There’s an agenda against the black woman’s happiness and success. This is especially true with regards to her happiness and success in love. With cuffing season just a DM away, the love-scorned have begun their black hearts parade. If it isn’t enough to have love-scorned black men slandering us, the voices of women who have appointed themselves as leaders in thought have begun to do the same. In women’s groups of all agendas a label has been adopted.
This label mocks women who make most of their decisions surrounding what they’ll wear, do, and talk about, all with the male gaze in mind. This woman’s favorite come-back line is “this is why you can’t find/keep a man.” To her, a man is always justified in doing his dirt. To her, a woman’s achievements all pale in comparison to the achievement of being picked. This woman is a pick-me.
Originally, the term pick-me was used to call out women who enabled the poor behaviors of men all for the sake of saying she had a man. However, as time went on, it began to include women who make any effort at all to attract a partner. Somewhere the lines began to blur between women interested in having a man for a partner and women desperate to have a man for a partner. Admittedly, there aren’t too many that are using this newly expanded version of the term. But recently the pick-me label has been aimed at women who engage in dating and relationship practices from a place that isn’t anti-male. This phenomenon and the toxicity it breeds is what I’m hoping to examine in this article.
The Origin Story
While the term pick-me has begun to evolve into something ridiculous, its roots were embedded in a more reasonable offense. The term pick-me was traditionally used to refer to women eager for the approval of men. So eager that she was willing to tolerate and enable behavior that is detrimental to any monogamous union. If a man is cheating on his partner, it’s for one of two reasons:
1) The woman is doing something wrong.
2) Men cheat, it’s in their nature. Just make sure he’s coming home to you.
Their logic rarely involves holding a man accountable for his actions for fear that it might make him uncomfortable and he’ll leave. Pick-me's have a dating philosophy founded on desperation and dysfunctional at its core. Pick-me's get a lot of hate in women’s groups and understandably so. They have a history of throwing other women under the bus so that they can appear more appealing to men. Matter of fact, it seems that the only time a pick-me is holding a man accountable is when she’s questioning why it is that a man could ever be loyal to a woman she’s deemed as undesirable. Due to their desperate nature, many pick-me's have low dating standards.
She expects very little from a man beyond his presence because she is afraid of being alone. So, her lack of standards are not as a result of love, but instead, as a response to unresolved issues. Almost any man will do for a pick-me because dating serves only a shallow purpose in her life. For the pick-me's with higher dating standards much of the aforementioned is the same. The only difference is that she’s a bit smarter with whom she’ll shack up with however, she’s still willing to tolerate a partner that is no good for her all for the sake of saying she has a man. They tend to revel in the fact that they’re followers instead of leaders and tote their submissive natures as virtuous. But when did the term pick-me begin to refer to women who alter their behavior in anyway with hopes of attracting a man in the end? And are the accusations justified?
I’m a big supporter of women empowerment and activist groups. As black women, everything about our existence is political so most of us at some point seek to be more socially conscious. Womenist, feminist, and pro-black-woman groups all crowd my feed. As well received as much of their efforts may be, some activist become too “woke” for their own agendas. In some parts of the pro-black-femmeosphere, giving women dating advice that goes beyond just existing, aren’t well received. I’ve come to notice there being a few levels to the pick-me-border-expanders. In the most extreme camp, even the desire to be in a partnership with a man is anti-black-woman empowerment.
To these extremists there can be no such thing as a healthy relationship between men and women while we exist under a patriarchy. Even strategic unions with a man won’t do the trick. Then there’s the camp that doesn’t mind black women being in a relationship with a man so long as she compromises no part of herself in the relationship. Dating with your partner in mind is a childish activity that will prove to have been done in vain and is pick-me behavior. Their advice to black women is to keep a single mindset while in a relationship. To invest in her relationship with a man in any way is a fruitless endeavor. To both camps, compromise looks like submission and the idea of making oneself more appealing to the opposite sex is a sign of being weak.
Is Their Danger In Promoting Anti-Social Dating Practices?
If their advice sounds a bit extreme and selfish, that’s because it is. The women who preach this style of dating are promoters of anti-social dating (ASD) practices. Following their dating advice would be to set anyone up for failure. But is there any danger in Anti-social dating practices? For men and women who seek to form families, the answer is yes. Many have argued that where families dissolve so to do strong communities. Strong communities create spaces that are safe for children to develop in and for citizens to lead fulfilling lives. It’s no secret that the black community struggles with poverty and a high out of wedlock birthrate. According to the Pew Research center “more than half (58%) of black children are living with an unmarried parent – 47% with a solo mom.”
The consequences for these community issues have been well studied and for most of us, well experienced. The reasons for these numbers are myriad and interlaced with racist practices by current and previous institutions, and I think it’s important that we examine where these numbers come from. The high poverty and out of wedlock birthrate in our community wasn’t created by black women and racism alone. Black men have been abandoning their families for decades and practicing dysfunctional dating habits. Men have been allowed to avoid their responsibilities in a manner that women would be severely punished for doing. And black women do not bear the burden of responsibility for repairing our community. Black men must get their act together too.
Black men abandon their families at a rate that is destabilizing to our communities. Acting in their own best interest irregardless of how it affects their children, communities, and their partners, is what got us to where we are today, and it is what has birthed more radical women. Not feminism, as people are so quick to argue. So yes, there are consequences for ASD practices. I find it interesting how single mothers are oftentimes the most radical when it comes to pro-woman rhetoric in black female spaces. But when you consider that their partners have abandoned them to, on their own, do a task that many would describe as the job of a village, then can you really blame them for promoting such anti-social dating practices? I don’t, but this isn’t a discussion on where to place blame.
Many argue that trying to change family structures is a fruitless endeavor and that instead we should give our focus to initiatives that support single mothers. While such efforts are necessary there are dangers in living like a solution already exists. Single parenthood is not a progressive ideal. Having support from another human being is essential, even if it’s not another romantic partner. And can we stop pretending like men and women are going to stop trying to form families together? Just as single parents are going to forever be part of society (and should have programs in place to support them), so too are men and women that seek to form nuclear families. Instead of promoting a lifestyle that offers little emotional and minimal financial support for the impacted persons, we could increase our efforts towards promoting a more conscious style of living and dating. Promoting these ideals that black women shouldn’t be with men or that black women should only be with men in a dysfunctional manner is cruel.
Changing your dating habits by adopting dysfunctional practices isn’t the solution. If you’re a woman who values marriage and relationships so much to the point that you would rather play mind games for the rest of your life all for the sake of having a man around, then there isn’t much difference between a pick-me and you. There comes a point in time when you need to grow up. People who play mind games with you are childish. Avoid them. Playing mind games is childish. Avoid it.
The only people who thrive off playing games for all their life are underdeveloped adults and the neurologically atypical (sociopaths and the like). Everyone acts childish at some point and not all manipulation tactics are amoral, but deciding to only romantically interact with men in an anti-social manner does not make you better than a pick-me. And while part 1 of this article harped on a small fringe group of women, they are not the only source of ASD Promoters.
The anonymity that the internet provides often times makes people more radical and more abrasive in their messages than they would be in real life. This idea that women and men cannot form lasting healthy relationships with each other is one of the most inappropriate fuel sources for the dumpster fire advice that so many ASD promoters give. Don’t let internet personalities alter your perception of reality.
The internet does not make people more like themselves as is commonly thought. Humans do not develop in vacuums. So the behaviors of an isolated/anonymous human being are not more natural than the behaviors of a human in public. They’re both distorted images. You’re more likely to get a true glimpse into who someone is by observing them around their close family and friends.
Playing Into Desirability Politics
Dysfunctional dating practices are not only present in independent or love scorned men and women. It’s dysfunctional to be a pick-me. However, there’s nothing wrong with you and you’re not a pick-me just because you’re a woman who’s decided you’re going to play into desirability politics in order to attract a partner.
You catch more bees with honey, sis. There will be people trying to discourage you from pursuing efforts that make you more appealing to the opposite sex for fear that you’re going to lose yourself in the process.
But something I’ve learned a long time ago is that mentally weak people are always under threat of losing themselves in other people, and the mentally strong are not. Which is why I always encourage women to develop themselves before entertaining any serious union with a partner. So go ahead and develop in your femininity black girl and explicitly use it to your advantage. There’s a lot more to cover in the topic of Anti-social dating promotions so in the nest part of this series I will delve into more mainstream examples of this.
About the Author
Lilith is a new blogger with an emphasis in writing and reflecting upon social agendas that effect black women. When not at her computer writing she is more than likely still at her computer, programming. On the rare occasion that Lilith isn't at her laptop you can attempt to find her exploring the L.A. food scene or attending workshops in creative writing.