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The insecurity and over-inflated importance (as well as self-obsessed nature) of white women is a tale as old as time. It has been around long enough to have caused Troy to be blown into smithereens (thank you Bossip). It has been around long enough to have caused an immeasurable amount of Black people to be lynched. And it has also been around long enough to obsess over and publicly belittle every woman they perceive to be doing better than them.
9 times out of 10, that woman is a Black woman.
And 9.9 times out of 10, that woman is either Beyoncé or Serena Williams. And it just so happens that today, we are gathered here to discuss the 53 percent’s collective jealousy of Serena Williams.
The story is new but the chapters are old. Just like white women collectively threw major BFs and wrote countless and nonsensical thinkpieces last year when King Yoncé announced that she was pregnant with twins to the world, the 53 percent has decided to strike again. This time through their surprisingly laughable bitterness at Serena’s very happy and public relationship with her husband (and Reddit founder) Alexis Ohanian.
Yes, ladies, gentlemen, and everyone in between: some white women are upset that this uppity negress has the audacity, the unmitigated gall, to be loved in public…as written about in the Slate piece titled “The Very Public Love of Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian” by Heather Schwedel…who probably and accidentally published one of her angry journal entries online.
Personally, I am tickled for two reasons.
The first being that Schwedel thinks she can hand her misogynoir against Williams under the frame of looking at (and perhaps annoying) nature of online relationships and how they can devolve into self-serving performances. The kicker here is that even if this is true for Williams and Ohanian (doubt it), what would be the big deal? They are being hypothetically performative online. Big whoop.
This is the Internet, Heather. Everyone performs here. Everyone. You. Me. Your moms. No one is a immune. Everyone puts out the image of themselves and their relationships online that they want to project. And considering that Williams is married to Mr. Reddit—who is uber-duper fond of the Internet—I imagine this would be even more pronounced. So what makes Williams and Ohanian’s so special?
And this brings me to the second thing that just gave me a good ‘ol hardy chuckle, which is that Schwedel perhaps merely wanted to point out how performative celebrity relationships can be and how that contributes to our mass consumption of them.
The gag is, Schwedel doesn’t mention anything of the sort in said article. Nothing about annoying celebrity culture whatsoever. She leaves that task to a paltry tweet thrown up after the fact (after being dragged by multiple sides of Twitter) and saves her article for the sole purpose of obsessing over our happy couple.
But even if she had gone that route, as in speaking on very public and potentially over-performative couples, there would actually have been PLENTY of celebrity couples she could have tackled before Williams and Ohanian. Personally, my first pick would have been Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds. Or Kirsten Bell and Dax Shepard. Or Chris Pratt and Anna Faris. Pre-divorce. And maybe even Chrissy Teigen and John Legend.
But of course, that would be no fun for her just for the obvious reason that none of those couples I mentioned above has a visibly Black (and dark-skinned at that) woman in them. And that simple but important note brings up the fact that Schwedel is obsessed with “why” Ohanian and Williams have decided to love each other so publicly and openly. And “what” they have to prove.
I’m tempted to answer those, but I’m even more tempted to turn them back on Schwedel. Why is it your business? Why do you care? Is it because you yourself are miserable and have some things to hash out in therapy? Or is it that the thought of a Black woman being fawned over in such a virulently public way makes your eye twitch and your arse itch?
Maybe it’s because Schwedel and some white women in general suffer from what can only be referred to as the Inferiority Superiority Complex, which means that their assumed superiority and desirability is predicated on ensuring that Black women like Williams possess nothing of the sort. Or maybe it’s because there are some particularly stark optics in seeing a very wealthy cishet white man wine and dine a Black woman in, say Italy, and across the globe. I assume it sets off alarms across the collective #FFFFFF global network and leads to embarrassing thinkpieces like Schwedel’s.
It’s a mystery really and perhaps a mild tragedy. There’s a smart thinkpiece in there that could have taken the introspective route and openly pontificated about how Ohanian doting on Williams (and their daughter) serves as counter-programming to the racist vitriol and misogynoir that she has been subjected to her whole career. There’s a thoughtful piece in there on how Serena, a very famous and rich Black woman, still almost became another statistic when it came to Black mother’s dying during childbirth/infant mortality rates and how, maybe, just maybe Ohanian was glad that that didn’t happen. There’s a nuanced take in there on how these highly public displays of affection may be an excellent way to control the narrative around their relationship. There’s probably even a highly basic thinkpiece in there somewhere about how it is perfectly normal for someone to love their partner this much in the digital age.
On the other hand, all of those takes would be very smart. And said takes would require white women like Schwedel to remove their heads from their toxic, White feminist assholes and imagine Black women as breathing, functioning human beings that don’t exist to be their sister-friends, their help, or their personal do-girls in their haphazard fight for fEmInISms or to make them feel good about their mediocre existences.
But that would be madness.
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