Archuleta A. Chisolm
Women Have Earned the Right To Avoid Dusty Consequences
Sometimes, we want what we don’t need. And then there are times when what we need doesn’t need (or even want) us.
Every now and then, someone on social media will strike up the age-old question, “Why do women act like they don’t need men?” — sometimes angrily, but mostly, with a hint of pettiness. Note: We're not acting. But it's okay.
While I doubt anyone can pinpoint when people started questioning women’s need for men, we can find early echoes of this stretching back to the 60s, when women began entering the workforce in higher numbers, and re-surged again in the 70s, when women were finally allowed to have their own credit cards and take out loans in their own name, and then again in the 90s, when reproductive technology became more widely available, allowing women access to motherhood regardless of their relationship status.
From a woman’s perspective, these are all really good things and we’re living our best lives. For much of the last four thousand years, women have been men’s property. We weren’t allowed to own houses or land, have our own money, work outside the home, pursue a college degree or own a business.
The truth is, men have always had the privilege of existing as independent beings. Women are only just beginning that journey after fighting for it for so long.
Does the expansion of our freedoms — freedoms that would match men’s — mean women wouldn’t need men anymore? Well...
Over the course of the patriarchy’s history, women have needed men in order to survive. The patriarchal hierarchy purposefully disenfranchised women. Remember, we were men’s property. Prior to that, Black women were white men’s property. We’ve always been owned and governed by men. We didn’t need men because we were biologically inferior, as propaganda would have us believe. We aren’t empty, stupid, wayward beings stumbling along through life, barren of both strength and intellect.
We only needed men in this specific context because we were forced to. Men literally bargained and wheedled for us on the marriage market; potential husbands seeking to make a good deal on a wife who would run their home, raise the children, and meet their needs. Women were commodities and marriage an economic institution. Interestingly enough, it doesn’t seem that a lot of men really recognize the consequence of commodifying marital partnerships. It turns the men into commodities, too.
Go ahead and let that marinate…
I think it’s entirely fair that now that women have their own careers, they want a man who is willing to contribute more to the relationship than just mowing the lawn on Saturday mornings. So yes, women are seeking a more equitable arrangement in a partnership. Part of that is having standards, setting boundaries, and not settling. For Black women, we’re told that we ask for too much, do too much, want too much, and that somehow, we don’t deserve the right to. And when we don't conform into what others want, we become ugly, unlovable, stupid women that smell bad. Yes, this is really a thing men say.
But it’s men that ask the question most often. “If we are no longer the primary breadwinner, then what is our purpose?” they ask. “What do we bring to the table at this point?”
Women are fighting their way into a world in which we will have access to the same privilege men have enjoyed for so long: an independent existence. I can’t speak for every woman, but I think the majority of us do not want to be men’s property. We don’t want to be another human being’s appendage. We are whole within ourselves.
Do you want to be wanted or to be needed?
If a woman has her own career, can buy her own home, buy and drive her own car, and she chooses to build a partnership with a man she loves and wants in her life…isn’t that a good thing? Isn’t that an indication that she must really love that man?
And what did he “bring to the table” if she didn’t need his money, his home, his name, or his family? He brought himself. A person. That she loved simply because he deserves to be loved.