Uplifting the Opposite Sex
By Todd A. Smith
When I started Regal Magazine in November 2006, I envisioned it being an online publication where African American men from all aspects of life could come and debate issues affecting men of color and communities of color.
I did not want to simply “preach to the choir” or lecture to African American men that had already been “saved.” I wanted to reach the brothers who were still “lost,” on the corner selling drugs and destroying their lives in the process.
I knew for a fact that it would be extremely difficult to change the mindset of many brothers who refused to read about politics, social issues, health issues and relationships. Unfortunately, the only time many brothers even pick up a magazine is one that has a swimsuit model on the cover.
So, the question I asked is how do I reach my brothers who are wasting their life by not paying attention to the issues that affect their life? I answered that question by doing what I thought best for Regal Magazine by including the best, or worst, of both worlds. Readers have a chance to gaze upon beautiful models in the Regal Queens section as well as read pertinent and mind opening information throughout the rest of the website. My thinking behind this tactic was that if a reader came to the site simply to see a model, they might also click on the other sections and learn about the latest issues affecting the African American community.
Initially, the response to the Regal Queen section was extremely positive. Successful and educated African American women from the fields of public relations, information technology and education all wanted to be Regal Queen models. However, recently a couple of critics have spoken out saying that having female models in swimsuits demean women, with one even saying a woman cannot be a queen if she poses in a swimsuit.
After hearing this statement, I was appalled. I was always raised that a person should not be judged by their appearance but by their actions. In other words, it is not the attire that makes a person, but their actions. In my humble opinion, what makes some hip-hop videos risqué is not the fact that a woman is in a swimsuit, but their actions while in the swimsuit that makes many see them as sex objects.
Despite the criticism of hip-hop and swimsuit magazines, those same critics that have protested the depiction of women in various forms of media did not protest when TLC released their video “Red Light Special,” featuring near naked men like actor Boris Kodjoe. Those same critics do not protest when women lust over shirtless ads featuring Tyson Beckford or David Beckham. It seems as if there is a double standard in American society in which it is OK for women to look at men as sex objects but not vice versa.
I will definitely admit that it is time for Black men to no longer look at Black women as if they are only desirable when dressed in provocative clothing and behaving provocatively. There are too many little girls that see these images on television, in magazines and sometimes even their own homes, and belief that this is the only way to get the attention of the opposite sex. But Black women must realize that they too are contributing to the negative image of the opposite sex, by having young Black boys believe that the only way they can catch the finest girl in the neighborhood is to dress and act like a thug.
Black men and women are both the blame in demeaning the opposite sex. Brothers must stop referring to women as B’s and H’s and women must stop referring to all Black males as trifling dogs.
And if it takes Black media to change the perception we have of the opposite sex, then I hope Regal Magazine is at the forefront of this movement. But we are all responsible; men and women, as well as the media and the readers/viewers. We all have to do our part.
To debate this and other issues, please visit our new forum section.
Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.