Mental health practitioner uses ‘Baby Boy’ to explain domestic violence

During an interview for the MSR article, “October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Faces of victims include men, same-sex couples,” in the October 8, 2015 edition of the paper, ace mental health clinician Sam Simmons, out of the blue, uncharacteristically exuberant, hipped me to John Singleton’s Baby Boy. Uncharacteristic because Simmons’ public persona, while waxing emphatic about matters of the mind, is not known for exuberance.

If he was wild and crazy about Baby Boy, I was, to say the least, curious. And, once I watched it, glad to have got the heads up.

Not to do a review — though Taraji P. Henson and Ving Rhames rock — but grasping the social issue that drives the film is vital for Black men to cease going upside Black women’s heads. Simmons said in that interview, “Men can’t nullify the responsibility for their own behavior in the relationship they’re in.” He pointed out, “The basic characteristic of the batterer is being overly emotionally attached to [the victim].”

Following up a few days later, I asked why he was so jazzed by Baby Boy. Simmons answered the question with a question. “Why would you think?”

To which I replied, “He was so dependent on women, he didn’t realize the trick bag he was putting himself in, trying to make them responsible for his mistakes.”

Simmons responded, “Exactly.”

See, the protagonist, Jody (Tyrese Gibson), has to lose his woman Yvette (Henson) and their son before regaining them, by maturing enough to accept accountability for his own emotional well-being and take on the responsibility to form a family. This after shuttling between her bed and his other “baby mama,” — not to mention other females on the side — all while living under his mother’s roof, vying with Mom’s boyfriend for her affections.

The turmoil turns tragic when, tired of and fed up with transparent excuses and flimsy rationalizations for his running around, Yvette loses her temper and slaps him. He, in turn, sprawls her on the floor with a punch. Afterwards, he is abjectly apologetic, but assault can’t be undone or fixed with words. She quite sensibly tosses him out and, for the time being at least, severs ties. Their story can’t end on a positive note unless and until he takes a positive approach to himself and to the women around him.

In the real world, stories like this tend not to end on that positive note exactly because too many Black men don’t have Singleton writing their life-script. They revel in their dysfunction, unable to live with women, unable to live without them, like it was some sort of testament to manliness.

They go around thinking of themselves as “playas,” instead of realizing that they are getting played, that being led through life by the front of their pants for the sake of immediate gratification and the imaginary power of females, makes for what ultimately is an empty existence devoid of any meaningful satisfaction. They don’t get that they’re treating women like crack, getting high on the conquest, coming down off it and then hustling to get it again.

They quite likely will go to their graves without ever experiencing actual intimacy at all, much less real love. In their wake they leave embittered ex-girlfriends and children growing up with no idea of what a father baring responsibility and accountability even looks like.

None of this is going to change without women and young girls waking up and smelling their own cup of coffee. Men like these only quit walking all over you if you stop acting like you’re a rug. He’ll start talking a sincere tune or move on to the next target.

And if he decides to go, let him, because, as it’s said, you can do bad by yourself. He will eventually move on, anyway, leaving you not only by yourself, but quite possibly with a baby to raise on your own.


Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.