Let me just say this before anyone comes for me, yes, I know Jay’s net worth is far higher than Bey’s, and yes, I’m aware that he is one of the few Black men in the billionaire boys’ club- but this power couple of our time sure do exemplify what it’s like to be in love without competition… Hi, this is my official trigger warning for moderate-to-severely insecure men… please stop here if you aren’t ready to let your guard down and listen to an alternative but intriguing perspective of this topic. Thanks!
We are no strangers to the fact that men are prideful creatures, with egos built up by a society that has persistently placed them at the highest level in the social chain for centuries. I say this with the least amount of judgement possible, because I understand that men have been socially conditioned into their pride and alpha-maleness for years. But what happens when this pride begins to get in the way of a potentially fruitful relationship?
As our society has progressed, so too have traditional gender norms and roles metamorphosed. Women have begun occupying more and more seats in powerful positions that were historically designed for men, and outdated constitutional laws such as those in South Africa have been modified to include more rights and protections for women (Zimbabwe, see your sister and be like her!). While this shift has happened gradually over time, we seem to be lacking a similar shift in ideology and attitude towards the topic of women earning more than men.
A friend of mine rightfully pointed out, in response to the first blog in this series, that men don’t necessarily tend to marry upwards financially as much as they do socially (i.e. marrying a lighter skinned/White woman in attempt to gain more social capital), particularly because doing so would imply a shift in the power dynamics of the relationship that would be non-beneficial to them. I toyed with the idea that the general trend we often see is actually of some men leaning more towards being with a partner who earns less than them and therefore, who can be more easily controlled.
My memory jogged back to a man I once met back home who told me that he would not allow his woman to work if they got married, that he would have to be the sole breadwinner just as he had seen his father do. “I don’t want her wearing tight skirts around the office and enticing other men… she can stay home with the kids and open up a clothing store or something to entertain herself”. Excuse me while I barf.
What’s even more mind blowing is the fact that he is someone in my age group. As much as we’d love to believe that society is progressing, there are still individuals who hold these kinds of oppressive mindsets that keep qualified women in a disadvantaged position for their own sakes. Now I’d like to think, from the various conversations I had on this topic on Instagram a week ago, that there is still hope for healthy and fresh relationships amidst all the noise.
Several men outrightly stated that it is only their pride and big egos that could make them incapable of acknowledging the way society has evolved to include more women at the boardroom – and other – tables, and that the sooner they faced this and adjusted, the better it would be for their partners and themselves. But what does this adjustment look like within a typical relationship? Is it still possible to achieve a balance of respect and love regardless of how much each person is bringing to the table?
These questions ultimately bring us to the topic of submission in relationships. Historically, men were considered to be providers, and their status in society was largely measured by their income and how much they could provide for their families (we still see this in the Motherland). This obviously earned them the title “head of the house”, alongside Biblical scriptures which state that women are to submit to their husbands. But in the world we live in today, we are starting to see the scales being balanced as men are no longer the sole providers and women are no longer obliged to stay home to look after family affairs either. In fact, I’ve seen many households where the woman is the “head” by virtue of her determination to lead and maintain a solid household regardless of the actions of her husband.
Relationships aren’t a ‘one recipe for all’, and these issues will definitely resonate differently within everyone. But I do think that the weight of tradition in our daily lives is something which needs to constantly be checked and reviewed to make sure it is still relevant today. My boyfriend always makes the joke that people who work office jobs today still want to justify eating the same heavy meal portions which people who did hard fieldwork and hunting on a daily basis years ago, did.
The truth is, it’s unsustainable to continue using the rhetoric of the past in present relationships, and for me, being male doesn’t automatically qualify someone to be the head of the house. In fact, if we followed this line of thought wouldn’t the woman who earns more than her man be considered the “head”? But nobody wants to have that conversation haha.
In my opinion, actions speak ten times louder than tradition does, and for a person to be considered the head of anything, or for their will and desires to be submitted to, they need to prove that they are worth following and give me something to submit to. No one enjoys blindly laying themselves down for another person who has not shown that they have a sense of purpose and direction. No one wants to submit to someone under force and duress. This is why so many couples butt heads on this issue and men feel as though a woman having money of her own makes her “wild” and “out of control”.
It isn’t the money that’s the issue, it’s the forced power dynamics and men’s self-entitlement to take respect without reciprocating it. Whether or not you agree with me on this, trust me, it is still actually possible for a woman to respect her partner, even when she earns more in the relationship, but this all depends on your level of tact.
Respect is something that’s earned and not taken. A confident, secure man who understands that himself and his woman are not in competition against each other for who can bring home the most and who can be the head of the house, will not fail to understand what I’m saying here. Yes, respect might be at the top of most mens’ list of needs in a relationship, but it sure is difficult to respect somebody who doesn’t also respect you in turn. I think as society progresses, we either choose to progress with it or remain behind, stuck in our ways. Regardless of your choice, society will continue to move forward with or without you… and this makes it all the more important for you to choose someone who naturally aligns with your needs and beliefs.
The choice is yours… which option do you pick? As usual, thanks for reading loves; any comments and feedback are always welcome! Don’t forget to follow my IG (@african_sunflower) for all of my storytimes, makeup, and hair tutorials, and you can also catch up with part two of this series on Love & Money here.