Antjuan Ward: ‘Differences’ on Male Perception & Gender Bias in Relationships

Antjuan Ward is the co-creator of the Miami Independent Film Festival Officially Selected Series Differences. The series highlights how people are asked to process and react emotionally, mentally, and socially to certain events/situations that occur in their lives. Derrick Peters, along with his friends Malcolm, DeShawn and Ralph struggle to tackle various issues within themselves, those around them, and who they choose to be with. Ward talks about not only looking in the mirror but how each gender should see differences in their actions.

ATM: Why do you believe you are a force to be reckoned with your talent?

AW: Sometimes it is good to master one thing. It’s also good in our society and our community that you are a jack of all trades. That person can help guide the people that needs to master one thing in the right direction. I am not only a director, but I write, produce, and act sometimes. That’s just on the film side of things but I am also on the music side. I am good at songwriting, producing music, and rapping if need be. There are not a lot of people who can say they do all of this at a quality level. I make sure that no matter what happens, the foundations of my work always has quality. This has come with a certain work ethic behind it. I work hard to study my craft, be a part of the craft, and make sure it is up to a certain standard and acceptable to a lot of people.

ATM: What do you believe is so special about black love?

AW: I think it is because of how unique it is, which makes it different. Black love has to come with a certain type of acceptance of flaws in society. I have to understand that the black woman is the MOST underappreciated woman in society. As a black man, this is a must to be understood. I have to show you that not only are you appreciated over here, but you are more than what society says you are, and I have to stand by this. When I end up loving someone this shows. This raises the black woman up in her confidence and has value in herself and in society. Also, it is reflected on us black men because of how we are treated in society and in the
media. When you can put this confidence in someone else, it’s so easy going. I can feel like I can handle everything out here because of her and what she does. This is why black love is important because you do not get this from what I see as white love. This is just love and regular love. You might deal with things in your personal life, whether you have hardships in your life, but not the societal side of it.

ATM: Do you think it is both parties being naïve to accept the imperfections between one another? Do you think this naivety is what holds them together before getting to the stage of realizing no one is perfect?

AW: It is a little bit of being naïve, but also not trusting. You do not know the person to display all your flaws. You think they might judge you or not understand where you are coming from. Maybe the communication is not there both verbal and nonverbal. This beginning spark of the relationship is trying to see can this person really understand who I really am. This is where you bring in the representation of who I kind of am. It is easy to take this, and I can slowly show you who I am. If you can take this, then obviously the love grows from there.  

ATM: Once the two parties get to know each other beyond the looks and the material stuff, I feel as though their love is one the route of becoming unbalanced.

AW: So, once they show you who they are, it becomes unbalanced?

ATM: For example, I would assume the two characters Tiffany and Derrick in your web series
‘Differences’ were happy in the beginning. There love is on a different level just by looking at it. I would say the more you get to know someone in the relationship this makes the love unbalanced.

AW: I see what you are saying. There is always a tipping scale in a relationship. You try to get it down as much as possible. Not to tip it, so it weighs too much on one side. These are two different people. They will definitely have some commonalities, but the differences are what makes us different. The things I could accept about you and the things you could accept about me are just different. The resulting process, the way you move, and how you act. These are the things that make me ask “can I accept this thing.”

ATM: Derrick hit on a great point about the unbalance in any culture or race. He says something along the lines of “When have you ever took me out?” This is the stereotype of the man is the giver and the woman are the receiver. Even if the man imposes on an idea of asking “When will you take me out?” “When are you going to buy me something?” “When are you going to buy me flowers?”

AW: This is a good point. You get comfortable a lot of times while in a relationship. Let’s say this from a male perspective. If you have never had a good man and suddenly you get one, then you are going to get comfortable in receiving what a good man gives you. Sometimes you say, “Oh, shit I have not taken him out. I have not massaged his back when he came from work. He has been doing this for me. I have just been enjoying and receiving it.” From his perspective, he is like, “You have not really done these things for me as well. Where is the 50/50 here?”
Sometimes with this complacency comes a lack of love. You are like “here I am doing all these things for you and you are not doing these things for me.”

This happens a lot in relationships where the man is the giver and not the receiver. Does this happen vice versa? 100%. You feel if a man does not have a good woman and then gets a good woman, then he does not understand “I should be doing something helpful for her and show her my appreciation as well.” This is something I hope based on this series will start a conversation with a lot of relationships. “I should do more for my man because he does more for me and vice versa.”

ATM: This should get changed or modified in the relationship culture. Sometimes this happens, but it needs to be more celebrated. Men should be pampered as well as women. It would take each party to know the true compassion, worth, love and value of one another.

AW: I agree. I know the feeling of “We have been going on dates and I have been paying. Suddenly you say oh there is no big deal.” The woman should say “Oh, are you free today? I should take you out.” The guy would say, “Oh, you took a whole day out for me?” It is just a better feeling and it does matter.

ATM: When some men get into a real relationship that is not defined with appearance, he knows
whether he will marry her or not. The woman should not pressure him.

AW: It is some truth to this. When you are with a girl and it is good, and it feels good, you want to do so much for her. You know the way it is going. You tell your friends “She is good.” You know as long as things do not get left that this will go right. Sometimes you just know. Most of it is that you have a good inkling about it. You feel this is probably the one. It feels right and different than the other ones. Because it feels different, this is probably the one I will probably end up with.

ATM: Some men are more passive toward the topics of marriage and engagements. They do not talk about it openly like women. You always see in the film, T.V, or in general, the women thinking and saying stuff about marriage.

AW: We are more so simple. I am not saying women are complex creatures. It is simply the idea of “I want to buy a home for you. I want to have children. I want to be with you. I understand the cultures of marriage. You want to have a great marriage. You sign these papers then you are married.” For example, when you are dating a guy and he starts calling you his “girl.” He has already made up in this mind you are his girl. No title is going to make a difference. This is it. “My actions are not going to be with any other girl.” He is letting all the other girls go and he is introducing you as his girl. You have made the title, but I have made the title in my mind. Then at some point in the relationship, it turns to “this is my wife.” It also comes down to certain people’s religion, beliefs, and faiths. We just understand that we want to get married. Women fantasize. A lot of people think the wedding day is the woman’s day and not really the man’s day. “We are here. I am happy to be here with you. I am spending a lot of money.” A lot of marriages that have been together for 15 or 20 years got married at the Justice of the Peace. “We spent our money on things that matter. The house and paying off our debts. It is cool. We can have a little reception at the house inviting friends and family over. We were already married, but we just made it official.”

ATM: I am not a guy, so express the feelings of when you have ever received butterflies because of a woman.

AW: Aw, man. It is different for guys in every situation. Sometimes it can be a smile. This could be it. The lady can just be looking at you and you are like “Oh, yes. This is the one. I love this smile.” It could be a situation where you are out with a girl, having drinks and laughing. She goes, “Babe, I got you.” He goes, “Oh you got me!” He feels special. I tell a lot of women that, “You do not have to cook or clean for me. I can do this for myself. But if you do, then you’re winning. Now, I do not have to do as much.” You are already adding to my life. For a guy, it is nothing better to wake up smelling breakfast. It is not just you’re cooking. You got up out of the bed and you thought about me. This gesture alone feels good. It is different moments when you feel butterflies. “She really likes me.” If I am randomly having a bad day, then you just initially start rubbing my back. You got me like this. These things tell us “This girl is really rocking with

ATM: In relationships, the guy could be doing everything right, but the girl leaves or cuts off contact. I feel the female is afraid of love. When two parties have a connection, it is often described as an internal feeling. We might not have the right words in our dictionary to even describe the feeling. The female is afraid of it. When you go into the stage of love, you are figuratively ripping off the clothes to your feelings. You are potentially metaphorically naked. You can get hurt.

AW: It is a mixture of being afraid of love and commitment. This is one. Then you start realizing they are missing something you knew you wanted but you kind of put it away, to the side. Now it is starting to magnify. Maybe that something that you used to value is the one thing you are missing. Maybe you are being petty. Maybe he is doing everything right in a general sense, but not in a specific sense. It could be something about not taking care of the house, you are not cheating, you are not lying to me, but the sex is not good. Even with this, “why can’t you sit back and watch a movie with me? Why can you not ask how my day was? You make sure I am good, but you do not talk enough.” This could be it.

ATM: Women talk a good game about men among their friends but get nervous once they are in front of a guy. They get nervous. They do not want to make the mess up.

AW: This is also true. Maybe they think the guy is not good for them, and they are not enough. “I was dealing with a messed-up dude. I have not gotten over yet. He does not deserve this.” This comes down to one of the premises of our web series, which is communication or the lack thereof. I need to know while dating you where your mind is at. What is something that you were dealing in your past that you have not gotten over yet? I am with you with for four or five years. I go in front of a counselor and now I am hearing stuff that I have never heard. I am a firm believer of making your environment comfortable for someone to talk to you. “Why did you not tell me this?” Maybe I did not make it comfortable enough or you were not comfortable to talk with me about it. “Why did we have to wait for a third party to get involved?” I am not saying therapy is wrong because it does work. There are a lot of things we should be discussing in the house. I should not sit back and get used to negative emotions. I should sit back to hear
you out. “What is actually wrong?” “What is on your mind?” “Where are you at? No, where are you at?”

I enjoyed this and had fun.

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