Singer Ciara and her boyfriend, Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, announced their engagement earlier this week. The news was greeted with mostly positive responses from fans and media; the photogenic couple has been the spotlight for almost two years and things seemed to be moving in a very “domesticated” direction. Two people finding love and deciding to build a life together is a good thing.
In the wake of the news, lots of varying perspectives have surfaced. Those who champion “traditional values” are applauding the engagement as evidence that the high-profile couple’s highly-publicized decision to abstain before marriage can yield beautiful results; others are happy to see a famous woman who’d endured public betrayal and humiliation at the hands of her ex (sup, Future) has bounced back with what appears to be a much healthier relationship.
But not everyone offered support and congratulations. The announcement was also met with a strange sort of social media backlash. A lot of people—mostly guys—took the news as an affront of some kind. Some of those people seemed to be juvenile Future fans, and others were the kind of guys who probably relate more to Wilson–and felt they needed to “warn” him about this woman he’s set to marry.
Ever since her relationship, child and broken engagement with Future, there have been those that have chosen to vilify her for a number of “crimes:” being a “good” girl who dates rappers, being a woman who holds her baby’s father accountable for child support, daring to move on with her romantic life even after the relationship with her former fiancé failed. Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of these things—but those who wallow in misogyny can’t understand that a woman—even a mother—is a full human being who is not obligated to move to a cottage in the woods and live as a nun just because she’s raising a child.
Double standards regarding men and women aren’t a new story; but how unreasonable has it gotten if we’re acting like a woman with a kid is supposed to be scorned and shunned by all “good” men? There’s no way these rules can similarly apply to men. If a man has a child but doesn’t marry the mother, it’s fairly standard. More than anything, we criticize the woman (yet again) for being with a “no good” man. In Ciara’s case, Future cheated; so she left him. It appears we’ve put women in such a moral box that no matter what route they take, they face blame and ridicule.
And some of the harshest barbs have come from those who seem to empathize with Future. They’ve cast Ciara as the villainess in the Story of Nayvadius despite the fact that their engagement ended because of his infidelity. He was already father to three children by three women; why isn’t Ciara praised for not allowing Future’s past to define him? Why isn’t it cool that she forgave any reckless indiscretions he’d had to try and build something with the man? In the mind of these people, she sought to “trap” him and then abandoned him and took his kid. He abandoned her. Don’t hate her for not nailing herself to a cross afterwards.
The “I Never Got Over Getting Curved” Brigade responded to the Wilson/Ciara engagement with memes, tweets and posts about how evil women chase the flashy dudes, get screwed over and then go looking for a “nice guy.” They roasted Ciara for having “been around” with famous men (she’s been in the spotlight for over a decade and apparently dating four guys in 12 years makes you a “ho”) and “advised” Wilson that he could do better because she has another man’s child and is a sexy woman who dresses sexy sometimes.
One especially bitter Facebook post reads:
“I remember when I was in college/high school these so called ‘educated’ girls were refusing to date smart guys ‘squares’ because they were too nice or too much of a square. It wasn’t cool to date a square. So instead they would choose to be ran through by all the ball players, goons, rappers, thugs, dope dealers etc. Then after being ran through till around the age of 28-30, they would try to find a ‘nice corporate square’ and were usually successful. THis is how the game is ran. So to all of my young educated, successful brothers out there. Do not settle for hood leftovers.”
It’s almost unbelievable that someone could be this immature. But this post was only one of several, and it says a lot about attitudes regarding women, dating, sex and respectability. In bashing women for not liking him as a younger man, this guy doesn’t address whether or not he was being just as superficial as he accuses them of being. Was he only chasing girls of a certain status; trophies that would affirm his rep and validate his manhood on campus? Did he ignore a “good girl” because she was from “the hood” or otherwise failed to measure up to his ideal? It sounds like he was simply reducing everyone to a type; and he resents the fact that the women he told himself he deserved didn’t want him. That’s just plain ol’ entitlement. Nobody owes you anything–least of all, a date.
But, fundamentally, this position reeks of misogyny. Men are taught and encouraged to think that they should “sow their oats” and then settle down with a “good girl.” Women aren’t given that same latitude; so whereas a fairer person would recognize that men and women are going to date any number of people before they find “the one,” a misogynist is simply going to call the woman a slut. And remember all the times he didn’t get a call back from some girl he liked.
Every day I see posts on social media encouraging black women to “not give up” on black men. I hear people praise Cookie Johnson for staying with Magic in spite of his promiscuity and subsequent illness. I hear Coretta Scott King being lauded for never turning her back on MLK despite infidelity. And then I see memes “warning” Russell Wilson to avoid Ciara. Because she has another man’s child. Because she dated rappers. Because she doesn’t fit the kind of pure virginal, motherly stereotype that makes cornballs make Ayesha Curry the symbol of idealized womanhood. When we encourage a culture that teaches men to be wary of women’s flaws while teaching women to be forgiving of men’s, you have an inherent societal misogyny. Which is where we are. So before you offer advice to a homeboy, brother or son about women; make sure you aren’t being a total hypocrite. Because someone’s friend, sister or daughter will have to deal with the monster you helped create.
Or he could wind up posting something super lame on Facebook.