It Took a Man To Help Me Understand Why Oprah Never Married

The Championships - Wimbledon 2013: Day OneCondi Rice is back in the news. It appears she has been tapped to join a 12-18 person selection committee for the BCS. Pat Dye, 70-something year old former Auburn University coach, couldn’t be more explicit his displeasure. Of Ms. Rice’s experience he says “All she knows about football is what somebody told her. Or what she read in a book, or what she saw on television. To understand football, you’ve got to play with your hand in the dirt.”

Indeed.

Considering that virtually every political pundit on television in this country has never run for (let alone held) office, or that male gynecologists have never given birth to babies, I’d say that Ms. Rice is in right good company. Most everyone we consider to be an “expert” in a given field learned what they know through a book and/or someone telling them about it. Quelle horreur!

I have to wonder about Mr. Dye’s utterances. Are they racist? Sexist? Just plain crazy or a mixture of all three? I surreptitiously posed the question on Facebook to see what the feedback would be, and the response I got from one gentleman in particular was so breathtakingly regressive that it made my heart skip a beat. What did he have to say, you ask?

condi single

Is she still single? What on God’s Good Green Earth does that have to do with the topic of her expertise? This is Condoleezza Rice we’re talking about here! Concert pianist, pro-grade golf playing, former Secretary of State to the last bloody Super Power on the bloody globe and you want to know if she is still single??

And then it hit me and my bewilderment was replaced with a flood of enlightenment: Oprah was right.

Just come with me. I’ll show you what I mean.

In a recent interview, Oprah Winfrey (who is one of the wealthiest people on the planet, and certainly one of the richest Black women) was asked if she would ever marry Stedman, her beau of nearly 30 years. She answered emphatically (and with finality) that she would “probably leave this Earth an unmarried woman.” I’m sure quite a few clergy men and women’s souls along with their garb were rent asunder all over the Black community with that utterance. How could Oprah champion such a notion? That a woman should not be married? Isn’t that the prize we as a gender all strive for – to be some man’s personal trinket… err wife? According to the likes of Mr. McKinney, it is. Because after all, what is a woman if she is unmarried?

Many years ago when Oprah’s show was still on the air, she walked into the audience holding a personal camera so that people could get a view from her perspective of what it’s like to walk into a live studio audience on the Oprah Show. As women (and men) squealed, applauded and threw their hands up adoringly as she approached, Oprah said from behind the camera:

“This… THIS is why I never got married.”

You could hear the smile in her voice. I remember sitting on the couch with a baby in my lap feeling highly offended. What did she mean “this is why she never got married”? So some people clap for you and you get to talk on a stage, and…and so what? Fast forward a decade later and I finally get what she meant. It wasn’t the applause itself she was referring to; it was her accomplishments; her struggle, sweat and effort thus far that had brought her to that pivotal moment in time. She was Oprah- no last name needed -Winfrey.  Could she really have gotten that far, as a Black woman, with a ring on her finger? History and sociology says not.

Like all women, Black women live under a certain set of expectations. Oprah herself said one of such expectations of a wife is for her to “come home sometime”. And it’s true. A man generally wants his wife at home, unless he’s cheating on her. Oprah, like Condi Rice, does a great deal of traveling to support her work. Unlike men, women are expected to hold down the home front and keep it comfortable for their partner’s return. But when you’re trying to change or save the world, you can’t be worried about whether or not your husband ate that morning or if he remembered to take out the trash or even if he’s feeling lonely for any length of time. They say behind every great/successful man, there is a (strong) woman, but who is championing the cause of women in their quest for equal measures of greatness or success?

Let’s just be very clear here: women do not NEED men. Little girls do. This is why they start selling the idea of marriage to little girls as early was “they” can, before she has a chance to discover her power and potential.

A woman’s relationship with a man is all about her level of maturity. A woman wants a man, but in that same vein a mature woman knows that the absence or presence of a man in her life is not going to end, or more importantly, define her existence. The Bible says so.

Genesis 2:18 says:

The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

It is not good. For MAN to be alone. I will make a HELPER suitable for him.

Men need women because MEN need help, not the other way round. You ask any woman over a certain age and she’ll tell you that all she needs in this world is a great work of fiction, some good food and a gaggle of friends and she’ll live a long, happy and healthy life. The most valuable gift a man can offer a woman is the gift of companionship, and good companions don’t hold each other back. I can’t think of a single man who has the courage to be defined as “Mrs. Winfrey” or “Mrs. Rice”, which is why these women and those like them will remain unmarried. Men are just too weak.

The next time some barrel chested bloke or some gossipy woman with no ambitions other than to dress herself up to attract said barrel chested bloke poke fun at you or any other woman in her pursuit of excellence, keep that in mind.

Is Condoleezza Rice still single indeed? Yes! Probably… and good for her!

  • Rasheeda

    I’m over here doing the butterfly, the tootsie roll, and the running man. Whew!

    Now, do men get this same treatment? Is a mans marital status listed as an accomplishment? Or is he some how less than if he doesn’t marry? I’m afraid I can not recall this type of treatment for men. I’ve said it once and I’ll go to my death saying it, marriage helps men. (But as is true with most men, they don’t know what’s good for them) It’s the reason the patriarchy stuffs it down girls throats at such an early age. However, I think there are Wonderful, Intelligent, Great feminist women who embrace marriage and alter it to fit them. And that’s a whole other type of strength, to take a repressive system, designed to keep you down and make it raise you up and strengthen you and your union. Boom! But ain’t nothing wrong with going it alone either.

  • 🙂

  • David S.

    When my sister was graduating from college with dual degrees in Mathematics and Physics, I was so proud of her that I was telling everyone. One response I got from a female friend made me want to spit at her: “That’s impressive! Now if only she can find a nice man and get married, your parents will REALLY be proud of her.” When my cousin completed medical school and passed her boards we attended a party in her honor. The slightly intoxicated self-appointed MC a family friend gave a long speech which concluded with the words “God, has blessed her and her family. Let’s keep praying for her and maybe one day she will be hearing “Here comes the bride.” So basically a woman’s achievements mean nothing if she doesn’t have a man by her side?

    • *Ding ding ding!!!*
      EXACTLY

      Where does that notion even come from? Ugh!! It’s so infuriating! Thank God for you, David. No. For real.

      Thank God.
      For YOU.

  • I just want to hug you for this post.

    • Come on. All 3 of us. Let’s hug!

    • Me too! 🙂

  • I just want to hug you for this post. Thank you for unveiling the truth that society tries so hard to hide.

  • Ekuba

    Ah Malaka, but the reason why society pushes being married & motherhood to women so much is that it’s not an easy job o! As my mother says, if men were the ones who had to be wives & mothers, the institution of marriage (& probably childbearing) would have been banished a looong time ago! hehehe.I mean, think about it seriously, if the roles were reversed, would men be able to put their career aside for us, wait home for us to come back everyday, pick up our dirty socks, cook us meals & bear children for us? Um, no, I think not. And like you rightfully said, the older you get as a woman without marrying, the more you realize that you can be perfectly ok as a single woman & the more you can detect BS from a man miles away! I think that lots of people are also jealous of a woman who ‘s single. I mean, why is it that no one questions the marital status of most men but there are people who are simply dying because oprah & condoleeza are single? I just read an article on a Ghanaian website about 2 single nollywood actresses who seem not to be eager to settle down & people are hyperventilating over there lol.

  • Anthony Janya

    Though the African culture places a lot of emphases on marriage and almost concludes that the woman is worthless if not married. I do not buy into this point of view. I have met great unmarried single mothers in my immediate environment who have turned the world around them by exuding competence and professionalism in their participation towards nationhood. Needless to say, I subscribe to marriage not because society has placed the demand or because I am incomplete without it. It is a personal decision in tangent with that of my chosen spouse. Therefore, I vehemently disagree with any school of thought that pulls down the unmarried woman and divests her of her deserved respect simply because she’s single. Married or not married, I am in accord with living responsibly and usefully in all circumstances.

  • Great post Malaka. I constatly get asked the question ” so when are you getting married” by family members, cos I am approaching 30 soon, which means I am getting old. I am having too much fun by myself right now so marriage can wait. But i think whatever the case, you just need to have the right “partner” whether you are married or just shagging. Somebody said “it gets lonely at the top”.

  • David S.

    There is a double standard at work in this thing. When I am in conversations with family, friends and acquaintances and the subject of any of any single woman above of age of thirty that we know comes up, eventually, someone will say something like “Oh she’s single? What a shame.” or “She’s single? Why what wrong with her.” But let me be talking to someone and they find out I’m single, the immediate reaction is “Oh, I have a friend/daughter/sister. I would like to introduce you to her.” It’s as if a man is single and successful he’s a prize (I would have used the term hot commodity, here but I can’t stand that term, as it is I don’t like the word prize much either), but if a woman is successful and single, the her being single means something must be wrong with her. What’s disturbing is that I actually hear things like this mostly from females talking about other females. Especially my older female relatives. It’s sad because there is no way that younger women cannot be affected in some way by hearing things like that. How many women have settled for bad relationships partially because they didn’t want the stigma attached with being single?

  • My Dearest Malaka,
    As a long time reader of you blog by proxy (My girlfriend insists on reading to me as a form of pillow-talk…without my say in the matter) I couldn’t help but sign on to voice my slight (again, slight) disagreement with you on this matter.

    That second quote ” Is she still single” when viewed from the masculine perspective has an entirely different meaning:

    Imagine you’ve just heard that the beautiful, black, multilingual, accomplished, powerful, famous, rich, multitalented…uh, rich…woman you’d known through a friend of yours was also found to be a lover of your favorite sport….a sport that many of her gender as stereotyped as not only hating, but willing to do anything to get in the way of.

    In short, imagine you heard that the already amazing girl-next-door liked football too?

    your response? “Is she still single? ”

    Takes on a new meaning non?

    While I completely understand that me commenting on this matter is as idiotic a move as a white-fox-news anchor commenting on the struggles of black hair, I can’t help but come to the rescue of my fellow man, who in all honesty was probably voicing his admiration of Sec. Rice by voicing how (even more) awesome she’d become by liking football.

    As far as the coach – Ignorant though he may be, the debate over the teams accepted for the BCS championship is an annual one: filled with passions for both teams and the 10 million guaranteed to each team that shows up. while I’m not even close to condoning his actions – I think that they should be viewed through the prism of a southern coach who thinks that the term student athlete should be abolished in favor of….athlete-athlete.

    Yours truly

    Tallchica’s Boyfriend.

    (pt.1 of 2)

    • Awww! Never feel afraid to comment! I’m glad you have faith in your fellow man, but a day later in the thread he came back and said of Condoleezza “who would marry that goat lol”

      O_o

      Then he added “just kidding” for good measure, like that was supposed to fool anyone. The scenarios you describe with Sandleberg and co are the exception rather than the rule, and while I’m excited that men like you and David S actually exist, I completely understand that the pair of you are more like a lunar eclipse than a sunrise: you don’t see it every day.

      Give Tallchica a hug for me!

      • Welp. I’m officially out of ammo.
        Forgive that buffoon, he knows not what he says.

        Take comfort in knowing that ‘goat’ in some circles actually stands for ‘greatest of all time’

        I heard something powerful the other day, ‘one can never convince…only attract’

        I imagine that the debate around Sec. Rice will die down rapidly after one or two good BCS decisions.

  • Part 2 of 2 from Tallchica’s Boyfriend.
    “Men are just too weak”

    *raises hand timidly*
    Come now Malaka, I would like to STRONGLY suggest that men(incidentally raised by certain women…)are just too weak. Others, (Myself) are the product of homes where both parents worked, and where they were expected to cook, clean, and launder for the family. These modern (renaissance) men are more than capable of thriving without a wife.

    Examples of women who have managed to maintain their awesomeness despite marriage include:

    Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith
    Sheryl Sandberg (COO of facebook) and Her husband…founder of surveymonkey
    The female CEO of Yahoo…and whoever her very happy husband is.

    What I’d like to suggest is the fact that no one should be Mr. Oprah, nor should Oprah entirely give up her name (not in the 21st century)…I hold that marriage is a business merger and your surname is your brand. If your brand cannot stand on its own – sign up under the brand that can. If it stands on its own – keep it. (This is a gender independent ideal, because any wise man would merge (hyphenate) his name with Oprah’s in a hot minute.

    I apologize for the incoherence – Tallchica and I have been arguing this point for an hour.

    But times are changing –

  • I got a hug from Malaka??!! Its going to be a good day!
    — TallChica

    • Hahaaa!!!
      Let’s pray for a great month in addition to that ‘good day’. Amen!

  • This is good. The comments too. Thanks

  • I recently discovered this. I actually got married and had 2 girls and before our 5th anniversary,we had separated because it had been programmed in my mind that a woman has to be married to be happy,it took me a long time to reprogramme my mind and the way I reasoned. Its been over a year I’ve been separated and believe me:I’ve never been happier,never enjoyed life like this. I believe I can achieve anything without a man by my side and I also believe I don’t need a man to make me happy or fulfilled .Marriage was not meant for everyone.

    • You bring up SUCH a good point ify: that many are programmed that we have to be married to be happy. That’s never the case. Marriage should ADD to your happiness, not be the lynch pin that ensures it. If you are not happy before you are married, there is no way you’re going to be happy IN a marriage.
      I’ve been married 8 years, and it’s been hard at times. I’ve talked about wanting to walk away from it and at one point got really close. My husband love(s)(d) me enough to keep us together, even though there were times I resented him for it. Having children, getting a new house, learning to live with this person whom you barely know can all be very stressful for both parties. If you have an unsupportive mate it can only make it worse.
      Of course I don’t know the details of your separation, but I hope the pair of you can remain friends, and not just for the sake of your kids. Some people were not meant to be married, as you said… or at least not in the state they find themselves for the moment. 🙂