Russell Wilson and Ciara 
FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

Ciara’s been in the entertainment scene for over a decade, since she was introduced as the oddly titled princess of “Crunk & B” on her debut single, “Goodies,” in 2004. She’s had a few high-profile relationships. In 12 years, I can name three, maybe four men she’s dated. One includes Nayvadius “Future” Cash, her former fiance and the father of her son, also Future. 

Her current beau and new fiance (as of Friday) is Russell Wilson, an NFL quarterback who took her to the White House on an early date, occasionally pushes her son’s stroller and seems genuinely happy, based on pictures, to have Ciara and her son in his life. By all accounts, he’s an upgrade, which isn’t all that hard when your ex is the type of guy who publicly calls you “a bitch.”

All in all, to me, Ciara seems like a nice woman without any real controversy (other than her ex, who likes to put their business in the streets). And she’s hardly worthy of the ire she’s drawn in some circles from those who think that she—as well as single mothers like her—is undeserving of Wilson. 

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From what I can make of the negative memes and the butthurt-status updates about her, there are people—mostly men—who believe that because Ciara has previously been linked to rappers, and her child is by one, she’s of a lower status among women.

For these men, who evidently never got “the girl,” Ciara is the embodiment of the type of woman who ignores “good men” (like them, of course), the one who makes poor life choices, then looks for the type of man she ignored to come clean up her mess. She’s the “disrespectful ho”—a  slur assigned based, I think, on the fact that she’s dated several rappers, is a single mom and dating a man who seems to treat her child like his own (as any man who dates a single mother is supposed to)—that a naive Wilson is mistakenly trying to turn into a housewife. Never mind that Wilson, 27, who got divorced after a two-year marriage, can’t be that naive about relationships.

All to which I say, “Huh?” 

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There seems to be a popular—though completely b.s.—notion that dictates that single mothers should be single for eternity;  that because they had a child out of wedlock, they are unworthy of love from anyone of substance and should be doomed to a life of dating flaky men who will never marry them or even claim them. Their children should never be accepted by any man, perhaps even including the children’s own father. And their single motherhood is solely their fault for having premarital sex and not requiring a man to marry them first. There’s never a word asking why the man they conceived the child with didn’t use a condom or why he didn’t ask for marriage or force the issue before conception or immediately after learning of such. Everything about how women become single mothers rests solely on the mother. 

With a genuine interest, I’m trying to figure out what Ciara did wrong to attract so much hatred. She dated some rappers in her 20s. OK. As a culture, we seem to have no problem with men who date video vixens and Instagram models with no other discernible income throughout their first decade of adulthood. I mean, where are the memes about men who obsess over strippers and how it will make them unsuitable husbands to a decent woman (whatever that means)? They don’t exist. So why is a woman who is dating cute (and rich) men—who are also entertainers, just as she is—such an issue? Oh, because she’s a woman and women are “supposed to … ” To what? Always make perfect decisions? Only date to find a husband? Only date guys no one knows? Help me out here. 

She became a mom with a man she planned to marry. It didn’t work out. She moves on, even made a song about it. And as she sang she would, she found a man who seems to adore her and treats her kid well. Isn’t that what a responsible, dating mother is supposed to do? Or was she not supposed to date at all because “good” mothers don’t date? Was she supposed to have a man in her life who didn’t treat her and her child well? Oh. I got it. She was supposed to stay tethered to a dysfunctional man to keep her family intact.   

In what world?

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Let’s keep it 300, like the Romans. There are a lot of men, bottom-feeder types, who don’t know how to step up in relationships, and they spend their days spewing nonsense about women to keep themselves relevant and to keep women scared of being alone and afraid that a bad situation is the best they can do. Wilson isn’t the first—and won’t be the last—man to date and propose to a single mom, but his relationship with Ciara is a public reminder of how men step up when they are interested, and how all the terrible things said about single moms and the negative way that men allegedly perceive them just isn’t true. By living and likely never thinking about this, she’s become an example to women who might be thinking that single motherhood makes a woman less than; she’s letting them know that, nope, you still got options, boo. And good ones, too. 

Ciara’s relationship success has placed fear in the hearts of shady men. They are mightily threatened, and not by Ciara, per se, but by the idea that the women they’ve been half-stepping toward could one day get a clue, too. All these memes and ranting status updates? Weak men desperately fighting to maintain the idea that they should be valued for adding nothing. I see you, and I see right through you. Hopefully, the women you encounter do, too. 

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Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She is also a blogger at SeeSomeWorld.com, where she covers pop culture and travel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.