On an early Thursday morning last week, a friend and I, both over-caffeinated and excited to be playing hooky from work, traipsed into the city to attend a live taping of The Wendy Williams Show.
The only real plan was to sit, laugh and look cute in the audience, but by the end of the episode I had spilled the tea to Wendy and the world that I exclusively date wealthy men. Then, things got interesting.
My question, posed during her Ask Wendy segment, went a little like this:
"Hi Wendy! How you doin? I'm going to level with you, I only date wealthy men. My friends judge me because they say I'm too picky. I do want to settle down some day but they have to have the 'ching ching'. Should I lower my standards?"
Her follow-up questions came in tandem. "How old are you and what do you have to offer?" Wendy responded.
"I'm 38 years old," I answered, "And when people ask me what I bring to the table, I say 'I am the table.'"
The audience cheered as Wendy shook her head and looked at me with a mix of judgment and disapproval. A tense conversation ensued both on and off camera, with Wendy ultimately telling me I needed to "grow up."
Little does she know, only a fully grown woman can make the declaration I did, and mean it.
To provide some context, which many, including a barrage of online trolls, completely missed, at this age, I'm old enough to have lived the struggle love fantasy more than once. Because of that, I have finally awakened to the understanding that pure self-preservation requires both higher standards and higher boundaries in my dating life.
It is a powerful realization when you step into the role of creator of your own life.
You realize just how much you are worth, and as a result, begin to take more care in deciding who does and who does not get access to your magic. This shift can happen at any age, but too many of us come to this realization late, only after we've been drained emotionally, financially, and/or spiritually by a member of the Ashy Association or the Dusty Delegation. That being said, it is never too late to wake up to your power as a woman and demand your worth.
Which is why Wendy's second question is so infuriating. As a connoisseur of the online dating arts, the "What do you bring to the table?" line of questioning is a popular male response to any slight indication on a woman's part that she is expecting more than a cup of coffee and a hard penis.
The response, "I AM the table," is my way to communicate concisely that yes, I have it all, beauty, brains, credentials etc, so you should actually be trying to impress me, not the other way around.
Of course, I could rattle off the fact I'm a Spelman grad, I have a law degree, am a successful entrepreneur, a marketing professional, Glambassador of Newark, author of 100 Things to Do in Newark Before You Die, yoga teacher, and a bad bitch. But does any of that define me or somehow entitle me to a high quality man?
Absolutely not. I could be a circus clown (no disrespect to circus clowns). Irrespective of my size, age, or color, I have the freedom to demand a certain standard and pursue relationships with men that have reached a certain level financially.
Because really, what are the requirements for dating a wealthy man?
If I looked like an Eastern European supermodel or was an A-list celebrity, would Wendy have posed the same question? Did anybody wonder what credentials Elin Nordegren had in order to date and marry Tiger Woods? What about Melania Trump? Or Salma Hayek? Of course not.
What makes me or you any less worthy to date and marry someone of a higher income bracket?
To go even deeper, the "table" question is offensive on its face, because it puts a woman, who by nature takes anything a man gives her and improves on it, in the position of having to defend her worth to a perfect stranger based on random qualifications like looks, credentials, or "freak number." Whenever that question is posed, I now know that you've sized me up and have determined that what little you know or see so far is not enough, so you need a list of additional qualities that I'm "offering" in order to take me seriously.
Newsflash: A woman does not have to "offer" a man anything other than her companionship.
Revolutionary concept to some, but these are the facts. The whole reason men are driven to get up everyday, go to work, have successful careers, and make a lot of money is so that they can afford to impress women and date/marry the dream girl of their choosing. So it goes without saying that the woman is the table. What that means is a woman simply IS worthy, and that has nothing to do with how many degrees she has.
Our value is intrinsic and intangible. It's in the peace you feel when we're around, the joy you get from making us happy, and the diamonds that spring from our womb should we choose to bless you with children.
All the rest is simply table decor.
If you have a hard time understanding this, you are either a woman who has been socialized to think that you need to go above and beyond in order to get or keep a man (it's the other way around, sis), or you're a man who's not a provider and is instead looking for a woman to "help" you (aka cook, clean, provide live-in sex, have your babies, raise your babies, do all the emotional labor of sustaining the relationship AND pay half the bills).
Good luck to you guys. As for me and my dating life, I have made a conscious choice not to settle, because I've learned once you settle, you end up getting even less than what you settled for.
Still convinced that love is the only thing we need? How about some stats?
Black women are the most educated group in America, but we are still not on track to get equal pay until the year 2124. That's how far we are behind. Then, black women leave college with more debt than women of any other race, and to make matters worse, college-educated black women are less likely than any other groups to practice assortative mating, that is, the decision to marry a man with a similar level of education.
Our nonblack peers are practicing it at higher rates than we are, which is contributing to both the wealth gap (white families have nearly 10 times the net worth of black families) and also the phenomenon of downward intergenerational mobility in black families (middle class black children are more likely than their white counterparts to become poor adults).
These stats are horrifying. And yet, black women are still seen as selfish, superficial or "gold diggers" if we decide to set a standard for our dating life that other women wouldn't blink an eye at. This is not about using anyone for a come up, it is about wealth-building for the next generation and the one after that.
It's time as black women that we level up not just in our careers, but our romantic relationships as well.
To do so, you don't have to focus solely on super rich men, but assortative mating requires that you date and marry out, rather than down.
And no, money isn't everything, but we just marked Equal Pay Day 2018, the day each year where the gender pay gap is highlighted and women are encouraged to demand what they are worth and negotiate salaries accordingly. Ladies, I am here to tell you that you should keep that same energy when it comes to your romantic partnerships. Marriage is a business, so you should go into with the knowledge that if things don't work out, you'll be better off or similarly situated as you were prior to marriage, not worse.
Love comes and goes, but community property is forever.
So men, please do us all a favor and stop asking women what they bring to the table. Instead, start contemplating how you can provide a home and a lifestyle that your ideal table fits comfortably in.
Click below to watch the question that started it all.
Do you think women should be asked what they bring to the table or do you stand behind the belief that we are the table? Share your thoughts in the comment section down below.
xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at email@example.com