Shonda Rhimes has been doing the damn thing lately. After the success of How to Get Away with Murder and deals to write and produce more hit shows, Shonda was about due for another dish session with Oprah. You’ve probably heard by now that during the interview Oprah and Shonda discussed their disinterest in marriage (if you haven’t, check out the video below).
It’s no small thing that both women have rejected traditional partnerships. Never mind broader societal pressures, there’s a lot of pressure for women in our community to “get a man”. And, there’s a lot of shit Black women catch for orienting their lives towards their careers and goals, and not towards pursuing traditional relationships.
Think of how many times you’ve been to a family cookout and heard, “when you gon get a man”. And it’s not just a crotchety aunt or grandma asking; sometimes it’s a raggedy male cousin with two dollars in his pocket and two teeth in his mouth that’s doing the inquiring. When our value is often defined by our ability to secure a man – and if you’re lucky enough to get a “good” man, well you really done made it – even shiftless negroes who are living in their mama’s basements think you’re a failure if you’re not booed up.
For soooooo many black women – especially professional Black women with dreams of neat middle-class lives – marriage is a major goal. Hell, sometimes it is the goal. I’ve seen too many of us pursue men so doggedly, that we set our needs and desires to the side just to be able to say we have a man. It goes beyond compromising and into exposing ourselves to disappointment, heartbreak, and bullshit.
In fairness, Shonda and Oprah having oodles of money probably makes rejecting traditional relationships easier for them. They’re not relying on someone’s income to affect the quality of their lives. They don’t need a partner’s help for childcare. That said, it still takes courage for Black women – wealthy or not – to say, “actually, you know what, I’m not really interested in that whole marriage thing. Hell, I might don’t even want a man living in my house.”
I salute any black woman who has the audacity to reject traditional values when they conflict with what she wants in her life. That doesn’t happen easily and we should be praised for choosing what’s best for our lives.
For more on this topic check out: Maybe We’ll Pass? Black Women & Traditional Relationships