Ciara, Misogynoir, and Gender Conversations

By Jahmila Smith

Over the weekend, Ciara reposted a video of Pastor John Gray’s sermon to single women on how to be “worthy” of marriage. Pastor Gray’s message stated "He that finds a wife, finds a good thing"-Proverbs 18:22. It didn’t’t say, ‘he that finds a girl that he’s attracted to, who he then begins to date, who he then calls his girlfriend, who he then buys a ring, proposes to and makes her his fiancé, who he then marries later who becomes his wife.” He continued with "you’re not a wife when I marry you, you’re a wife when I find you.” 

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Ciara captioned the video with “#Level Up, Don’t Settle”. Well, apparently Ciara’s simple message didn’t’t sit well with many woman, and her comment section was a reflection of it. There were women in Ciara’s comments who felt personally attacked, as many viewed her message as judgment from a position of someone who is married. The general consensus for those that disagreed with the message, insinuated Ciara was speaking from a place of superiority, because she is a married woman. She is now viewed as more worthy than her single sisters, when Ciara didn’t’t say much of anything.

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What was interesting was that a lot of women were angry mostly because Ciara; a black woman, reposted the message instead of being angry with Pastor Gray, the man, who was preaching. The anger from women is telling, and what really fascinated me most was the nature in responses from Ciara posting it, not the message itself. It had me questioning if women were feeling threatened or attacked because of who posted it, and whether the responses would’ve been received differently had a man posted it. I’m positive that had Pastor Gray shared the video on his Instagram, a majority of women would be receptive and agree with his message.

All of the backlash got me thinking about Misogynoir and the many ways in which women inflict it towards one another. Misogynoir is misogyny directed towards black women where race and gender both play roles in bias. It was coined, by queer black feminist Moya Bailey, who created the term to address misogyny directed toward black women in American visual and popular culture. I often believe that when society witness a black women succeed, especially in love, and shares any sort of “advice” most likely she is going to receive backlash. In their eyes, black women are unlovable, and don’t deserve to be in healthy, functional, relationships and marriages. 

Despite the message itself, the larger issue is the lack of conversation we have on how the preparation for marriage is unequally gendered. While many of the arguments were valid, the only criticism that I agree with, is the unequal expectations placed on men and women, and how to be a husband or wife. We often hear men and women, speak on goals women need to do to obtain, keep, and get a man to marry you. There are expectations with preparing on how to be a wife, and tasks she will have to do once she is a wife in terms of support, sex, and other wifely “duties”. 

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However, rarely do you hear men discussing the requirements they must meet to be someone’s husband, or how they should be once they become one. Women are encouraged to transform into someone else, which will then make them worthy of someone marrying them. While on the other hand, men are allowed to show up as who they’ve always been from relationships to marriages. Whether consciously or subconsciously, women are taught that they should take what they can get, when it comes to men. At times we often see backfire years later, because once a woman starts to voice her dissatisfaction, a man will easily use the "you knew who I was when you married me" rhetoric. The takeaway in all of this, is, we need to stop preaching on how to become anything; for anyone. Whether you desire to be married or not, start speaking more on the ways both women and men can enhance their self-love, and the ways in which they can be their best self, for themselves.

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