Sunday, March 28, 2010

Did You Fall Or Fail?

If you want to learn how to roller skate, you might want to first learn how to fall. Babies do it when learning how to walk, but that's not what their proud parents and relatives say.

"Junior learned how to walk! Just look at him!"

Jamal and Jamika took a lot of falls before they got the hang of walking, and they'll take a lot more learning how to run.

Falling does not equate failure when the rules are fair. Putting those little ones on a tightrope and expecting them to learn how to walk and run there defies the odds of success.

Such is the case of your chances of succeeding when the game is not fair and the odds are stacked against you.

You fell, but did you fail?

Let's look at education. In many urban areas, the dropout rate is over 50%. Did those students fail because they're too dumb to learn, or because the materials were inadequate and/or boring, the classes overcrowded, the athletic policy for who can play ball too strict, and the community so impoverished that the one or both parents in the home are too stressed to spend time helping with homework after they get home from they low wage job where they stood on their feet and sucked up to whoever to keep that job?

Speaking of jobs, let's touch on career. Women still earn less than what men do, and workplace discrimination against blacks, Latinos and some other minorities hasn't gone anywhere. Unless you have a "white-sounding" name, you have a 50% chance of not even getting the interview.

While both sexes need the ability to be financially independent, it also impacts on a man's comfortable zone in providing as a husband. Is it small wonder that fewer men propose marriage?

This leads into love. Do you want to be in a loving and sexually exclusive, long term relationship, but feel like a failure because you aren't, and haven't found anyone interested in being with you on those terms in a very long time?

What about the stats that show 70% of black kids are born to unwed mothers, or that the percentage of blacks who get married are very small? Between 1950 and 2000, the percentage of never-married black women doubled, from 20% to 42%. I'll bet that after the Census collects data next month and releases it next year, it'll be a helluva lot higher. It already is in some areas, so high that kids in one article told their teacher that "marriage is for white people".

Thus, if you're on that hamster wheel of endless dating and being or having "just a friend with benefits", and beating yourself up over why you can't seem to connect, have you legitimately fallen in your goal, like a baby falls when learning to walk?

I'll put it this way: you're not likely to find water on a desert, so don't curse yourself because you're thirsty. You haven't failed; the dating game has failed you, compounded by the social changes in the past half century and even the last decade.

For example, people who marry before their age 21 are often viewed as foolish and impulsive, and the young are encouraged to do anything except marry, i.e., go to college, work or the military.

Yet, our biology, late adolescent and young adult sexuality won't wait for us to get hitched before giving in to our sexual appetite. Finding a virgin after age 18 or 19 is rarity, and abstinence is a huge struggle that most people cannot do when they have choices to do otherwise.

I haven't found the statistic matching what I read, but it feels intuitively true: the more sex partners a woman has, the lower her odds of getting married. The reasons may be:

-The older you get, the more set in your ways you get, and the more relationships and sexual flings people have had tends to make them a little more cautious, suspicious or even jaded

- The old double standard what men can do and what women shouldn't do,

- Over two million people are incarcerated, and most of them are men, and most of them have little education which ties into the first example. While they yearn for the company of a woman, they have none, and that's well over a million women who might have a man if so many weren't locked up - over half for non-violent crimes, common in poverty.

- For whatever reason, more men than women are gay,

- Men die while fighting wars. The number of women who do is negligible when comparing. For the 5,300+ men who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, that's 5,300 women who won't have a partner. In Vietnam, over 58,000 men died. That's a lot of good loving for a lot of women - and the men who died - that got wasted on war. Take note, none of those fatalities count the enormous number of men who returned severely impaired, disabled, or committed suicide.

- (Addendum) See Brownbelle's great theory in her comment after this post for another reason.

In an alternative universe where people walk only on tight ropes, the baby who cannot learn how to walk is considered handicapped. Parts of our daily world has become like this.

The next time you think you failed, regardless of your gender, ask yourself whom the failure belonged to. While I'm all for taking responsibility for one's actions, it might not be you.

Then get up, and try to find another place to walk.


  1. Whew! Made this post barely in time for "the weekend", since this is, so far, a weekend blog. Lemme know what you think about it.

  2. THIS right here is at the core of my beliefs. I understand that the world today is a messed up place where hard work and being a good person are not always rewarded as they should be. But that last statement is the next step in logic that most people never take.

    Then get up, and try to find another place to walk.
    Recognizing a problem is only half the battle. In life, most problems, like the ones you discussed, are too big to be solved by one person alone. So the other half of the battle is finding a way around it.

    I suppose the way I cope with things is by trying to manage just my situation. If you think of yourself as a statistic all the time, things begin to seem hopeless. But while statistics may point out what happens to people the majority of the time, I still have a lot of agency in determining whether I'm a statistic or an outlier.

    To your intuition about women with more sex partners being less likely to marry, I have to agree, but for different reasons. Sex is a spiritual union, but due to societal conditioning men are used to closing off that part of themselves so that they experience only the physical pleasure. Women haven't learned that. And when you let too many people touch you on a spiritual level, the very essence of you gets weary. After giving of yourself and receiving little to nothing in return, it's hard to get to a point in a relationship where you're willing to go all in with somebody.

    That's just my theory, but it fits with what I've heard from other women and experienced myself. I know that plays a big role in me settling down early because the casual dating & sex rollercoaster just seems exhausting to me. If things with me and my fiance hadn't worked out, I probably would've just stayed single for a couple years to recoup.

  3. Brownbelle, You're da bomb! That theory resonates with me sooo well. Thank you for sharing it with us... lol, well, at least the "us" that reads these comments in this very new blog.

    But you know, what you said is so good that your doing a post on it would be wonderful for your readers too.

  4. I'm glad that made sense. But I think I will write about it, watch out for that this week.

  5. Yes Brownbelle, very insightful! and Kit, your words also resonate with me as regards my daughter. I feel for her,she just turned 22, is very pretty has a career and high aspirations, but she can't seem to find "the one", it seems no one meets her requirements...She says untill the perfect one comes she will not settle, but at the same time I know she would love to be in love....hard to watch....

  6. Congratulations on your new blog, Kit! Love the header!
    It's interesting to read the opinion of other generations on love and marriage. I think everybody should get married only when they are ready, we all know that age often has nothing to do with maturity. My parents and all their friends, pretty much all their generation, married in their early 20s. When they reached their mid 40s, the divorces exploded (usually when the kids left for college). Many of the men hooked up with younger women, the women hooked up with even older men (gotta love that end of the straw, right?). The other married people I know of their age are miserable and/or having affairs. Of course, different country, different culture, the mechanism behind that probably differs too.
    Despite that, I still believe in marriage, in theory, and I would like to have that one day. I just wish I knew at least one long-time married couple that made me say: "Yes! This is what I want for myself." But I don't know any.
    About the sex partners thing, I think it is changing with each generation. I notice that more and more girls my age, me included, can differentiate better between sex and love - though still not at the level guys do. I still think it's good for a woman to be discrete about it and not shit where she eats, as you Americans say, to avoid judgement and gossip. And, of course, to use protection.

  7. I love that imagery of a child learning to walk. My friend's 1 yr old is just getting the hang of it -- but I love to see him fall.

    He has this commitment to the fall -- he doesn't try to stop himself -- he just FALLS.

    Sometimes he gets back up, but mostly he's more focused on where he's going so he'll crawl to it and then stand back up.

    Love this post, Kit -- I hope people start looking at it more like that: "you fell, but did you fail?"

  8. I'm directing two of my sista friends to this blog for more encouragement. "Finding another place to walk" is an option that we all have. SUCCUMBING to fear of the unknown i.e. new job/city/opportunities vs. what we know, i.e. dysfunction = MAJOR FAIL. Racism/sexism and all the other 'isms' are here to stay, and we have to learn to work our way around them.

    re: marriage is for white people

    My kids' new friends/acquaintances are often 'shocked' that indeed, they live in a two-parent household. To them I suppose we're the exception vs. the rule. Sad, but true. We aren't perfect by any means, but we're committed to making it work.

    Another thought provoking post, Kit!

  9. Browhnbelle, I just read it and it was spectacular; you really ran with this idea. I put in under the Blog Post Spotlight at my other blog and will here too in a moment. Email me too, if you don't mind.

    Cactus Rose, And I'll bet she hasn't a clue that her suffering is yours too. I didn't either when I was her age. Of all the characteristics she requires, I hope that having a strong chemistry (ie, soulmate) is at or near the top of the list.

    Marianne, Hey girl, thanks for the feedback on the visual look. I feel very good about it and smile everytime I open the homepage.

    About the sex partners thing... it alarms me, because every decade has loser values to point where I wonder where it will stop, and in the meantime, I can't say that people are any better off for it, particularly women. It's an area I plan to post on this coming weekend.

    A.Smith, Thank you so much for the feedback.

    Penny Wize, It is shocking, isn't it? They'll be shocked in a 5 or 10 years, though, when their stats match ours now. I believe that the underclass in any society are the canaries in the coal mine - they just respond to the toxicity before the miners. Such is the case with blacks and whites in America; the bad things hit us first but they trail behind and catch up. The reason is not race, but culture.

  10. Kit, I am trying to inflict some generational guilt here, and you are not cooperating :P!

  11. "Then get up, and try to find another place to walk."

    I LOVE that.

    In response to the question you posted on my blog, I should be honest about a few things off the bat...

    - I certainly don't believe in promiscuity, but I believe FIRMLY in sex before marriage, lol. That in and of itself is a blog post tho.

    - Though not habitual, I have certainly had "friends with benefits" situations.

    - I am mostly ambivalent about marriage. I haven't planned on it, I'm not looking for it, if it happens then great (?), but if it doesn't, I won't die.

    That being said tho...

    I BELIEVE in marriage.

    Many people assume that because I am not particularly desiring of getting marriage that I must hate the institution and be bitter and all that. But that couldn't be further from the truth. I believe marriage is important, that it is vital and necessary, and is a very serious undertaking to not be entered into lightly. As old fashioned and mildly hypocritical as it may sound coming from my highly progressive lips, I believe WHOLEHEARTEDLY in the sanctity of marriage.

    And THAT is what set me off in my post about jump offs.

    That not only has marriage, and by extension, divorce, become a throwaway institution that many view as a birthright, not a calling, but that the women and men actively participating in the degradation of marriages are being rewarded with all this attention from even legitimate sources (see Oprah, GQ, etc.)

    I am not naive enough to not know that affairs are as old as the institution of marriage itself. But having read the coverage and comments of all the latest tawdry affairs, the blame placing, the complete and utter denial of personal responsibility, and even the nonchalant reactions to marrieds cheating, it is just infuriating. And disheartening.

    Especially if, like me, you still believe.

  12. La, I thought I responded to your comment but I didn't. Thank you for leaving one and I'm glad you enjoyed this post so much.

    I too am a strong fan of the concept of marriage, and when it works great for two people, it's wonderful. Nothing like having a lifelong companion. But like everything and everyone else in this society, it's become a throwaway institution as you said. People are too quick to label others as obsolete, inconvenient, or a failure, and not looking into their end of the problem.

    Applies in celebrity, sports life and political live, jobs and careers, racial relationships, and personal love relationships. With this cultural disposable mentality, sometimes I don't think we even fall - we're pushed down and then kicked.


Like what you see? Blogroll me.

Agreement, disagreement, and debate is good, except from trolls and spammers.

If you select the Anonymous option, please put a name of some sort as there may be more than one. Thanks.