It was the year 2007, my junior year in college; and I was stuck. Stuck, like so many of the other college students who had ever walked the halls of any institution of higher learning; contemplating and wondering. Finally, no longer contemplating, now just wondering: “what is the easiest non- major course that I can take, so I can use that class, as a study session to focus on my major courses?” Come on now; don’t tell me that I was the only one who did that. Nevertheless, this should have been a simple matter. Yet, had it had been that simple; I am certain that I would not be blogging about it. With only a half hour before the registration deadline and the fear of picking a non-major course that I would have to actually do work in becoming a reality, I hurriedly hit the register button. “Gender Studies: Feminist Writers in 20th Century”. Now to be honest, I am not sure if that was the university’s name of the class or not. However, at that time, I assumed several things though: that the course was sure to be easy; and second, was that there would certainly be a lot of women in the class. Well, you know what they say when you make assumptions.
If I were to paint the picture to describe the makeup of the class using the hues and shapes from my memories; I am sure I would be called every name associated with being a male-chauvinistic pig. The fact that I was young and so immature wouldn’t be an excuse; so instead of me focusing on what I lost with memory and age, I’ll tell you what I won’t ever forget. Somewhere over the course of the class the professor introduced us to the often overlooked and forgotten author: Zora Neale Hurston. Overlooked for the obvious reason of being black and forgotten for that very same reason as well; however, that reason being heightened by the fact that she was a woman. Again, it would probably be ill-advised if I were to try and talk about what I assumed about the course and what became reality; besides for all the moments of painful enlightenment I experienced in the class from both the professor and my counterparts, it was all well worth it. To be more precise; the novel, “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” was worth it in itself.
Since the conclusion of that class, I have not reread the book. However, I must have watched the movie half a dozen times. Each time I watch it again, I find new truisms. However, it was not until after some pretty tough breakups with women whom I loved that I understood the importance of “Their Eyes were Watching God.” Prior to those breakups, I was busy looking for faults and excuses while “their eyes were watching God,” instead of listening to what they were asking of me. Which I shamefully, yet graciously, now recognize that I was more than capable of providing.
Men, it is so easy for us to forget that there is more to our relationships with our women than just being a provider of things financial. Of course we work long hours, deal with things that tests us in every way imaginable, and we are often the last ones to be recognized. However there is an answer to that; simple, it is what we are suppose to do. In addition, we have to show and prove that we can protect both her and the family that the two of you created; but we also have to ensure that she knows that you will forever treasure and appreciate her for choosing you to be each other’s better half. That she is more than just a wife or the mother of your kids. She needs to know that Tea Cake is not just a character in a book or movie and that with the help of The Most High you will forever be the man that made her believe it’s okay to let go. Because in her letting go; she recognizes that while her “eyes were watching God,” you were listening to her.