Soul Train has been my home for the past four years. I even used to dance on-air for a few shows. They probably don’t remember that. But I’m also writer. I wrote one bestseller and recently released another book that quickly became a bestseller. It’s called GENTLEWOMAN: Etiquette for a Lady, from a Gentleman and features Hill Harper, Meagan Good, Bryan-Michael Cox and Michelle Williams. Speaking of Destiny’s Child, the release of Beyoncé’s new self-titled album is perfect listening material to accompany my new book. Below is the prelude.
Sometimes the best advice is to ignore advice, including mine. Who do I think I am writing literature for women, anyway? If I were to read this book title in front of a room full of feminists, I might get more boos than a polygamist. But wait! Don’t shut the book. Listen to my story:
When my siblings were younger, my father locked his keys in the car along with my three-year-old brother. Inconvenient drops of warm, salt-soaked sweat reminded them it was a hot California summer. The car interior was like an oven. It hurt to breathe. Cell phones were non-existent as a casual luxury to call for help–my father began to panic. He tried enlisting the assistance of several strangers in the parking lot, but the world was in a rush that day. As my sister tried to get our father’s attention, he scolded her. He frantically searched his pockets for change to use a pay phone while she tugged at his waist. “Not now!” father yelled, “This is an emergency.” The texture of his voice was like sandpaper. ‘Well this is an emergency, too!’ she thought. Once again, my sister innocently grabbed a handful of his turquoise blue track pants. “Woman,” he said calmly. She was only a little girl. She knew he was serious. But if she didn’t give it one last attempt, my brother would cook! Finally she yelled, “Tell him to roll down the window from inside the car and you can unlock the door yourself!” They both learned valuable lessons that day:
- Drown out the noise. Shatter your bias. When you actually sit quietly and listen, you can learn anything from anyone. If the advice is applicable, then the source is irrelevant. The truth remains the truth whether accepted or denied and no matter whom it’s delivered by. God spoke through an ass (Numbers 22:28).
- Though opposition might meet you, share your solutions in an emergency. It can save a life.
Whether right or wrong, some things need to be said in order to start a necessary conversation. This is an emergency! I don’t care if it’s popular; I care if it’s truth. I didn’t write this book because I wanted to, but because I had to. My goal isn’t for you to like me; my goal is for you to like yourself. If you’re looking for praise without justification, unmerited approval and someone to kiss your ass, you’ve come across the wrong author. If you’re looking for exaggerated, chauvinistic and irrational literature, you’ve picked up the wrong book. This isn’t one of those “how to get a man” books or “I think I’m right just because I’m a man” books.
This is an authentic etiquette book for women, written by a man–a crazy man, crazy over you and crazy enough to write for and about you. I understand that women are natural healers, but you too require healing. It’s OK to hurt. You have permission to cry. Your glow is recoverable. It will return. The problem with strength is no one ever asks if you’re well. Sometimes you’re not OK, and that’s OK. Your journey to womanhood is no joke. I’ve witnessed it through my grandmother’s weary eyes, through my mother’s silent struggles and through my sister’s violent tears. What can I tell you about being a woman? Nothing. That isn’t my place. Women experience the world in a way men never will. You have a journey with struggles we won’t relate to. But I can remind you who you are. I can provide clarity from an unbiased perspective. I can get you to love yourself more, and men and women to love each other better. I can encourage you on your journey and at your pit stops. I can provide balance. I don’t want to change you. I want to add to you. You’ll willingly change for yourself.
Much of the information about women is filtered through other women. Don’t allow your ears to be impervious to my words because I’m a man. Sometimes you want to hear a guy’s thoughts. Do women only listen to women? Do you ignore everything coming from a man because he’s a man? Hypersensitivity and political correctness should never drown out truth. Ever. If a fellow handed you one million dollars, would you refuse it because it came from a bloke? A million dollars is still a million dollars, no matter who hands it to you. Its value won’t change because a man delivered it. That’s a ridiculous notion. I didn’t come to pick a fight. Sensitivity was highly considered while producing this literature. The value of its content doesn’t change because a man wrote it. This is an emergency!
Pay attention to your story. How’s it being told? What’s being said? Are you presented accurately? The lines between fact and fiction are blurred. Your truth is watered down. Society is taking notes. A woman’s narrative isn’t limited to flesh and childbearing. You’re more than a victim with hips. Is this your story?
It’s been said the thinnest book in the world is titled, “What Men Know about Women.” I’d argue the thinnest book in the world is titled, “Who Cares Enough to Say Anything about the Demise of a Lady?” I’m willing to increase the pages. Each page written to explore, inform, educate and empower.
This book isn’t the end all be all. This book is a suggestion. This book is about honesty. Utilize this literature as a reflective piece to reveal what you want to improve upon and what you want to celebrate. I wrote this book to draw you closer to the thoughts you have about yourself–sometimes that’s best accomplished from the outside looking in. This literary work isn’t intended to judge, it’s intended to restore. It wasn’t written to be judged, but to be considered.
We’ll face every issue head-on. The solutions will heal women. The solutions will heal relationships. The solutions will heal a nation. Gentlewoman is the solution. Life starts with a Lady. It starts with you. It starts here. It begins now. Society says there are two kinds of people in this world–well, you aren’t either of them. You set the standard. Everything and everyone must adjust to a woman. A gentlewoman.
Women have questions. Gentlewoman has answers.
Gentlewoman was developed with purpose and is for every woman who strives to live life on purpose. I want readers to find comfort in their individuality and aim to inspire the confidence and courage to be themselves. The greatest gift you can give this world is your authentic self with some manners. My hope is that you apply all that’s applicable, neglect what isn’t and progress further in humanity because of it. My desire is for you to be more aware of yourself and others. My wish is for you to perpetually fall in love with yourself again, again and again, and all over again.
Capture this book’s wisdom. Bask in its good word. Adhere to its value. Laugh at its sarcasm. Ignore its ignorance. Ugly-cry when it’s beautiful. Think deeply when it hurts. Reflect on its reason. Appreciate its intent. Think of its relevance. Promote its truth. Pass it on.
Without further ado I present to you, Gentlewoman.
Read the rest on Amazon.
– Enitan Bereola, II
Bereola is the award-winning & bestselling author of BEREOLAESQUE: The Contemporary Gentleman & Etiquette book for the Urban Sophisticate. He’s also the go-to columnist, public speaker, style & etiquette impresario and celebrity ghostwriter. He’s set to release his next book entitled, “GENTLEWOMAN” this month! Visit: Bereolaesque.com, Twitter & Facebook for more info.