I will grant that James Brown sounds good when he sings “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World,” but I hate the song…but people clearly dig it. Anytime you see clips of Brown performing it, you hear the crowd going wild. I don’t know if they like the music, which is nice, the lyrics, or some combination of them both, but folk appear passionate about the tune. I was in a discussion with several first-year college students recently who referenced Brown’s song to offer me commentary on how they viewed themselves with respect to men. “It’s a man’s world and I just want to be a lady in it,” one young woman confessed. “Yeah,” said another. “As long as I’m treated like a lady,” she offered, “it can be a man’s world. Because frankly,” she continued, “I just don’t want to do the things that men have to do.” The only chore she could think of that men do is to take out the trash. In my experience, being treated like a lady by a man typically occurs when your interactions with him are so infrequent that your competence cannot be depended upon; otherwise, women are treated as though they are capable. Given that competence-women’s competence, I’m not sure why one would concede to it being “a man’s world;” I’m not willing to concede that point.
The young women I talked to about this offered the example of men holding the door open for them as an example of how men make women feel like “ladies.” In my house, the doors stay open without my husband’s assistance so I’m not sure how being treated like a lady works out as a routine experience. I don’t know if I have the power to imagine what this would look like beyond episodic instances within the experience of one’s day. So I guess I have to admit that these students would not find my life attractive or that of any of the people whose lives I admire because I don’t know any women who get to chill all day. Chillin’ and being married, or chillin’ and being in relationship ,or chillin’ and having children just don’t go together. So I wish these sistahs luck because it’s going to be very hard finding a man who believes that “it’s a man’s world” while also maintaining that women don’t have to work in his kingdom.