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by Sil Lai Abrams
Anyone who’s read some of my past columns knows that I’m an outspoken critic of the ‘Real Bad Girls Basketball Wives of Atlanta who Love Hip Hop’ reality show genre. While I personally can’t stand the straight up coonery that is passing for “entertainment” on cable today, I’ve discovered that the real entertainment is in the comments section of online articles about these shows. By reading them, I’m discovering much more about our community’s perspectives on relationships than I’d ever learn about hair pulling, bottle breaking or conspicuous consumption. A surprising lesson learned via Chad Johnson & Evelyn Lozada’s short lived and ill-fated marriage is how so many of us are still buying into the ridiculous “Ride or Die Chick” meme.
In popular culture, the “Ride or Die Chick” is lifted up as the ideal personification of a supportive and loving mate. From some of the comments I’ve seen, Evelyn’s greatest sin wasn’t her materialism or constant striving for attention. It wasn’t being a volatile bully. It wasn’t even marrying a serial cheater with a propensity towards referring to himself in the third-person – a lot. No, her biggest character flaw was leaving a man who allegedly head butted her. It’s true that Evelyn isn’t the most likeable or sympathetic character on reality TV, but why does leaving Chad make her even more unlikeable? Why should any woman be expected to repeatedly sacrifice their dignity and health for the sake of her intimate relationship?
Let’s face it: a married woman has more intrinsic value in our society than a single one. From the time we are girls, women are conditioned to define our value first and foremost through our relationships. This all consuming need to be someone’s – hell anyone’s woman – is killing our sisters, both literally and figuratively. A few years ago I did an empowerment workshop at a women’s correctional facility in Manhattan. Curious to know what they considered the underlying cause of their incarceration, I asked the fourteen participants why they were in prison. Eleven raised their hand and said they were there as a direct result of choices they made while trying to maintain a relationship. It’s a tragedy beyond comprehension that a woman’s decision to put her relationship before her (and her children’s) well-being can end up costing her the very family and relationship they sought to protect.