Talk Back

Does Kendu Isaacs Deserve that Mary Money?

As a man who has been blogging about relationships for 6 years, wrote a book about relationships, speaks on relationship panel discussions and has even hosted many singles mixers, there’s one truism on conversations about dating that many women may not be fully cognizant of: as much as women speak, men listen.

Whenever I blog about a relationship topic, women may fill the comments sections, but far more men are privately messaging me to tell me what they think. At events, women dominate the microphones, but most of the calls I get after the event are from dudes. When it comes to relationship topics, most men may not feel comfortable expressing their opinions in public to women, but men listen intently to what women say and what men hear does have a very real effect on how we collectively think and behave.

So whenever a celebrity couple goes through public problems and their issues are put on front street for the world to see, discuss and turn into a trending topic, there’s a lot of men who take notice of the prevailing thoughts being communicated by women, even though they aren’t openly adding their own two cents.

This weeks “hot topic” is Mary J. Blige’s divorce from Kendu Isaacs and his subsequent $129,000 per month spousal support claim. For the men listening in, what’s important isn’t what women are saying in regards to what they believe Mary J. should do as an individual, but what is important is what women are telling other women to collectively do in their own interactions with men.

After cruising through various message boards, social media sites, and comment sections of popular websites, I’ve compiled a list of the most common, general refrains I’ve heard spurring from this situation. But what I’m also going to do is include my perception of how some men internalize these comments.

What she says: “He needs to ‘man up’ and move on.”

What he thinks: The only people provided a forum for release and recompense are women. That’s why Twitter is full of “Angela Basset walking away from a burning car” gifs. “Manning up” is the responsibility we give dudes to immediately get over relationships, no matter how messy, emotionally tangled or complex. It is predicated on the belief that male strength isn’t contained in freely expressing our emotions, but rather in keeping them bottled up, consistently aligning ourselves with societies hyper-masculine perceptions.

But it’s the latter part, “moving on” that indicates that it’s a man’s job to ignore any possible long-standing rights that he may have as a human being under the jurisdiction of the law. While this sentiment may now be uttered in reference to spousal support, it’s what men have heard women say about divorce settlements, lifetime alimony rewards and child custody battles where men come out on the losing end. Basically, “move on” has become a synonym for “accept whatever she wants and don’t bitch about it.” Yet, we live in a society where it’s become en vogue to style up a man as being a “f**kboy” for not wanting to get married.

What she says: This is why successful women need to watch their money closely.

What he thinks: As a man who believes that feminism isn’t only about battling sexism but also advocacy for equality, shouldn’t successful women and men both need to watch their money closely? An America where class mobility—a.k.a. bootstrapping yourself into wealth—is a decades old relic, wealth preservation should be a gender-neutral cause. While the gender pay gap does exist—with Black men and Black women both being out-earned by white men and white women, one’s exposure to excessive financial loss is predicated more on their portfolio than their gender.

When women say that successful women need to watch their money closely, they may just be simply stating that women should be more careful with how they manage their finances, or simply saying that women should manage their money with the equal veracity of wealthy men. But it’s very common for men to hear a woman say that and believe that she is advocating for women to enforce a unique level of care for their money that men whom are interested in getting married someday necessarily shouldn’t—a thought derived mainly from the next point…

What she says: This is why women shouldn’t date/marry “down.”

What he thinks: This is the apex of unequal relationship ideology. To equate one’s relationship worth with their financial standing in our modern day society seems to be a burden placed squarely on the shoulders of men. While both sexes typically have no issue shaming the poor, the exact dollar amount of one’s salary, their owned properties, and their investments is a “dating worth” calculation that applies solely to men.

Why do men think that? Because there is no talk of “avoiding dating down” or the “difficulties of finding a partner ‘on your level’ once you make it” when the sexes are reversed. Most men simply don’t automatically equate a woman’s worth as a potential partner by her degrees, job title and salary, yet we’re told the “dating down” term is relevant because it’s been a long-standing tradition of how women have historically vetted male partners—which, at one point in time, was a method of survival. Yet, countless tweets and think pieces were crafted in response to Drake’s now infamous lyric, “You wasn’t with me when I was shootin’ in the gym,” where he bemoans a potential figure Vanessa Bryant could’ve received during their 2011 divorce proceedings with Kobe.

The idea was that Drake’s line was inherently misogynistic because it not only disregarded her non-tangible worth as a mother and a wife, but it also insinuated that her worth was only equal to what she financially brought into the marriage, which was clearly a lot less than Kobe. Yet, here we are applying, cheering and defending the same sentiment we called Drake sexist for, simply because the sexes are reversed.

On some of the sites I compiled my statement’s from, I also went back to each and checked the reactions from women on Derek Fisher’s $109,000 per month spousal support payment that he was ordered to provide to his ex-wife Candace Fisher. Here were some of the main comments:

Marriage is a contract which is regulated by the law. She deserves whatever she’s legally entitled to.

It’s ridiculous to demand that someone drastically alters their lifestyle just because a marriage is ending.

The money made in a marriage should be considered property of both people. That’s how marriages work.

Now I’m not saying that most men would disagree with any of the points made above, but I’m definitely sure that most men would prefer that we don’t create two separate sets of rules for men and women.

Lincoln Anthony Blades blogs daily on his site, He’s author of the book, “You’re Not A Victim, You’re A Volunteer.” He can be reached on Twitter @lincolnablades and on Facebook at Lincoln Anthony Blades.

Photo: Kendu Isaacs’ Instagram