Well Eggshells, on the way in to work today, I found out that I’m going to have to go off on Steve Harvey. It’s confirmed. Every morning during his radio show, Steve and his co-host Shirley Strawberry, read what is called the “Strawberry Letter”. People write in seeking advice and Shirley and Steve respond. Usually, Shirley is the “good cop”, with sound advice and sympathetic answers, while Steve provides the blunt, sometimes aggressively humorous bad cop role. He is often serious at first, unless the letter is totally outrageous and then afterwards, will get a little more humorous and raunchy.
Well… this was the Strawberry Letter for today:
Hello Steve, Shirley, and Morning Crew. I am a 39 yr old woman with a wonderful husband. He is a God fearing man, that is an excellent provider, and the best husband that any woman could ask for. He is the most unselfish person that I have ever met. We desperately want to start a family but this past summer I was diagnosed with diabetes and ended up in ICU with a blood sugar of 980. The nursed said that I should have been in a coma. Well because of this the doctor told us that we really should try to wait a while before we try to conceive. I also have PCOS (Polysystic Ovary Snydrome) which is already an issue and now this. I feel like less than a wife because I can not give my husband the one thing that he wants the most. He is very supportive and never pressures me about this but, I really want to start a family with my husband. I feel terrible about this situation.
As someone who UNDERSTANDS this situation, I was immediately interested in what Steve and Shirley were going to say. Shirley said that the woman should be more focused on getting herself healthy and worry about having a baby later. Her tone was a bit annoying, but at least her point was well-taken.
Now Steve’s response:
“Lady, what the hell, you don’t need no baby. What do you want us to say? You ain’t even ask a question! You don’t need no baby. Adopt an abused circus animal. You already got posturepedic(PCOS), whatever it is, you ain’t even asking us anything. Your husband ain’t putting no pressure on you, why you putting it on yourself?”
“Have jungle sex three nights a week and tell your husband that if yall have a baby, you can’t do that no more. What you trying to have a baby for? Your blood sugar was 980!? That’s almost a 1000! You don’t need a 10000 of anything. Hell, you don’t need 1000 eyelashes! Then you already got that PCOS, I don’t even know what that is, probably some woman’s issue. Why don’t you adopt a white baby to flip the script. Why not just let somebody live in yall house. Why you write us? Why you draggin us down into this?”
ARE YOU SERIOUS STEVE!!!!
I’m sorry, I was gone at “Adopt an abused circus animal”
ARE YOU SERIOUS!
I was so angry. Primarily because this is the EXACT reason infertility and family planning as a whole is so ignored in our community. This woman was not asking for Steve’s advice, she was asking for some form of support. Reaching out in the way that for most suffering with this issue, only know how to do. Did Steve say anything positive about the fact that the woman’s husband was a supportive one who loved her unconditionally? No. He chose to joke about sex and confuse that with the importance of women feeling adequate as FAMILY builders.
So, I took all that anger and penned a response to Mr. Harvey. I hope it finds him.
Dear Mr. Harvey,
Congratulations on being the father of four children. I’m sure that they are the apple of your eye, your pride and joy, and your very reason for doing what you do. I’ve heard you from time to time referencing them with a glimmer of pride in your voice, and I know that you are a great father by the way you speak of them. Now, that being said, I wonder if you have ever likened your precious babies, two of which are only one year younger than I, to abused circus animals?
I ask this question because on today’s show, that is exactly what you prescribed to a woman who was struggling with infertility and who reached out to you. I ask you, as you look into the eyes of your children, do you ever honestly feel that they would be better equated to a week of “hot jungle love”, as you put it. I pose that question because you told this same writer that she should convince her husband that it was better to have sex than to yearn for offspring for fear that they might “ruin it”. Do you see where I’m going with this?
My statements may seem bold or out of line, but in all honesty sir, I am merely regurgitating to you the precise words and stance that YOU took so effortlessly during your show this morning. You see Mr. Harvey, the writer of the letter did not choose to fill her letter with rhetoric and nonsense about how awful her husband is, or how they sleep with other people, or he sleeps with her mother etc., but no, this particular writer instead gave you a full-on depiction of what is REALLY going on in some of our most positive homes in the African American community. She cast her pearls before you, and you turned around and not only did you trample them under your feet but you then turned again and attacked her.
I’m finding it hard to believe that a man who told a writer a few weeks ago that she should be more considerate of her husband’s age and “medical libido” when speaking about how disastisfied she was with their sexual life, could in turn be so unsympathetic when speaking of medical conditions that occur more often than libido problems. Granted, you are a comedian, and perhaps are better suited to adress letters of complete tomfoolery because they allow you to shuck and jive around while throwing out bits of information that any woman with common sense already knows, and I guess you just aren’t able to deliver the goods when in regard to a situation that requires care and tact. You had an opportunity today to open your listeners up to a serious issue that is literally RAVAGING the African American community, and instead you were insensitive and cruel.
Polycistic Ovarian Syndrome, as listed in Google Health, is a condition in which small cysts attach themselves to a woman’s ovaries, which impedes a woman’s chances of getting pregnant. Polycistic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS, affects 5%-10% of ALL women. Of that count, the only group with a higher case of PCOS diagnosis than African American women are Hispanic-American women. The chances of contracting PCOS are also INCREASED when a woman is diabetic. So, to break this all down for you, the letter you read today was from a woman who was ALREADY blocked in wanting to give her husband the gift of a new life, but then hitting another wall because now BOTH diseases are combating her chances, not to mention the fact that at 39 she is considered in many medical fields to be of “advanced maternal age”. But again, she wasn’t talking to you about stripping, or whether or not its okay to sleep with her husband’s best friend and wife, so you didn’t catch on to this particular chance to educate. Is that it? Or is it what I’ve suspected for some time now, that you are NOT in fact an educator at all, but merely a comedian who like all comedians are, is good at making everyday common sense funny? You see Mr. Harvey, it is far harder to truly TEACH our community about the importance of family building and healthy relationships than it is to make humorous the fact that they don’t KNOW right from wrong. I can get a lot more jokes saying, “Just make the plane out of the black box”, than I can by saying, “Learn your body, get immunizations, have regular pap smears, seek counseling for your reproductive mental health”. One topic is just not as funny as others.
There are some times that are not the time to laugh. There are some times, that are more for teaching. You had what we teachers call, a “teachable moment”, and you let it slip away.
I am a 28 year old, African-American daughter, wife, and teacher. I have, in my life, a 28 year old, AMAZING African-American husband, who has been to me, a better husband than I’ve seen in most 50 and 60 year old husbands in my family. He is a God-fearing man, the head of my household, my dearest friend, and the greatest piece of this world that God has ever trusted me with. Because of who he is, and all he does, I want nothing more than to give him someone he can pass his great attributes to, and someone in whom his own eyes he can see reflections. I want it more than anything. But unfortunately, until my own bouts with PCOS related complications and thyroid problems subside, I cannot.
It is the most heart-wrenching sight to see him doing everything he can to be the best husband God would want for me, while friends have children, younger family members have “accidental offspring”, etc. I yearn for someone to talk to about it. But in our community, Mr. Harvey, it is easier to speak about unprotected sex, STD’s, unplanned pregnancies, etc, than it is to find someone willing to openly and unashamedly discuss infertility. You sir, made it just that much harder this morning. You stated that the writer “didn’t ask a question”. She asked one, you just didn’t hear it. She was asking you to say, “It’s alright. Your husband loves you in spite of your afflictions. Your marriage is worth more than having a baby. You are valuable. You are beautiful. You are worthy of a good husband, regardless of your fertility”. But you didn’t tell her that. You told her to build a bridge and get over it.
I was disappointed this morning Mr. Harvey. As someone who is claiming to be a relationship guru, expert, or overall oracle for women to seek out for advice and support, you disgraced yourself this morning. You made yourself out to be an insensitive man of lowly moral character in whom none of us, perhaps not even your own daughters, should confide in for anything of substance.
However, I will say this, you have inspired me more than you know today. Infertility is not a curse that can’t be overcome. With medication, healthy lifestyle choices and other therapies, it can be beaten. The thing that must be beaten first, is the ignorance and lack of knowledge pertaining to it. Because of you, I have a renewed vigor to spread the word about infertility and family health in the African American community. YOU, have given me so much insight into how far we have yet to go in regards to health and awareness. I thank you for reminding me of how important it is to open my mouth about this plague and how it is surging through our diaspora.
It is my hope, that the next time a woman opens her heart before you, and lays out on your radio show ALL that is sacred in her world, you will regard it as such. It is my hope that you and your show take heed to the amount of weight your words and your movement has on the world at large. You have been given the greatest of responsibilities and I hope that I never hear you squander it that way again.
God Bless you, I believe you when you say He’s not finished with you yet, but keep growing.
Regina M. Townsend
Creator – The Broken Brown Egg Blog