During the holiday break I had a discussion with my single sister (CEO), single best friend from college (PHD), and a happily married male pilot. The conversation was insightful, in that in the eyes of this very successful man, the weight of the world lays on the shoulders of women, more specifically black women. He went on to say that the reason our jails are filled with so many black men is because their mother, spouse, or partner enabled unacceptable behavior. He felt that black boys/men were not held accountable, which has led to lives of crime and incarcaration. He also said that a man needs a woman to build him up and encourage him. He said, “At the end of the day it is his woman’s reaction to him that makes a difference.” He continued to discuss all the needs and requirements that a man needs to be happy and successful in life. I asked what about the needs of the woman. What’s in it for her? Needless to say, I could hear the crickets chirping. The conversation was interesting to say the least. When I returned to work, my boss posted a video on Facebook ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJGMAhWpDF8 ) about successful unmarried black women. He was shocked at the comments that he received about the video. He expressed to me that he thinks every woman wants a man to share their life with…I did not disagree with him, but I suspect that the increasingly high rate of single black women is due to the fact that women, successful women, are not willing to settle for “just having a man". In this video, Steve Harvey said something very poignant. He said, “His generation of men never taught the ones coming behind them the principles of manhood, and that this is due to the lack of male presence in the home.” These two conversations with two different men led me to write this piece. I am willing to bet that the reason that the percentage of single, successful, black women has risen to such high rates is because our sense of worth and what we expect and require from a relationship has also risen. We raised the bar!
Do you remember the movie, “Waiting to Exhale”? The character played by Whitney Houston had a conflicted relationship with her mom, who was pressuring her to be with a married man so she would not be alone. I think our generation of women has come so far from just “wanting to have a man”. A companion is what is desired…a best friend and lover. When those basic needs are met, her love, support, and commitment is his for the taking. Is that asking for too much? I think not! Women want a man who is comfortable in his own skin, confident and strong, and not intimidated by her success. Having great character, goals, and a career would also be nice. Again, not asking for all that much, but because, like Steve Harvey mentioned, a lot of our boys were never taught how to be men; they define manhood in dysfunctional ways (womanizing, non communication, controlling, etc.) On the other hand, many black girls were raised to be strong and to take care of themselves. They are educated, successful, strong, and are taking care of their own emotional and physical needs :-). Many of the single women in my life have great careers and awesome friends. Some of them have children and very supportive families. I think that they all would love to have a companion to share their lives, but at this point either men are intimidated by their love of self and success, or the men that are stepping up are not worthy of their time or friendship. They are learning to lead full, meaningful lives without a man…
A haunting question comes to mind…Does finding and nurturing your own “worth” leave you without male companionship? I think not. I believe there are men out there that value a woman’s worth. There are men that can see that light shining from within a beautiful woman who is confidant and secure in who they are. These men will do what it takes to earn that love. They may not come in the package you have in your mind, but they are out there. I think for too long women fought to make things fit, and would try to overcompensate and disregard her own needs to make a relationship work. All relationships require compromise, but compromise does not mean sacrificing yourself for someone else’s happiness. I think many men don’t get this yet. The patriarchal society that we live in caters to men and their needs. I remember having a conversation with my own husband about one of his friends and the choices of women that this friend was making. My husband said some interesting things about the women, which angered me. I said, “wait a minute now…have you looked at your friend lately, and what he is bringing to the table” There was this feeling of supremacy that this friend should have better, but I told him that this friend needed to get his stuff together and that he was no prize at this time either.
Relationships are quite complex and there are no simple answers or formulas of what works and what doesn't work. My boss told me that I am happily married and my perspective might be different if I were single. I don’t think so, because at a very early age I decided that I would rather be alone, then to settle. I thank God for sending me my prince, but had he not come when he did, I would have waited, even if that meant being alone. At least I would like to believe that.
This is just my interpretation of this topic. I would love to hear your take on it. This is not just about black women. It is about women in general and all of us living a life of worth and refusing to settle! Please share your thoughts…
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