I’ve seen a lot of single mothers, particularly around Father’s Day, promoting the Superwoman concept. As single mothers, they are forced to do it alone, to be independent and conquer many challenges and milestones all by themselves. Far too often, especially in African-American communities, fathers don’t stick around–they sire children and leave these newly formed families to fend for themselves. A single mom is challenged to do and be both mother and father, which easily lends to the idea of a Superwoman or “Supermom”. But for those same women to be looking for a man to spend the rest of their lives with…well, allow me to burst your bubble by saying your methodology is a bit askew.
The first challenge is–Superwoman, according to DC Comics, is evil; she’s the villainous counterpart to Wonder Woman. She has had love interests–all villains–but with no particular desire for longevity in a relationship as she typically uses sex and her body as a weapon to get what she wants. She is primarily concerned with overthrowing the Justice League and doing exactly what she wants to do when she wants to do it. Although she appears to hate men and the tyranny she believes they stand for, she sees some value in them when they have something she wants–mostly sex and money.
Ultimately, Superwoman has no real need for a man, nor does she want one. She’s career-minded, has no desire for children (although some story arcs depict a secret love child with Lex Luthor who grows to hate her mother for not attaining total dominance of the human race), and harbors a deeply seeded lust for vengeance. Superwoman is single, ladies. By choice, of course, and with ugly consequences. If this is what you’re after, then you’re a Superwoman indeed. But I’m willing to bet it’s not.
I’m hearing you now saying, “Fine. Then I’m Wonder Mom.” Okay, let’s look at Superwoman’s counterpart.
Wonder Woman is single, too. She’s had love interests in previous story arcs with both Superman and Batman. Both relationships were tumultuous as she tried to balance being a savior of the free world with a man who could–and was–doing the same. The two story arcs where she successfully marries Superman end tragically with one of the two of them dying in some sacrificial way. Two other relationships in the Wonder Woman saga include a male damsel-in-distress, (Steve Trevor, whom Wonder Woman frequently seemed far too dominant for with her being super and him being…well, not) and Aquaman. Steve eventually marries a human woman, Etta Candy, and Aquaman later admits that he only agreed to marry Wonder Woman as a political alliance and never really loved her. He leaves her for a merqueen, Mera, whom Wonder Woman later kills out of jealous vengeance. Wonder Woman is powerful, accomplished, and capable. But despite these things, her challenge in relationship always seemed to be the ability to yield the lead to her (most times super) lover, all of whom eventually chose other, non-super women to settle down with and marry.
So, let’s take a look at the women who eventually got these super men to put a ring on it. Superman ended up with Lois Lane and Batman with Vicki Vale (see pic right). While both of these human women are obviously without super powers, they are not powerless nor without careers. Both of them are successful reporters for prominent newspapers in their towns and are insiders to a lot of political contacts. They are equally crusaders for truth, like their super-husbands, although on a less fantastical scale. They are strong and independent thinkers, but do find themselves in need of rescue at times–and are appreciative of it. Aquaman marries Mera, a queen no less; the title itself lends to all the other attributes of the previous two women. While she is less outspoken than Vicki and Lois, she rules with a firm hand and quiet fire that earns respect without demanding it, especially from Aquaman, who she makes earn her hand in marriage through a long, sexless courtship. Their story arc reveals that Mera refuses to even speak to or take messages from Aquaman while he was in relationship (even a loveless one) with Wonder Woman. Talk about a woman with standards.
Now, let me establish early, ladies, I was a single mother. Until I met my husband, I raised my son for fourteen years on my own with an amazing support system. I am not, in any way, implying that your struggle is not real. What I see, however, seems to be the Superwoman and Wonder Woman complexes: either you are so embittered by love that you attract men only interested in sexual dalliances or you are so dominant that you struggle with yielding the lead. I was both these women, which is why I can call it like I see it.
Women were never intended to do it all. We were forced into that role by societal shortcomings that made single parenting necessary and–let’s be honest–popular. It’s almost “not cool” to co-parent, especially if mom and dad are not in a healthy relationship with one another. Single moms these days tend to harp on the concept of being the primary parents and making all the rules; after all, every decision is yours because you are the one responsible for that child 365 days a year, especially if you’re trying to “co-parent” with a weekend/part-time dad who only shows up when it’s convenient for him. Single motherhood has taught women not to compromise, which is counter-intuitive to the idea of being in a loving, caring marriage. Because marriage takes both compromise and sacrifice. As has been famously said by many so often that the originator is now unknown: “Do you want to be married, or do you want to be right?”
Trust me, ladies, I get it. I was you, for a very long time. And I suffered in other relationships because of it. Like Wonder Woman, I was so super, I didn’t know how to let a good man lead. Single motherhood had taught me, like it has so many other single mothers, to do it all for myself because no one else was willing or would. When a good man came along and was both willing and able, I stole the reigns saying, “Nah, I got this.” Then foolishly couldn’t understand why he left when I was just as good, if not better, than those Loises and Vickis who ended up with rings. This made me bitter and angry, and I became Superwoman, deciding I didn’t need a man, which led to abusive relationship after abusive relationship with men who wanted nothing from me but sex and my undivided attention while they scampered off, sometimes right under my nose, with other Superwomen just like me.
It’s a vicious pattern that only you can stop. Because it’s what’s in you that attracts the villainous Ultramans and Lex Luthors or causes the Supermans and Batmans to abandon ship. Single motherhood does not demand an independent journey. Children are best raised by villages, and the only reason a man would want to remain a part of that village is if you release your need for control and allow him to step into his place. With all the Steve Harveys, Rev Runs, and Tyreses out there telling women what men are looking for, you should see by now that no man is satisfied with just being wanted. Only a lazy, gluttonous person is satisfied at a job where they are paid to do absolutely nothing. People seeking purpose want jobs where their responsibilities on that job matter to the greater good of the company. People want to be valued, and that only comes from a need.
Men have that same need in relationships. A Superwoman is so bitter she has no real desire for a man, so he takes what she’s willing to give (her body) and leaves the rest until he finds longevity elsewhere. A Wonder Woman constantly demonstrating her own strengths and assets to her man ultimately emphasizes she sees no value in what he has to offer; he leaves because she is so wonderful, she has no need for him. He can’t see where he fits in to what she has already established on her own.
I’m not saying you must lie down to some faux semblance of passivity and weakness. And I’m certainly not saying the lioness A-type personalities of our world should “bow down” to a lion’s will just to be in a successful relationship. If you believe that, you’re missing the point. Men seeking a wife want a partner, someone to share their lives with. If you can do that without him, what need do you have for each other? What balance makes you successful? Lucious and Cookie Lyon have made it very clear that two kings at the helm lead to the destruction of an empire.
Yes, there are exceptions to every rule. I’m sure some Wonder or Superwoman somewhere is going to turn this into a sexist post and attempt to validate a woman’s desire to be everything to everyone at all times. But I challenge you to see yourself in these archetypes. If you’re reading this post defensively, it implies those Superwoman walls are still up, that Wonder Woman crown is still on, and you haven’t allowed yourself to see the truth in this. Be honest with yourself: how well has that been working out for you romantically?
A crown on one’s head does not a queen make. A woman who fashions her own crown and places it upon her own head and demands respect is by definition a dictator. It is okay to be a powerful, self-sufficient woman. But if you’re hoping to one day be a Mrs., you’ll need to leave the all-encompassing “super” part where it belongs: on the pages of a comic book. Because let’s face it: when you’re as super as those two, who needs a partner?