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Erykah Badu’s Tweets on School Dress Codes for Girls Sounds A lot Like “The Talk” Blacks Have With Their Kids About Police

Eryka Badu_Wear_Your_Voice

Ayesha Curry, cooking extraordinaire, wife of three-point sharp-shooter Stephen Curry, and unofficial spokesperson of Hotep, Inc. — an “honor” I suspect she neither wanted or gravitated toward — has spent the past several months as the lone metaphor for respectability politics. Well, it looks as though she may have some company. Soul singer and musical artisan Erykah Badu took to Twitter on Monday to express her views on a new New Zealand dress code for young school girls, a code under which girl attendees are required to wear knee-length skirts to “stop boys from getting ideas and create a good work environment for male staff.” Aye yai yai. (See the article on the school here.)

It is Badu’s response that’s cause for the Ayesha Curry comparison. It had folks (and I include myself in those “folks”) scratching their heads, like “huh”? Did she really just type that?

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Essentially what she did was to suggest that young girls be culpable for the sexual misbehavior of the mature male teachers they’re entrusted to. I mean, that’s what it sounds like.

You: How so?

Me: Good question.

In Badu’s view, this new New Zealand code meets the criteria of — ready — “fairness.” *hangs head* See, according to Badu, young girls and women are “beautiful,” and it’s unfair for these beautiful young girls in short skirts to by their very presence provoke these mature men with their beauty and lead them down a road toward ultimately betraying the better judgment of their frontal lobes and taking advantage of them. That’s it. That’s pretty much the gist of her reasoning.

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Annnd, it seemed to me that this is what most of Badu’s followers took away from her Twitter thesis on gender, many of whom in a spirit of grave jest were probably thinking “She need to go on and call Tyrone and tell’em come help pack her *expletive* with that hot mess of an argument.”

You: Uh uh!

Me: Uh huh.

You: Really?

Me: Yeah, really.

You: Fa real, fa real? She said all that?

Me: Not all that. She tweeted that girls, … ugggghh. Here, look. You tell me.

You: Nah, I’m good But, I’m’a need you to break that down for me one mo ‘gain.

Me: I’m done with that portion of exhausting my brain cells. We gotta move on.

Anywhoo, that’s what we’re calling victim-blaming these days. “Fairness.”

“Fairness” in the divine name of all the hypothetically “natural,” “healthy,” buck-brained, addle-minded, authority-abusing, sexually disquieted pieces of shriveled mushroom heads, whose neurological wiring, by Badu’s logic, dictates they are more likely to take advantage of their young girl charges should they come to class dressed in short skirts, because they’re, you know, too “beautiful” and “attractive.”

Damnit. I think I’m gonna vomit. Give me a sec. M’kay, where were we? Right, internalized sexism, I mean, “fairness.” Got it.

Related: How To Talk To Your Kids About Gender

Shifting gears, if you’re like me, you may be wondering right about now if the school administrators who concocted this wonky but “fair” dress code took their inspiration from Old Reliable himself, Mr. “Hoes Ain’t Loyal” singer-slash-slut-shamer Chris Brown, who went on his own Twitter rant about singer-slash-slut-shamed Kehlani.

Don’t get me wrong. Brown most definitely puts the ass in hole. But, thing is, even without such instances of celebrity endorsements of THE PATRIARCHY, plastered over social media; even without the slips in wokeness of beloved idols like Badu, the mass temperament, the mass male sentiment on human sexuality, rape culture, and male unaccountability, existing on all the rungs of our species’ society, demands we place the onus of sexual responsibility and misconduct on women. It demands that these girls modulate their bodies and men un-modulate their minds and behavior. It knows that in time, these girls will grow into women, who in turn will teach future girls to cover their bodies and they will, in equal turn, grow to teach more girls to accommodate the impulses of men by banning short skirts and skin-revealing outfits from their school wardrobe.

Did that last sentence sound familiar? Anthropological, even? That’s because I just partly described the process by which fundamentally flawed intersexual modes of being find their way into the modern human world. The culmination of this process is the reproduction of the beast called THE PATRIARCHY.

Basically, cultural mimesis meets devolution.

Circling back to the whole women are so “beautiful” that male teachers may be too aroused to guide and teach their girl students, abuse their authority, and violate them thing, please, please, please don’t get any of this twisted and mistake young girls covering their legs as an inverted and perverted form of “Run the World” ‘Yonce feminism — feminine power based on the knowledge that mere sight of body of a “young girl of childbearing age” unnerves men and is, thereby, a weapon of phallic destruction, and can — nay — should be used as such. Nor should you walk away viewing this as an instance of “The Erotic as Power” (pdf).

No, no.

This right here is more of “the talk.” You know, when Black parents instruct their kids to be on their best behavior, to pull their pants up, to not roll their eyes, to act “respectable,” around law enforcement because the system is rigged and the state is all too eager to destroy your body.

Thus, the giver of “the [race] talk” advises the receiver of “the talk” to appease police officers.

For “Black parents,” read “mothers”; for “kids,” read “daughters”; and for “law enforcement” and “the state,” read “men.”

Now, if the race talk is meant to prepare black kids to appease police officers, what category of human can we surmise the gender talk is meant to pacify?

Image Credit: SC Cunningham, via Flickr Creative Commons


Antwan is an educator, cultural critic, actor, and writer for Wear Your Voice Mag (WYV), where he focuses on the dynamics of class, race, gender, politics, and pop culture. Prior to joining the team at WYV, he was an adjunct professor in the African American Studies Department at Valdosta State University in southern Georgia, where he taught African American Literature. He has traveled the U.S. and U.K. showcasing a fifty-five minute, one-person play titled Whitewash, which focuses on the state of black men in the post-civil rights era. Antwan received his B.A. in English and Literature from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and M.A. in African American Studies from University of California, Los Angeles. He is a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and NAACP theater nominee.

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