Sunday, July 18, 2021

High Value Nonsense

Please tell me, that in this year of our Lord 2021, we are not still dealing with the ashy opinions of folks who make their living advising others how to achieve relationship goals on social media. Especially if that person has no legitimate counseling expertise and s/he is dispensing advice from the front seat of their car or a poorly lit bedroom.

I don't know any of their names. I scroll on by as soon as I see somebody looking straight into their camera phone without blinking. Because that is the first clue--someone who is on camera solo, sitting in their driveway or parked outside in some parking lot (wearing a seat belt) to record some cell phone video. Do their partners ever make cameo appearances or do you just assume it is the person displayed in that picture frame on the bookshelf in the background? And why do many of the videos begin with this disclaimer: Look, I don't have much time to talk, but I just wanted to say...(and then go on to post for 10 minutes)!

Mind you, there are exceptions to this rule. The comedian Kev On Stage used to deliver daily commentary from his car, and look at him now! Guest starring on A Black Girl's Sketch Show and issuing disavowals in support of Black women being mistreated on his social media. And of course there is Tabitha Brown, who has been smiling, making avocado toast, and reminding us all that nice Southern ladies use their words, not shanks, to inflict bodily harm.

But generally, y'all need to be more discerning.

A few weeks ago, someone posted a video* in a Facebook group that featured some guy who was debating a woman about her dating prospects. Midway through the argument he threw out the term "high value man", and then I think I went deaf and possibly blinded by rage. He made a few other erroneous claims about women not taking on intellectual or physically demanding jobs, so naturally I was done listening, but then a few youngins' in the group chimed in to co-sign on that foolishness. And I could not just scroll by and let that ignorance go unchallenged. 

* not the actual video, but a spoof

I do not understand this stubborn strain of modern chauvinism that y'all have adopted, so what the entire huh? Who is raising you and are they proud of you? By the way, I am not exclusively addressing that question to men since there are plenty of women who agree with this booshay. At first I thought it was just that one thread, but come to find out there is an entire YouTube congregation of believers that follow this mindset. And they appear to be actively recruiting more sheep into the fold.

(Caveat: I read various takes on the "high value man", and need to emphasize that I am calling out the specific trash take that comes for Black women. Another thread I saw made a list of qualities that had less to do with earnings and more to do with personal character, so there are multiple perspectives.)  

After one sister addressed the ashyness of the high value misogynoir cult on Twitter, it reminded me that I have already written a PSA about these man-babies y'all need to avoid, but I guess the time has come for me to offer a broader warning. Because I don't care if the person is my Sister-Soror on a perpetual pro-patriarchy crusade or some dude dressed in a three-piece suit or some brother in a dashiki and a kente kufi or Wendy Williams still bitter from her divorce, you cannot take relationship advice from everybody. As one of my friends said, if the person who is offering the advice claims to be anything other than a therapist, an image consultant for example, that could mean that they work at the Men's Warehouse. They know how to package a brother to look like good, but so does an undertaker.

Therefore, if I ever start spouting off what you should or should not do in order to attract or keep a man, you know that I am either writing under duress or my Kid is playing with my phone. Sure, I am confident enough in my years of married wisdom to tell you that there are certain red flags you might need to avoid, and I have been known to give solicited one-on-one personal advice. But I know my lane and what is in my bank account. So short of me urging you to start a bail fund, that's all I got. Therefore, in the form of a disclaimer, what follows are my personal opinions.

The concept of people being of high value begs the question of whether there are people of low value. I assume that is the image consultant way of describing people with wealth, but also of more worth. As in, if they call themselves a person of high value, then they must think of their lives as being worth more, and as such, they are a superior human being. They don't do things for others unless it is worth something to them. They don't associate with people who cannot improve their standing. All of their human interactions are transactional. They have children who probably hate them, but they want Mom/Dad's money so they feign love and respect. Their partner is someone who doesn't complain because they don't wish to be replaced.  

Perhaps he fancies himself as some reincarnated Hugh Hefner. But more than likely, he is some under-employed slickster living a double life which is why he is shooting this video from the car. He is waiting for the midweek girlfriend to come home from work, or for one of his baby mamas to arrive with the kids for a weekend hand-off in the fast food parking lot. He knows all the tricks of the trade because this is his latest hustle. Or perhaps she aspires to be one of the vapid women who makes her living by keeping up appearances on reality television. It certainly looks like a glamorous life, living with a self-proclaimed high value man who never comes home. She is an expert on reinventing herself because she aspires to be a Proverbs 31/Book of Ruth/woman at the well who faithfully waited for her Boaz or Jabez or whomever his azz is, and all she has to do is put up with his bullshit and smile.

Look, life is imperfect. So are people. There is no formula. What worked for your grandparents who were married for 50/11 years did not work for your parents who got divorced. And that isn't because women are more independent or some of the other sexist nonsense you've heard. Everybody gets to choose the life they want nowadays, and that means different things to different people. Marriage is not for everyone, nor is the single-minded pursuit of wealth and success. We need to normalize the idea that happiness can come in a variety of forms, and that those old rules and expectations didn't just limit the rights of women; they also put constraints on men.

In the video I watched, the image consultant was telling a woman how she needed to stay in her rightful place, and then offered his opinion where that was. Then I checked the date to see when this had been recorded because the notion that women should walk several paces behind men seems more like the brand of retro masculinity that claims high value men can't fix their own plates at the barbecue. But they can take out the trash and kill spiders, so help me understand how being submissive wins me that kind of prize? Tell me how adhering to the same fixed gender roles that were written to maintain racism, sexism, and homophobia have benefitted our families and communities...

While you think about that, allow me to offer my independent womanist assessment: there will be times when the man will take the lead, and alternatively when the woman will take the lead. That has very little to do with biological predestination, but everything to do with knowing which person is better suited for the job at hand. There are men who are happy to live with a woman who makes more money, not because they are lazy or weak, but because her earnings afford them amenities like better healthcare and the ability to save money for the future. There are women who want to stay at home with their children because many jobs are not flexible enough to accommodate the needs of all families. I assume that in same-gender loving couples, these issues are already understood. Single unmarried people are out here living their best lives, and there are married couples who spent the last 16 months getting reacquainted. So can y'all stop coveting what you see going on in someone else's yard and learn to bloom where you have been planted?  

If you think high value individuals are more content with their lives, read the news. Rich white men who own everything under the sun on earth are now trying to conquer space. High value couples aren't happier than the rest of us, but if you disagree, you might want to chat with Melinda Gates or Mackenzie Scott (or their ex-husbands once the settlements are finalized). Their grass may have been greener, but somebody else was getting paid to tend it...or you were fooled by the astro-turf. 

Furthermore, life is too short to spend it staring at yourself in the mirror. This is just another justification for narcissism. Very few people who focus on making big names for themselves leave the world any better off for having been here. Sure, we can all cite the names of the big-time philanthropists who built museum collections and endowed university libraries, but they also killed plenty of "low value" people in the process. The last self-described high value man who got too much power and attention nearly destroyed this country, while his wife stood behind him and squinted alluringly into the camera. They are not relationship goals.

I know, you don't emulate them, but if the Obamas or the Carters are your ideal, then you need to look more closely at the nature of those relationships. I assure you that Michelle Obama stands next to her husband, as she did when she earned more money while he was organizing the community. Beyonce works as anyone who has ever attended one of her shows can attest, while Jay does the shopping (he calls it investing). If you thought I was referring to the former President and his wife, yeah, she just chooses not to speak up that much in public and you need to believe rule #1. So don't let some image consultant fool you into thinking that those partnerships are based on old school patriarchy--ain't nobody arguing over who got served first at Thanksgiving and why they ran out of forks.

And so that everyone is clear, the women that preach this same crap are just as harmful and wrong, and it is my Busy Black duty to call them out too. Don't believe anyone who is out here saying that your grandmother liked being mistreated and that she put up with it because of her faith in Kirk Cameron's Jesus. The Devil is a liar--the narrative of the ever-steadfast Black Big Mama who never complained or stood up for herself has perpetuated too much suffering and abuse, which is why so many of us are broken. Not because families were physically broken apart, but because there were so many spiritually broken people trying to maintain the veneer of family unity amid dysfunction. 

Some of y'all need to realize that Soul Food was a story told from the perspective of a child. Uncle Miles was a high value man who fucked his wife's broke ass cousin.

You can believe me or the image consultant, the front-seat relationship guru, the gossip girl, or some hertep who's out here trying to snag her own high value man...

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