Monday, December 1, 2008

What We Can Learn About Love and Life From Famous Women

Women who are famous are not so different that we can't relate to certain universal truths or find commonalities. They may have certain career pressures as well as access to unique circumstances. Sometimes the grass is not greener on the other side. What lessons can we glean with regards to the men some famous Black women and Women of Color chose to partner with or marry? 

Beyonce and Jay-Z
I'm no Beyonce stan (in fact I think she's grossly overrated) but she is one of the biggest musical acts out there right now. She has her latest hit song extolling the virtues of legally wedded bliss: specifically to men that they should "put a ring" on the woman they're with. I think that's probably the most empowering song she's released though I was kinda partial to Independent Women. 

Now I look at Beyonce and see all that's she's achieved career-wise and her level of attractiveness which is more likely to be universally agreed upon than some other Black women thanks to our colorism. I still wonder why she chose Jay-Z of all the available men in the world to marry. She more than most women had an abundance of eligible bachelors in any field or income bracket to choose from. 

I'm going to be blunt. He's not very attractive and though he has money, that should not be the sole determination for a suitable spouse. Before someone asks me why I would focus on his appearance I'll reply it's because men do. Men don't make concessions in this area with very few exceptions, so why is it that women almost unanimously agree to do so? If the draw for a less attractive or older man is his money and status then how does that explain a woman who already has those things not seeking a man who's equal to her or better in every way? 

Plus he has a history of behaving disrespectfully to women from shoving the female host of a tv show, to producing illegitimate child(ren), to that verbal war against Nas where he insulted the mother of Nas' oldest child. I sincerely hope that they are in love and their relationship flourishes, but I wonder if she realized all the options she in fact had and whether she would have made a different choice. Actually, I don't. I'm simply not impressed. He is a just a rap artist after all with some very smart legal advisors. There was a time when Black people didn't look at entertainers as role models - especially ones that use words like bitch and ho. 

I suppose I should also clarify that I'm not a Jay-Z fan either, but I don't need to be to take an objective view of this situation. I just hope he doesn't do anything to publicly humiliate her over the course of their union, but I won't be surprised when he does. How many couples do you see in your everyday life where the female is far superior to the male in looks, style and mannerisms?

Rachel Roy and Damon Dash
Now that he's broke and they're practically living on the street (I kid....sorta) I'm wondering if she wishes she had left when the getting was good. He was with Aaliyah around the time of her passing while Rachel had already had one child with him. Sharing a man is not cool whether he's famous or not. He has also been sued by other women to establish paternity and pay child support before and after their marriage. She's a great designer by the way. She's another beautiful woman who's made poor decisions by pairing with a low quality (albeit famous) unattractive man who thinks he's all that. She could be any of us until we learn to do better.

Janet Jackson and Jermaine Dupri
Sometimes combining romance and business don't work! How can the sex be that good (as per her Oprah interview) when every album released bombs! Keep him far far away from your musical career Janet so you can put out a decent album again. Pretty please from your fans.  

Kim Porter and Sean Combs
I've got one thing to say. He's good at business but a loser when it comes to relationships and she's a fool. Kim has started her very own wronged woman cottage industry. I'm only mentioning her as a cautionary tale because she choses foolishness just to keep her name in the press. Essence magazine better not EVER put her on their cover again! She deserves no sympathy. Not after 13 years. Not while she's cashing checks. Not after the last round of paparazzi shots of Diddy with his non-singing piece on the side Cassie. Well, since he's not married I guess they're all pieces on the side.  I loathe to use the word gold-digger but I wonder if Kim Porter might find her name in the dictionary under its listing. This is someone who's either given up completely on a healthy sustainable relationship or decided a long time ago to find a man amenable to having a lot of out of wedlock children but willing to pay child support.

Halle Berry and Gabriel Aubry
Yes Halle says she's happy and she has a healthy child and a thriving career. She's partnered up and she claims to be content. Yes the interracial aspects may be of interest to some inasmuch as the public face of things offers this as one of her most satisfying relationships ever. Black women do need to know they have numerous options for finding a suitable partner - check out Evia's blog for her take. So rah rah Halle, but why be so down on the whole marriage idea? 

There's plenty of people that would love to have that option and don't. No matter what she says I'm not completely sold on the idea that not being married is okay with her. She clearly has issues with it due to her poor choices/timing of previous relationships. That's not marriage's fault though.  There's a lot of Black women who choose to be single. What gives?
Professor Tracey asked this question last week when the names of Obama administration appointees produced quite a few attractive, accomplished and intelligent Black women and none of them are currently married. Are we so hardened by the battle of the sexes that we've said enough? What do we need to do to heal and move on?

Nicole Ari Parker and Boris Kodjoe 
They perhaps have my ideal public relationship example of two strangers, lol. They've got creativity, foreign country living exposure and don't have a narrow view of "Blackness". Did anybody save copies of their short-lived sitcom? I loved it! They were both married to other people when they met but developed a friendship. They're both bi-racial and it's an interfaith marriage as well. Yes Boris is probably one of the best looking men ever but Nicole is no slouch either. He always speaks highly of his wife in public. They have solid careers and cute kids and there's no drama. What more can you ask for?

Where Do You Stand?
So that's just my take on things. I don't know these people from Adam but I certainly know of them. Rumors should be taken with a grain of salt of course. There are some situations you could not pay me to be part of! Everyone doesn't have the same standards. Some of us know better. Some of us are willing to settle for pennies on the dollar. Some of us think everything's a party! We need to know our true worth and have the werewithall to exercise every option, as well as create opportunities so we have a full life. What do you think? What are examples you'd like to offer?

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Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

It's been decades since men, en masse, consciously sought out a wife since their sexual freedom is at stake. I think the number one reason they ever married is for sex b/c the culture promoted virginity. As a result, men and women use to marry at a young age, and remarried quickly if that spouse died.

Times are different. As my dad used to say, why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free? One may not like that analogy, but it's a fairly accurate reflection of how many men think about relationships, and how both sexes in general prefer getting something free or easy and with the least effort.

At the same time, many women continue to seek out a potential husband. This difference in goals sets up the sexes for conflict from the start.

The longer a woman waits to get married, the lower her chances are of finding a husband.

The reverse is true up to a point for men; they're more likely to have more to offer as a husband. They also tend to marry women younger than themselves, which eliminates a lot of men for women in their age group.

My old sociology prof taught me something years ago too, that women who have been married once has a better chance in finding a 2nd husband than the woman who has never been married. Don't know if those stats still apply, but I wouldn't be surprised.

Faith, you spoke a lot of the poor judgment of women in selecting their husbands. While this is sometimes in-yo-face obvious to all but the bride (or groom), half of married Americans divorce. Sometimes this is a product of youth - you simply don't know how to choose a compatible partner - but nearly as many middle aged and senior citizens still have marry and have it blow up. The old saying that love is blind, is true. I'd add hope to that too. We fall in love, hope for the best, roll the dice, and pray that it works.

Divorce is higher for celebrities because the baggage that comes with their careers constantly interferes with intimacy. I'm listening to the gospel singers Bebe and Cece Winans song, Silver Bells now, and it's sad to me that even they couldn't make theirs work.

~ Kit

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Hey KIT,

Thanks for your input. I know that men will exercise their sexual freedom but they need women who are willing to join in, lol. So somebody has to be saying yes (and I'm not talking about the instances of sexual assault) and agreeing to do so. Even now women are touted as being 'free' to express themselves. I know I've struggled with trying to figure out what I want and who I really am aside from messages put out there by family and society. There's a generational gap as well. The 60's was supposed to be about free love - but love ins't for free. Black women have had negative portrayals of who we are and I can see where there'd be almost a puritanical backlash to counterbalance that. Instead there's been this weird embrace of some of the lowest behavior as if we could somehow take it all back by saying it's ok because we know what we're doing. I know people may not want to but people need to stop having sex until they figure out who they are and try not to have kids until they're solvent. As for celebs, they have unique pressures but I think in the end we are all still individuals who have to figure out their worth. A lot of creative talented people are very wounded as well.

Miriam said...

The Obamas

Can we use fictitious characters?

I always wondered about the Jeffersons! The seemed okay, despite Georges wayward ways.

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Hey Miriam,

You know I look forward to your feedback!

I specifically didn't mention the Obamas because so many people are idolizing or attacking them right now. Somehow because Barack doesn't act like a 'typical' Black man everybody's falling all over themselves. He's far from perfect and had to grow into his fatherhood/manhood but other people are just looking at them for where they're at NOW not realizing the choices and growth that went into it.

And even I am still trying to figure stuff out. So when I write these posts it's because I'm revisiting a lot of indoctrination that I see reinforced from the perspective of a person trying to recognize it and get away from it.

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

Yep, freedom ain't free, that's for sure. A nice boyfriend is great, but quite a few front like they're a boyfriend but they aren't. Then women feel betrayed. I'm not sure how old you are, but if you're under 30 it's a lot harder now than when I was coming along (the tail end of the free love generation, no HIV, and herpes was rare. There was also no texting, Facebook, and all the other impersonal ways to reject someone; I still find it outrageous people don't even bother to break up with one another face to face. The sexes have always played games and told lies, but the ante is constantly being upped. I see two extremes, young ladies who are very promiscous and ones who are celibate. Both are often so lonely. It's sad... but still not impossible to find a boyfriend and have a sexually loyal relationship. Ironically, in my practice I have as many men who are looking for a nice woman as I do women who want a nice man, so they are out there.

Unknown said...

it's not sexual freedom, its sexual privilege.

It's sad when we have only celebrities and athletes as examples of martial bliss or martial woes.

good article though.

what bothers me is that alot of athletes and stars are married but act as if they aren't

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Kit: I'm over 30. I do think things are worse now (for some) with regards to dating prospects. Certain human behaviors have always remained. What's acceptable in society has been so lowered that unless you meet people who've consciously chosen high standards and monitor them it's easy to get hurt by poor choices. But we're not perfect either.

Omi: Yeah there was a time when you could look to one's family but the "crack epidemic" was nothing short of government warfare on the Black community and people still don't get that. People are oversaturated by media exposure though. There was a time when People was pretty much all there was. Now there's like 50 billion other weekly rags, er mags!