I can’t sit through one more sermon, debate or call-in radio show.
I can’t read another statistic-littered blog post, magazine article or self-help book jacket.
I can’t—and never will—pay good money for a singles conference, get anointed with special herbs and spices, or visit my local soothsayer for answers.
I can’t listen to one more piece of here’s-how-to-snag-a-husband-and-get-your-lonely-tail-down-the-aisle advice, especially from a man.
I’m over it. On behalf of all of us.
There are far, far too many self-proclaimed relationship experts and marriage gurus building their brands and platforms on Black women’s desire to be part of loving, committed couples. Our hope is their business opportunity. Those elements, juxtaposed with this pandemic spirit of scarcity that insists there’s a man shortage, has created a bountiful environment for every half-cocked, wannabe man whisperer.
Ladies, the curtain has been pulled back. And the Wiz looks just like any other dude who has ever catapulted an opinion into the atmosphere. They, for the most part, don’t have solutions. They, for the most part, don’t have special insights. They are, for the most part, just regular guys, waxing poetic about the multitude of ways we need to perfect ourselves before a fella will wife us. (As demonstrated in this “Ask a Black Man” series on MadameNoire.) And we listen, even hang onto their input.
Hear them tell it, we need to keep our hair and makeup tight, keep our bodies even tighter and stay that way because for better or worse evidently has a weight restriction and an appearance clause. We need to be spiritually grounded but sexually adventurous. We need to be able to cook, be understanding about respecting his space but appreciate the value of quality time, be independent but just intuitive enough to know when to let a man be a man. We need, we need, we need.
No guy can single-handedly interpret the thoughts, actions and intentions of all male-kind, not even the most macho, testosterone-attuned mandroid. Everyone—yes, every man—is entitled to have a clear vision about what they’re looking for in a life mate. But while they’re developing this seemingly ever-growing checklist of qualifications that is supposed to make a woman wife material, who is preparing these brothers to be husbands?
Certainly publishers aren’t hunting down the next bestseller on grooming single men into spouses—that ain’t where the money’s at—and the homies aren’t selling out stadium-sized venues to be coached into marriage readiness. This, even though they’re coming into relationships with their fair share of baggage, issues, hangups, fallibilities and personality flaws, just like we are. And just because a dude is already married doesn’t authorize him to peddle homegrown wisdom into gold. A ring and a penis doth not automatically entitle anyone to dispense relationship advice to women desperate for some inside perspective on why they’re 25, 30, 35, 40 and still single. But with the wrong intention, it does make them an emotional predator.
Even fellow blogger Slim Jackson, himself a man who could just as easily thumbs up this uptick in haphazard man wisdom, has noticed the barrage of questionably qualified dudes. I don't think women should always be the ones jumping through hoops to get to some level of marry-ability, to make ourselves "worthy of the ring." I’d venture to say, with all of this focus, you’re probably closer to being ready to be a wife than the man you’re going to marry is to being a husband at this very moment. We’ve been conditioned to work on ourselves. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it doesn’t always stretch across gender lines.
If anything, this privilege that we’ve handed over—and our almost visible thirstiness to get engaged—has fueled an unfortunate sense of entitlement that consistently gives men the advantage. The ones we’re trying to date, the ones who are making money off of our attempts to date, the whole lot of them. I can’t wholly blame them for being opportunistic (and there are certainly enough women also making their killings by telling us how to make ourselves over). But I am calling for balance, for men to be held to the same standards and expected to make the same personal investments for the sake of jumping the broom. What’s good for the gander is just as good for the goose.