Starting Your Dreams Later In Life and Embracing the Detour

Jenee Darden speaking at Creative Mornings I know it's been a while since I've posted anything but that's because of my job. I'm working as a reporter covering Oakland and I host an arts segment on the radio where I get to interview amazing artists from around the Bay Area. Plus I'm publicizing my book  and building my speaking career!  You know what's funny? I thought this would all happen by the time I was 27-30.  Nope. That wasn't God's plan for me. I'm finally beginning to do the things I've wanted to do and I'm almost 40 years old. Some people reading this who are 40 will say 40 is still young. But some younger people reading may think 40 is nearly ancient. But I'm writing this post for those who like me, thought their career and personal dreams would come true much early in life. I'm here to tell you not to give up.  You know, death inspires life. A number of my relatives and friends have passed away, ranging in

Battle Of the Sexes Show Comes to Oakland and Don’t Independent Women Need Love Too?

Boy was my Friday night interesting. I attended the Battleof the Sexes Show. It’s an interactive event/online talk show taping where young urbanites discuss relationships. Founder and Toronto native Telisha Ng of the blog Goddess Intellect kicked off the U.S. tour for the show in OakTown. 

The topics ranged from women getting jealous over their boyfriends buying Mother’s Day gifts for their babies' mamas to gender roles to 3-somes and open marriages. The panel kept the energy flowing: Lincoln Blades of Uptown Magazine, Sharelle D. Lowery of Classy Black Girl, Dante Real of Real Talk Thursdays, and radio personality Kenya G. Williams.  I live Tweeted the May 17th event. Check my Twitter page for some of the juicy quotes I grabbed from the night.

I really liked a lot of things Dante had to say.  For example when someone mentioned about going Dutch on dates he said, "As a man if I can't pay for your date how could you see me as a provider? I don't do the Dutch thing." I agree 1,000%. 

One comment at the end really struck me. We were discussing gender roles and Lincoln said that some women have become so independent, and so used to being independent, they say they don’t need a man. I’ve heard this before from guys. I want to know who are these women they’re talking about. Who are these “I don’t need a man because I’m hella independent women”? Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to comment at the event but I am now. 

The fun and fiery panel from l-r: Lincoln, Dante, Sharelle, Kenya

I’m an independent woman. I bring home the bacon, fry it, wipe up the grease and clean the pan. Yes I can and do take care of myself. But I still want a man. Lincoln and Dante both argued that dating is different today because we don’t adhere to traditional gender roles anymore. I agree there is some truth to that. But it doesn’t mean that an independent woman doesn’t want a man or even need a man in her life.

I’d love to have a man in my life to travel with or go to the movies. I’m short and having a man change my ceiling lights so I don't have to climb a ladder would be awesome. I want to go hiking with a man or take long drives. I want to get married and raise a family with a great man. I want that warm, "It's going to be okay hug." Don't you love when a man's strength is gentle?  I want security. And I don’t care how many battery operated devices they make for women, nothing can replace intimacy with another human being you love. In this age, I can do most of the things I listed without a man in my life, including have a baby. But, I want companionship. And I know a lot of my independent friends who hold down a job, home and family want the same thing. That’s not to say there aren’t women holding it down solo who feel a man in pointless in their lives. That’s their prerogative. But they don’t represent all of us independent women.

Battle of the Sexes Show Founder Telisha Ng with Cocoa Fly
After the men voiced their opinions about women and gender roles, Khadija of The Khandi Shoppe Shame on me for not writing her quote. But she said men need to take some ownership for why women don’t follow traditional roles; because when men leave the home, women have to wear the pants and skirt. I wanted to shout, “Preach!” Don’t get me started on the high rate of single parent, women-headed households in the Black community. If you're a girl and you see your mother, grandmothers and aunts working 8+ hour jobs, cooking dinner, wiping tears, fixing things around the house and pulling out their baseball bat or pistol when there's a thump in the night, how do interpret womanhood? And the same goes for boys. How do they learn to interpret womanhood from their mothers who wear the pants and a skirt? How do they define manhood if their fathers, even grandfathers or uncles, aren't around? Our parents' presence and absence have some shaping in our ideas of relationships.

The Battle of the Sexes Show is a really cool event. The audience submitted questions for discussion. Sometimes I wished we didn’t stay on a topic for so long because I want to hear other questions. But you can’t beat sushi, free Sequin wine, brownies for desert and good conversation. Check out to see if the tour is coming to your area.  Get your girls or your boo to go with you and have fun.

Thanks to Sharelle at Classy Black Girl for connecting me to the Battle of the Sexes Show. And congrats to Telisha Ng on her tour! Events like Telisha's make me appreciate how women and people of color can use the internet to show their talents and build communities.

And again, independent women need love too.