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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Are My Standards Too High In Dating? Short Answer? No. - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
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- What Does Exclusively Dating Mean? - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- 12 'Short' Men Told Me Why You're Totally Missing Out - xoNecole: Lifestyle, Culture, Love, Wellness ›
Lauren Craig @inawordfab is a former attorney who escaped the corporate grind to pursue her own personal brand of happiness. She is now a full-time writer, TV/radio personality, marketing professional, serial entrepreneur, yogi, Glambassador, and THE TABLE. Join the movement by visiting iamthetable.com.
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Victoria Monét has had an incredible year. Thanks to the success of the widely popular “On My Mama” that went viral, the singer/ songwriter’s Jaguar II album debuted in the top 10 of Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart. She also went on to headline her own sold-out tour. So, when the MTV VMAs happened in September, everyone was surprised to learn that Victoria’s team was told that it was “too early” for the “Smoke” artist to perform at the award show. However, a couple of months later, the mom of one received seven Grammy nominations, including “Best R&B Album” and “Record Of The Year.”
Victoria is currently in London and stopped by The Dotty Show on Apple Music and shared how she feels “validated” after being dismissed by the VMAs.
“It really does feel nice and validating because, in my head, the reason why I wanted to be a performer at the VMAs or award ceremonies like that is because I felt like I am at the place where I should. I would work really hard to put on the best show that I could, and I was excited to do so,” she said.
“And I guess the best way to describe it for me is like when you're like on a sports team, and the coach is like, ‘No, you gotta sit this one out.’ When they finally put you in, and then you score all these points, and it feels like that feeling. You're like, yes, I knew it wasn't tripping, but I knew I worked hard for this, and so it's been super validating to just have these accolades come after a moment like that, and I know the fans feel vindicated for me.
While her fans called the VMAs out on their decision, the “Moment” singer kept it cute and is still open to performing at the iconic award show. “I feel no ill towards them because it's just maybe that's just truly how they felt at the time, but I hope their mind has changed,” she admitted.
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Feature image by Amy Sussman/WireImage for Parkwood