It’s been roughly a month since Ayesha Curry—wife of NBA superstar Stephen Curry and mother of NBA post-game press conference superstar Riley Curry—published the tweet that would launch a million more tweets, a thousand more think pieces and a hundred more “clever” memes incorporating “thoughts” and “thots.” The dust and debris left by this dustup has long cleared, but just in case you forgot what happened, here’s a quick summary:
Ayesha Curry tweets that she prefers to dress “classy” instead of “trendy” and that she prefers her husband to be the only one who sees more of her skin and body. Initially, this led to a relatively sober debate—at least sober by Internet debate standards—about whether her tweet, while innocent-seeming enough, was subtly shaming women who do dress more provocatively. (My opinion? Yeah, it kinda was. But whatever.)
But then this back-and-forth led to an even larger and much, much less kind “conversation” in which the debate about Ayesha Curry’s tweet became an indictment of feminism in general and contemporary black women in particular, as many people (men and women) took this as an opportunity to write, tweet, repeat and retweet every nasty, negative and patently false thing they could find about the (lack of) marriageability of today’s black woman. Because apparently, “I get what Ayesha Curry’s saying, but she could have said it without the comment about other women’s choices” naturally leads to “See, that’s why y’all bitches is single.”
It was a very stupid week.
This conversation also left out an inherently connected and increasingly pertinent point.
At the moment, Stephen Curry is arguably America’s most popular male athlete. He’s an NBA champion, the reigning MVP, the runaway favorite to be this season’s MVP and the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year. He’s also one of the leaders in popularity-specific metrics such as NBA All-Star voting, jersey sales and endorsements—accomplishments undoubtedly due to his likability and aesthetically pleasing style of play.
He is also a rich, popular, handsome, tall and athletic 27-year-old black man, who has been rich, popular, handsome, tall and athletic for his entire adult life. And he got married at 23.
Now, we don’t know anything about the Currys’ marriage besides what we’ve seen. They appear to be very happy and most likely are. But, again, who knows? Also, they got married at an unusually young age. Some would argue that they might have been too young. But let’s forget about all that. Instead, answer this: While “more women should be like Ayesha” seemed to be that conversation’s latent theme, how many guys are really willing to be like Steph?
Of course, we’ve heard ad nauseam about the shortages (real or perceived) of eligible black men and the lack of options, along with any and everything else related to why an arbitrary number of black women happen to be single. (Which is an inherently faulty conversation, because it's based on the premise that women are all just waiting around to be chose, when many are perfectly fine with being, um, unchose.) There’s an entire industry built around it. Somewhere in America today, a tailor is attempting to alter one of Steve Harvey’s old 18-button suits into a two-button one, and he’s getting paid with money made from someone’s auntie’s book club’s bulk purchase of Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.
But it’s not exactly as if the typical young and attractive and employed black man—basically, the typical eligible black bachelor with options—is in a rush to get to the altar (or even to commit), either. And this is on an accountant or an engineer or a Best Buy manager or a “club promoter” salary. Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule. But I have no doubt that less than 1 percent of 1 percent of 1 percent of the guys clowning women for not being like Ayesha would even think of being like Steph if they had Steph’s income and status.
And no, the 25-year-old me (and the 26-year-old me, and the 27-year-old me, and, well, you get the point) wouldn’t have, either. The idea that, if you’re a black dude with a job and a driver’s license and a toothbrush, you’re supposed to stay as romantically noncommittal as possible for as long as possible was so commonplace and so ingrained that it became a personal edict. “Playing the field” wasn’t a consequence. It was a goal. A duty. “I’m not really ready for a relationship right now … but you can still come over” might as well have been tattooed on my forehead.
Thing is, none of this—playing the field, being single, Netflix and chill, etc.—is a bad thing. As long as you’re honest and up-front about your intentions, do you. Have fun. Also, commitment and marriage are very serious things. Not everyone is equipped for and ready for that. And not everyone even wants to be equipped for and ready for that. But it is beyond disingenuous to criticize black women for not being more like Ayesha when there are already, like, 100,000 times more of those women than there are men willing to be like Steph.
(And if Steph and Ayesha are a bit too white-bread for your tastes, there’s always Papoose and Remy.)
Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VerySmartBrothas.com. He is also a contributing editor at Ebony.com. He lives in Pittsburgh and he really likes pancakes. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.