If you’re still holding onto the idea that if a Black woman is unmarried or childless something must be wrong with her, perhaps the question is actually what is wrong with YOU? Or rather, what is wrong with US?
Media Take Out’s attack on Ashanti for being almost 40 with no man and no kids shows just how far the feminist movement still has to go. Women can be successful but society still strips us of having value if we are not connected to a man or bringing children into the world.
Marriage rates are falling in the Black community and 48% of Black women have never been married (compared to 30% of all women) but the incorrect assumption is that those Black women who are unmarried didn’t “get chose”. An examination of other societal factors makes a case that Black women are choosing to opt-out of marriage themselves.
Black Women Are Advancing
As African-Americans we are told that we have to work twice as hard to get half as far. As women we are told the same thing. So basically Black women are out here working 4x as hard for their slice of the pie. When you work that hard for something, you’re not about to give it away to just anyone.
As Black women earn advanced degrees, they begin to seek out men who are at their same educational level. Unfortunately, with Black men lagging behind Black women in college achievement, the dating pool for Black women who desire Black men with similar education is shrinking.
Women are Choosing Not to Marry
Overall marriage rates have been on the decline. Does this mean that women are having fewer relationships? Not necessarily. But statistics show that women are waiting longer to get married or choosing to be partnered but not legally married.
To understand why, you have to examine the origin of marriage. Even as recently as a few decades ago, marriage was one of the few ways for a woman to become financially secure. As women have begun to make strides in the workplace (not as many as we should though – Black women are getting 63 cents for every dollar that men earn) and become financially independent, marriage becomes not a necessity, but a choice.
Timing is Everything
Ashanti spent 10 years of her life with Nelly during her primary years of fertility. As women are focusing on our careers and building financial security, we are delaying having kids and once we realize that our biological window is closing, it’s often too late to change course.
If you, or someone you know has been through the frustrating and at times devastating process of trying to conceive over 35, you know that being childless at Ashanti’s age is not always a choice. Before you attack someone for not being a mother, you have to be sensitive to the fact that she could desire children but she might be secretly fighting a biological battle.
We are Choosing
If a man takes his time to settle down, carefully select a mate, focus on his career, travel the world, he is applauded. However, if a woman does the same or chooses not to have a family at all, she is labeled as selfish or flawed. This double standard cannot continue. Ashanti has a life that many people would dream of.
Instead of tearing down the Black women who are blazing a trail for the rest of us to have the choice of whether or not to marry and have children, how about we thank her for showing us that the path of our mothers and grandmothers doesn’t have to be the one that we follow? We can choose our marriage or dating destiny and considering our history in America as Black women, that is a very powerful thing.
Damona Hoffman is a certified dating coach and TV personality (from #BlackLove and A Question of Love on FYI TV.) She gives weekly dating and relationship advice on The Dates & Mates radio show and podcast.
(Photo by Johnny Louis/Getty Images, Photo Courtesy Of Damona Hoffman)
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