Literally, I have several unfinished drafts and too many open tabs and a gaping hole in my bedroom ceiling where the fan used to be...so the last topic I need to worry about is submissiveness in other people's relationships.
Before we get too far into this, allow me to say that I am not commenting on any specific celebrity couple, but you can select the duo that resonates with you and feel free to agree or disagree as necessary. As an opening statement, I believe that we are all entitled to dance to the beat of our own drummer in relationships, including the celebrities who put their business out in the world for all to see. Everything ain't for everybody, as the old folks say, so it's okay if you aren't down with whatever the kids are doing these days.
Having said that, of course, the entire point of social media is to share, and as significant aspects of celebrity livelihood depends on what we know about their lives, once they post in on da' Gram, then they expect you to have an opinion. In the past few years, Auntie has opined on a variety of issues: driveway therapists, hair bonnets in public, Lizzo, and the "requirements" that some men have for dating, and I welcome you to peruse my archives to get my take on those topics. My issue isn't about your inalienable right to an opinion, but with how you say what you feel compelled and/or obligated to say. Just recently, I issued a preliminary warning about how some of y'all think being racist, sexist, homophobic, etc., is merely an exercise of your free speech until those consequences come back to bite you.
For the most part, I don't believe too many of my readers are rolling with the Polo Tiki Torch Club racists, so let's address the sexism and misogynoir disguised as tradition and respectability. Because some of you really need to be called out for the way you talk about and expect to be treated by grown women in relationships.
A few months ago, this picture of Rihanna and A$AP Rocky with their son had Blue Ivy's internet in a tizzy. Some of y'all were hot that this young father was demonstrating affection while standing in the background behind his partner. I read a number of complaints of how emasculating this image was, when to me, it was a beautiful family photo, especially after we all learned that there was another baby on the way. If anything, the only controversial thing is the child's name (because RZA ain't even his government name)...but again, if that's what the kids are doing these days Imma scroll on and mind my business.
VOGUE is the fashion Bible, and RiRi, one of its Apostles has graced their cover countless times (this was the British edition). She has a fashion line, a cosmetics company, and as an It-girl of this decade, rightfully is in the forefront of this picture as the article that was written is about HER. The fact that her Bajan boys were even included in the photo, when most women featured in the magazine are highlighted for their solo accomplishments, should have shut down all of the ashy attempts at deconstructing the dynamics of their relationship.
Of course, it should be assumed that if one is unashamed to go forth amongst the people unlotioned, then that same level of audacity fuels most of their questionable opinions and decisions. A bunch of these same dudes idolized that brother from Jos A. Bank who moonlighted as a relationship expert until he died under the most ironic circumstances. They still quote his relationship advice while complaining about splitting checks on a first date at the Olive Garden, and we're supposed to take their opinions on Rihanna and how she minds her business seriously?
(I need to point out that I while my examples come from a specific cultural vantage point, there are parallels. I see those burly mid-westerners carrying their wives' purses at various tourist attractions and I chuckle to think what manner of lies they tell about being in charge.)
Listen to those Alpha male traditionalists on social media if you want, but behind the closed blinds, most of them don't run shit but errands. That's not intended as an insult lest you think being a reliable, stable, and dependable presence in one's family isn't the point of being "the man" in the household. The way I see it, you're still a man regardless of how the labor and expenses are divided, unless you're hung up on semantics and outward appearances. Nobody has to know anything as long as you keep your business out of the tweets.
If you're more engaged in showcasing relationship "goals" instead of being in the relationship, for better or worse, then you'll never understand how your parents and grandparents stayed together for 50+ years. For starters, they weren't starring in a never-ending reality show with cameras documenting every aspect of their lives. And trust me, it wasn't because those were so-called traditional relationships with a dominant male figurehead and a submissive female servant. What you saw was a private partnership, not a public power struggle. You saw two people who had enough respect for each other to disagree and still put forth a united front to the world as necessary. You saw two people who celebrated each other, made mistakes and took accountability, and who worked hard to stay together in spite of everything.
Everything. Double shifts. Flirty co-workers. Unpaid bills. Children. In-laws. Somebody finding Jesus. Someone losing their religion. Chronic illness. Stagnation. Midlife crises. Menopause. Grief. Success. I could keep going, but you get the point. And in the event that your grandparents or parents didn't arrive at that golden milestone, it makes a lot more sense to learn from their mistakes than to follow the advice from a bunch of online hecklers and haters who revel in other people's misery.
Which brings us to the point where I admit that I lied..
Of course, I saw the video of Keke Palmer dancing with Usher in a bathing suit and cover-up. And I saw the tweet her man should NOT have sent while he was home alone, horny and drunk with a restless baby. And I saw where sides were chosen, and hard lines were drawn before she even got home. AND THEN I saw where the entire incident became a CNN news-worthy headline instead of staying on the gossip blogs like the rumors about Tyler Perry buying BET.
And, well since it is already out there in the Twitterverse, left on Blue Ivy's internet for us to express our opinions (because all he had to do was send her a text message), now Auntie feels compelled to offer some advice from her Busy Black Book of Wisdom:
Can I start off by saying that I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that you are grown-grown, as in little Akeelah is almost 30 (and my old azz just wasn't ready to accept that yet)? So after I got over that shock to my system, I just feel the need to restate that fact for the people in the cheap seats, including that man you have (had?) living in your house--you a grown ass woman!
Thus, there really isn't much more that I should have to say, unless I am expressing my opinion on your outfit, which I am not. Because you already know that you are a mother, having carried and birthed that baby with your own body, so that ain't no newsflash. However, since the talk in these tweets has been over the audacity of that man who lives (lived?) in your house to make public a disagreement that has obviously been a bone of contention between you, let Auntie offer a little advice: Move on.
Move on and try to figure out how you plan to co-parent your son with an insecure man-baby who thought he was making some giant leap for manhood in trying to have the last word in an argument by telling a grown ass woman how she ought to conduct herself in public. Then, instead of realizing the folly in airing his private relationship business in the tweets, he doubled down and then made matters worse with this very mature response (after aligning himself with two poster boys of male fragility Con Baybay and the Muskrat). Allegedly, he's deleted pictures of YOU from his IG page, so even if that original post was not typical behavior, he has now shown you who he really is 🚩
Now, I happen to enjoy petty, and if you had waited a week or so to get with Beyonce on a remake of Irreplaceable before releasing your new line of merch, then I might have been inclined to buy a tee shirt. Because she's a Mom too, and you don't see Jay Z issuing public rebukes of her attire or behavior (nor will he ever after Lemonade). I'm not comparing your situation to theirs, but I am pointing out that however Jay might feel about what his wife wears on stage or for promotional photos is irrelevant because no one bothers to ask him. Even if some ashy dude pumped full of audacity thought to inquire how Jay feels about his half-naked wife straddling a glass horse, I'm pretty sure Jay wouldn't take the bait.
Because not only is Beyonce a mother and a grown ass woman with that body after three children, she is also an entertainer. It is her J-O-B. It is Usher's JOB to give a show during his Las Vegas residency that includes serenading women in the audience. And I'm clear that it is also your JOB as a celebrity attendee at the Usher show to give a performance that entices other women to want a chance at the same experience. With everyone else being clear about their roles and responsibilities, why come your man (ex?) had to throw his ego in the mix as if any of this was about him?
I mean, what's up with the insecurity when just hours before all of this went down, you and dude had been rolling in the deep (because you posted this), so what happened? As if he hadn't posted pictures of you wearing something equally risqué in the past? If you were at the beach or the hotel pool bar, instead of front row at the Usher show...
And now it all makes sense. This was never about what Keke was wearing, but the fact that she was seen enjoying herself with another man in public. Old boy was upset that image was going to make him look some kind of way, so he lashed out. And then suggested that he was only doing what any self-respecting man in his position would do to protect his ego. As I've said many times, when someone cannot control you, they will attempt to control how others see you.
You a Mom. Those three words might as well have parted the Red Sea. Because for every person who saw and understood Keke's joie de vivre at getting out for a few hours of much needed girl fun in Vegas (where what happens there is supposed to stay there), there were the furious slings and arrows of judgment coming from every angle. Deeper than trying to shame her was the implication that motherhood had stripped her of any agency, any power, any freedom she previously enjoyed.
You a Mom, living with a man who exerted his prerogative to decide when to flaunt her assets on these same social media platforms. It was all good when he was posting the pics, but problematic when someone else did? You a Mom, because her body was for him to expose and exploit, not for her to be wiggling and giggling in a club with Usher. Three loaded words that revealed so much.
Such is the subtlety of misogyny, communicating several diminishing messages, delivered in a seemingly innocuous manner. We joke that this should have been kept private in a text, but the result would have been the same (just ask Sarah Brady about Jonah Hill). Offline, who knows what else he's said about her body, her clothes, or how she conducts herself in public? If you've read some of the responses posted in support of him, you would think she was lucky that he had attached himself to her. That as long as he was in her life, at least she could dream of a happily ever after (because the only thing worse than being a spinster is being a single mother). Now look at her, branded with a scarlet letter...You a Mom, but not a wife.
I'm not reaching because I've read the first chapter in the Gospel of Submissiveness. Some of y'all resurrected Kevin Samuels; some of y'all are finishing up dissertations and Sunday sermons; and this dude gave a 30-minute TED Talk (of which I only got through a little over 5 minutes because I don't have that kind of time). So let me save you from learning this lesson the hard way--submission is another way of allowing someone to control you. You have a choice if that's the kind of relationship you want; it is not a requirement. Anyone who expects submissiveness and regards it as a prerequisite to commitment or building a life with you doesn't regard you as an equal but as a subordinate. As my Mom made it clear to me and anyone else who had issues with her outspoken independence, she was nobody's doormat. And just so you know, my parents have been married for 50 years.
PS: I'm not buying a tee shirt because I'm waiting to see what happens next. One of the other truisms about these social media relationships is how a lot of stuff is staged, so Imma wait to see that duet with Beyonce.