Ciara set Black Twitter on fire over the weekend after posting a video of Pastor John Gray advising women to stop walking in the “spirit of a girlfriend.”
— Ciara (@ciara) January 20, 2018
In the clip, Gray cites Proverbs 18:22 to instill his message. “He who finds a wife finds a good thing,” he recites, then goes on to say, “A wife is the presence of your character. Too many women wanna be married but you’re walking in the spirit of ‘girlfriend.’ Walk like you’re already taken.”
In this economy? No thanks.
All Gray did in that clip was plant the “Pick Me” seed—the belief that women who behave in a certain way are worthy of marriage over others (e.g., being a homebody, being ride or die, prioritizing a man’s needs over their own, etc.)—into insecure women, and that is extremely dangerous.
For women still on the search for themselves, this type of rhetoric morphs into their internal law, leaving them either desperately seeking love or feeling worthless in its absence. And what’s worse, the Black Church has been weaponizing scriptures like these to target those insecurities, manipulate women and make women more subordinate for years.
Trust, this line of thinking runs deeper than Ciara. Plenty of women who have put great weight and value onto their relationship status become experts spewing advice from their seemingly blissful, marital soapboxes to make single women feel inferior for not having a partner.
(Remember: Yandy Smith spent almost an entire season of Love & Hip Hop New York using her ring to one-up her man’s exes.)
A visual representation of what Ciara meant by “level up” pic.twitter.com/aiufyA5bxF
— tha Lit one. (@ThatssoKhalil) January 21, 2018
It’s one thing to learn from your mistakes and advise others, which I believe was Ciara’s intent. But the belief that there’s some “spirit of girlfriend” is silly, and coming from a woman we all championed once she found her Prince Charming after dealing with her baby daddy treating her like a footstool (while Black men slammed her, might I add)?
What these women fail to see is how rooted this mindset is in misogyny and baseless nonsense.
For instance: What is the character of a wife versus that of a girlfriend? Most people can’t answer without delving into the ridiculous Madonna-whore trope, which divides women into two exclusive categories: women who are pristine, virginal and worthy of being a man’s wife, and women (typically sexually liberated) who are solely a symbol of lustful desires.
This society-approved complex is where “you can never turn a ho into a housewife” and the almighty advice to “never wife a stripper” stem from. It’s why young women feel that being ride or die and not going out partying will deem them more wife-like than the next woman.
Spoiler: There is no designated set of traits that define a girlfriend or a wife. Every woman is little Cardi “A ho never gets cold” B and Beyoncé “Cater 2 U” Knowles-Carter; a little “Po’ It Up” Rihanna and a little Olivia Pope.
And no woman is more deserving of love than the next.
I, too, have once felt less-than because of the assumption that I had to become a certain kind of woman to be seen and selected by a man. But while I had to navigate these expectations to a place where I could love myself without the opinions of social media, music and Christian teachings, the same onus—to walk in the spirit of a husband; to anticipate and prep to be chosen for marriage— is not placed on men.
Instead, many men assume women will fix them before or after they get down the aisle.
Interestingly, Ciara has since cleared up her intentions for posting that tired message, which points to the read word: loving oneself. It reads, “…married or not married… I needed to love myself.”
Women should seek to be the best version of themselves, which is not dictated by what they wear, what they say or how well they prepare a meal.
We’re not all “Pick Me” princesses anxiously manipulating ourselves to be chosen by men. Some women don’t even want to be married (imagine that!) and are too busy finding happiness within, and securing the bag, to be bothered with how men feel women should carry themselves.
Quite frankly, all women are free to move how they wish romantically. But what works for you might not be what works for others. If you want to be led by the “Pick Me” spirit and Pastor Gray, by all means, do you boo-boo.
But what no woman should ever do is project how they live and love onto others. That spirit is for the birds.