Janet is a top television executive who essentially married a subordinate, a vendor. Her husband Barry ran a penny-ante production company that made short interstitials for her channels. So they get in the family way with two kids and he pushes Janet to sell the Upper West Side condo and move to Yonkers just to be close to his brother. Then Barry decides he wants to stop working and go back to graduate school for a journalism degree from Columbia. Janet thinks “great, he’ll spend more time with the kids since I work so hard and long to make most of the money.” No haps. In no time, Barry accumulated almost $100,ooo of school debt with no intention of working again. Plus he refuses to “babysit” his own kids since he’s “so busy.” Janet is fully and solely supporting their family, plus paying for a full-time nanny, and gritting her teeth since she feels powerless to change the game in the 6th inning. She really wants her kids to have a father. Through the counsel of her trusted girlfriends, t only takes a couple of years for her figure out he’s dead weight and offload him. Janet feels, at least, she got her kids but might have been better off with a sperm donor who doesn’t get split assets or palimony. And their kids still get a father — just every other weekend. Even Barry’s new girlfriend doesn’t mind the arrangement or lifestyle bankrolled by Janet.
-Kara H., friend of Janet
HIV + Chantel had her three sons before she was 20 years old. She grew up with a single-Mom who worked. Chantel had been running the streets unchaperoned since she was able to walk to school. Since none of her baby’s fathers were in her or her children’s lives, Chantel was thrilled when she met Benny, a jobless Vietnam veteran who was very close to his Puerto Rican extended family. Suddenly Chantel and her boys were immersed in a family-focused lifestyle punctuated with birthday parties, holiday barbecues, amusement park trips, baptisms, confirmations and weddings. She and Benny had quickly moved in together, with her providing shelter, clothing, spending change and food for her new man. They were even talking about marriage though they were wary of interrupting the public assistance and food stamp monies she qualified for as a single Mom. Chantel’s storybook chapter was belied when she discovered she had pelvic inflammatory disease as symptom of full-blown AIDS. Benny has been an injecting drug user since ‘Nam and still shared needles in abandoned tenements dotting their Spanish Harlem “El Barrio” ‘hood. When Chantel confronted Benny with all this, he stabbed her 17 times for her welfare check and left her to die in a pool of her own tainted blood. But Chantel didn’t die. She got into antiretroviral treatment, moved into the Taino Towers housing project where she teaches other poor women about HIV/AIDS and is raising her sons into manhood as best she can.
-Kimba Q., cousin of Chantel
When it comes to family, share and share alike is the way to go. But why is it that an able-bodied, grown man decides to live off you? Because he can. You let him. It doesn’t make him a bad person. Maybe you prefer it. I know some “Alpha b***hes” who really do prefer to have that much control over a man.
The pathology comes in when it’s your money, but you have no choice in the matter. You bankroll it and have no say. Over where to live, what’s for dinner, the schools your kids go to, who picks the kids up, where to vacation, whose family to spend the holiday with, when to have sex. That is, as we say on the streets of NYC, some pimp “s***.” You’re still cooking, cleaning, raising kids, sexing him, making sure the bills are getting paid and he’s bossing you.
Marriage and even living together is a long-term sentence. Perhaps even a lifetime sentence. If you can re-negotiate after allowing this level of out-of-pocketness, you need a job at the White House, Congress, the U.N. and the State Department. It is unlikely His Majesty is looking to change anything. If you step to him or try to end his free ride on the gravy train, you could get hurt. If you divorce, he’ll get your house, the car and you’ll have to send his outside kids to college. It may be cheaper to keep him but the mental cost will be up there in prescription drugs, vibrator replacement, therapy fees and separate vacations.
Every woman I know who’s living this situation has warned me they would never make the choices that led up to this situation again. Not in a million lifetimes. All in the name of love from one side and exploitatation on the other. I have a guy begging me to marry him right now talking about how he’s gonna live in my home and stay home to raise our kids while I go out to work since I love my profession. (I am laughing out loud as I type.) But I have no doubt he can find that type scenario especially if he changes his nit-picky standards for judging women. To each, his/her own.
And people wanna exclusively stereotype women as golddiggers. Sheesh.