In Don’t Make a Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings, Tyler Perry deals out advice on life and love using the voice of his character Madea. Some of Perry’s comments on gender roles are extremely troubling and end up doing an injustice to both men and women. And as one of the most popular contemporary black filmmakers, Perry has a platform to influence a great deal of many people in a positive way, but frankly, he is doing much more harm than good with this book.
For example, in “Ugly Sexocology,” (s)he talks about being constantly pursued by “ugly men” and not giving in until one night when she becomes lonely and intoxicated enough to deal with one. She notes that she would never go anywhere in public with him because she did not want to appear “desperate as hell.” The moral of this anecdote is, of course, that ugly men deserve a chance too, but only because their so-called ugliness has conditioned them to spoil women and become skilled in the bedroom. This benefits neither men nor women because it portrays all women as superficial and all men as desperate for sex.
In “Hold the Frisbee,” Perry talks about how women must withhold sex in order to keep men interested. In a direct quote from Madea, Perry writes that “having sex with a lot of people...makes you a ho. And I ain’t never met a man who said, ‘I’m looking for a nice ho to settle down with.’” This double standard on the number of sexual encounters experienced by men versus women reflects an outdated view that men who are known for having multiple partners should be praised or respected, while while women under the same circumstances should be shamed and are considered less valuable. The entire concept of women withholding sex as a means to achieve “diamonds and furs and Cadillacs” again portrays women as materialistic beings and men as insatiable animals–literally, as the dog in her frisbee metaphor represents the man–who will do anything to achieve another sexual conquest.
It almost seems as if by speaking through Madea, Perry gives himself permission to dole out these tidbits of sexist “advice.” If this book were not written in character, I believe that there would be little sympathy for Perry after the women reading this book that their virginity is “worth a hell of a price” as if they were an item up for auction. But because Madea falls into the “sassy black woman” trope, she is somehow granted an ability to speak without a verbal filter. This allows Perry to spew misogynist ideals under the guise of humor.