The banter over Mimi Faust (pictured left) and Nikko Smith‘s sex tape has died down a bit, but when Steve Harvey (pictured) took to the airwaves recently to chime in on the matter, I wondered if his outlook is short-sighted.
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During his radio show, Harvey admonished Mimi and women in general about the sexual choices they make:
“Glare into the future as you make your decisions,” he said on his radio show. “You can’t have a child and make decisions based on just you. And every Mother understands that. There isn’t a single Mother out there who doesn’t understand the sacrifices that have to be made as a single Mother and the things you have to give up of yourself to provide for your children. So when you’re making these decisions out here that you’re going to make a sex tape or you’re going to get involved in the sex industry, start thinking about right now [about] whatever momentary five minutes of fame and piece of little change they’re going to put in your pocket. ‘Cause whatever money they put in your pocket, it ain’t going be worth the hell that come with it. It ain’t going to be worth your reputation. It ain’t going to be worth your image. It ain’t going to be worth nothing as it lives in cyberspace forever.”
RELATED: An Open Letter To Mimi Faust
Right off the bat, Harvey appropriated all of the social consequences of Faust’s decision to make the sex tape solely on her, but last time I checked, I saw two people having sex in that video: As in a man and a woman. To be sure, the sexist and patriarchal framework of our society places shame on women who choose to exercise sexual freedom but absolves men of any ridicule. Most of the reporting on the sex tape — along with the vines, tweetpics, and shower rod jokes –has focused on Faust.
Indeed, she is more noteworthy to headline in a story title than Smith, but the critical commentary that could have been written on his role in the film — if you consider what he and Faust did shameful, which I don’t — has been nonexistent. If Harvey wanted to use his airwaves to critique how publicizing our sexual conquests negatively affects our reputations and the emotional psyche of our children in the future, then an assessment of how oversexualized images of men negatively impacts young girls would have also been appropriate.
Listen to Steve Harvey Talk about Mimi’s Sex Tape here:
But Harvey didn’t do that; instead, he kept his admonishment on Faust.
“Yeah, ya’ll got something else we didn’t have to worry about now that we didn’t have to worry about then,” he said. “It’s called the Internet. The Internet has become a playground for evil doers. You sit up and you listen to somebody and all of a sudden they sitting and making comments about you and they never even met you. Please, young women out here, think of yourself and your brand and your image. Think of what people will say about you when you’re not around…stay out of the sex trade. You ain’t here for sex.”
That is not yours or any other man’s decision to make, Mr. Harvey. Last time I checked, porn is legal in America. Men and women produce and participate in it. Women have the right to chose what they want to do with their bodies, just as men do. And not everyone has a negative view of porn, so appropriating morality in this case is subjective.
But there is a larger issue with critiquing Faust in a vacuum: Men tend to get a pass for being dogs, while the women they date are always called out for being their hoes.
“Love and Hip-Hop Atlanta” star and record producer Stevie J, with whom Faust has a child, has fathered children with five women, according to The Urban Daily. When watching “Love and Hip Hop Atlanta,” it is hard not to see Stevie J as a womanizing creep; however, when the show is trending, I see many women on Facebook and Twitter posting, “Don’t you talk about my man” or “Stevie J is SO sexy.” Of course, many of these women may be saying this in jest, but I suspect they also find something appealing about him.
That is unfortunate, given that 54 percent of Black children in the United States grow up without fathers in their households. Yet, Harvey chose to focus on Faust’s sexual pathology? If we want a woman to “act like a lady,” we need to place equal emphasis on teaching men to behave like gentlemen too.
Men seem to be able to express their sexuality openly — even if it results in creating multiple households without a father inside of them — and suffer few consequences and societal labels. Men like Stevie J can project themselves as sex symbols, but women have the symbol of slut projected on to them for the same behavior. If we are genuinely in the business of empowering women not to become mere sexual objects, we as men have an equal role in ensuring that we do not sexually objectify them.
But instead of devoting equal time to Smith’s role — and his penis — in the sex tape, Harvey zeroed in on Faust’s vagina:
“You’re putting your most precious gift out on display,” he said. “For a pearl, you gotta dive to the bottom of the ocean…ain’t no diamonds laying on top of the earth; they don’t grow like corn. This thing every man got to have: your body. Your precious jewel. You’re sitting on a gold mine. Please act like it, young ladies. Act like you’re sitting on a gold mine, because it is what every man is after. And we will pay dearly for it.”
I tend to think a woman’s mind is her most precious gift, but to each his own.
What I find troubling about Harvey’s vagina commentary is that it assigns appraisal rights to men over how women should choose to use their bodies. On the other hand, women are never taught that men’s bodies belong to them, even if we are in a committed relationship with them.
Uneven gender critiques of poor sexual choices allow for patriarchal assessments to label women “whores” while absolving the whore mongers who pursue them. I believe Harvey spoke with good intentions when he was critiquing Faust over the sex tape, but he reinforced centuries-old structures of patriarchy that allowed her male partner in the tape to get away with a pass.
While I personally enjoy Steve Harvey and hold my stomach to contain my laughter during his stand-up routines, his remarks on Faust make me wonder if I truly want to “Think Like a Man.”
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