifestyles are frowned upon. This is more of a generational divide; younger Black women are more open to alternative lifestyles, while the older generations still hold on to antiquated values.
Regardless, Phaedra utilized one of the oldest weapons in the arsenal; she asserted that Kenya could not fulfill her natural female duties, a huge degradation and moral failure.
Throughout the reunion, Phaedra took no prisoners. She continued to undermine Kenya’s responsibility as a Black women by alleging that she was sleeping with married men. NeNe Leakes, not to be outdone, said that “only a woman with a character flaw would do such a thing.”
I won’t lie; I enjoyed Phaedra’s rant. My jaw hit the floor when I heard it, and the guilty pleasure side of me appreciated the verbal beatdown.
But, as the social conscious Black feminist that I am, I believe it necessary to articulate my support of alternative lifestyles, and the choices that women make to achieve their goals. It is not the place of any person to criticize a woman for her reproductive health decisions. Such is a private matter that need not be hashed out in the public sphere.
Phaedra definitely gained respect within the Black female community; a community that subconsciously understands the dynamics of Black womanhood and the tacit edicts which define it. And although these principles serve as the buttress of the Black female experience, maybe it’s time we rethink some of its definitions.