I am black woman who earns more in annual income than 94% of Americans. I also want to be financially taken care of when I marry. And I’ve stopped prefacing that desire with the first statement when I interact with prospective suitors.
I am an intersectional feminist that believes in the social, economical, and sexual liberation of women – black women in particular. I have a business that focuses on coaching women on making their most advantageous career moves. I have a scholarship for women. I engage in anti-racism and anti-sexism work. I also have no qualms about wanting to partner with a high earning man who prefers to spend money on his wife. Both statements can exist without conflict. But in the era of hypergamous strategy, assortative mating, and social media providing bits and pieces of both, it can all seem very confusing. So what I want to make clear is this:
Hypergamy is a not a crime, least of all for black women.
I must admit, when I was younger twenty-something, I thought the idea of “marrying up” sounded shallow, cold, and woefully unromantic. There were even times I publicly decried those who would vocalize their desire to marry well-to-do men. After all, what was the point of women’s liberation if we only cared about our partner’s finances?
Years and a few financially draining relationships later, I thought about my own family. My parents both work yet I watched as my higher earning father take care of the household and my mother nurture the family. I realized that that was the setup I wanted and it had taken me far too long to admit it and even longer to demand it. Something felt very…wrong about wanting that life. And as a natural researcher, I wanted to know why. You may be reading this, searching for validation but don’t quite know where to start. You may be hate-reading this right now, rolling your eyes and calling me an entitled brat. Keeping reading.
Women are educated. According to a number of sources, black women outnumber black men at institutions of higher education. But this is true across races. Women are more likely than men to have earned a bachelors degree. This dismantles the mythical, uneducated siren who has no aspirations to succeed on her own merit.
But when a black woman earns a degree, she’s less likely to marry. A black woman with an undergraduate degree aged between 35 and 45 is 15% less likely to be married than a white woman without a undergraduate degree. So when people say that they’d like the educated sister “doing her thing”, the data calls some of that into question.
But when black women do marry, we are less likely as a whole to marry partners at the same education level. I’m not interested in anecdotal tales about the high earning partner with a trade or business. From a research standpoint, we are not engaging in assortative mating (marrying the same), let alone hypergamy (marrying up). It seems as if this image of the gold digging succubus who will drop a man for the next one is far less common than one would have you believe.
And here’s the thing, when women earn more than their partners, they end up paying for it.
Did you know that women breadwinners do more housework? “Married American mothers spend almost twice as much time on housework and child care than do married fathers. Although American mothers—including those with young children—are far more likely to be working now than in past decades, they spend more time on child care today than did moms in the 1960s.” – A. Rao.
Marrying Down costs educated women roughly $25k a year. And it’s most prevalent for black women.
In dual-income households with children, women log less “paid” hours but clock in more “unpaid work” i.e. household chores. They spend more time caring for children and less time engaging in leisure activities than their husbands. And if one were to quantify the unpaid labor, women are largely working more and getting paid less.
This is not the life that I want.
Don’t get me wrong, I am under no illusions that the key to lifelong happiness is marrying rich. I also don’t place wealth above respect, kindness, and a few other important areas. But I’m also not going to mule and labor harder than my partner to prove a point about how strong I am. Nope. I live as a black woman and worked my butt off to be successful. Point proven.
I hope to dismantle the notion that we are undeserving of living a more peaceful life. That our struggle is a birthright. That we are unworthy of making demands. I was never taught to take what I can get, in fact, it was quite the opposite. I value intelligence, a commitment to service, curiosity, and determination. And I hope that by reading this post, though the title is tongue-in-cheek, that you grow comfortable with asking for more.
It is not lost on me that we live in a gendered society mostly based on patriarchal systems of oppression. It’s why couples in which the wife is the breadwinner are more likely to divorce. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing more egalitarian marriages where duties are shared equally. Everyone deserves the right to engage in a partnership that best suits their desires and needs.
And before it’s said: I do not nor will I ever advocate for deceiving men and pretending to love them to get their money. I believe in kindness and lying for a few dollars doesn’t align with my values.
To me, my desire to be taken care of is simply doing my part to tip the scales of sexism in my direction.