Nomalanga: When did Black men decide against ‘protect, provide & lease’ for their women?
By Nomalanga Mhlauli-Moses
More and more studies are showing that men are deciding that marriage is not something that they want. According to one recent study, some of the reasons that younger men (more and more of them), between the ages of 18 to 34 don’t want to get married are, “women aren’t women anymore.” [Men] are tired of being told that they are wrong, or there is something wrong with them if the women in their lives aren’t happy.”
Apparently another major reason that more and more men are opting out when it comes to “forever,” is that they feel that divorce is inevitable and they do not want to lose their money and other assets when the marriage ends.
We also cannot ignore that when it comes to Black communities in America, they are affected by an absence of men in many homes due to large numbers of men being incarcerated disproportionately as compared to other races. We also cannot ignore the fact that many people in the Black community have grown up in single parent homes and as more and more people have had this experience, it is becoming normalized. In other words, if we see more single parent homes than two parent homes, we start to see the single parent home as normal and the two parent home as the exception.
Even taking these two issues into consideration, I still struggle to understand how we have arrived to a point in time when we start to see young men dismiss marriage. We are built to procreate and within us, is the instinct to survive. Our survival depends on women having the instinct to love and nurture their babies before they are even born as well as other loved ones and men having the instinct to protect their women and children.
We are seeing a shift in the way we function, with women sometimes being the main providers and some men being the nurturers or each gender taking on both roles. While we can agree that there has been a loosening of the previously rigid gender roles from past generations, we still see evidence of our natural instincts at work; people being attracted to each other, building homes together and then having children together.
The sad part of what I see, a lot, is that even though there is a constant and ongoing “war” between Black men and women, there are periods of time when the fighting pauses and they co-create and then those children are caught in the cross-fires when the “war” continues. Of course this is not applicable to every Black man and woman but it happens enough for us to seriously question and investigate a different way of doing things.
No, the answer is not choosing a mate from another race or just being single “forever” or any of the negative approaches that we often hear of. Embedded in the decision to only date outside of the race or be “alone”, is a deep seeded belief that there is something wrong with Black people. The truth is that there isn’t. There may be many of us that have learned negative or counterproductive behaviors and ways of functioning and then sustained those ways over long periods of time and even from generation to generation, but I remain hopeful that what can be learned can be unlearned.
I know too many women who, in public, say the famous line, “I don’t need no man” but behind closed doors are singing a very different tune and the same applies to many men. To see how something like marriage can be both good and challenging and decide that it is not for you is very different than seeing it from a limited and negative perspective and then running from it.
I challenge those that have given up on being the kind of men that are proud to call themselves husbands and fathers to take a second look. Consider that there is a bigger picture where marriage is concerned. Consider that marriage is one of the ways that we can rebuild our communities. We don’t have to stop getting married; we have to do it differently so that it becomes a source of love, security and building. We can approach marriage with openness to growth, service and spiritual evolution. No one can promise that it will be “a walk in the park” every day, but just like the saying goes, “anything worth having is worth working and waiting for”. Nothing great happens over night, hence the word “wait” but we don’t just wait idly; we do the “work” while we wait.
Nomalanga helps Black Women thrive in their lives and careers. She is a Social Commentator, an Editor at Your Black World , Assistant Professor of Professional Studies and the reigning Mrs Botswana. Visit Nomalanga’s Facebook page or Follow her on Twitter