|Tiffany Haddish & John Legend|
By Veronica Wells
The other day I fell into a Youtube rabbit hole and discovered an interview between Tiffany Haddish and John Legend. The two talked about all sorts of interesting things but one thing Haddish said stuck with me. John asked her: “Do you find guys like women that make them laugh? I have a wife that makes me laugh all the time.”
Tiffany: “I think guys that are confident in themselves, love women who make them laugh. I think guys that are very insecure—which is what I seem to attract— they don’t like it so much. They be cool the first few dates, then they’ll be like, ‘Oh wait, she can control this whole room.’”
It was an interesting concept to me because Black women, in my opinion, are some of the funniest people around. But I wonder if people who aren’t Black women fully recognize that. I’m reminded of the fact that “Saturday Night Live” still struggles to find Black female comedians. Furthermore, when people do recognize a Black woman’s humor, is it appreciated? I asked a couple of Facebook friends: “Are men intimidated by a woman’s humor—if she’s funnier than him?” Women and mostly men chimed in with various responses.
“I think so sometimes especially when it is combined with intelligence… some men get super paranoid and defensive.”
“Men are intimidated by everything.”
“I don’t think so but I also have no idea [my husband] loves that I’m funny. He thinks I’m hilarious.”
And then very simply, “Yes.”
Every single man who jumped on the status to respond said they had no problem with a funny woman. In fact, it was a plus for them.
I’m well aware of the fact that Tiffany is not everyone’s cup of tea, not just her humor but her personality. Full disclosure, the aspects of Tiffany’s personality that some people find to be “too much” or “overshares” or “annoying” I consider honest and refreshing. It’s extremely rare to find someone who says what so many of us are thinking. But my personal preference aside, I think any man who asks Tiffany Haddish on a date has seen the real Tiffany Haddish. There are no surprises with her. She is who she is and, from what I’ve seen, doesn’t seem to change based on the environment. So if you liked Tiffany’s personality as a casual observer, the fact that she would dominate a room on a date shouldn’t shock or surprise anyone.
Perhaps men believe that in a romantic setting a woman will alter herself for his pleasure because far too many men believe women exist solely to please them and also because so many women have done it before. I’ve seen too many instances where women who are vibrant and vivacious around their girlfriends become muted around their romantic partners, afraid to show their true selves. And that’s pretty sad.
Tiffany’s conundrum reminded me of something Oprah said about Stedman one time. As you all know Stedman’s name was a running joke in the ‘90’s. A man who made less money than his woman was a Stedman. A man who lived in his wife’s shadow was a Stedman. A man who couldn’t exercise any real power or control in the relationship was a Stedman. I was a kid in the nineties but I remember the discussions and not necessarily because I found anything inherently wrong with them at the time. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized they were sexist, patriarchal and misogynistic. And what really helped me to reframe them was what Oprah herself said about Stedman. She talked about walking in a room with him and feeling him take down his own energy, so that she had the ability to shine, uninterrupted. He made the conscious decision to decrease himself in order for her to be showcased.
|Oprah being interviewed by Barbara Walters|
While it’s a beautiful testament to Stedman’s character, I feel like it’s a little unfortunate that maybe there aren’t many men who would feel comfortable taking on this secondary role–at least in the public eye–when women do it all the time.
Veronica Wells is the culture editor at MadameNoire.com. She is also the author of “Bettah Days” and the creator of the website NoSugarNoCreamMag. You can follow her on Facebook and on Instagram and Twitter @VDubShrug.