I Can See Through Leslie Jones' "Men Don't Like Me" Front, Right Through To Myself
This past weekend while in New Orleans for Essence Fest a friend of mine met a guy who joined us for dinner one night. After grilling him about his relationship status and intentions, he turned to me and asked, "Why aren't you married?"I was two seconds away from answering "Men don't like me," when I stopped because (A) that sounds pathetic AF, (B) I'm not even sure that's true, and (C) If that is true, dinner over po'boys in the city of debauchery with a random man is not the time or place to work out that problem. So, I went with "I'm difficult," and, as expected, 'ol boy was satisfied with that answer because men love to classify a woman as crazy, difficult, and any other adjective that leaves us as problematic and them as innocent.
I thought about that moment when I saw Leslie Jones' Instagram post on the Fourth of July, clarifying previous comments made on Conan about having a secret boyfriend. She told the late night host of the relationship that's now allegedly a joke:
“It’s a secret, so I don’t want everybody bothering him. I don’t want to sit on television and be like, ‘Oh, the type of man I’m looking for …’ and then I’ll talk to him and he’ll be like, ‘Yeah, I heard you was looking for this type of dude. Don’t get me in trouble!”
But now she's saying there was no secret relationship at all. In fact, "There was never a secret boyfriend," she wrote on IG. "I have terrible luck with men. Real talk. They do not like me."
Let me start by saying there's nothing fun about talking about relationships when you're not in one. During my girls trip to Essence, the subject of men came up (as it always does with women) and I had nothing to say. Eventually, my silence was noticed and I was asked to weigh in on the topic of dating men with children after I shared my own caveat: "I don't even really like talking about men anymore."
The reason I don't like talking about men is because, like Leslie, I have terrible luck and I don't too much gather that men like me. As a result, I don't too much like them either. And though those are facts I like to keep to myself, there will always be curious people who want to know why you're single or what happened to that one guy that isn't even worth mentioning now. And the quickest way to shut down those inquiries is to broadcast your undesirability, like Leslie does. People may try to argue with your perspective, but at the end of the day they can't really discredit your experience, and a generic "Men don't really like me," is a lot easier to blurt out than "I got my feelings hurt," I was ghosted (again)," "It didn't work out," or any other response that requires further explanation that doesn't exactly paint you in the brightest of lights.
Unlike Leslie, though, I try not to ride the self-deprecation wave, mostly because I know shitting on yourself in front of other people is more telling than not saying a word, but I get why the comedienne does it. There isn't a woman of practically any age who hasn't asked herself why she's (still) single, and at some point you just figure something must be wrong with you because somehow other women managed to find a few good men, discrediting you and Trina's claim that niggas ain't shit, and now it's just easier to come to the simplest conclusion: men don't like you. And the only reason you vocalize that conclusion is because you're tired of people pointing out how desirable they think you are and you assume if you say the opposite, eventually they'll believe it and stop asking you questions.
But they don't, because eventually you'll find a man that you think really does like you and you'll be so confident in that interest that you verbalize it and then no sooner than you tell your girls -- or an international late night talk show host -- somebody is checking for you, 'ol boy fucks up and now you gotta explain what had happened. And since you really don't even know what happened, you rely on the old faithful "men don't really like me" excuse again just to get people to shut up.
This is why I don't have too many stories anymore and my go-to response when someone asks what's up with my love life is "Girl nothin'." I know the likelihood that the man who likes me today will probably be gone tomorrow so I don't bother bringing him up. And it's far easier to play the role of nonchalantly single than indefinitely confused and disappointed. And while I agree with friends who've shared their disappointment with Leslie lies is the fact that we've seen Black women portrayed as undesirable enough without her adding to the mix. Sometimes when you're a part of the undesirables you don't know any other way to be.