How MAFS Poured Salt on the Open Wounds of Black Women
I’m an avid watcher of Married at First Sight and pre-shows. I plan my workouts, meals around Wednesday night’s episodes. Everything has to be done by 8 p.m. so I can have my glass of wine and text my bestie back and forth about whose marriage will survive and whose won’t. From the first time Married At First Sight (MAFS) showed Chris and all of his Unattractiveness on screen, I knew the marriage was doomed. However, I didn’t expect me and my homegirls to be triggered. I mean, it was traumatizing and served as a cruel reminder that while Black women deserve better, so many others don’t agree, including some Black women themselves. This season, MAFS affirmed the misogynistic concept of struggle love, the ideology that Black women are supposed to catch, block or carry the emotional stones thrown at them to have a partner. And should stones land and wound you, ignore it for the betterment of your relationship and the sake of supporting your man. While this display of foolery was entertaining for some, for many of us, it was assaultive to our sense of self-worth. The whole thing was raggedy, and retribution is due.
Let us start with the perpetuation of the gold digger stereotype. Chris spoke about women only wanting him for his money and was adamant with the matchmakers about making sure that they didn’t connect him with someone after his new money. Aside from the fact that currency may be all he has to offer (because his personality sucks, and he is less cute than he thinks he is), the repeated voiceover of him playing prey to financially predatory Black women is absurd and harmful. There are brothas right now who subscribe to this mindset, both with and without fitted high ankle slacks and flats. It’s wack.
Secondly, Chris is a colorist. From the first sixty seconds of his background feature story, I said to myself, “He wants a racially ambiguous-looking woman.” I correctly assumed that this man, who was overly concerned with status, money, and legacy, suffered from the generational effects of white supremacy and patriarchy. Instead of determining his own idea of success, Chris has found value in typical white male ideals, material wealth, trophy wife, and social status. For some Black men, this means a woman with more European features, lighter skin, less kinky hair, and delicate features; someone whose dominant African ancestry is diluted by other ethnicities such as Asian and Latin. There’s a joke that the higher brothas move up the career and wealth later, the lighter their female counterparts become. And before you retort with, “Not all Black men,” save it, we know this. But we also know there is some unfortunate truth to this, at least to some extent, especially for Chris, who makes it clear REPEATEDLY that Paige wasn’t this type. When he brought his then-pregnant ex-fiancé on the show, I knew she’d look like she did, mixed ancestry, racially ambiguous. Based on her looks, he determined that Paige wasn’t gorgeous. He even dared to tell her bridesmaids at the damn reception.The audacity.
Thirdly, and perhaps most detrimental, was the way that Chris weaponized Christianity. One of the reasons the "experts" matched him and Paige was their shared faith, which Chris used to pressure her into sex the first night “to build a connection” and manipulate her with his back and forth. I can only imagine the off-scene conversations about a wife’s duty to her husband and the unholiness of divorce. At least three times, Paige said she believed God brought them together for a reason. Yeah, sis to show you what you don’t need!
Now for the folks who have been reading this all along, asking where is the accountability for Paige? I get it; she is an intelligent, adult woman who appears capable of making wise decisions. Absolutely, but I refuse to drag her for two reasons: 1. Society drags us enough. I won’t be a part of it. 2. The expectations for successful black women to partner and allow men to lead are immense. Paige has a whole career and investment property. She desires a solid marriage and children before thr age when the OBGYN tells labels her pregnancy geriatric. Now throw in the fact that her beautiful, well moisturized, dark skin, wigs, and full lips don’t receive the same appreciation unless they are bought, paid for and credited to white culture vultures. While some see Paige’s value, the way Black women are treated daily has impacted her and FUQ boys like Chris’s perceptions of that said worth.
Bottom line, MAFS owes Black women an apology (and perhaps some new showrunners, researchers) for furthering exposing us to the trauma of being gaslit, stereotyped, embarrassed, exploited, and emotionally abused. Even in the final moments of decision days, her eyes read that she wanted to be saved, and per usual, other Black women had to take her to the side and gather her so she could save herself. Trifling.