Men and women are held to different expectations when it comes to love and relationships. In today's society, Black women are expected to stay and endure what I call struggle to love. Struggle love according to Sonya Eskridge is the idea that Black women are expected to put up with any and every flaw a man can throw at us and stand by him with unquestioned loyalty despite whatever foolishness he may bring into our lives. He’s unemployed? No problem. We’ll pay for all the dates and slide him a few dollars, too. Commitment issues? We’ll love him through it. He’s violent? We can handle it. He’s got a chauvinistic attitude? He’s a man, so we’ll submit to him. He’s got a Rolodex of women he DMs? We’ll just act like we don’t know. No flaw is too big for us to nurture a man through.
Sounds harsh but there are a plethora of examples of this type of relationship displayed in mainstream media. For example, shows like Love & Hip Hop, showcase various celebrity couples who have dysfunctional relationships. Then take Pastor John Gray who went on the talk show Sister Circle and bragged about putting his wife through eight years of pain, pain that he stated was more painful than conceiving a baby. The ease with which he said all of this left me wondering, how is that healthy and why did he expect his wife to be his mother 2.0?
Should a woman decide she no longer wants to be a rehabilitation center for her man, she receives backlash. In fact, she may even be accused of giving up too easily or having standards that are way too high. A great recent example of this is the Cardi B. and Offset break up. Cardi B. announced that she and Offset had officially split back at the beginning of December due to infidelity. Since then, Offset has pleaded with Cardi to take him back and each time she has declined, including his latest stunt where he bombarded Cardis set, just as she was about to start performing. Understandably so, Cardi was not having it and looked very displeased. However, various prominent male rappers have come on to social media, begging Cardi to take Offset back because “he was just being human and nobody's perfect,” blah, blah, blah.
Important to note that many of these rappers have cheated on their significant others as well. (Cough, cough, T.I.) If the roles had been reversed and Cardi was the one who cheated and was begging Offset to take her back, I guarantee that none of these rappers would be begging Offset to take Cardi back or would defend her actions. When men walk away from a relationship because their woman cheated they receive no backlash. Instead, it is understood and expected that he would do so.
Through these and many other examples, we are being inundated with the idea that Black women have to endure cheating in order to have a relationship at all. Additionally, these types of dysfunctional and toxic relationships perpetuate a narrative in which this is all normal. Now every relationship has its challenges and requires work. However, there are some things that should be unacceptable and that includes cheating in my opinion. We cannot simply excuse this behavior and chop it up to boys will be boys or men will be men.
Further, if this is the narrative that we as a society choose to abide by, how are men then being held accountable for their actions? I know that the onus also falls on us women as well, we have to be strong to walk away and never come back to that foolishness. I want to see and hear more narratives of women walking away from toxic relationships and men taking accountability or being held accountable for their actions. Add your two cents to the conversation, let us know what you think in the comments below.